Heart sign promising trio Chapman, Melling, Brown

Melbourne Heart have kept one eye on the future by signing rising stars Connor Chapman, Jacob Melling and James Brown for their next A-League campaign.

Coach John van’t Schip has shown faith in Chapman, 19 and Brown, 24, who failed to build on their potential at Newcastle Jets last season. While midfielder Melling, 19, jumped the border from Adelaide United.

The three players have all signed two year contracts with Heart and bring the club’s squad for the upcoming season to 16 players, with further announcements pending.

Van’t Schip praised the signing of Chapman, who enjoyed a breakout season for the Jets during the 2012-13 season, and featured in the Australian U-23 team which competed at the 2013 AFC U-22 Championships in Oman.

“Connor is an outstanding young defender, with a promising career ahead of him and is a gifted individual,” van’t Schip said.

“He has shown experience beyond his age with two full seasons in the A-League and he is still just 19. He will no doubt grow further under the leadership of Patrick Kisnorbo and Robbie Wielaert.”

Melling is considered one of the league's best young midfielders, while Brown has yet to deliver on his early promise.

Adelaide-born Melling made his A-League debut for United in January 2012 as a 16-year-old after progressing through the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) Football Program, and has featured consistently for underage Australian teams.

Melling will join Heart outside of the salary cap as a full-time, base salary contract, one of three additional youth players that A-League clubs are afforded outside of its 23-player squad.

“We believe Jacob to be one of the best young midfielders in the system and he is an exciting and competitive midfielder,” van’t Schip said.

Brown, an attacking utility, emerged as a prodigious talent at Gold Coast United in 2011 and established himself as an energetic player who can fill a mixture of attacking roles.

“James possesses a lot of the attributes that we look for in attacking players at Melbourne Heart,” van’t Schip said.

“Two years ago, when he was at Gold Coast, we saw his potential and we feel his best football is still ahead of him.”

Van 't Schip has form developing young talent and was instrumental in the emergence of defenders Brendan Hamill and Curtis Good, with the latter recently named in the Socceroos preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.