MELBOURNE, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Alessandro Del Piero's Australian adventure is not going according to plan, with his adopted club Sydney FC in the doldrums and a hamstring injury compounding the Italian World Cup winner's woes.
The long-time Juventus stalwart joined Sydney to much fanfare in the off-season but despite the 38-year-old's best efforts, his side have nose-dived to the bottom of the 10-team league after 10 rounds.
Del Piero signed a one-year deal with an option to sign on for another year but negotiations to extend his contract, which Sydney have said is the most lucrative in the history of Australian sports, have dragged.
Del Piero told reporters in Sydney the two sides had been talking but at the moment they were playing a waiting game.
"We have a good relationship but at the moment we have to think day by day," he added.
"First we have to make good position on the (league) standings, then we can talk with calm and tranquillity about next season."
While hailed as a ground-breaking signing by the club and fledgling league, Del Piero's arrival raised expectations to fever pitch in Sydney, a burden that former coach Ian Crook was unable to handle and led to his resignation a month ago.
Sydney have since replaced Crook with former Australia coach Frank Farina, but the hunt for the new coach distracted the team from efforts to retain their marquee player.
"Now we have appointed Frank Farina, it will be a matter for the board to sit down and sort out something in regards to Ale in the next few weeks," Sydney FC Chief Executive Tony Pignata told The Australian newspaper on Wednesday.
Del Piero missed Sydney's 2-1 win away to New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix on Sunday and is no certainty to recover in time for the team's derby with Western Sydney Wanderers at the weekend.
Del Piero limped gingerly off the ground in the team's 0-0 draw with Melbourne Heart two weeks ago, with opposing defenders seemingly determined to make the Italian earn every penny of his high salary.
"The last game was especially (tough) because six or seven tackles from the back is no good. It's dangerous," Del Piero said. "But I am not here for crying: 'Oh, they kick me.' This is the referees' work to protect."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
- Sports & Recreation
- Alessandro Del Piero