The new A-League season is upon us and with it comes a legion of shiny new signings for fans across the country to flaunt.
Long regarded as one of the few retirement homes for elite footballers seeking a final payday, there has been a concerted effort to overthrow that bias and the league has blossomed thanks to the arrival of players who haven’t gotten over the mound yet. to be.
And these five foreign imports hope to continue that trend and leave their mark on the competition.
The A-League returns tonight and there are plenty of new signings to get excited about
Not since Alessandro del Piero landed in Sydney has a player of Nani’s stature graced the A-League.
The Portuguese wizard won four Premier League titles, two League Cups and the Champions League during his trophy-laden stint at Manchester United, playing an integral role alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Nani is the most talked-about A-League signing since Alesandro del Piero moved to Sydney
The former Manchester United star was amazing for Orlando and will be hoping for more of the same
It will be that sort of experience that will see Tony Popovic back on this campaign, after his side narrowly missed the petty premiership of arch-rival City, before crashing out of the final to Western United with a 4-1 defeat at home.
But make no mistake, Nani can certainly offer much more than a wise voice in the dressing room. The Portuguese lit up MLS during his two-year stint with Orlando, scoring 28 goals in 77 games, and hoping his ill-fated stint with Venezia was just a blip.
“From what I’ve seen the Melbourne fans are not only the best in the league but they rival the atmosphere in Europe and I’m looking forward to being part of that on the pitch in a Victory shirt and to play for them this year. season,” Nani said.
Given his exceptional track record at the championship level, Charlie Austin’s decision to leave the second tier for the A-League came as a surprise to fans in Blighty.
The 33-year-old striker did not get enough action to trigger a contract extension with QPR, which resulted in his departure from Loftus Road, but he still has the opportunity to do work at that level for a number of sides.
Charlie Austin scored a lot of goals in England and will try to keep that trend in Australia
But the EFL’s loss is Brisbane’s gain, who have tied the Englishman to a ‘multi-year’ deal after being convinced by the Roar’s coach, Warren Moon, to make the move abroad.
“Playing abroad is something I’ve always wanted to do and when the opportunity arose to join this club, I wanted to explore it,” Austin said.
“I want to help the club get back into the top six and personally score as many goals as possible.”
Things can change quickly in football. During the pre-season break, Joe Lolley prepared for a career-defining step into the Premier League after helping Nottingham Forest finally return to the upper echelons of English football.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, the 30-year-old was informed that he was not part of the club’s future plans, with Steve Cooper in the midst of a massive spending spree.
Joe Lolley made a surprise exit from Nottingham Forest, but their loss is Sydney’s gain
Lolley’s departure, a popular figure among fans, was a bitter pill to swallow for Forest supporters, who believed that while they were not at the level to be a starter, they still offered enough as a replacement.
And now the Englishman is taking his considerable talents to the Harbor City after signing a two-year deal with Sydney FC.
Lolley is unlikely to provide the target threat we expect from modern wingers, but will provide enough width on the flanks to stretch opponents and give star striker Adam Le Fondre more space down the middle.
It can’t be easy arriving in Australia, where your namesake is considered one of the greatest ever in the A-League, but Valon Berisha seemingly has all the tools to make a big splash.
Valon Berisha boasts Champions League experience and will look to strengthen Melbourne City’s midfield
Of course, Besart Berisha has scored more goals than any other player in A-League history, and 29-year-old midfielder Valon – who is not related to the retired striker – cannot be expected to total that total because he has been loaned to Melbourne City for a season.
But he can provide a lot of dynamism in the middle of the park that will strengthen Patrick Kisnorbo’s midfield. Berisha spent six years at RB Salzburg, scoring 31 goals in 167 games, before enjoying spells at Lazio and Reims.
The French club have loaned him to City and he insists he will not be weighed down by the pressure to perform for his new side.
“I like pressure because I’m used to being busy,” he said. “Even when I played in bigger stages in the Europa League and also in qualifiers for (UEFA) Champions League, I am used to being under pressure all the time.
“But football is about today and tomorrow, it’s not about what you’ve done before.
“For me, I came here and I want to start all over again. This is a new chapter and I want to introduce myself to my teammates first and then of course to the competition.”
While not technically a brand new import, Carl Jenkinson’s permanent move to Newcastle Jets is an exciting move for the A-League, given his successful spell at City.
After his breakthrough at Arsenal, there were high hopes that the Englishman would be the club’s full-back for many years to come, having been given a chance by Arsene Wenger.
His career with the Emirates faltered, however, while spells at West Ham, Birmingham and Forest failed to give him the kick-start he so desperately needed.
Carl Jenkinson is best remembered for his time at Arsenal, but his career has stalled
After a prolific loan spell at City, he hopes to make an impact at Newcastle Jets
Perhaps inspiration for his former team-mate Lolley, Jenkinson moved from Forest to the A-League and reaped the benefits of his bold decision by scoring on his debut for City. He played 19 games for the club and added another goal to his name.
His performances in Melbourne convinced the Jets to take a step for the 30-year-old, securing him a two-year contract.
‘I knew within five minutes of speaking to Arthur’ [Papas, Jets coach] he was a manager I wanted to play for,” Jenkinson said.
“We have a similar view of how the game should be played and I know he has great ambitions for the future of the club.
“I love being part of this team and I will do everything I can to achieve something special here.”