Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt has turned down the chance to join Maltese champions Valletta FC and will instead continue to pursue a contract with Australian club Central Coast Mariners.
Eight-time Olympic champion Bolt was this week offered a two-year contract by Valletta, who are 70 per cent owned by a UAE-based investment company.
Valletta chief executive Ghasston Slimen insisted the offer "isn't about money, this is about history", but Bolt's agent, Ricky Simms, has said his client has decided to reject the offer.
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"There is a lot of interest in Usain playing football," he told ESPN. "We regularly receive similar approaches. I can confirm Usain does not wish to pursue this opportunity in Malta."
Slimen told the broadcaster: "We wish Usain Bolt all the best with his football career. The Valletta FC offer is always on the table."
Bolt has been on trial with A-League club Mariners since arriving Down Under in August. He scored two goals in a pre-season friendly last Friday but is yet to be offered a deal.
Australia's domestic A-League season starts this weekend, with the Mariners in action on Sunday away to Brisbane Roar. With no contract, Bolt is not eligible for selection.
Club chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said this week the Jamaican "will continue his indefinite training period ... until any further notice".
Reports suggest the Mariners are waiting for governing body Football Federation Australia to decide whether it will contribute to a potential Aus$3 million (Dh7.85) offer to the 100m and 200m world record holder.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph on Thursday reported Bolt and Mielekamp sat down for a coffee in the wake of the Malta offer for clarity on his future.
It said Bolt, who regards Australia as a second home, might consider accepting less money if it means locking in a contract.
Mariners manager Mike Mulvey was reluctant to talk about Bolt, saying he was not involved in contract negotiations.
"I'm really not interested in [contract speculation] to tell you the truth," he told reporters. "He's been great among the guys and I was very happy for him last week with the two goals he scored, but we move on."
Mariners captain Matt Simon dismissed suggestions the chronicles of Bolt were distracting the squad ahead of their A-League opener.
"He's been here for a couple of months now, so everywhere we go with Usain, everyone's talking about him," Simon said.
"We've just been down to business, concentrating on the season and putting into practice what we've been doing at training for the last 12 weeks."
Bolt, who retired from athletics last year, has previously tried out with clubs in Germany, South Africa and Norway to no avail.