When Melbourne City became Melbourne City, the fortunes of the southern capital’s second team appeared destined to change.
They may have left it late, but Melbourne City have landed Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren in a significant A-League coup.
City were hot on the heels of the 25-year-old as a striker to replace sidelined forward Bruno Fornaroli, announcing his arrival on Friday morning.
Maclaren joins on a four-and-a-half year deal after the club agreed terms with German parent club Darmstadt.
“Jamie is a fantastic signing for us not only for this season but for the future,” head coach Warren Joyce said in a statement.
“He’s a proven goalscorer with a lot of talent and experience, and at only 25 years old, he’s still got plenty of upside.
“Jamie’s arrival will provide a big boost to the squad as we head into the back half of the season and most importantly, he’ll give us more of a goal threat.”
The transfer went down to the wire – and past the closing of the Australian transfer window – as both City and Darmstadt lobbied Scottish loan home Hibernian for a release.
At one gut-wrenching moment on Thursday night, City feared they would miss out on the Socceroos forward.
They used a loophole in the FIFA regulations that allowed City to register the striker using the German transfer window, buying them a few precious hours in which to secure his release from Hibernian.
The Scottish Premiership club were not willing to let Maclaren go without finding a replacement.
Once that domino had fallen, City could finally celebrate the capture of one of Australia’s finest forwards.
Maclaren brings a much-needed goal-scoring pedigree to City; he scored 40 goals for Brisbane Roar in his last two seasons before moving abroad.
The Melburnian said he was driven by a “desire to move closer to home”.
“I can’t wait to return to Australia and as a local lad,” he said.
“I’m feeling strong after a good Asian Cup experience, but my focus is now on making an impact in the A-League.”
The 12-time international led the line for Australia at the Asian Cup, scoring one goal in five games as the Socceroos crashed out in the quarter finals to UAE.
City hope he will debut against Adelaide United next Saturday at AAMI Park.
In other A-League transfer news, new franchise Western Melbourne Group have reportedly signed former Greece international Panagiotis Kone as their inaugural marquee signing.
The 31-year-old’s arrival was trumpeted by club chief Lou Sticca.
“Kone will be a great ambassador for our new club, for the A-League and for the respected and substantial number of Victorians of Greek heritage,” Sticca told News Corp.