As we come towards the end of the A-League season, clubs will be scouring the globe for big money moves for potential International marquees.

But who best meets the criteria to be an A-League superstar? The Football Sack has identified some of the biggest names in world football who fit the bill. But do you think these players are worth the hype, or destined to flop?

Ashley Cole

Once one of the best left-backs in the world, Ashley Cole’s star has waned considerably over the last five years as he’s moved from AS Roma to LA Galaxy to where he currently plies his trade in the English Championship at Derby County under former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard.

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Cole joined Derby in January of this year, but his value to Lampard’s young squad is not so much in his on-field performance, but his presence, experience and status off it. Cole has only made four appearances for Derby as they continue to push for a playoff position, and with his contract expiring in July this year the timing fits perfectly for an offer from an A-League club to secure his services for the 2019/20 season.

Much like his current role at Derby Cole’s contribution on the field will pale in significance to his contribution to marketing the league and instilling professional habits in the change-room while offering his team-mates a look inside the life of a multiple Premier League/FA Cup winner and a former champion of Europe.

Robin van Persie

In October 2018 Robin van Persie told the world this season would “probably” be his last as a professional footballer. But that’s not to say an A-League club wouldn’t have a chance at securing his services for the 2019/20 season.

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For starters, if van Persie is looking for a break from the game, A-League football can provide a European star sufficient breathing space from the footballing world they know while giving them a chance to play in a unique, fresh environment.

Van Persie’s career has come full-circle in recent years. His move from Feyenoord to Arsenal in 2004 sparked a stellar career in which he spent his best years at both the North London Club and Manchester United. He’s one of the Premier League’s greatest goal-scorers.

A two-season spell in Turkey at Fernerbahce followed his stint in Manchester, and this season van Persie returned to Feyenoord in the Netherlands, where his contract is set to expire in July.

In 19 Eredevise games this season van Persie has notched 14 goals and five assists, an incredible feat for a 35-year-old. If an A-League club can successfully coerce him out of his retirement plans for one last season, we could potentially see the best marquee recruit to ever hit our shores.

Fran Mérida

A marquee option from left-field that, if successful, would mirror the recruitment of arguably the best marquee in A-League history.

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Fran Mérida shares the same agent as Diego Castro: Al Eventos Deportivos, and the 29-year-old Spaniard is of elite calibre. Signing with Arsenal as a graduate of Barcelona’s illustrious La Masia youth academy, Mérida spent his early years on loan before cutting ties with Arsenal to join Atlético Madrid in 2010. Labelled a wonder-kid through his teens, the move to Madrid did not prove fruitful for the young Spaniard, and his career has often boiled down to what he could have done, rather than what he has done.

However, on the verge of 30 and plying his trade with CA Osasuna in Spain’s second tier, Glory (and other A-League clubs) may look to Mérida as a player who could best reproduce Castro’s so-far brief but brilliant A-League career.

Contracted until July 2020 acquiring the services of Mérida may be a tricky task, but if an ambitious bid comes in from an A-League club we could be looking at the next mercurial Spanish sensation to grace our competition.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Now this would be fun, wouldn’t it? Contracted with LA Galaxy until the 31st of December, the 37-year-old would be a blockbuster recruit for any A-League side. However, the best (and potentially only) way the Swede could be recruited to the A-League is on a guest contract.

Signing Ibrahimovic on a guest contract would allow him to play a maximum of 14 A-League games next season, and seeing as Major League Soccer runs from March to October, and. Ibrahimovic could play for an A-League club for the beginning of the A-League season which would coincide with the American off-season, then return to LA for the beginning of the MLS in March 2020.

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We all know the qualities of Ibrahimovic: cocky yet charming, ridiculously skilful and athletic. He’s guaranteed to score goals, write headlines and draw worldwide attention to the league. This marquee opportunity would truly provide the league bang for their buck.

Gianluigi Buffon

Possibly my favourite option on the list, simply for the sheer magnitude of the prospect. Make no mistake about it: Buffon is an Italian legend. Arguably held in a higher regard than Sydney FC’s Italian marquee Alessandro Del Piero, Buffon is a World Cup winner and current number one at Paris Saint Germain, who are in the midst of a strong push for their maiden UEFA Champions League title.

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Buffon is a monolithic name with the potential to throw Australia into pandemonium should he be recruited by an A-League club for the 2019/20 season. Buffon is on a “both parties, one year” contract with PSG until July 2019, meaning both he and the club would need to agree to an extension for him to stay with the Parisians.

Buffon’s season at PSG follows a 17-year spell at Italian giants Juventus, and at 41 years of age Buffon’s career is destined for a sea change. The MLS, China and Qatar spring to mind as viable destinations for Buffon if he were to look for a move to see him into retirement, but will an A-League side be bold enough to go out and secure him as a marquee for the 2019/20 season?

Feature image credit: Ngau Kai Yan 

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Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.