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Robert Pires in talks with Union

Former Arsenal star Robert Pires has been in contact with Philadelphia Union, Union manager Peter Nowak confirmed Wednesday.

Pires, 36, could sign with the Union this summer after his contract runs out with Villareal in La Liga.

“I think that left and right, there was confirmation from both sides, there is no secret there,” Nowak told MLSSoccer.com. “I believe that with players like that, who have such great pedigree and such a great background, they can be such a great role model for our young players.”

Pires told Sky Sports he has no plans to retire after this season and could move to Major League Soccer or somewhere else in Europe.

If he joined the Union, Pires likely slots in as an attacking midfielder, as the Union play a 4-4-2 with Fred and Roger Torres filling those roles on the wings.  He could also play as a second striker, but there’s no telling where Nowak would put him, considering his willingness to put players in positions few would expect.

Pires would likely be signed as a designated player if he joins MLS, meaning his full salary wouldn’t count toward the cap. The team still has three open roster spots and wouldn’t have to release anyone to add Pires.

Skeptics might say that, age 36, Pires is far removed from his Arsenal days and that he’s not even a full-time starter for Villareal, which currently sits in sixth place in La Liga. He’s appeared in 26 of Villareal’s 33 games, starting 13, and he has four goals and one assist.

He can still play though. A regular attacker for one of Spain’s top teams translates to at least a solid player in MLS. Pires need not be a superstar. He just needs to produce.

And since Sebastien Le Toux is giving Frenchmen a better name with his hard work, maybe people won’t be predisposed to dislike Pires just because he’s French. But then again, who knows? Maybe Philly fans will think he’s washed up, or maybe they’re glad to potentially get a guy who knows his way around the field. We’ll see.


  1. Bobby! I would love to have him play for the Union, assuming he’s still got some legs left. He’s never been about pace, really, so assuming he has 90-minute fitness, he would be an excellent addition, and a statement of intent on Nowak’s part as to the type of soccer he wants the team to play.

  2. Did you say Pires has never been about pace? I’ve been watching Arsenal since the Henry – Bergkamp – Pires – Viera days and i’ll have to tell you, although he was never Theo Walcot fast, he was one of the fastest players on that dream team. He also had a touch on the ball you couldn’t imagine. I’ve watched him at Villareal even though I’m not a fan of La Liga, (I just watch football anytime I get a chance) and I’ll tell you what, the guys got something left in the tank. He dosn’t quite have the “Becks” star-power, but when David is 37 years old he won’t be a fraction as good as Robert is now.

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