Clubs ring the changes as transfer season opens

THE retail industry has the traditional post-Christmas January sales to stimulate demand and keep cash flow going.

The soccer world has the January transfer window, which not only drives business and revenue, but allows some players to achieve their lifetime dreams and forces others to contemplate, if not the end of their career, then how to deal with a major setback.

It not only allows coaches to clear the decks and rebuild their squads for a serious tilt at the title, but gives fans the chance to dream of a better, brighter future thanks to a couple of new signings.

The reverse is also true, of course, as it gives supporters the opportunity to moan and groan about their club’s supposed lack of ambition when it lets its best and brightest talents disappear to bigger teams in faraway leagues.

As is often the case, things are not as they may seem.

Wednesday’s frenzy of activity in the A-League was reminiscent of the opening day of a Myer or Grace Bros Boxing Day blockbuster sale as players departed, or were dumped, moving to Asia, Europe or interstate.

Earliest to set the hares running was Central Coast Mariners prodigy Tommy Rogic, who, it was announced, would be ”linking” up with Celtic in Spain, where the Scottish champions are having a mid-season training camp.

Celtic has yet to table a formal bid for the Socceroo midfielder, but will run an eye over Rogic as he takes part in training sessions as well as sports science and fitness testing.

Rogic, who will miss the game against Melbourne Victory at Aurora Stadium in Launceston on Saturday evening because of suspension, is due back in Gosford on January 17, but if Celtic likes what it sees the club is set to table a bid. The 20-year-old would then be off to Scotland, missing the remainder of the A-League season.

One player who will definitely not be around during the domestic campaign is Melbourne Heart right back Michael Marrone. The defender received a round of applause at training from his teammates on Wednesday morning when they were told he would be leaving to move to Chinese side Hangzhou Shenxin.

Marrone, now 25, is Heart’s record games holder with 70 appearances for the red and whites, a club he joined for the inaugural season from North Queensland Fury. Marrone, who made his Socceroo debut late last year in the East Asian Cup, also played for his home-town team Adelaide United.

It is believed the Heart has received about $300,000 for Marrone, whose new club finished second bottom of the Chinese Super League last season. It is understood the team plans to use him as a defensive midfielder.

There was plenty of action at Melbourne Victory, too, where Ange Postecoglou continues to wield the axe as he shapes the squad to his liking.

To do so he needs to create space in his squad, cut his wages bill and free up some cash for new signings.

So out went two youngsters, Petar Franjic and Julius Davies, although it would be surprising if their wages amounted, even together, to that great a sum.

Franjic has played 31 games for Victory in his two years with the club, including a handful of appearances this season.

But it became clear he was not part of Postecoglou’s plans when he was dropped. Even when the coach faced a central defensive crisis he preferred to use the diminutive Leigh Broxham rather than Franjic or Sam Gallagher, who remains on the list.

At least Franjic featured regularly enough.

Davies, who was signed last year, made two appearances at the back end of that campaign under Jim Magilton, but has not been involved at all this year.

The 18-year-old, who once spent time with Bayern Munich, asked for his contract to be terminated so that he could join Brisbane Roar. The Sierra Leone-born teenager has signed a new two-and-a-half-year deal with the Queenslanders, so his immediate future still remains promising.

Brisbane also did some business, shipping out former young Socceroo Rocky Visconte.

The 22-year-old winger has joined A-League new boys Western Sydney Wanderers. He also played for Scottish Premier League side Hearts as a teenager.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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