A look ahead to the off-season, free agency

Now that the dust has settled on Brisbane’s 2014-15 season, it’s time to look ahead to the off-season and free agency where Brisbane will be looking to plug a couple of holes in their side before trying to reclaim the silverware from October.

Contracted players for 2015-16 and beyond
Michael Theo, Jamie Young
Jerome Polenz, Luke DeVere, Jade North, Corey Brown, James Donachie, Jack Hingert, Daniel Bowles.
Matt McKay, Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich, Devante Clut, Steven Lustica.
Henrique, Shannon Brady, Jean Carlos Solórzano, Dimitri Petratos.
Brandon Borrello, Patrick Theodore.

Currently Brisbane have 18 players contracted to the first team, with both marquee spots filled and at least 3 of the 5 visa spots also already allocated –depending on the status of Henrique’s citizenship application-. That means there will need to be at least two signings to bring the quota up to the minimum of 20, with a maximum of 5 signings possible without losing any players. There is also one free full-time NYL spot up for grabs. The vast majority of this seasons squad however appear set to return.

Out of contract players
Andrija Kaluderovic, Shane Stefanutto, Adam Sarota (loan), Kofi Danning, George Lambadaridis, Ben Litfin (FNYL)

Of those out of contract, the most interesting case is to be made for Kaluderovic, who showed that he knows how to find the back of the net over the second half of the season- with 7 goals in 13 games.

A strike rate of a goal every other game is impressive, but criticisms of the Serbian include an inability or unwillingness to contribute in other areas of the game, including in the build up and pressing high from the front. He’s a poacher of goals, whose come in either way and ultimately you can make a good case either way for or against him.

A case could also be made for another 1 year contract being handed to veteran defender Shane Stefanutto, with Corey Brown looking anything but consistent at left back in his appearances this year. He’s lost a bit of pace and has suffered injury set backs, but a 1 year deal wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

The other first team player out of contract will likely be off, with Adam Sarota’s loan move from FC Utrecht expired, and the midfielder offered little reason to be kept on after dropping well down the pecking order towards the end of the season. He season was injury interrupted, but a lot was expected of the loan signing, unfortunately he fell short of living up to those expectations.

Youngsters Kofi Danning, George Lambadaridis and Ben Litfin are all likely to move on in the off-season with injuries limiting the game time with both coming into the side late on as Thijssen rested his regulars ahead of the ACL and finals. Both will likely be replaced in the squad by youngsters from the NYL side, while Ben Litfin may also lose is full-time National Youth League contract as well after he was seemingly usurped in the pecking order late in the season.

Youth promotions
The end of this season showed the talent that lies within the Roar’s youth setup, with a number of the youngsters stepping up and playing well against Melbourne Victory before defeating Newcastle in the final round.

Brisbane have already promoted Shannon Brady to the first team in the past few weeks while they have one free spot in their full-time NYL ranks free to fill as well. Youth team regulars who got time in and around the first team like Goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers, defender Lachlan Jackson, midfielder Luke Pavlou and attacker Abrahim Yango are the most likely candidates to be promoted to either the full squad or full NYL ranks.

Positions of need
As seen above, most of Brisbane’s recruiting is already done unless they lose some of their contracted players to overseas clubs. They do however have areas that require strengthening in a couple of positions before the start of the next season.

Striker– The most glaring need is upfront, with the retention of Kaluderovic or a replacement striker to score the goals essential if Brisbane are to return to the top of the league next term. I outlined the case for and against retaining the Serbian earlier, ultimately id probably lean towards keeping him but that’s a decision that should be made by the new manager.

Left back– If Shane Stefanutto does decide to call time on his career, some competition for that spot in the side will be needed. Corey Brown is still around for next year, but he’s struggled at times this year with his defensive work in particular, so a more polished defensive option who can also get forward would be a good addition to the squad.

Aside from those two glaring needs above, there aren’t any other holes in the squad that need filling. There is also not likely to be a great deal of room to move within the confides of the salary cap this season, with little space freed up this off-season which could mean the much talked about rebuild may have to wait if they cant offload a couple of players.

A utility midfielder may however make some sense for Brisbane, with just five –including Broich- on the roster. There’s a couple of internal options for that role – Lambadaridis, Pavlou, Litfin-, or they could look further afield and bring somebody in.

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