AS FOOTBALL basks in the glory of Alessandro Del Piero's arrival at Sydney FC, the FFA has left the door open for more overseas stars to ply their trade in the A-League.
The game's powerbrokers confirmed yesterday that guest players will this season be exempted from the limit on the number of overseas players allowed at each club.
The news came as Western Sydney Wanderers turned down an offer to sign former Germany captain Michael Ballack's services and also as it was reported that former England striker Emile Heskey was on the verge of joining the Newcastle Jets.
The Herald understands the Wanderers turned down the approach from Ballack's Australian representatives because they were not convinced about his condition and commitment.
The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich midfielder would not have been eligible for a marquee contract with the Wanderers as all five foreign player spots were already filled, but the FFA confirmed yesterday he would have been able to join as a guest player for up to 10 games.
The Wanderers signed their last two foreign players last week: Italian defender Iacopo La Rocca and Dutch midfielder Youssouf Hersi.
Ballack has been a free agent since leaving Bayer Leverkusen in June and has been linked with moves to the Middle East and the US.
Heskey is set to pocket $100,000 a month at the Jets in a deal that will make him the highest paid player in the club's history.
He has agreed terms and, pending a successful medical, will earn $700,000 for the season, which equates to $26,000 a game if he plays all 27 rounds.
Heskey is expected to join them in Newcastle next week, where he will officially put pen to paper.
A free agent since he was released by English Premier League club Aston Villa in May, Heskey had been linked to a return to his former club Liverpool. The Herald understands he knocked back a more lucrative deal, believed to be worth $1.2 million a year, in the Middle East to move to Australia.
The 34-year-old target man replaces Jason Culina as the Jets marquee player.
Culina signed a three-year deal worth $2.65 million in February last year but broke down in the pre-season after aggravating his surgically repaired knee and did not play a game.
Culina was to have collected $850,000 a year, but per month Heskey will earn more.
At the height of his career, Heskey made an £11 million move in 2000 from Leicester to Liverpool.