Los Angeles FC signs Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini

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Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, left, and Argentina’s Lionel Messi chat during the Finalissima soccer match between Italy and Argentina at Wembley Stadium in London on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

PA

Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini has signed with Los Angeles FC after a 17-year career at Juventus.

The Major League Soccer club announced their deal on Monday for Chiellini, 37, who has been committed through the 2023 season.

Chiellini confirmed his long-announced move with two posts on Twitter. It will be officially presented in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“I was very attached to this new chapter of my career and I am grateful to (at)LAFC for this opportunity,” wrote Chiellini. “I am grateful for all my years with Juventus and I look forward to winning many more trophies in Los Angeles.”

Chiellini had been at Juventus since 2005, winning nine Serie A titles and five Coppa Italia crowns. He officially left the Turin club last month and he also played his last match on June 1 for the Italian national team, which failed to qualify for the World Cup.

LAFC have been in contact with Chiellini’s twin brother Claudio over a potential transfer since last year, chief executive John Thorrington said. Talks resumed after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup in March, with LAFC acting aggressively to land the veteran centre-back renowned for his strong physical game and leadership as captain of Juve.

“When you have the opportunity to have someone who does what he does, and when we have 100% confidence that he’s going to improve every player every day he’s here, that’s a no-brainer.” Thorrington told The Associated Press. “His playing record speaks for itself.”

LAFC leads the overall MLS standings with a 9-3-2 record coming out of the international break. Coach Steve Cherundolo’s club lead the league in goals and are also one of the best defensive clubs, with Jesus Murillo and Mamadou Fall playing most minutes at centre-back while Eddie Segura was injured.

Unlike some MLS clubs, LAFC hasn’t signed many veteran players in the second half of their careers since starting play as an expansion club in 2018. Instead, LAFC s is often relied on young marketable players around former MLS MVP striker Carlos Vela, who is expected to announce a contract extension soon.

Thorrington said the opportunity to sign Chiellini was too good to resist. While LAFC will have to integrate Chiellini into a new team shortly after a full season of Serie A and international matches, Thorrington believes his club will reap the benefits immediately.

“I don’t want to go so far as to say that even if he doesn’t play it would be worth it, but certainly when he plays or when he doesn’t play his impact will go far beyond when he plays,” Thorrington said. “And when he plays he will definitely make a good group of defenders even better. He is a very good communicator. He is organised. He speaks good English. He will be able to connect with the guys who play alongside and in front of him. My expectations of what he would be were very high and he exceeded them.

LAFC made the decision with an agreement using a targeted allowance, which means Chiellini will not occupy one of the three designated spots on the roster of players who do not count towards the normal salary cap. LAFC hopes to add a third Designated Player soon, likely in an attacking role, as the club chases its maiden MLS Cup title.

“We’re seeing interest in MLS from players at every stage of their careers,” Thorrington said. “We are becoming a much more attractive place to play, and when we look at the growth of the sport in this country and the growth of LAFC, I think Giorgio will play a big role in that.

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