• Thomas Pombart

FPF's A-League Men recruitment grades

A-League Men's sides have been busy with their recruitment this off-season, with head coaches coming and going and big names joining some of the league’s biggest clubs.


Familiar faces have returned to the league, whilst some new and exciting foreigners have made their way down under too.


FPF breaks down and grades each club's recruitment ahead of the upcoming 2021-22 season below.


Adelaide United:


United brought in five new players in the off-season to improve on their fifth-placed finish in the 2020/21 season.


Carl Veart has identified where the positions on the park need to be strengthened, bringing in two central defenders in Nick Ansell and Jacob Tratt.


Target man George Blackwood returns after a short stint for Oldham Athletic in England.


However, their potentially most influential signing has to be club legend Isaías, who re-joins the Reds from Qatari club Al-Wakrah.

Isaias is considered one of the club's greatest ever players. (Adelaide United)


Adelaide United fans will at least be hoping for a top-six finish following last season's performance.


Overall, United have recruited in the positions that needed to be strengthened, particularly after losing Jordan Elsey to the Newcastle Jets.

Grade: C+


Brisbane Roar:


The Roar opted to recruit seven new players, two being from the NPL.


Warren Moon guided Brisbane to fourth in 2020/21, but he has bolstered a squad that could push for a top-three spot this season.


Matti Steinmann, Jordan Holmes, Juan Lescano, Luke Ivanovic, Nikola Mileusnic, Henry Hore and Jez Lofthouse joined Brisbane during the off-season.


Lofthouse, from the Queensland NPL competition, and Juan Lescano, from Yenisey Krasnoyarsk in Russia, could be the signings that push the Roar to a higher finish than last season.

Lofthouse made a name for himself locally with Olympic FC in Queensland. (Brisbane Roar)


Grade: C


Central Coast Mariners:


The Mariners brought in the second least amount of signings in the off-season.


Noah Smith, Storm Roux, Cy Goddard and Béni Nkololo all joined the Gosford side that looks to build on from a high-flying third-place finish in 2020/21 under Alen Stajcic.

Nkololo will look to fill the void left by outgoings Daniel De Silva and Alou Kuol. (Central Coast Mariners)


But Stajcic left following disagreements with owner Mike Charlesworth about upcoming budgets for the new season.


Central Coast turned their sights to former player Nick Montgomery, who will take the reigns for the 2021/22 season.


Cy Goddard joins from Mumbai City, while Smith and Roux join from fellow A-League Men's clubs Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory.


The star capture for the Mariners and someone who could provide goals when necessary is Nkololo.


Nkololo is a former product of the Stade Brestois' academy and a player with vast experience in the French football system.


Grade: C-


Macarthur:


Tomi Juric, Daniel De Silva, Craig Noone, Jordan Mutch, and Ulises Dávila have joined the Western Sydney A-League Men's outfit for the upcoming season.


Ante Milicic will be hoping he can build on the disappointing sixth-placed finish from last season.


Macarthur struggled to score last season, as they netted the least number of goals out of the teams inside the top six.

Davila scored 19 goals in 50 appearances for Wellington, and won the Johnny Warren Medal last season.


Davila will hope to add the creative spark that is desperately required for the Bulls.


Meanwhile, Juric, De Silva, and Noone will add the goalscoring presence and threat required to push further up the ladder this time around.


Davila is the major signing for Macarthur, and last season's Johnny Warren medallist will look to light up the league once again in 2021/22.


The Bulls have shown they mean business heading into the upcoming season, and they'll be hoping to send a message of intent throughout the opening rounds and hit the ground running.


Grade: A-


Melbourne City:


Following their maiden premiership and championship in 2020/21, Patrick Kisnorbo will now look to push on and create a dynasty.


The club's intent to retain those titles is second to none, announcing the signing of Socceroo Matthew Leckie and former Serie B attacking midfielder Manuel Pucciarelli.

Mathew Leckie has returned to Australia after a decade playing in Germany. (Melbourne City)


Jordan Hall also joins City from the Victorian side, Green Gully.


Hall will look to tighten up the defence following an impressive campaign in the Victorian NPL.


Leckie will join a Melbourne City attack that already features fellow Socceroos Andrew Nabbout and Jamie Maclaren.


Following these highly impressive captures, Kisnorbo will hope to lead City to back-to-back titles at the end of the season.


Grade: B+


Melbourne Victory:


The Victory has undergone a major clear out of the playing and backroom staff this off-season.


Following the club’s first-ever wooden spoon, Asian Champions League-winning manager Tony Popovic was appointed for the 2021/22 season.


Popovic wasted no time in recruiting and clearing out the squad.


He identified that the players on the park, especially in defence, were not up to the standard required to be the league's best.


Conceding thirteen goals to Melbourne City across two Melbourne derbies says everything about Victory's deep-seated issues last season.

Miranda won the EFL Championship with Wolverhampton in the 2017-18 season. (Melbourne Victory)


They have splashed the cash into various positions across the park.


In defence, they've brought in goalkeeper Ivan Kelava and centre-back Roderick Miranda.


Miranda used to play for Wolverhampton Wanderers in England.


Socceroos duo Matthew Spiranovic and Jason Davidson have also bolstered their defensive stocks, and Brendan Hamill joins Western United.


Jason Geria returned to the Victory, and Chris Ikonomidis linked up with his old Perth Glory boss again too.


Meanwhile, Popovic used his former club Xanthi FC to bring in Josh Brillante to strengthen the midfield.


The only way is up for the Victory following their abysmal campaign, which rooted them to the bottom.


Grade: B+


Newcastle Jets:


The Hunter based club took a similar approach to the Victory following a financially troubled campaign that saw former owner Martin Lee stripped of his license.


Arthur Papas was approached and appointed the new head coach of the Jets.


Papas immediately brought in new faces, with Jordan Elsey, Dylan Murnane, Michael Weier, Dane Ingham, Riley Warland, Matthew Jurman, Oliver Boumal, Savvas Siatravanis, Mo Al-Taay, Kosta Grozos, Beka Mikeltadze, Daniel Penha and Samuel Silvera all joining the new regime.


The new boss promises an entertaining, attacking style of football this season, and he'll hope he has brought in the players capable of executing it.

Boumal had a brief stint with Ange Postecoglou's former side Yokohama F Marinos. (Newcastle Jets)


Elsey, Murnane, Weier, Ingham, Warland, Jurman, and Al-Taay will look to tighten up the defence, one of the leakiest in the competition last year.


Meanwhile, Boumal, Mikeltadze, Silvera and Siatravanis will look to increase the number of goals scored and create more opportunities in attack.


The combination of Boumal, Siatravanis and Mikeltadze could prove to be one of the most dangerous attacking trios due to the pace the three can utilise.


Grade: B-


Perth Glory:


The Glory, like the previous two clubs mentioned above, recruited heavily.


Richard Garcia brought in Pacifique Niyongabire, Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Jack Clisby, Adrián Sardinero, Brandon O'Neill, Brad Jones, Daniel Sturridge, and Aaron Calver.


Obviously, amongst these names, there is one that sticks out to most readers.


Daniel Sturridge.


Sturridge boasts a CV that includes stints with Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool and is a goal scorer at the international level with England.

Sturridge is one of the biggest international coups the league has ever seen. (Perth Glory)


His vast array of experience does not stop there, though, with Sturridge also being a part of several trophy-winning sides.


He's a two-time FA Cup and Champions League winner with Chelsea and a Premier League and Champions League winner with Liverpool.


Sturridge could turn out to be one of the most significant acquisitions ever in Australian sports history.

Sturridge celebrating Liverpool's Champions League title in 2019.


The man that will potentially partner him upfront will be Sardinero.


The Spaniard joins from the Greek side OFI Crete and boasts previous experience in the top tier of Spanish football, La Liga.


Perth's strike force and improvements across the park in Brad Jones and Brandon O’Neill could see them shoot right up the table after finishing ninth in the 2020/21 season.


Grade: A+


Sydney FC:


Steve Corica chose to bring in only four new players following the second-placed finish last season.


Corica picked up Newcastle Jets duo Connor O’Toole and James Donachie, Max Burgess from Western United, and the pacey Elvis Kamsoba from the Victory.

Kamsoba joins Sydney with hopes of revitalising an unspectacular A-League career so far. (Sydney FC)


The duo of O’Toole and Donachie will look to consolidate the already impressive Sydney defence.


In contrast, Kamsoba and Burgess will look to add some extra firepower to Corica’s attack.


Grade: B+


Wellington Phoenix:


The Nix only chose to pick up three new players.


Gary Hooper returns to the New Zealand side after a short stint in India.


Callan Elliot also returns from Xanthi FC in Greece.


Meanwhile, Nicholas Pennington returns to Australia after spending time in Italy’s lower leagues.

Hooper scored 8 goals in 21 appearances throughout his first stint with the Nix. (Wellington Phoenix)


Ufuk Talay’s men will look to grab the opportunity to finish in the top six this season after narrowly missing out by one point to Macarthur last season.


Grade: D


Western Sydney Wanderers:


This off-season, the Wanderers picked up Adama Traore, Tomer Hemed, Rhys Williams, Terry Antonis, Johnny Koutroumbis, Dimitri Pertratos and Ramy Najjarine.


Carl Robinson used his coaching experience in Newcastle to secure the trio of Koutroumbis, Pertratos, and Najjarine.


They could all be key players for the system Robinson has implemented in Western Sydney.

Hemed was a vital player for Wellington last season, scoring 11 goals. (Western Sydney Wanderers)


Both Williams and Traore will replace the losses of Patrick Ziegler and Dylan McGowan in defence.


Tomer Hemed will replace Mitch Duke upfront.


The pressure is undoubtedly on Robinson, who has already faced lengthy criticism from Wanderers fans for failing to guide the team to the finals last season.


Grade: C+


Western United:


The tenth-placed finish last season saw Western United sack Mark Rudan and replace him with John Aloisi.


Western picked up Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Noah Botic, Leo Lacroix, Ben Garuccio, Jamie Young, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Neil Kilkenny, and Rene Krhin.

Wenzel-Halls briefly worked with Aloisi in Brisbane, with the pair now reuniting in Victoria. (Western United)


Wenzel-Halls and Botic round out the attackers brought in, while Kilkenny and Krhin bolster the midfield.


Garuccio, Young, and Topor-Stanley restock the defensive options available for Aloisi.


Grade: B-