Alessandro Diamanti is nearing the end of his career, but he wants to contribute to the future of Australian football.
The A-League’s best player says the competition’s growth in standard depends on the introduction of promotion and relegation, and the scrapping of the salary cap.
Western United’s Italian star Alessandro Diamanti, the reigning Johnny Warren Medallist, said the professionalism and the organisation of the A-League was “very good”.
And for a player turning 38 in May and nearing the end his career, that’s more than enough for Diamanti.
But as someone keen for Australian football to grow and produce better players, Diamanti wants a more “competitive” A-League, where every match means something.
“I like how the A-League is, but if you want to grow fast, you have to change something,” said the evergreen playmaker, who has also plied this trade in Italy, England and China.
“That’s by no more salary cap, and having promotion and relegation.
“If you have relegation, you fight for something, you can grow fast, because without pressure you can’t grow fast.
“If a player goes on the pitch and sometimes can say `if we win or we lose, nothing changes’, you can’t grow.
“The competitiveness is three, four, five teams fighting for the championship, and three, four, five teams fighting to avoid relegation. The matches will get hard and better.”
Diamanti said it was part of his “big vision” for the A-League and Australian football, hinting that he would like to remain here after he retired.
“If I’m selfish I can say that it’s not my problem, but I’m thinking of other guys in this league. They have every skill physically and mentally and are ready to grow,” he said.
“I speak for the young guys, I don’t speak for me. I have the big vision, not my vision.
“I think my future can maybe be in Australia. I have a big plan but I don’t want to say anything yet.”
Diamanti, whose side hosts Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday in Ballarat, is contracted to Western United until the end of next season.
But he hasn’t ruled out retiring at the end of United’s current campaign.
“Next season, we will see. I have a contract, but for me the contract is just a piece of paper,” the former Bologna, West Ham and Guangzhou Evergrande playmaker said.
“I’m a very proud man. At my age, I play for passion. If my body and my passion is still good, I will keep playing because I don’t want to just play, I want to make a difference.
“To make a difference, the passion and the body has to stay 100 per cent, otherwise I prefer to stay home.”