After months of speculation where this transfer rumour took the scenic route and then back again, Antonio Nocerino is now officially Orlando City SC’s latest signing.
The former Italian international joins Adrian Heath’s side from AC Milan but the Lions have now sealed the deal having traded Targeted Allocation Money and General Allocation Money with fellow MLS franchise D.C. United who held his exclusive discovery rights.
The 30-year-old brings a wealth of experience to this Orlando City SC squad having appeared over 70 times for the Rossoneri in Serie A, not to mention spending previous spells at Juventus and Palermo as well as a brief loan stint in the Premier League with West Ham United back in 2014.
While both Cristian Higuita and Darwin Cerén enjoyed a hugely positive central midfield partnership in the Lions’ inaugural Major League Soccer campaign, Nocerino will add vital depth in a long campaign whereby City will suffer international call-ups, not to mention inevitable suspensions.
What’s more, in his career to date, Nocerino hasn’t simply performed in a defensive midfield role but has also appeared further forward as an attacking midfielder as well as performing on the flanks.
Effectively a box-to-box midfielder by trade, Nocerino is a tough competitor with a never-say-die attitude who should flourish with the Italian now being reunited with a former AC Milan colleague in Lions captain Kaká.
Here’s a unique angle of our Lions new boy scoring against none other than Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Champions League back in April 2012 (Video Credit: kobrakahn83)
Having performed at the highest level in the Champions League as well as being a part of the Italian senior international squads that competed at Euro 2012 and the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, Heath is clearly delighted to have finally got his man.
Speaking to the official club website, coach Heath enthused: “Nocerino is an energetic and hard-working box-to-box midfielder that can provide an immediate impact within the squad.
“He has a tremendous amount of experience playing at the highest level and his ability to play numerous roles in the midfield will be an incredible asset for us this season. We’re looking forward to working with him.”
Questions that remain unanswered include the fact that details of the contract have been kept undisclosed as reported by Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel.
While you’d imagine that Nocerino would demand a Designated Player’s salary, this will have to be ironed out in the coming weeks with both Carlos Rivas and Bryan Róchez being the two existing DP’s in addition to Kaká at present.
Another unanswered question is what squad number will the Italian enforcer wear?
While this still remains a mystery at this point, it’s worth noting that back in the 2011/12 Serie A campaign, Nocerino donned squad number 22 which is still currently available at the Citrus Bowl.
Merely speculation at this point of course!
— Orlando City UK (@Orlando_CityUK) February 16, 2016
What’s more, Nocerino won’t initially link up with the Lions either with the Italian expected to remain in Europe for the meantime until the player receives his Visa to play in the States.
But with the Nocerino saga now having finally reached its conclusion, it’s fair to say that Lions supporters are feeling a mixture of relief and delight judging by Twitter…
— John Henry (@jkmhenry) February 18, 2016
Happy the Nocerino saga is over & I’m happy to have him but its still a massive roll of the dice. Respect Phil/Inchy pushing this through
— Chris (@OrlandoCountySC) February 18, 2016
Orlando City has officially signed Antonio Nocerino. The Italian will play a significant role for the Lions in 2016.
— Parramore Pundits (@ParPundits) February 18, 2016
— Patty Floyd (@PvalFloyd) February 18, 2016
And we must note that Kaká is delighted to be reunited with Nocerino!
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 18, 2016
Orlando City UK wishes Antonio the very best of luck as he embarks on this exciting new chapter of his career in The City Beautiful!