There's only one Shinji Ono and it's not me, says Wanderers signing Saba
The former Japan international proved an enormous hit in his two seasons with the Wanderers, helping the A-League's youngest franchise to a premiership win and successive grand finals in the first two seasons of their existence.
With Ono having left the club at the end of last season to join Consadole Sapporo, Saba will be expected to try and fill at least some of the creative void left by the former Asian Footballer of the Year.
While his silky skills in pre-season games and rugged beard have already started to win over the Wanderers faithful, the 24-year-old has made it clear supporters should not expect miracles from the word go in 2014-15.
"What I can say is that, firstly, I'm not replacing Shinji Ono – he was a marquee player and we don't have another marquee player," the former Flamengo and Brescia player said.
"I'm just playing in his positions and I have another style of play so I don't have pressure to replace anyone.
"I'm a classic No.10, like the old ones."
The Wanderers are yet to sign a domestic or overseas marquee for the new campaign.
Although Tony Popovic is in no rush to do so, the head coach has not ruled out the possibility if the right target becomes available.
"I wouldn't say we need to fill it," Popovic said.
"But if we feel there's a player that can help improve our squad then definitely we'll take that option."
"In year one, we bought Shinji a week before the season started in October. That wasn't planned, we were not looking for Shinji, it came to us a week or two before we brought him. If the right player comes up, then we will have a look."