Manchester United legend Nani signs with Melbourne Victory in A-League boost


Cesc Fabregas could join Nani in A-League Men next season.Credit:PA

Less than three years ago, A-League club owners were briefed by Richard Scudamore, who was Executive Chairman and CEO of the Premier League for two decades and served as a highly paid adviser during the split. of the Football Australia league, that they “don’t need a whole bunch of globally recognized superstars” to make the competition a success in the competitive Australian sports market, urging them instead to retain their fans by creating local heroes and bloodying the youth.

But after several seasons of declining metrics, accelerated by COVID-19, and with the A-League’s pandemic-triggered pivot towards younger players failing to break through with the mainstream, club owners are doing it again. confidence in major signings to help improve wider crowds, ratings and interest levels.

It worked to varying degrees over the A-League’s 17 seasons – and just as it did during the peak years of the Del Piero-led competition in the early 2010s, when the Italian legend was joined by Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono, Nani may not be the only big name coming to Australia for the new campaign.

His former Premier League opponent Cesc Fabregas is engaged in ongoing negotiations with Dwight Yorke’s Macarthur FC, with the Spanish veteran tempted by a move to the new A-League club.

Any contract for the 35-year-old Fabregas would have to be supplemented by additional funding from the Australian Premier League, just as Las Nani’s arrangement with Victory would have included.

Fabregas, a 2010 World Cup winner with Spain who played for Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea, may be the most renowned player, but Nani seems the safest bet in football sense. On paper, Nani is a straight swap for deceased Kiwi international winger Marco Rojas, who was released by Victory on Monday to join Chilean club Colo-Colo, and is said to have impressed coach Tony Popovic during their phone talks .

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He scored 31 goals in 88 games for Orlando City in Major League Soccer between 2019 and 2021, and last season he featured 10 times for relegated Serie A side Venezia. Sources close to his exit in Italy said that although Nani didn’t play often, he trained regularly, wasn’t inhibited by major injury issues and remained in excellent physical condition. In total, he scored 123 goals in 567 top club games.

By contrast, Fabregas played just two games for French Ligue 1 side Monaco last season – with his last competitive minutes coming for their B side in April – but has the kind of CV you see rarely, if ever, in Australian rules football, and he is said to be driven by his desire to end his illustrious career on a much brighter note.

If his lack of mobility is properly addressed in Yorke midfielder Macarthur and he stays fit, Fabregas also has the potential to dazzle the Australian public.

Sources familiar with the talks, which were led by Bulls chief executive Sam Krslovic and the Premier League and spanned several weeks, say Fabregas has other offers on the table, and a final decision will depend on the duration of the agreement and whether his realistic salary expectations are being met. Fabregas is believed to be insisting on a two-year contract to give his family certainty that they justify a move to Australia, which poses a risk for Macarthur given his age and recent record.

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