The potential arrival of former French international star Robert Pirès has been rumored for several months.
MLSsoccer.com confirmed Tuesday that an MLS club is working on signing the Frenchman in a transaction that could take place during the summer transfer window. France Football first reported that club to be the Philadephia Union and MLSsoccer.com has since confirmed the report identifying the expansion club as the interested party.
The former World Cup and European champion is currently under contract at Villarreal in Spain.
“There is an offer on the table from an MLS team and we’re trying to work the details,” said Memed Djemmal, the U.S. representative for Pirès. “The negotiation is in progress and we are working on the details. It’s just a matter of him finishing at Villarreal properly because he has a super relationship with the club there.”
The New York Red Bulls have been reportedly seeking to finalize a contract with a left midfielder before the close of the current transfer window on April 15. However, while Djemmal would not reveal the MLS club pursuing Pirès, he did reveal that the former French international will not play for New York.
League sources on Tuesday confirmed that the Red Bulls were not a candidate to land Pirès.
“A lot of people have been talking to Youri Djorkaeff about his experiences,” Djemmal said, in reference to the former MetroStars/Red Bulls player. “Players rarely know other cities [in the U.S.], but they are just as good.”
There is even a chance that Pirès could make the move before the April 15 deadline, but his representative does not think it will materialize.
“He could have a chance,” Djemmal said. “I doubt it will happen before the 15th -- it’s 70-30 that it does not happen. Villarreal would have agreed. But there are many factors. It would have to be a quick decision and he has two very young kids. It is too quick a decision to come by April 15. He wanted to finish the season there [at Villarreal].”
Djemmal, who represents other French and Italian players and was also behind the operation that nearly brought Zinedine Zidane to MLS three years ago, said that Pirès also has options in England and France, but that the Frenchman has a strong interest in playing in the U.S.
“I think [the U.S.] is still new on the mind of the French players,” he said. “The experience is very minimal for French players in the USA. [Pirès] has a desire and is excited. He has an interest to play and to come to the USA. It would be a new adventure for him. He’s thirsty to play two, three and four more years. He wants a long contract.“
Pirès played on France's 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 championship teams, but missed the 2002 World Cup due to injury. He earned 79 caps for the team from 1996 to 2004.
His contract at Villarreal expires in June. The club is in eighth place in La Liga and in contention for a place in the Europa League. He has 24 appearances for the club this season and came on as a 41st-minute substitute in Tuesday’s La Liga match at Getafe.