A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that Los Angeles FC is nearing a deal to bring veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini to Major League Soccer.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract between LAFC and Chiellini, who is departing Juventus after 17 decorated seasons, has yet to be completed.
According to the source, LAFC wants to conclude the agreement later this week. At the international break, the team leads the overall MLS standings with 29 points (9-3-2).
Chiellini, 37, parted ways with Juventus in mid-May. From 2012 to 2016, the long-serving captain led the club to nine consecutive Serie A titles in Turin, as well as five Italian Cups.
The stalwart, dependable centre back is also retiring from the Italian national team, with his farewell match against Argentina on Wednesday night at Wembley Stadium in London.
He has appeared in 116 matches for Italy, more than any other player except four!
Chiellini appeared in more Juventus matches than any other player save Alessandro Del Piero and goalie Gianluigi Buffon. The three were partners from 2005 until 2012, and Del Piero now lives part-time in Los Angeles, where he owns the trendy Italian restaurant N10.
Since its inception as an expansion team in 2018, LAFC has avoided the well-worn road of its crosstown rivals, the LA Galaxy, in signing football players nearing the conclusion of their careers.
Instead, LAFC formed its team around Mexican striker Carlos Vela, who was still in his peak, with a supporting cast mostly made up of younger players from across the world, particularly from South America.
However, Chiellini represents an opportunity to add top-tier talent to LAFC’s back line, which has been in flux all season.
LAFC has still played effectively defensively under first-year coach Steve Cherundolo, conceding only 16 goals while scoring 29.
“As for the baton that Giorgio will pass, I reckon it is only right and fair to enjoy this last day in the blue jersey for him,” fellow Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci said of Chiellini on Tuesday ahead of his final game.
“He’s been a great mate on the pitch and in life. A great captain. He replaced another great like Gigi [Buffon]. And starting from tomorrow I will keep on doing what I’ve always done, which is to be an example and help the team.”
LAFC currently sits top of MLS’ Western Conference after 14 matches under first-year head coach Steve Cherundolo.