Players each A-League club wished they never lost

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In a sport where player transfers are so common, there must be some players a club wish they never let go?

A player that filled a position ever so perfectly that when they left, the club have struggled to find a perfect candidate to do even half the job the departing player did?

Every club in the A-League have at least one player they would do anything to bring them back and here is a list of them.

Adelaide United – Bruce Djite

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Djite had two stints at Adelaide and don’t they wish he would return to playing to make it a third.

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Before being appointed as the Director of Football at the club in June 2019, Djite made 158 appearances and scored more than 40 goals.

He is the current top goal scorer for Adelaide, secured an FFA Cup and was a part of the premiership and championship double squad.

Although his retirement is recent, Djite’s maturity, international success and long-term commitment for the club easily could have helped Adelaide to another record season.

Brisbane Roar – Jamie Maclaren

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Maclaren spent the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons at Brisbane where he scored 40 goals collectively.

There are no current players for Brisbane who have neared this haul, with Dylan Wenzel-Halls being the closest securing only five goals across 23 appearances for the club.

Brisbane have only scored one goal for the 2019/20 season so far and for the two previous seasons with Maclaren’s absence, they scored 33 and 38 goals.

Imagine another 20 goals each season by Maclaren.

Brisbane can only do just that, imagine.

Central Coast Mariners – Mathew Ryan

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Beginning his time at Central Coast as the substitute keeper, an ACL injury to Jess Vanstrattan saw Ryan be called up for the starting 11.

With some competition to keep his spot, Ryan was still able to retain his position and subsequently won the A-League Young Footballer of the Year in 2010/11.

After three seasons, Ryan moved onto Club Brugge before playing for Valencia and his current club Brighton and Hove Albion.

In his time overseas, he continually impressed with clean sheets, recently keeping ten in the 2017/18 English Premier League season with the Seagulls.

The Mariners finished second the season after Ryan left but have since finished no higher than eighth, with three tenth place finishes.

Ryan, time to get back into the goals at Central Coast Stadium soon.

Melbourne City – Aaron Mooy

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A decorated club and international career are everything City would want in a player, if Mooy ever decided to come back to A-League football.

At City alone, he scored when his team needed a lift, won Player of the Year and was the top goal scorer for the 2014/15 season.

The following season he became the highest payed marquee player in the A-League and was the first player for the club to score a hat-trick in the FFA Cup.

With currently 42 appearances representing Australia, including for both summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, why would City not want him back?

Picture this, Mooy and Jamie Maclaren in an A-League side together.

Melbourne Victory – Mattieu Delpierre

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The Frenchman finished up his professional playing career at Victory in the 2015/16 A-League season, but don’t they wish he had not.

Delpierre accumulated 49 caps across all competitions for Victory and was regarded as one of the best central defenders the A-League had seen.

He left a major void in the club’s defence which since has been a battle for Victory to build around.

Victory have tried both marquee and international players but injury setbacks have seen them collect minimal playing time.

The 2019/20 season looked to have been different, with Victory securing Tim Hoogland but with a setback to injury, Mattieu it’s time to come out of retirement.

Newcastle Jets – Andrew Nabbout

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Newcastle would be looking at Melbourne Victory wishing for the striker to find his way back to the club.

In his first Jets season, after being a pushed aside Victory player, he became the leading goal scorer.

He collected 46 caps and scored 18 goals proving the transition from winger to central striker saved his career.

He was a part of the revival of the Jets and in his two seasons helped take them to a second-place finish.

The Jets are on a rollercoaster ride with their consistency but if they were to manage to poach Nabbout back, they just might make finals again.

Perth Glory – Stan Lazaridis

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It was probably the ending to his career that Lazaridis did not want.

After seven seasons with Birmingham City FC, Lazaridis finished at Perth with only 11 appearances due to the incident, a positive drug test, that inevitably finished his career.

Before his 12-month suspension, he was one of the most popular players to represent Australia, memorable for his exceptional pace and ability to tear-up the left-wing.

He was an essential part of Birmingham’s promotion to the Premier League and also spent four seasons at West Ham.

The international experience of Lazaridis was what Perth needed at the time, and if history could rewrite itself, maybe he would have had another season or two in him.

Sydney FC – Alessandro Del Piero

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Sydney FC have been showered in success by finishing top two in all seasons, except 2015/16, for the last five seasons.

But Alessandro Del Piero’s time at the club will never be forgotten.

Del Piero signed with Sydney for two seasons, with the reported deal to have made him the highest-paid footballer in Australia.

In 2012/13, he scored the first – and winning – goal in the first Sydney derby, scored four goals against Wellington Phoenix and broke the club record for scoring the most goals in a single season.

He then went onto captaining the club in 2013/14 as well as receiving the Sydney’s Gold boot.

As it is, playing Sydney is a challenge for current clubs so they are all lucky there’s no Del Piero to fear anymore.

Wellington Phoenix – Sarpreet Singh

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The youngster’s stellar performance caught the eye of Bayern scouts which saw him part ways with Wellington.

Considered as one of the most exciting young players of the A-League, Singh totalled 39 appearance and nine goals after securing his position in the team’s starting 11.

The attacking midfielder could step up and score when his club needed it, so being recognised by Bayern Munich confirmed the ability he possessed.

It’s been said that Bayern had their eyes on Singh since he was 11, have fun trying to get him back then Wellington.

Western Sydney Wanderers – Shinji Ono

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The goalscoring midfielder spent two seasons at the Wanderers picking up both the Player of the Year and Member’s Player of the Year in the 2013/14 season.

In 57 appearances he scored 11 goals and was a part of the 2012/13 premiership team and the finals runners-up team.

Since his departure, the Wanderers have only finished higher than sixth once, missing the experience and professionalism Ono brought to the side.

The marquee player was not just a high-profile name for the side, he is considered one of the best footballers in Asia for his ability to read play and his accurate boot.

Unless Ono’s family decided to relocate to Australia, the family man will not be back anytime soon.

Feature Image Credit: Newcastle Jets

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Tricia Mifsud
Covering Melbourne Victory during the 2019/2020 season. Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism) at Latrobe University. Dedicated to writing articles that sports fans want to read.