A-League hopes of landing Iniesta plunge as Melbourne City step away

The slender hopes of an A-League club joining forces with Football Federation Australia to bid for Spanish icon Andres Iniesta have taken a hit with Melbourne City ruling themselves out of the running.

City chiefs - whose operating model is predicated more on fostering more Aaron Mooys than splashing millions on top-shelf marquees - are not biting.

It’s understood Australia’s most lavishly backed club view the hyperbole surrounding the Barcelona great and the A-League - which gained a shot of oxygen from FFA CEO David Gallop on Thursday - is more about idealism than realism.

City’s power brokers believe that even if FFA pledges its entire $3 million marquee war chest on Iniesta, who turns 34 on Friday, it would still be only a fraction of the anticipated $US10 million ($A13 million) the midfielder marvel will command when he begins his post-Barcelona life beyond Europe’s borders next season.

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The club who have nurtured the likes of Daniel Arzani and Nathaniel Atkinson this season see themselves more as a young talent factory than a cash cow for established stars.

China, Japan, the US and Australia have all been mentioned as possible destinations, with the man himself keeping everybody guessing.

But with Melbourne City refusing to enter a bidding war - despite the deep pockets of the City Football Group - the prospects of Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory or Western Sydney Wanderers picking up the baton appear slim at best.

Sydney already have two marquees in Bobo and the soon-to-be-announced Milos Ninkovic.

And for all the razzle-dazzle of the club’s Dwight Yorke and Alessandro Del Piero adventures, both proved costly exercises.

Wanderers, Shinji Ono aside, have never readily embraced the marquee model with great financial gusto, with the same applying to Victory, who at this point have Besart Berisha and James Troisi as next season’s marquee men.



Despite City declining to join what they consider the fanciful pursuit of iniesta, Gallop was bullish after meeting representatives of several A-League clubs to assess how best to utilize the new marquee fund.

Speaking after J-League Vissel Kobe had backed away from a reported A$40 million a year bid for Iniesta, Gallop said: “I won't name who but I do understand that A-League clubs have expressed interest, and that's a start.

"He'll have offers from around the globe but the A-League offers a great competition to play in and the Australian lifestyle, and we saw with Del Piero and others that that is an attraction.

"It would require a significant investment, primarily from one of our clubs, but we've got some funds available as well and if we can contribute - it would be a contribution, not the bulk of what he could earn - then we think it's money well spent."


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3 min read
Published 10 May 2018 at 8:36pm
By Dave Lewis