There has been much hype around the new signings in the A-League for season thirteen.
Whilst the standard of our local talent is commendable and more and more of our young players are heading off to ply their trade around the globe, quality imports are vital to the growth and appeal of our local competition.
There have been spikes in interest over the years, where quality international players have graced our shores and lifted the profile of the league.
Whether it was Dwight Yorke, Emile Heskey or the explosion of interest created with the arrival of Alessandro Del Piero, the import or marquee provides something that Australian football so desperately needs. Class.
Many feel the batch of visitors on the books of the ten clubs right now might just be the most talented and evenly spread collection of quality internationals that the A-League has ever seen.
Moreover, there has also been speculation that the season approaching could be the purest display of weekly league football that we have ever seen in this country. I certainly hope so and if it does prove to be the case, these are the men who will be most responsible.
The Reds have rebuilt after something of a crash in 2016-17. Riding the wave of a Championship is always a difficult thing and the club failed in what was a disappointing year.
It only took 45 minutes to convince me that their fortunes will change this season.
Watching the debut of Johan Absalonsen against the Jets in the FFA Cup suggested that Adelaide had their hands on some much-needed quality.
Throw in Algerian Karim Matmour who arrives from 1860 Munich and the city of Adelaide have a sprinkling of quality to combine with Spanish mainstay Isaias and Senegal’s Baba Diawara.
Despite jibes questioning the age of the squad, John Aloisi has more talent at his disposal than ever. Massimo Maccarone arrives from Empoli and is sheer class. At 38, the talent will still be there, producing it consistently will be his challenge.
Frenchman Eric Bautheac heads to Queensland from Lille and is top shelf. Still only 30, Brisbane will be hoping the midfielder provides quality service to those up front, including the well-tested Tunisian, Fahid Ben Khalfallah.
The Roar will need to find the back of the net more consistently than they did last season.
Central Coast Mariners
The international flavour in the Mariners squad is exciting and Paul Okon has obviously cast his net far and wide. Tom Hiariej brings a decade of top-flight experience from Holland, Spanish striker Asdrubal is quality in front of goal and Wout Brama is another Dutchmen coming to our shores.
With over three hundred games and international football pedigree, Brama could be the nugget of gold for which the Mariners have been searching.
Things don’t appear to have started well for City this season and time may be their ally as the new signings find their feet and gel. Dutchman Bart Schenkeveld arrives with international experience at youth level and pole Marcin Budzinski has been signed in an attempt to manage to the long-term injury to Bruno Fornaroli.
All three are class and Melbourne will dream of having them on the pitch together in the new year. Add in Argentine Fernando Brandan and Dane Michael Jakobsen and City have a batch of internationals the envy of most clubs.
Of course, the Victory will be in the running this season, it is what they do. The squad is quite settled yet the arrival of Argentine Matias Sanchez will reap rewards in the midfield where he will hold things admirably and Dutchman Leroy George arrives from Turkey with excellent pedigree.
Throw in the growing legend of Besart Berisha and the Victory are well stocked with international class.
One of the most talked about clubs based on recruitment, the Jets are tipped by many to be the big improvers in 2017-18.
Irishman Roy O’Donovan is an important signing for Newcastle, with instinct in front of goal lacking last season and with marquee Ronny Vargas providing from midfield the future looks bright. The Venezuelan could be the most telling signing of all the clubs, such is his quality.
With some shrewd local signings, things look promising for the Jets.
The signing of Spaniard Andreu Guerao is interesting. Unwanted by the Wanderers just over a year ago, he reunites with old friend Diego Castro and brings experience to the squad that Kenny Lowe has assembled.
Contrastingly, Xavi Torres comes to our shores with La Liga pedigree and completes a trio of Spaniards in Perth. The midfielder is one of the many 30-year-old internationals with years of quality football still to play, something noticeable about many of the signings.
Pole Adrian Mierzejewski has already started with a bang in Sydney’s run to the FFA Cup semi-final. He may have only played one game to this point yet his performance was astonishing, considering his fitness levels and unfamiliarity with the squad.
The prospect of seeing Adrian, as it appears he will become known, and Milos Ninkovic together for the Sky Blues is mouth-watering, with many feeling that, with Brazilian Bobo, they potentially provide an even more dangerous attacking threat than the dominant Sydney team of last season.
Croatian Goran Paracki is an interesting story and arrives from his homeland after almost two hundred games of top-level football. At 30, he is another with plenty to offer, as is the returning Serbian international Andrija Kaludjerovic.
After scoring seven times for the Brisbane Roar three seasons back, Wellington hope the Serb will be a consistent source of goals for them in season thirteen.
When aligned with marquee Gui Finkler and Fijian Roy Krishna, it is easy to see why people are excited about the quality of the current imports on our shores.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Spaniard Oriol Riera might just be the cream of the crop when it comes to new signings. La Liga and Premier League experience speaks for itself and the 31-year-old has plenty to offer.
His influence has already had a significant impact on the Club, with his words encouraging fellow countryman Alvaro Cejudo to join him at the Wanderers.
Cejudo brings more top-flight experience from Spain and will be used to provide run on the right side for the Western Sydney who, frankly, need more potency in attack.
What a wonderful selection of international players to savour over the next six months.
Combined with an array of entrenched visitors who have made Australia their second home, the A-League looks to have a depth in imports and marquees more impressive than at any other time in its history.
Let’s hope the pedigree becomes reality and the football reflects the reputations of the new men and the money spent on them.