Brisbane’s mid season transfer shuffle

After spectacularly failing to reach the expectations of fans, media and club officials the Brisbane Roar roster has seen its 1st real shake-up since the winter of 2011 after the 1st Grand Final victory. In that winter Roar fans sore the arrival of 9 new players, headlined by the arrival of key foreign signings Sayed Mohamed Adnan and Besart Berisha. Meanwhile heading in the opposite direction were inspirational captain Matt McKay and championship winners Kosta Barbarouses, Jean Carlos Solórzano and Milan Susak.

This previous offseason however was a different deal re-signings being the main order of business as opposed to new signings. Broich, Stefanutto, Henrique, Franjic, Theo and Smith all received new deals in addition to the promotion of Acton and Donachie from the youth squad. Ben Halloran is the only real new signing from the start of the season to have made an impact while foreigners Do Dong-Hyun and Takahashi have both failed to make the grade. The latter already had his loan deal terminated.

 

It’s this lack of activity earlier in the season to bring in fresh faces and shake the team up which has brought about this situation now which has forced Brisbane to uncharacteristically delve into the mid season transfer market. 12 months ago they picked up youngster Anthony Proia, however that was only a minor move. The only time Brisbane has really gone shopping in January until now was the summer of 2010. This was when Ange was really beginning to make his stamp on the squad by releasing older players and bringing in foreigners Pieter Collen and Steven Bryce who failed to have much impact in the run towards the finals.

This transfer window however has been far busier, with new boss Mike Mulvey bringing in a host of new names to re-shape the squad in his image in an attempt to drive the team towards a 3rd straight championship, and a solid ACL campaign. And if you think Brisbane have taken the Adelaide route of just focusing on the ACL, you’d be wrong, one look at quotes Roar CEO Sean Dobson provided Wayne Heming of the Brisbane Times earlier in the week shows you the ambition the club still has this season.

 

 

“Take a look at our signings, I think we’ve been the most active club in January almost ever in the A-League. We’ve got a Socceroo (North) with 40-odd caps and two World Cups; a kid that’s represented at every level for Holland (Nijland) signed by one of the biggest clubs in Europe (PSV Eindhoven), a kid that was signed to Bayern Munich at 14 (Davies) who’s back in Australia and another kid (Lustica) who was picked up from the Gold Coast to go to Croatia on a four year deal who’s back on loan. If you’ve given up on a season you don’t work that hard to get those deals across the line to add something new to your squad.”

 

 

He goes on in the article –which I posted to the page earlier in the week- to talk about how the championship would release most of the pressure from Mulvey (Obviously!) Regardless of the new signings and shake up to the squad, that target of a 3rd straight championship is a long way away right now and I don’t think it’s the smartest idea to put that pressure onto a group that will take some time to understand their roles in the system of play here.

The question now is- will these new signings have an impact on the squad, and have those that have departed been replaced?  Lets start with a rundown of what they’ve actually done this transfer window:

Player transfers in:
Jade North:
Contracted through 2015/16 season, free agent after being released by Consadole Sapporo.
Julius Davies (Doe): Contracted through 2014/15 season, released from Melbourne Victory.
Steven Lustica: Contracted til end of 2012/13 season, currently on a loan deal from HNK Hajduk Split in the Croatian top tier.
Stefan Nijland: Contract til the end of the 2012/13 season, currently on a loan deal from Dutch Eredivise side PSV Eindhoven.

 

Players transferred out:
Yuji Takahashi: Loan deal terminated, returned to parent club Kyoto Sanga in the J2 League.
Rocky Visconte: Released from final 3 months of his contract, signed up by Western Sydney Wanderers.
Erik Paartalu: Sold to Tianjin Teda, where he signed a 2 year contract.
Nick Fitzgerald: Full time NYL deal terminated 3 months early, released to join Central Coast Mariners who he’d already agreed to join for the 2013/14 season.

The biggest departure is unquestionably Erik Paartalu, if only because of the four who have left- he’s by far the one who’s been most involved in the A-League squad this season. Erik ofcourse was an ever-present playing 85 consecutive games and becoming a consistent cornerstone of Brisbanes’ success. The other three were largely back-ups with only Fitzgerald getting any sort of meaningful 1st team action, and that could best be described as sporadic. Visconte failed to get a chance in the 1st team this season, while Takahashi was always a puzzling signing who never won the favour of Vidosic –or latterly Mulvey- and was promptly returned to his parent club to better utilise that foreign spot.

Now to the players who have come in, and I’ll go in chronological order and start with the 1st signing of the window in Jade North. Most fans know Jade from his time with both the national team, and his previous stints in the A-League with Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets- where he led them to the championship in 2007/08. Jade ofcourse is a vastly experienced central defender both in this country and abroad and will go some way to filling the gap that never got filled in the off-season. Im ofcourse talking about that of an experienced centre half to replace Adnan and play alongside Matt Smith. Their decision to give the opportunity to Jurman to step up has clearly backfired and it’s good to see they’ve brought somebody in to help solidify the backline. We haven’t seen Jade take the park yet despite his signing nearly 3 weeks ago now due to fitness issues, but he’s been named and is set to make his debut tomorrow night against the Mariners.

From there Brisbane went about acquiring a young attacker from Melbourne who not many knew much about in Julies Davies (or Doe- whichever you prefer). As Brisbane fans we’ve only seen an extremely small sample from Julius so far but in that cameo against the Wanderers he was lively and had a willingness to take defenders on which is a positive and something that has been lacking at times this year. He’s still got to work on making the right decision and his final play but he’s a very good young player and should prove to be a handy rotation player in the front third.

Brisbane then swooped for a young midfielder playing in Croatia who’s struggled to get some game time since his move in Steven Lustica. No doubt Mulvey was a catalyst in this transfer given Lustica was the captain of Mulvey’s all conquering National Youth League sides, but he does bring an interesting option to the midfield. He’s not an exact replacement for Paartalu, but in the middle there he should be a good complement to Brattan. Curious as to where this leaves Murdocca who is a similar player to Lustica.

Finally Brisbane pulled off what for me is the transfer coup of the summer by bringing out versatile attacker Stefan Nijland from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. Nijland is a youth international at every level for the Netherlands and at 24 should bring both young fresh legs and experience to the side. Mulvey has indicated he’ll play in behind Berisha in the #10 role and has high hopes that Nijland will form a terrific partnership with Berisha. The deal is also a perfect one for Brisbane right now really- They have a free foreign spot available, an ACL campaign on their doorstep and there’s no long term guarantee should things not work out. It does create one headache for Mulvey in relation to the ACL squad- but more on that in another blog.

Brisbane have unquestionably strengthened their squad in the past two weeks with some exciting new arrivals that in truth have been long overdue. It’s far too soon to start proclaiming them championship winning moves but they should make Brisbane a far stronger contender in the run towards the finals, and in the Champions League which begins with a must win match away to Burinam on February 13th.

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