The player cull coach Jim Magilton wants at Melbourne Victory may not have started, but the replacements are already being lined up.
Exciting Gold Coast United wingback Adama Traore heads the Victory’s wishlist for next season as the A-League underachievers attempt to rebuild after their abject failure this campaign.
Traore, from the Ivory Coast, has been one of the A-League’s best left-backs during his three seasons in the competition.
He will certainly leave Gold Coast, whose future in the competition is in limbo, at the end of the season.
While the rumour mill suggests he has already signed with the Victory and an announcement will be made after both teams’ seasons finish in a fortnight, it may not be a done deal as the 22-year-old has also been linked with a move overseas.
But arguably the competition’s most exciting talent – Central Coast Mariners attacker Tomas Rogic – looks unlikely to be among any influx of Victory signings for next season.
Interim boss Magilton is still favoured to get the nod as long-term Victory coach despite an unflattering record since taking over mid-season.
The Victory’s horror campaign under sacked Mehmet Durakovic and Magilton was officially put out of its misery with a lifeless 1-0 loss to Sydney FC in Sydney last weekend.
Described by former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich as the worst A-League performance he had witnessed in his three years in the media, the Victory’s defeat led to Magilton saying the club needed a cleanout.
That is certain to happen regardless of whether Magilton remains in charge or not.
Most of the Victory’s out-of-contract players won’t be retained for next season, with Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez the most prominent of those yet to agree a deal beyond this season.
Short-term signing Ubay Luzardo, who has been disappointing since joining the Victory, is also unlikely to be retained.
The Victory also face losing Socceroos defender Mark Milligan, who has been outstanding as a holding midfielder since arriving on loan.
But Victory could consider buying Milligan outright from his Japanese club JEF United should they wish to keep him.
Milligan was one of few Victory players to shine in the Sydney FC defeat.