It is open season on Europe-based Socceroos.
Midfielders Ollie Bozanic, James Troisi, James Holland and Dario Vidosic are all clubless and with Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and now Western Sydney Wanderers on the lookout for Australian marquee signings, much discussion is taking place behind the scenes. And it has become an overheating market as agents are playing clubs off against each other.
As flagged here in recent weeks, Andy Keogh is to depart the train wreck that Perth Glory are fast becoming in the wake of the salary cap scandal - central to which were out-of-cap payments to the Irish striker and his wife. Keogh maintains he was unaware of the breaches and is rumoured to be set for a big money deal with a Thai club that will be involved in the Asian Champions League.
To Melbourne City and Georgios Samaras is the hot tip to take up their Australian marquee spot. Negotiations are ongoing. Meanwhile, Aaron Mooy is still being courted by overseas clubs and with a year on his contract left to run, City may look to take advantage of a transfer fee, rumoured to be in the vicinity of $400,000.
There is dressing room discontent at Adelaide United. Hot on the heels of the Liverpool friendly payments bunfight, in which players have gone public with their frustration at club chairman Greg Griffin, there is further anger that talented winger Awer Mabil was allowed to depart for Danish champion club FC Mitjylland while another young footballer, midfielder Jimmy Jeggo, was blocked from trialling at Austria’s Sturm Graz. Despite public assurances to the contrary, it is not all roses down south.
The shakeout continues at the Western Sydney Wanderers, with the club now showing the door to Labinot Haliti and, surprisingly, Mateo Poljak. The pair are heading to the Newcastle Jets.
Meanwhile, WSW are set to announce new signings in the next fortnight. In their search for marquee attackers, the Wanderers are believed to have made approaches to former Italian international Alberto Gilardino and Serbian World Cup star Nikola Zigic, but could end up settling for a cut-price option in 30-year-old Italian journeyman Federico Piovaccari. And it is understood that Tony Popovic wants Lokomotiva Zagreb’s Socceroo squad member Tomislav Mrcela to replace the departed Matthew Spiranovic .
With two months left before the start of the A-League season, Sydney coach Graham Arnold has challenged his fullbacks to step up and cement a starting spot on the team. Seb Ryall, Rhyan Grant, Alex Gersbach and Riley Woodcock have been told that the fullback positions are wide open and competition at training has been fierce, which is just how Arnie likes it.
With Slovakian striker Filip Holosko finally announced as the Sky Blues’ international marquee striker, Sydney are on the lookout for an attacker and a midfielder to round out the squad. The club appears most keen on forwards Nikita Rukavytsia and Swansea-based 19-year-old James Demetriou, despite Rukavytsia’s less than stellar season half-season at the Wanderers and Demetriou’s betting irregularities that saw him fined £700 by the FA last month.
In the midfield, Sydney have spoken with one time Socceroo Billy Celeski but are understood to be pulling out all stops to sign 16-year-old Joeys starlet Daniel Arzani. A local product, the club sees Arzani as the next Terry Antonis and are doing their utmost to secure the talented youngster. Arzani, currently at the FFA Centre of Excellence, has also attracted overseas attention.
Injury-prone defender Chris Herd is being linked with Championship club Charlton Athletic. Herd, who spurned Aston Villa coach Tim Sherwood’s offer to take part in Villa’s pre-season training despite being cut by the club, is believed to be approaching full fitness following a season-ending knee injury in February. The West Australian has also expressed interest in joining Socceroo teammate Jason Davidson at Huddersfield Town.
Over to Newcastle and rumours are rife that former Adelaide United defender Cameron Watson is set to join new boys Poljak, Haliti and Jason Hoffman at the Jets, while Aryn Williams, Max Burgess, Patrick Antelmi and Kofi Danning are still trialling with the club. Cap space is tight due to some big money deals done under the previous administration and the club will look to kick off the A-League season with just 21 first teamers on their books.
And the rest:
Iain Ramsay will pursue opportunities in Asia after trialling and being rejected by the Newcastle Jets… Daniel De Silva will be loaned out to a Belgian club by AS Roma…Jets coach Scott Miller has challenged 23-year-old Ben Kantarovski to return to career-best form…Brisbane Roar players and staff are believed to have been paid this month, taking pressure off the beleaguered Bakrie Group as they push for a sale…Bentleigh Greens’ Ryan de Vries and Knights’ Tomislav Uskok are trialling with an A-League club… Adelaide United are closing in on a new striker, believed to be Eli Babalj.
Finally, not a rumour but best wishes for a speedy recovery to FFA Chairman Frank Lowy, who has undergone emergency surgery for a blood clot on the brain following his much-publicised off-stage fall at the A-League Grand Final in May.comments