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Del Piero to Celtic? Only if the deal is right for Celtic

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The news that Alessandro Del Piero is interested in a move to Scotland with Celtic should be met with an air of scepticism by the club’s supporters.

At 39, the Italian’s best years are long gone and, after what felt like a season-long buzz around his signing, Del Piero’s second campaign in Australia with Sydney FC showed just how much time has finally caught up with the great man.

Even though there can be no denying that the former Juventus legend still has an eye for a pass as well as superb ability from set pieces, his general level of play has dropped significantly.

Before Del Piero headed Down Under in 2012, there was talk of a move to Glasgow with the player himself admitting that he spoke to the Bhoys.

“We were in contact with Celtic, but it didn’t come to anything,” he says. “They weren’t sure about which choice to make, I think they only had one spot left in their squad. But I was very interested in going to Scotland.

“Nothing happened, we talked but in the end I decided to go to Sydney. It never got to the stage where Celtic offered me a contract. It was unfortunate because I was very interested.”

Over the course of his two seasons with Sydney, Del Piero averaged a goal every other game (48 appearances, 24 goals) but his supporting cast was average, to put it politely.

Sydney finished fifth in the table for 2013/14 and limped into the finals series before falling at the first hurdle against Melbourne Victory.

In April, it was announced that Del Piero would not be returning to the club, though he will captain the A-League All Stars team to take on Juventus next month.

There were some wonderful moments on the pitch in his 48 A-League matches, including one of the best efforts I’ve seen in person against Perth Glory last year and a four goal haul in the 7-1 thrashing of Wellington Phoenix.

From a marketing perspective, there can be no debate that Del Piero’s presence sold shirts and put bums on seats around the country, though one wonders whether the return on investment was worth it for those who shelled out millions to bring him to Australia.

His salary at Sydney was believed to have been in the region of $4 million (£2.2 million), and bonuses as well as various endorsements meant he was amongst the highest paid players in the world.

While Celtic are unlikely to pay anywhere near that sort of money to secure his services, it is testament to the man’s work ethic that he still sees himself capable of cutting it in top flight professional football and, potentially, the Champions League.

Should Celtic take the plunge? If the money is right then sure, there is little risk in offering him an initial one year deal and he could provide a very handy option off the bench. However, don’t expect him to cover much ground when he does get on the pitch.

Neil Sherwin is co-editor of Back page football and hosts the football podcast, Hold the Back Page

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