Exploring the market: Eli Babalj

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Brisbane are looking for help all over their roster in the current January Transfer window, over the next couple of weeks we’ll take a look at players who may be a fit for Brisbane. Today, we look at Eli Babalj, a promising young Australian striker who has been frozen out in the Netherlands.

Babalj, 22, is a name which will be familiar to most A-League fans due top his two stints with Melbourne City, where he scored 12 goals in 44 appearances over the span of three seasons. He’s now however undergoing some testing times in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, as this report on Football Central points out.

Since he departed Melbourne for a second time at the end if the 2012-13 season, Babalj has struggled for game time at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, with the young striker limited to just reserve team football. Reports are now emerging from Europe that the young striker was omitted from the first team’s tour to get into shape ahead of the second half of the season, and has been told he is free to find himself a new club.

Babalj also has some international experience to his name, making his Socceroos debut in the East Asian Cup qualifier against Guam, a game in which he scored his first two goals for the National Team. He’s also been a regular of Australian u/19 and u/21 sides in years gone by.

Babalj won’t be limited in his options if he does decide to depart Alkmaar, with a host of A-League and Asian sides likely to be interested, as well as the possibility of landing a contract at another European club. As a fit for Brisbane he’d be a good choice given he’s got a proven track record here in the A-League. Babalj would also offer a totally different type of play to Brisbane with his height and strength providing attributes that Brisbane hasn’t seen in a striker since the Reinaldo, Sergio van Djik days.

It’s a long shot that Babalj opts to return to the A-League given his age and his willingness to try and make it in Europe, however if he is interested in a return home –either short term or permanent-, Brisbane should absolutely make contact and see if a deal is agreeable. There aren’t many Australian strikers out there that would be difference makers in the A-League, and Babalj has proven in the past he can score goals, and he’s still young enough to improve further in the future.

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