The Newcastle Jets spent months in talks with midfield target Erik Paartalu only to be out-bid by Melbourne City in the home stretch.
Cashed-up City tabled a four-year deal for the 28-year-old and announced his signing on Monday, sending the Hunter outfit back to square one.
Jets coach Phil Stubbins conceded Newcastle was not in a position to match the deep pockets of City, and would need a fresh look at boosting its thin midfield stocks after losing their number one target less than a month out from the season start.
‘‘We put a decent offer on the table for (Paartalu) but Melbourne City have come in over the top,’’ Stubbins told the Newcastle Herald.
‘‘The deal is for four years, which is a long contract in the A-League.
‘‘We were a little loath to get over-committed to one player.
‘‘There are others out there we had struck up initial relationships with before making a play for Erik.
‘‘We will cast the net and start again.’’
Rising star Craig Goodwin was released to join Adelaide United in a bid to make way for Paartalu.
‘‘We don’t have the luxury of using Australian and under-23 marquee spot that someone like Melbourne City do,’’ Stubbins added.
Paartalu was a key player in Brisbane Roar's title-winning run under Ange Postecoglou before heading overseas, first to China and then Thailand.
The Jets made no secret of the fact they wanted to bring the towering midfielder back to the A-League where he enjoyed past success.
Meanwhile, the club's management are currently in the UK to meet with potential buyers for the club after financially embattled entrepreneur, Nathan Tinkler, put the outfit on the market.
— Michael Bridges (@MickyBridges8) September 14, 2014