The Newcastle Jets have described the capture of Croatian midfielder Mateo Poljak as a "major coup" in the club's goal to become competitive force.
Poljak and returning Jet, Labinot Haliti, signed two year deals with the Hunter outfit after three seasons with the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Both were involved in the Wanderers’ 2013 A-League Premiership and 2014 AFC Champions League success. Poljak becomes the third foreigner on the Jet's books for the 2015-16 campaign.
The 25-year-old played a crucial role in helping Tony Popovic’s side earn domestic and continental glory, and Jets boss Scott Miller is sure the former Dinamo Zagreb youth product will provide leadership and class to his first team squad.
“Mateo will provide composure and leadership in our midfield, and we see it as a major coup for the club that we have been able to attain his services,” Miller said.
Poljak said he was keen to see the Jets become an A-League force after last season’s travails when they finished last.
“I have been talking to players who have been here before and they say that it’s a good region, and that there’s a good base of fans and a lot of support for the Newcastle Jets,” Poljak said.
“Those fans deserve that this club gets back on track to where it belongs, and this is the best way to start it.
“When Scott (Miller) first called me I said to my wife that ‘he was very enthusiastic’. Seeing his history with Fulham, being engaged with the Socceroos and knowing his age and ambition, I knew straight away that this was a good move. I really liked his way of communication.
“I have decided to accept this challenge for two years and I am definitely looking forward to it.”
Haliti returns to the Hunter for a third spell with Jets having represented the club in the first two A-League campaigns, as well as in seasons five, six, and seven. Indeed, Haliti has made 92 A-League appearances for Newcastle for a return of 15 goals.
“Labinot is a noted A-League performer and someone who offers us flexibility in our attacking systems,” Miller added.
“As with Mateo, Labinot boasts experience in tough European leagues and has shown that he is a winner through his personal and team exploits with Wanderers.
“With their understanding of the competition we will be looking for Mateo and Labinot to help us set continually high standards on and off the field.
Haliti said he was excited to re-join the Jets and work with Miller and Senior Assistant Coach, Jean-Paul de Marigny.
“One thing I know that Newcastle people want is a 100 per cent effort,” Haliti said. “I am looking forward to helping the team in any way that I can.”
“The main factor that I am here today is thanks to the boss (Miller) and JP (de Marigny). JP is actually the one who gave me a debut 10 years ago in Newcastle, so I have a lot of respect for him and the boss for showing faith in me and bringing me back.”