January Transfer Window Review

While a lot of our attention in January was taken by the Asian Cup being on our shores for the first time and the Socceroos run towards winning it, Brisbane spent the month on the training track, and perhaps more importantly strengthening the squad.

This January transfer window was always going to be one of the more important ones the club has faced in it’s 10 year history, with a struggling side and a couple of very clear holes that needed filling. Luckily for the front office and the football department, recent departures mean there was scope to go out and bring in a couple of key contributors for the future.

At the start of the window, Brisbane’s needs were clear for the most part. It was known that a central defender was needed, and a new striker who is a regular source of goals was imperative. The right wing role where Petratos has struggled this season was also considered, as was right back where Hingert and Bowles haven’t established themselves.
Before going into depth on the moves Brisbane have made in the window, here’s a recap of exactly what Brisbane did in the January transfer window:

In:
January 6th: Jerome Polenz (Sarpsborg 08- Norway), 2.5 year deal.
January 24th: Luke DeVere (Gyeongnam FC- South Korea), .5 year deal.
January 29th: Andrija Kaluderovic (FC Thun- Switzerland), .5 year deal.

Out:
January 6th: Matt Acton (End of injury replacement contract)
January 15th” Mensur Kurtishi (Released)

Starting with those players arriving, and Brisbane’s first signing of the window saw the arrival of Jerome Polenz, who was trialing with Brisbane from mid December. After impressing the coaching staff, he signed a 2 and a half year deal which makes him the long term successor to Ivan Franjic at the right full-back slot.

It raises questions over the futures of fellow right backs Jack Hingert and Daniel Bowles –both of whom are contracted through next season-, but there’s no doubt Polenz is an upgrade.

Polenz wasn’t the only defender signing in January by Brisbane, with former Brisbane defender Luke DeVere retuning to the Roar after four seasons away in the K-League with Gyeongnam FC.”

Central defence was a key area of need going into the window with the departure of club captain Matt Smith, so bringing in a defender of DeVere’s stature who has the added bonus of already understanding the Roar way, makes him the perfect solution.

There are some murmurings that his short term contract through the end of the season is due to a lingering knee injury, however he didn’t seem to be showing any effects of an injury on Saturday in the NYL; his first hit out for Brisbane in some four years. There’s a chance he could feature against Central Coast on Friday night.

Finally, the most anticipated signing arrived just before the end of the window, with Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic coming in to try and score the goals. So far Brisbane’s sole goal scoring threat this season has been Henrique, although Solórzano has two in two games since the league resumed.

Kaluderovic arrives with an impressive resume by A-League standards, and he looked sharp at the weekend, albeit in a game against Central Coast Mariners NYL side. Following that hour long hit out, it’s expected that Andrija will make his first team debut on Friday night in Gosford.

His experience in Asia with Beijing Guo’an, including playing against Brisbane in the 2011 AFC Champions League will be a massive boost to the Roar squad, which has struggled to perform at that level in the past.

But while the exerpeicne is important, it’s his nose for goal which will be the most important thing, as Brisbane’s hopes of a long ACL run and defending their A-League Championship may depend on them. If he can deliver those goals, the half season contract he signed could very well become a long term arrangement.

 

Going in the other direction in January were two players of little significance in truth. While there were high hopes for Kurtishi, especially after his five goal effort at Olympic in pre-season, the facts are he’s failed to perform.

One goal, away to Perth in round 2, from 9 games is hardly the return that was expected from the Macedonian who came in to fill Besart Berisha’s boots, and it probably played a part in former coach Mike Mulvey’s dismissal.

By terminating the remainder of his season long deal, Brisbane freed up a vital visa spot and went out and recruited Kaluderovic, who promises to offer much more in the final third.

The clubs other departure in January was another expected one, with Matt Acton leaving Brisbane for a second time after his injury replacement contract came to an end. While some fans might of preferred he stick around in place of Jamie Young, that was never going to happen, and when Theo started training again there was no place for Matt.

Despite losing just those two in January, Brisbane did lose two other players in the build-up to the window, with Liam Miller walking out of the club early into the season, before Matt Smith departed just prior to the window for Bangkok Glass.

While there hasn’t been a direct replacement signed for Miller, there really was no need given the depth Brisbane possess in the midfield, while Luke DeVere is a solid replacement for Smith.

One issue that is still to be resolved however is the Champions League squad, with Brisbane’s five visa players vying for just three spots with the AFC’s 3+1 rule in play for the Champions League. Further complicating things is that despite Henrique being a local player for the A-League, he is considered a visa player for the Champions League.

Obviously Brisbane have strengthened significantly over the transfer window, the affect those moves have on the team through the remainder of the season is still do be determined.
Going into the transfer window, it was important to get injured players healthy, but it was also essential that re-enforcements arrived, particularly in defence and upfront.

With the arrivals of DeVere and Kaluderovic, in addition to Polenz they’ve definitely achieved that aim. The fact the only player they lost along the way was a misfiring striker is an added boost.

The issue regarding the Champions League and which visa players make the cut is an interesting one and worth watching, but at least now Thijssen is choosing from a better group of players going into the business end of the season.
 

 

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