Los Angeles FC is finalizing a deal to bring veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini to Major League Soccer, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal still hasn’t been signed between LAFC and Chiellini, who is leaving Juventus after 17 decorated seasons with the Italian club.
LAFC hopes to finalize the deal later this week, the person said. The club tops the overall MLS standings with 29 points (9-3-2) at the international break.
The 37-year-old Chiellini said farewell to Juventus in mid-May. The longtime captain’s career included nine consecutive Serie A championships in Turin from 2012-20, along with five Italian Cups.
The sturdy, dependable centre back is also retiring from the Italian national team, with his final match on Wednesday night against Argentina at Wembley Stadium in London. He has played in 116 matches for Italy, more than all but four players.
Chiellini played in more matches for Juventus than any player except Alessandro Del Piero and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The three were teammates from 2005-12, and the retired Del Piero lives part-time in Los Angeles, where he owns the fashionable Italian restaurant N10.
Since LAFC started playing as an expansion team in 2018, it hasn’t often followed the well-worn path of its crosstown rivals with the LA Galaxy in signing football superstars on the back end of their careers. Instead, LAFC has built its roster around Mexican striker Carlos Vela, who was still in his prime, with a supporting cast largely comprised of younger talents from around the globe, particularly South America.
But Chiellini offers an opportunity to add top-end talent on LAFC’s back line, which has been in flux throughout the season. LAFC has still performed well defensively under first-year coach Steve Cherundolo, yielding just 16 goals while scoring a league-high 29.