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Opinion

Who’s leading the annual game of A-League off season musical chairs? (Part 2)

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Expert
16th August, 2021
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After last week citing Macarthur FC and Melbourne Victory as the big winners thus far in A-League off-season recruitment, today I will look at the remaining clubs and how things appear to be shaping up for them as the season draws ever nearer.

Newcastle Jets
In potentially the most dramatic shake-up of any A-League club, the Jets farewell a host of quality men and welcome a number of promising replacements.

The departures of veteran Nigel Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ali Abbas, Roy O’Donovan, James Donachie and Johnny Koutroumbis leave considerable holes to plug, as do the departures of younger talent in the form of Ramy Najjarine and Connor O’Toole.

In a squad shakeup destined to excite fans, the club has secured Matthew Jurman from Greece, Dane Ingham and Riley Warland from Perth Glory and former Adelaide player Jordan Elsey to sure up the defence. Cameron Devlin leaves Wellington to add to the midfield stocks and Joe Champness could well be back in the blue and red this season after his loan period in Brisbane.

It is a solid start for the Jets, yet more will be needed to get the struggling club back on a competitive path.
Perth Glory

Jason Geria, Nick D’Agostino and Chris Ikonomidis are huge losses for Perth and all head to Melbourne Victory. Dane Ingham, Neil Kilkenny, Riley Warland and Brandon Wilson also depart, with Joel Chianese’s loan period now concluded.

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Veteran goal-keeper Brad Jones signs on from Saudi Arabia, Jack Clisby returns to Perth and Aaron Calver continues to move around the league, arriving from Western United. Brandon O’Neill is the most significant of signings thus far, returning from Thailand and hoping to reignite his representative career.

Expect more signings in the coming days, with the club still needing to fill a host of roles in the roster.

Sydney FC
It looks like much of a muchness for Sydney FC. Luke Ivanovic, Patrick Flottman, Ryan McGowan, Alex Baumjohann and Jordi Swibel leave the club, yet some interesting recruits step in to take their places.

In a move that stunned many, Elvis Kamsoba signs on from the Victory, Newcastle pair James Donachie and Connor O’Toole do the same and exciting midfielder Max Burgess leaves Western United for the harbour city. With a solid foundation from which to work, coach Steve Corica will seek to blend the new men into his squad and hope to mount another serious assault on the A-League premiership this season.

Sydney's coach Steve Corica

(Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

Wellington Phoenix
Some will have grave fears for Wellington this season, and such a feeling may well be founded considering the talent that has departed.

Mexican Ulises Davila lit up the league in 2020/21, Tomer Hemed improved throughout the season and Cameron Devlin continued to look like a future star of the competition. Sadly, they all depart windy Wellington along with Matthew Ridenton, Mirza Muratovic and Luke DeVere.

At the time of writing, just Gary Hooper’s return from India, Callan Elliot’s arrival from Greece and the signing of Italian-born Nicholas Pennington offset the losses and the Phoenix will need more restocking should Ufuk Talay hope to begin the season with a seriously competitive squad.

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Western Sydney Wanderers
The Wanderers continue to be one of the most active clubs in the transfer market in recent times. Mitchell Duke, Bruce Kamau, Graham Dorrans and Dylan McGowan all head abroad and Jordon Mutch, Nicolai Muller and Noah James have all secured new A-League deals. Scott McDonald and Patrick Ziegler also depart Wanderland.

As alarming as that list may sound, never fear Wanderers’ faithful. Terry Antonis, Rhys Williams and Dimi Petratos all return to Australia and land in western Sydney, Tomer Hemed signs on from Wellington and the duo of Adama Traore and Johnny Koutroumbis will add some quality to Carl Robinson’s defence.

Most exciting is the arrival of Ramy Najjarine, potentially one of the brightest young stars on the Australian domestic scene. Robinson has much work on his hands to gel the new group, yet talented it is.

Western United
New manager John Aloisi arrives in Melbourne and faces the challenge of building a new squad after a number of departures.

Iker Guarrotxena and Brad Inman head overseas, Andrew Durante has retired and Max Burgess, Aaron Calver, Brendon Hamill and Tomislav Uskok have all found new A-League homes.

Kaine Sheppard, Filip Kurto and Besart Berisha are no longer on the United books and Aloisi has just a short list of players to replace them at this stage.

Ben Garrucio and Nikolai Topor-Stanley have been purchased to add starch in defence, Jamie Young will certainly do the same with his experienced voice at the back, while teenager Noah Botic and former Brisbane Roar striker Dylan Wenzel-Halls join, to hopefully provide the coach with more attacking options.

Expect another key signing or three in the coming weeks as United seeks to get back on track after a disappointing fade out in 2020/21.

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