With the immediate retirement last week of Socceroo’s legend and Sydney FC player Brett Emerton, a slot has opened up for the Sky Blues to find a new Australia marquee. Sydney has already made a play for Celtic’s Tom Rogic, but unfortunately for them he looks to be on route to Melbourne Victory.
Sydney need a big signing to boost morale in the dressing room and on the pitch having seen their finals hopes take a battering over the past two months, and the transfer window just opening presents a good opportunity for coach Frank Farina to make adjustments to his struggling squad.
Emerton was reported to be on $1.2 million a season at the Sky Blues, so the club does have some money to splash. Let’s see who the viable options are for Sydney FC in their search for a new Australian marquee is:
Carl Valeri (Sassuolo)
Valeri has been somewhat the forgotten man of Australian football after a horrific lengthy injury spell on the sidelines that meant he is yet to represent the national team since November 2012. The 29-year-old was a key contributor in Sassuolo’s midfield before being dogged by injury in their successful promotion campaign to Italy’s top flight last season and has once again played a peripheral part this season.
He looks to have been through the worst of his injury troubles, and has actually made it on the bench for the side’s last two league matches, including the thrilling 4-3 victory over giants AC Milan. It remains to be seen whether Valeri would be willing to move to Australia given that he’s spent his whole career in Italy, but he would be an excellent addition if Farina could get him playing to the standard he was before he was injured.
The promise of first team football could convince Valeri to make the move back home, and he knows he needs game to stand a chance of making the World Cup squad and adding to his 50 caps.
Brett Holman (Al-Nasr)
The 29-year-old was surprisingly dropped by Ange Postecoglou when he named his first Socceroos squad against Costa Rica, and there are doubts about whether his move in July to the Middle East from English Premier League side Aston Villa was the right one.
Holman is a regular at Al-Nasr and a fan favourite with the fans, and it remains to be seen whether he’d leave the club just six months after joining them, but if Holman is willing to come back to his hometown, then Sydney should do all they can to pursue the wide man.
Nathan Burns (Incheon United)
Burns has had a tough old time overseas, since making the move from Adelaide United as a fresh-faced teenager in 2008 to Greek giants AEK Athens. A series of unsuccessful loan moves followed, and finally in 2012 he got a permanent move away to Korean club Incheon United, and things looked to be on the way up for attacker again, right?
Sadly, no. Like his European sojourn, his experience in Asia was a failure, and he was farmed out on loan to the Newcastle Jets this term, where encouragingly he began to pick up form and showed everyone why he was so highly rated when he was a youngster.
Still only 25, you can see Burns loves playing back in his homeland, and was the Jets best player to date this season before he returned to his parent club on January 11 this year. If Sydney can agree a package with Incheon, then no doubt Burns would come back to the A League, and his quick thinking and nifty play would definitely add an element of surprise to an often stagnant and predictable Sydney attack.
Lucas Neill (free agent)
Maybe not the most popular choice at the moment, following his recent actions and performances with the Socceroos, but still a player with tremendous pedigree and experience that would no doubt benefit any A-League team.
Neill was recently with Omiya Ardiya in the J-League, and was released at the end of November, and is desperate to find a club to play with in order to get match fit for the World Cup in June, so he would have no qualms in joining Sydney if a deal could be reached.
The 96 capped defender has actually played for Sydney back in 2013, when he played only three games of a ten game guest stint. He will be hoping this can make a better fist of it this time around if he gets signed by the glamor club.