Sydney: Former Germany captain Michael Ballack is poised to join Western Sydney Wanderers, picking the Australian A-League newcomers over offers from the Middle East and US, a report said on Thursday.
After Sydney FC's signing of Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero last week, the two-time World Cup star is expected to sign with the Wanderers next week, football website The World Game said.
Citing German sources, the site said 2002 World Cup finalist Ballack, who turns 36 next week, has opted for the Australian side in a one-year deal worth in excess of Aus$1 million (US$1 million).
"Michael is excited by the prospect of coming to a great city like Sydney and being a part of a new project in an emerging football country," the site quoted a source as saying.
"He has kept himself very fit and obviously the match fitness will come quickly from that.
"He will certainly be in Australia for the first game (October 6) and over the next few days the finer details will be sorted out."
Ballack, who scored 42 goals in 98 appearances for his country, has just left Bayer Leverkusen after a two-year stint in the Bundesliga, following four years with Chelsea in the English Premier League.
Football Federation Australia's head of the A-League Damien De Bohun said the fact that Ballack is even linked to a move to Australia is an important step in the domestic game's growth.
"There's all sorts of rumours flying around but the fact that someone like Ballack would even contemplate coming to the A-League is huge," De Bohun said.
"Four or five years ago that wasn't a conversation people were even prepared to have."
Del Piero, 37, opted for Sydney FC ahead of clubs including Premier League giants Liverpool on a two-year contract reportedly worth US$2 million a season.
His arrival has been hailed as a significant moment for the A-League, which is entering its eighth season but has struggled over the years with patchy crowds and financial troubles.
There are reports that former England international forward Emile Heskey has also agreed to sign for the Newcastle Jets.