Adelaide United faces battle for signature of coach-in-waiting Gabriel Batistuta


Gabriel Batistuta during his days at Inter Milan in 2003. Adelaide United is in a race to gain his signature as coach. Picture: Grazia Neri (Getty Images)

ADELAIDE United is not alone in the race to secure Gabriel Batistuta’s signature.

As two of the superstar’s FIFA World Cup teammates are touted as assistants to the Argentine at Adelaide United, the Reds have competition for his services, according to sources.

While only one assistant is tipped to follow Batistuta as he becomes a first-time coach, it’s believed Adelaide is the front runner to securing the most incredible A-League bench in history.

With the likelihood of current boss Guillermo Amor staying appearing remote as the Reds season draws to a close on the intercontinental AFC Champions League in May, negotiations are ongoing for Batistuta’s potential move to Adelaide during winter, in time for the preseason.

The legendary striker, it’s understood, is interested in the Australian lifestyle after enjoying his time in Perth where he lived, studying English, after his playing retirement.

United general manager of football, Ante Kovacevic, is tipped to fly to Argentina after the Reds face Gamba Osaka in Japan on Anzac Day armed with final contract details for Batistuta.

It’s understood Batistuta has targeted three imports for Adelaide — if he agrees to terms.

And an Adelaide official who declined to comment about the Batistuta situation claimed some off-contract Reds may be offered new deals.

With Isaias at this stage the only foreigner to re-sign for next season, retaining Marcelo Carrusca may be an attractive option for Batistuta, as he will soon earn Australian residency, freeing up an import spot.

Italian defender Iacopo La Rocca, who earned Australian residency late last year, is also a chance to stay, given he is in the same situation as Carrusca.

With Sergio Cirio destined to be announced as coach Paul Okon’s prized signature at Central Coast starting next season, United must also decide whether Senegalese striker Baba Diawara and South Korean Kim Jae-sung are a good fit for the potential new Argentine coaches.

Adelaide returns to training on Wednesday after Amor gave his men time off following its 2-2 draw with Western Sydney at Hindmarsh on Saturday in its final A-League match of the season.

With Adelaide missing suspended stoppers Dylan McGowan and Taylor Regan and midfielder Riley McGree for the vital AFC Champions League Gamba clash, Amor must make a potentially season-defining decision on a starting line up for Suita City next week.

A victory for Adelaide over Gamba would see United qualify for the Champions League knockout stage with a Group H game to spare, while Gamba will leapfrog the Reds if the confident Japanese team wins.

Gamba drew 2-2 draw in the Osaka derby against Cerezo in front of 42,438 fans away on the weekend to stay in fifth place before facing bottom J-League club Omiya Ardija at home on Friday.