Big decisions loom as free agency begins

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 16/12/15

With December comes the official reopening of the A-League free agency market. This means players whose contracts expire in May are now able to negotiate with rival clubs.

For Brisbane Roar, who have eleven players out of contract, it looms as an important time for manager John Aloisi and Football Operations Manager Craig Moore as they seek to retain their stars and strengthen their squad for seasons to come.

Brisbane’s list of free agents includes a wide ranging group of players, who’ve both played a big part in the squad over the past seasons and are about to enter their prime years. It’s a substantial group of players out of contract, and there’s no doubt that more than a few of them will be highly sought after by rival clubs in the coming months which will make it tough to retain them.

Below is a list of who is out of contract at the end of the season, and the situation regarding if Brisbane should retain them along with the potential difficulties.

Jamie Young
After arriving in Brisbane as the clear second choice keeper, a series of injuries to Michael Theo has allowed the 30 year old to establish himself as a first choice calibre keeper here in Brisbane.

Despite the slow start and at times shakiness playing out from the back, Young has done a solid job for the Roar, and with Theo’s future in some doubt it would be wise to keep him here with the uncertainty.

Jack Hingert
In previous seasons Hingert has been in and out of the side both due to form and fitness however now it seems he has made that right back spot his own, and is keeping Jerome Polenz out of the side.

This year was always going to be a big one for Hingert, who is entering his 5th season with the Roar, and he should be one of the priorities to retain some continuity at the back where there will likely be a transition in at least one other spot in the backline.

Jade North
As a leader at the back, North has been invaluable this season with a young central defensive partner in Daniel Bowles. Reports first emerged a month or so ago that negotiations were underway which would see him finish his career here at the Roar.

With younger defenders like Bowles and James Donachie likely to come to the fore over the next 12-18 months, having an experienced player alongside them makes a lot of sense.

Daniel Bowles
Alongside North so far this season, Bowles has grown from a squad player to a player who now has put a marker down to make that centre back spot his own, keeping James Donachie out of the side.

In his time here Bowles has shown his versatility by playing out on the right side of defence but it’s at the heart of defence where he’s flourished both at the end of last season and the start of this one. It’s that form which could make him an interesting target for a host of rival clubs.

Shane Stefanutto
The future of Stefanutto seems to be the clearest of all those who are off contract at the Roar, with Stefanutto having all but officially confirmed his retirement in the pre-season. A role in either the front office or in the football department likely awaits for a player who is one of just 10 players to play 100 games for the club.

Steven Lustica
Despite struggling for regular game time this season, it sounds as though Lustica is committed to remaining here in Brisbane and fighting for his place if yesterday’s comments are any indication.

There will however again likely be a strong market for a player whose shown the ability to score goals out of midfield, particularly given the depth or lack thereof across some teams in the competition.

Javier Hervas
Hervas has been a bit of an x-factor this season, and in truth we’ve only really seen glimpses of what he’s truly capable of. With that in mind, it’s tough to gauge his situation and it’s worth bearing in mind potential European suitors if he does well for the remainder of the season.

No doubt Aloisi is a fan, and with that in mind he’s a good chance to be retained, but we’ve yet to see the best of him so far and as such it’s impossible to pass a judgement so far.

Devante Clut
Young Clut burst onto the scene last season with his creativity and goal scoring ability adding an edge to the side in the latter part of the season, however he’s been unable to win over John Aloisi so far this season with the 20 year old getting limited time so far.

Young players always need playing time to continue their development, and if he’s not going to get that here, then it would seem inevitable that he will move on in the next few months to a situation where he will get more minutes.

If he does leave, it will be a shame because Devante is somewhat of a cult hero amongst the fans due to his long range goals, and he’s got tremendous potential for growth as a player.

Brandon Borrello
Another young player who has burst onto the scene in 2015. He figures to be one of the hottest properties in the free agent market and will probably be the toughest for the Roar to hold onto.

His form so far this season has been impressive with four goals already this year to back up the six from last season, and he’s become a big part of the new look Brisbane attacking shape.

The difficult factor here is that Borrello seems to have at least some interest in a move to Europe, possibly as soon as January, while other A-League sides –particularly those in the Champions League- would be keen to get hold of him.

Jean Carlos Solórzano
It emerged throughout the course of the past few days that Solórzano is currently in the beginning stages of gaining his Australian citizenship, a move which would be a massive boost for the Roar and would free up a valuable visa spot.

If that process does come to fruition, the decision on whether to retain the striker is almost a no brainer, if that process is held up or falls through however, the future of the Costa Rican could be a question to be asked.

While Solórzano has become a valuable weapon off the bench in recent times including at the weekend, his durability has been a question with a string of niggling injuries which have hindered his progress. As a player he’s still a threat in this league, the question is over the visa spot and if you can convert him into a local player.

Henrique
One player who has just secured his citizenship is Henrique, and he’s one of those on this list who is highly unlikely to be moving on.

His comeback from a serious knee injury has been positive, and while he will no doubt be wanted around the competition it’s impossible to think that he would leave the Roar given the emotion he showed upon his return.

In terms of priorities, without ranking them those who are going to be first XI regulars should be at the top of the list to retain.  For example six of the weekends starting XI against the Phoenix are out of contract come the end of the season, including the entire starting back 4.

Regardless there’s plenty to consider for John Aloisi and the rest of the football department as they reshape the squad over the next few weeks, and they will need to identify which players they wish to keep hold of.

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