The Melbourne Victory currently sit second from bottom on the A-League ladder, in a season that has been defined by inconsistency on the field, as well as some bad luck with injuries and departures.
Following the exploits of Adam Taggart, Korean clubs seem to have sat up and taken notice of Aussie players.
Now, Suwon Bluewings – Taggart’s club – have purchased Melbourne Victory stalwart Terry Antonis.
Losing Antonis looks like a big blow to Melbourne, however, Victory fans need not fear.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Victory’s saviour is someone they have already signed, sealed and delivered: Jay Barnett.
A complete midfielder, he is pacy, good on the ball, and a fantastic eye for a pass. The 18-year-old former Brisbane Roar youth product plays the same position as the departed Antonis, and is an able replacement.
Of course, Barnett is yet to get a consistent run of games at the senior level. He only made three senior appearances for the Roar in 2019, a side struggling to stay afloat in the A-League.
However, that says nothing about his quality. Daniel Arzani hardly played any games for Melbourne City before stepping in, and yet lit up the league.
This phenomenon of having unheralded and underrated players thrive in a more competitive environment is not limited to the A-League.
Who’d have thought that Jamie Vardy would win the Premier League when he was still at Stocksbridge Park Steels? Did anyone expect Burnley keeper Nick Pope to play for England when he was wasting away on the bench a few seasons ago, before an injury to first-choice keeper Tom Heaton gave him an opportunity to shine?
Antonis has gone on to bigger and better things, with Victory making a significant profit on a player that had signed for free.
Now, it is time to replicate that model, and blood more youngsters before selling them on to bigger clubs.