Giorgio Chiellini heading to the United States for the next — and probably final — chapter of his incredibly accomplished career was no surprise. Monday’s announcement that Chiellini had signed with Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC was no real surprise, either. It had been rumored for weeks, pretty much a done deal for what felt like just as long.
Yet until you see it. Until you see Chiellini sitting there in black and gold rather than black and white like we’ve seen for virtually the last two decades. Until you see him rocking something other than Juventus gear, it doesn’t seem truly a real thing.
Yet ... it is now.
Chiellini has made his move to Southern California official, signing a contract with one of the biggest spenders in MLS through 2023. Chiellini, who announced after the Coppa Italia that this season would be his last with Juventus, is coming off a crazy couple of weeks in which had said goodby to Juve and then the Italian national team in the Finalissima against Argentina and then finally his locker at Continassa, the final step in which surely there were a wave of emotions just like that April night at the Allianz Stadium in which he came off in the 17th minute and subsequently went on his lap of honor.
There is no word on when Chiellini will officially debut for LAFC, but the club said in its press release announcing the deal that the 37-year-old Italian will be formally introduced on June 29 at Banc of California Stadium.
I don’t know about you guys, but even seeing Chiellini in something other than bianconero (or one of their various away or third kits) or azzurro just feels a little weird. It was the same when Gigi Buffon wore a Paris Saint-Germain keeper kit for the first time. It was the same when Alessandro Del Piero went to Australia. It was the same when Claudio Marchisio was rocking the No. 10 for a season while he was in Russia. Some things you just become accustomed to in this game, and seeing Chiellini taking the field in a jersey with Juve’s crest/logo on his chest is one of them.
Now it’s time to get used to that sight above. And in a matter of weeks, it’s going to happen for real and not just be a photoshop. At least black and gold looks cool together, so there’s that going for us, which could be nice.
Chiellini very much wanted a new challenge in his career before he hung up his boots for good. He’s spoken about it plenty over the last month or so since he made the announcement that he was leaving Juventus. He’s already gotten his cool looking photo at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, so he’s getting all of the big tourist spots out of the early.
I’m also guessing there’s going to be a stop or two at Del Piero’s restaurant in L.A. over the next few months. That just seems like the easiest thing to predict outside of what Chiellini happens to do on the field. And you know for a fact that there will be pictures because if there’s two dudes who play the social media game well, it’s Chiellini and Del Piero.