Thursday, MLS debutants Montreal Impact officially announced their signing of longtime Serie A forward Marco Di Vaio. Montreal’s first designated player signing, Di Vaio is a striker with a nose for goal who at 35 years of age could still make a difference for his new club.
He scored 10 Serie A goals this past season, 19 the previous, and had a career high 25 in all competitions in the 2008/09 campaign.
The forward, who earned 14 Italy caps from 2001-2004, will join fellow national teammates Matteo Ferrari and Bernardo Corradi who are already with the Impact.
Besides that new trio the only other Italian in MLS is young Chicago Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, an Inter youth product who currently backs up even younger USMNT prospect Sean Johnson.
In fact, Di Vaio will be only the eighth Italian player to lace up his boots in MLS.
But with a slew of notable names linked with North American clubs, Di Vaio’s signing could mark the beginning of an Italian invasion.
Serie A stalwarts Alessandro Nesta, Gianluca Zambrotta, Alessandro Del Piero, and even Super Pippo Inzaghi have been linked to MLS, with various degrees of speculation.
Each of them 2006 World Cup champions, the amount of talent and experience these players could add to any MLS side is enormous.
There are of course questions over their age, with Zambrotta the youngest at 35, but this hasn’t prevented MLS sides from hunting down one-time world-class players with European and International experience before.
However, the real issue standing in the way will probably be money.
Long rumored to be heading to New York, it appears Nesta’s move to the Red Bulls has hit a snag over initially being offered the league salary cap maximum of $340,000.
Anyone who has watched Nesta consistently knows right away that the offer is a joke and, while they could counter with a DP offer, the question of whether NYRB really need to use that luxury on Nesta remains.
They just signed Heath Pearce to shore up the back line andl currently on top of the Eastern Conference, they may just decide an aging legend isn’t worth the price at this time.
Similar issues will surely be involved in any MLS side’s pursuit of players of this stature.
In the end I think the players that will cross the pond will be Zambrotta and Del Piero, but they will definitely but looking to find clubs willing to splash the kind of cash of which they feel worthy.
There is zero doubt in my mind that each of these players would be great performers for an MLS club.
Whether or not they would be great investments is the decision executives around the league will really need to make.