Usain Bolt has a 'good chance' for Central Coast Mariners deal - Mark Schwarzer
Usain Bolt has a "good chance" of being signed on a permanent deal by the Central Coast Mariners and the Jamaican's lack of experience could be his key to earning a professional contract, former Australia international Mark Schwarzer has told ESPN.
Bolt's much-publicised efforts to earn a professional football contract are in a state of limbo as the opening weekend of A-League action gets under way, with the Mariners yet to make a decision on his future following his trial.
But a deal in Australia very much remains a possibility.
"I think he's got a good chance, purely because he's been there for so long," Schwarzer, who played 100 times for the Socceroos, told ESPN. "They think he's got something and that's why they've also got him there."
Schwarzer saw Bolt's two-goal showing against Macarthur South West United earlier in October and said while he's "got a lot of work to do still," he's showing "talent" and "promise."
"The big question is at his age and his stage of life, whether he's going to improve enough to warrant a contract in the A-League," Schwarzer said.
ESPN exclusively revealed that the eight-time Olympic champion was offered a lucrative two-year deal by Maltese side Valetta FC earlier this week, funded by the ambitious club's Abu Dhabi-based ownership group.
Bolt's representatives turned down the approach, with his agent Ricky Simms revealing Bolt himself was not interested in moving to Malta -- and this opens up the possibility of him remaining in Australia.
Bolt's pace is clearly one of his greatest strengths and Schwarzer feels it will take time to work on aligning his ball control with his speed, but also working to his advantage is his unpredictability due to his inexperience.
"Sometimes that can be even harder to defend against, to come up against, as there's that unpredictability as they are so raw," Schwarzer said. "They won't do things a normal footballer would have done.
"This is potentially quite exciting. For someone who has only seen snippets, if he can do alright, and if they do sign him and he gets those opportunities and he has that rawness and promise and he's a quick learner then it could be very exciting.
"The other problem is his age . He has to be quick learner otherwise when you get older, your pace gets slower as well so he has to harness it as quickly as possible to utilise it."
Rival coach Markus Babbel said Bolt would not be good enough "in a hundred years" to play in the A-League.
For the Mariners, Schwarzer believes they must make a call on Bolt purely as a footballer, rather than his potential merchandising pull as that would be a "short-sighted approach."
"You're talking about signing Usain Bolt as a football player. You can't sign Usain Bolt as a runner to play football.
"You have to sign him on his ability to play football and that's the only way they can do it. The only other thing is, you see in clubs around the world... when David Beckham signed for Real Madrid, a lot of the word was it was a great move from [then Real Madrid president Florentino] Perez because they made that money back in shirt sales in 24 hours around the world.
"But the big difference there is, Beckham was world-class, he was the best right-sided player in the world at that time. And one of the best dead ball specialists there has ever been so there was justification in signing him.
"There's justification in any club signing him in the world at that time so the question is with Usain Bolt -- is it a marketing spiel? Is it because he has some promise, but legitimately he's going to put bums on seat and sell merchandise? But that's short-sighted.
"For me, that only lasts for a short period of time if you don't deliver on the football pitch. You can't get away from that for very long because people want to see him perform.
"If Central Coast Mariners sign him it will be based on his football ability alone."