2016-17 Free Agency- Part one

The 2016-17 free agency window opened on December first which means that out of contract players can now negotiate with rival clubs to secure their futures. In part two we’ll take a look at players from the nine rival clubs, but today we’ll focus in on Brisbane’s group of upcoming free agents.

Brisbane had 13 players set to test the market as of December first however Tuesday’s news of club captain Matt McKay brings that number down to 12. All of that means that Manager John Aloisi and Football Operations Manager Craig Moore will be busy over the coming weeks as they shape the 2017-18 Brisbane Roar line-up.

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.

The coaching situation
Before we get into the free agent players we need to address the coaching situation, with both Head Coach John Aloisi and his assistant and brother Ross both coming to the end of their two year contracts.

Given everything that the duo have been confronted with off the field, the results have been strong which has made the duo a popular pair with Brisbane supporters.

Unsurprisingly reports of interest from rival clubs has began to emerge, with Adelaide reportedly looking at bringing one or both of the brothers back to their hometown should Guillermo Amor move on at the end of the season.

The ageing veterans
Thomas Broich
Since arriving in Brisbane having admitted to falling out of love with Football, Broich has gone on to become the best player in the history of the A-League with five major honours to his name.

Having amassed the second most appearances in club history -182 in all competitions- time is beginning to wind down for the 35 year old, although over the first third of the season Thomas has shown that he’s still got a bit left in the locker and remains an important part of the Brisbane attack.

The big complication surrounding Thomas is that similarly to the recently re-signed Matt McKay he will need to downgrade from his current marquee position to fit within the salary cap.

There’s no doubt that it’s entirely possible to find room for Broich within the salary cap going forward, however this decision is likely to –and absolutely should- be solely one for Thomas to decide if he wishes to continue his career or transition into his post playing days.

If Thomas Broich decides he wants to play on, there absolutely should be a spot on the roster for him, while if he does decide to retire it will no doubt be a sad day, but his legacy as the best player in the history of the A-League is already entrenched.

Jade North
As the leader of the backline, Jade provides a great degree of experience amongst what is a youthful group of central defenders around him. In addition to the vast experience North brings to the table, the now 34 year old is still near the top of his game and has formed a solid pairing with Luke DeVere over the first third of the season.

Similarly to Thomas Broich the decision will likely come down to if he wishes to continue on, although if he does play on there’s a good chance that he remains with the Roar.

Michael Theo
Having made just 15 appearances in the past two seasons, this was always going to be a big season for Michael who’s seen his place as first choice goalkeeper challenged by Jamie Young.

Theo has gone a long way to re-establishing himself in goals this season, with a string of impressive saves ensuring that he’s played in all nine games so far.

Given that Theo has regained his first choice status it’s likely that a new deal will be agreed at some point, particularly given that he seems to be settled in Brisbane, running an academy for children through the school holidays.

The prime year players
Luke DeVere
After missing the entire 2015-16 season with a serious thigh injury, Luke has returned to the side and barely missed a beat in the opening nine rounds. Having formed a strong partnership with Jade North, DeVere has become one of the most important players on the current roster.

Looking ahead it seems unlikely that DeVere would depart Brisbane for a rival club in the league, although if Luke still has ambitions of playing overseas in either Asia or Europe this could be a good time for him to try his luck once again.

Further complicating the decision for Luke is a potential appearance at the 2018 World Cup, with Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou a noted fan of the central defender.

Given all of his injury concerns however, and the loyalty that Brisbane Roar and John Aloisi have shown him, the desire to repay that faith and the regular playing time on offer will likely be enough to see him re-sign.

Jamie Maclaren
The free agency of Jamie has already been in the headlines for the past few weeks and it’s likely that we’ll see plenty more headlines before the Socceroos striker makes his decision.

Two weeks ago Brisbane made their first offer to the striker, with his representatives declaring the offer as insulting and there have seemingly been no further negotiations since.

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A lot depends on this man’s decision

With 24 goals in 35 appearances for Brisbane, interest in the striker has unsurprisingly been considerable, with contract offers from both rival A-League and overseas clubs reportedly coming in. The fact that Brisbane have already filled their two allocated marquee positions for next seasons further complicates the situation.

It goes without saying that re-signing Jamie is – and should be- amongst the highest priorities in terms of the players off contract, although the decision is one that could drag on until January as the Maclaren camp seeks overseas offers.

At this stage, it’s unclear yet which way this will end up, though the implications of this decision will shape Brisbane’s 2016-17 side, and the remainder of the free agency decision making processes.

Dimitri Petratos
There’s very few players who’ve divided people’s opinions more than Dimi, although over the past 18 months or so he’s shown signs of adding consistency to his already obvious talent.

Given that he’s approaching the prime years of his career, it’s likely that Petratos will attract a fair amount of interest on the open market, both in the A-League and potentially overseas.

With the demographics of Brisbane’s roster consisting mostly of players either under the age of 23 or over 30, it’s important to keep the few players who fall within those two windows, and Petratos is one of the few who does.

The foreign imports
Manuel Arana
Having arrived late in the pre-season, Arana spent the first part of the season gaining his fitness before making his debut it round 5 against Melbourne City.

While Arana hasn’t seen a great deal of game time yet, in his limited game time he’s shown a direct style and the ability to run in behind defences which is something that has been missing in wider areas.

Any potential negotiations for next season are likely to be put on hold until later in the season until he’s got more minutes under his belt and a more accurate decision can be made. With the likes of Shannon Brady already in the A-League squad, in addition to Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad in the youth squad as winger options, there could be an internal replacement in place.

Thomas Kristensen
Thomas arrived from Denmark as a replacement for Miguel Corona who returned to his former club in Spain halfway through his two year contract and has fitted in well to the Brisbane way of play.

The role is different to that of Corona given the change of style this season under Aloisi, however in that more defensive minded midfielders role Kristensen has provided good cover for the back four while getting forward and contributing at the other end of the park with two goals so far.

Given how well that Kristensen has fitted in, it would be a boost going forward if Brisbane could secure the 33 year old for an extra season although as is always the case with imports, off-field factors and settling in is an important consideration.
The youngsters
Nicholas D’Agostino
Having shone for the Young Roar side in both the NPL Queensland and the NYL, D’Agostino was rewarded with a one year deal as a Scholarship player.

While D’Agostino has only the one unused substitute appearance to his name this season, his form in the National Youth League has indicated that his game is continuing to improve.

Due to the age of both D’Agostino and Joey Katebian comparisons are easily drawn, and it could well come down to a case of one or the other. Of the two I would suggest that D’Agostino is a little better all-around player and should be the priority, particularly given he’s a player whose grown and developed through the Brisbane youth system.

Joey Katebian
Perhaps a surprise signing after being released from Melbourne Victory at the end of last season, Joey has provided additional depth upfront behind star striker Jamie Maclaren.

So far we haven’t seen a great deal of Katebian in the A-League side with limited minutes off the bench so far, although a hat-trick in the NYL showed his talent.

With Katebian –and also D’Agostino- it could be a case of one or the other as it’s likely that there will only be room on the roster for one up and coming striker, particularly if D’Agostino is no longer a scholarship player.

Nathan Konstandopoulos
After getting a taste of the A-League at his hometown club Adelaide United, Konstandopoulos moved to Brisbane as part of the Young Roar side in the NPL season before being upgraded to a scholarship deal ahead of the new season.

So far this season Nathan has been on the periphery of the side, but in his limited playing time has shown enough to suggest that there’s a role for him on the roster going forward.

Jacob Pepper
Pepper was signed to be a stopgap for a younger player to earn his place in the side while providing depth to the first team roster as we’ve seen with the likes of Diogo Ferreira in years gone by.

With that in mind it’s likely that Jacob’s stay in Brisbane will be a short one, but with the constructs of the league you need players with versatility are important and while an extension shouldn’t be excluded from consideration it’s unlikely.

In an ideal world, Brisbane would re-sign the majority of their free agents here with the likes of DeVere, Petratos and Maclaren are likely to be at the top of their list, while hopefully keeping a couple of veterans around the locker room.

Due to the number of players Brisbane have out of contract currently, it’s likely the side will look very different at the start of the next season.

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