Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another A-League star heads north

Central Coast Mariners have said goodbye to long-serving defender and club captain Alex Wilkinson in a move which adds weight to the growing theory that Asia is fast becoming the next station for football's gravy train.

Worryingly, it also condemns the A League to the loss of one of its best signings. He made 172 Hyundai A-League appearances for the franchise over seven seasons. He played in three A-League Grand Finals and was instrumental in Central Coast's two A-League Premiership triumphs.

The 27-year-old is to join K-League powerhouses Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC on a two-and-a-half year contract.

Head coach Graham Arnold did not hide from the fact that the move gives Wilkinson the chance to secure his future financially.

It leaves just three Asian players in the Hyundai A-League at this stage: Sydney FC's Ali Abbas and Hirofumi Moriyasu, and recent Brisbane Roar signing Do Dong-Hyun.

The goalposts are clearly shifting and I would bet on Socceroos that are still in the A league are considering their futures too.

While major clubs in continental Europe cut their cloth accordingly, the gold rush has now reached countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Japan.

Paris St Germain have been flexing their muscles in the close-season,bringing in the likes of Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and, possibly ZlatanI brahimovic, but they are an exception to the rule.

Closer to home,Roberto Mancini has yet to show his hand at the helm of newly-crowned Premier League champions and cash-rich Manchester City, but Greg Cunningham(Bristol City, free), Owen Hargreaves (released), Gunnar Nielsen (released),Stuart Taylor (released), Wayne Bridge (Brighton, loan) have all been shown the door. Though the live soccer betting suggests it will only be a matter of time before a lump of cash is shelled out by Sheikh Mansour’s pet project.

The Mariners may feel they have just been jilted at the altar but the truth is they are not alone.

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