WITH glowing references from both an English Premier League legend and a former Liverpool teammate, Daniel Sturridge was sold on an A-League move.
Perth Glory announced the signature of the 32-year-old former England international on Friday, with the deal sending shockwaves around the league.
The entire process took less than two weeks, with Perth Glory CEO Tony Pignata pitching the move to Sturridge and his management after Glory Football Operations Manager Terry McFlynn notified the club chief of the striker’s availability.
The deal was a triumph for the database McFlynn keeps of players globally, tracking their movements and availability. Realising that Sturridge was out of contract but keen to keep playing, he pitched the possibility to head coach Richard Garcia and Pignata.
With other clubs interested, Glory had to move quickly and as a team. Into the picture came a pair of former Liverpool players to help the club get the deal over the line.
“Daniel would have had numerous offers from around the world, probably for a lot more money,” Pignata told a-league.com.au.
“But we’ve sold him the Perth Glory way; Perth as a city, Australia, the A-League. He reached out to (former Liverpool teammate) Brad Jones who we just recently signed. He spoke to (former Liverpool striker) Robbie Fowler who was very complimentary of his time at Perth Glory, in Perth and the A-League.
“They’re people that he knows and knows well. It just probably added to what Terry and I were saying to his agent about coming to Perth Glory.
“He knew that Brad had come here and we had a chat to Brad about Daniel as well. Brad has just recently arrived from overseas, he knows what we’re trying to do here and what we’re trying to build at the club, and what the A-League is building as well. It’s exciting times."
READ: Sturridge joins Perth Glory in massive coup for club and A-League
MORE: Why Daniel Sturridge has come searching for more Glory
Pignata can see similarities with the deal he worked on to bring Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero to Sydney FC in 2012 - the major difference was the need for virtual negotiations in a COVID-affected world.
As with Del Piero, however, it all started with an email. “Daniel came back via his agent that they were interested in having a chat, similar to what Alessandro’s management said nine years ago,” said Pignata.
“Things like this move pretty quickly, you don’t have a lot of time… you talk about the benefits of someone like Daniel coming to play in the A-League and play for Perth Glory, and what legacy he can leave here.
“Terry McFlynn, our Football Operations Manager mentioned that Daniel was available to Richard Garcia and myself. We thought, ‘That would be massive if we could sign him’. We approached our owner Tony Sage who agreed to start discussions.
“It’s probably taken about ten days, about four or five days ago Terry and I spent an hour on Zoom with Daniel’s agent, and it sort of flowed on from that.”
With Pignata and McFlynn engaged in intense discussions with Sturridge’s management, and Jones and Fowler helping to convince the England man himself, Perth owner Tony Sage made clear he would put the club’s money where its mouth was.
“It’s what you need,” Pignata said. "You do need support of your owner. If that is not there, then you’ve got no chance. But once you’ve got that backing you can structure a deal that works and delivers the player to the club.”
With Sage’s backing Pignata and McFlynn pressed on, with the latter engaged in regular conversations with Sturridge’s agent as discussions progressed. Finally, a Zoom call with Sturridge himself, along with head coach Garcia on Thursday afternoon, all but sealed the Englishman’s decision to ink a deal with the A-League side.
“Like any big deal you always have your doubts early on,” Pignata said.
“But the more it progressed and the more they wanted to talk, the more they wanted to structure a deal, it got closer and closer. As I said, these things happen quickly.
“Very much the approach that we took, and I’ve always taken, and Terry as well - we just say it how it is.
“We just say ‘this is what we’re about, this is what we’re doing and basically come on board and help us deliver what we’re trying to achieve here’.
“A lot of it is about not what Daniel can bring to the club, but what the club can do for Daniel, and the legacy he can leave.
“He’s achieved a lot in his career, and the aim is for him to come here, play in the A-League and leave a legacy when he does decide to leave.
“He’s very excited to come. As you know, the A-League is building, there were some big announcements last week and coming up as well. It just adds to the narrative of what the league is trying to do.”
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