Could David Villa have another star player accompanying him on the front line of New York City FC?
In a broadcast on SportItalia TV, reporter Michele Criscitiello broke news that 31-year-old striker Alberto Gilardino would not be returning to either Genoa or his loan team Bologna next season. After being snubbed by the Italian National Team, Gilardino has opened up his options for a future club team.
He and his agent are weighing two possibilities; the chance to play in China or the opportunity to join New York City FC.
His former national team coach, Marcello Lippi, currently manages Guangzhou Evergrande F.C. in the Chinese Super League. The two are said to be in constant contact. It is Lippi’s hope that Gilardino joins Evergrande, reuniting the Genoa striker with former teammate Alessandro Diamanti up top.
Guangzhou have won three straight Super League titles, offering Gilardino familiarity and a winning atmosphere if he chooses to live the experience of playing in China’s developing football league.
New York City FC would offer a different challenge altogether. The fledgling franchise is set to begin play March of 2015, and have already acquired 32-year-old Spanish striker David Villa. The pairing of Gilardino and Villa would immediately be one of the deadliest combinations in MLS.
SportItalia, along with news outlet Il Secolo XIX, say Gilardino would have a great interest in moving to the United States to help build the newest MLS franchise.
In both cases, family concerns would play a major part in guiding his future. Gilardino’s wife is close friends with Diamanti’s spouse, and Gilardino himself has strong ties with Lippi, making China a comfortable change of atmosphere. On the other hand, Secolo XIX reports family interests would also guide his decision to come to New York, particularly the chance to bring his daughter stateside to “learn English” and experience life in the City.
It would not be the first time Gilardino has been linked to an MLS side. A strongly rumored $9.5 million transfer during the winter window was reported that would have seen the Italian striker join Toronto FC. That never came to pass.