Ranked: The most stacked A-League Men squads of all-time

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Given Ross Aloisi’s recent comments that some clubs do not stick to the A-League Men salary cap, we thought it would be fun to look at some of the most stacked and expensive teams of the past few seasons.

To make it clear, we are by no means saying that any of these teams broke the salary cap. Instead, we are simply impressed how they managed to fit all this talent into a small honey pot.

1) Melbourne Victory 2014/15

This is the team that won the double. All three position groups were stacked with local and international talent. Looking back, it makes you wonder what financial magic went on behind the scenes to fit all the players within the salary cap.

Jason Geria, Mark Milligan, Matthieu Delpierre, Carl Valeri, Gui Finkler, Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses, Archie Thompson and Fahid Ben Khalfallah were all great signings and contributed to an unbelievable season.

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This squad led the league in goals scored and was last in the league for goals conceded. It was a lethal combination that simply went unmatched throughout the course of the season.

Berisha and Milligan were marquees this season which begs the question of how all the other international stars fitted in seamlessly.

2) Sydney FC 2012/13

This was a special season for the A-League Men. It saw big marquee names in the form of Alessandro Del Piero at Sydney FC and Emile Heskey at Newcastle Jets.

The difference between the two sides was the other talent that Sydney was able to surround Del Piero with, despite his rumoured $2 million salary per year.

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Former Socceroos captain Lucas Neil was brought in from the UAE Pro League, along with Pascal Bosschaart, Fabinho, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Yairo Yau, Joel Griffiths and Krunoslav Lovrek.

Emerton and obviously Del Piero were the two marquee players that season. Unfortunately for the club, they vastly underperformed that season. Despite the Italian maestro being directly involved in 35 goals in 47 games, the club missed finals in his first season, finishing seventh.

3) Melbourne City 2021/22

It’s hard to imagine that a team coming off the double last season can improve. What’s even more impressive, is that the semi-final and grand final were won without Socceroos Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good, Connor Metcalfe, and the injured-Andrew Nabbout.

Yet, that’s what Melbourne City have done this past off-season. After losing Adrian Luna, City have strengthened with the signings of Socceroos star Mathew Leckie and Italian forward Manual Pucciarelli.

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Don’t forget to also add in last season’s remaining core of Tom Glover, Nuno Reis, Curtis Good, Aiden O’Neill, Florin Berenguer, Andrew Nabbout, Marco Tilio, Andrew Nabbout and Jamie Maclaren.

City are expected to make another strong title-push and it’s not hard to see why. Whoever is in charge of the salary cap mechanics needs a pat on the back. 

4) Brisbane Roar 2010/11

This team was managed by the legendary Ange Postecoglou and won the double. They will forever be remembered for Erik Paartalu’s last minute header in the grand final and Henrique’s winning penalty.

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The squad contained stars such as Besart Berisha, Thomas Broich, Henrique, Mitch Nichols, Ivan Franjic, Michael Theo, Luke Brattan, Erik Paartalu and Issey Nakajima-Farran.

They also hold the record for the longest unbeaten streak in Australian football history. Over the course of this season and the following, the Roar went an astonishing 36 games unbeaten.

5) Sydney FC 2017/18

This Sydney FC team will go down as one of the best that the A-League Men has ever seen. In a one-sided season, the premiers finished a crazy 14 points in front of second-place Newcastle Jets.

However, in a surprising finals series they lost at home to Melbourne Victory, who then went on to win the grand final in Newcastle.

Some of the local and international talent in this squad has to be seen to be believed.

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It included highly esteemed Aussies returning from Europe such as Luke Wilkshire and Joshua Brillante, with a host of international stars like Jordy Buijs, Bobo, Fabio Ferreira, Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski joining them. Add in ageing Aussies Alex Wilkinson, Alex Brosque, Michael Zullo and David Carney and it is a ridiculously good squad.

Ninkovic and Bobo were the two marquees this season and stuck around the following season to lift the trophy after a tough grand final win away at Perth Glory.

Their dominance was rewarded as Zullo, Wilkinson, Brillante, Bobo, and Mierzejewski received spots in the A-League Men team of the season. Wilkshire was also given a spot on the bench.

Notable exemptions

Western Sydney Wanderers 2021/22

Talented reinforcements on both sides of the pitch should result in the club returning to the A-League Men finals for the first time in six seasons.

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Some of the more impressive names in the squad are Tomas Mejias, Ziggy Gordon, Rhys Williams, Adama Traore, Jack Rodwell, Steven Ugarkovic, Dimitri Petratos, James Troisi, Terry Antonis, Keijiro Ogawa, Bernie Ibini and Tomer Hemed.

Macarthur FC 2021/22

Incredibly talented roster that is looking to go one better than last season’s semi-final loss against eventual premiers Melbourne City. Their revamped squad now includes Daniel De Silva, Craig Noone, Tomi Juric, Ulises Davila, Tomislav Uskok, Filip Kurto, Tommy Oar, Jordan Mutch and Aleksandar Jovanovic.

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Featured image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Dillon Izon
Dillon Izon
Marketing graduate at Monash University. Sports addicted, fan of Manchester United and Melbourne City. My gran “knows” Gareth Bale.

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