Do A-League Men sides really benefit from signing big names?

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There’s no doubt that countries from all around the world produce talented footballers and the A-League Men is no stranger to poaching some of them.

Top leagues include the English Premier League, which is the clear global leader in terms of viewership. It is regarded as the most difficult league competition in the world, and it also outspends all others in terms of financial power.

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Aussie clubs love getting their hands on players from the Premier League for obvious reasons. The hype, the excitement, and winning prospects when a footballer of such calibre joins their side is calculated all on the player’s European experience.

But do these signings actually result in tangible success? We took a look at three big-name signings from the past to find out…

Melbourne City:

Although David Villa only made four appearances in his time at Melbourne City in 2014, he managed to score two goals for the team.

One of which the Spanish striker, made his imprint on the A-League Men in just 15 minutes, scoring a sensational equaliser against Sydney FC to earn Melbourne City a 1-1 draw.

Unfortunately, his overall impact for his team is quiet low, due his few appearances. Had he played more for Melbourne City, it is highly likely that his overall impact would have been quite significant.

Sydney FC:

Prior to Alessandro Del Piero joining Sydney FC from Juventus in the 2012/13 ALM season, the Sky Blues concluded their last season in fifth position.

Del Piero signed a two-year contract with Sydney FC in 2012 and made his debut for Sydney FC in a 2–0 defeat against Wellington Phoenix on the road.

In his first home game for Sydney, Del Piero scored his first goal for the club from a free-kick in a 3–2 loss against Newcastle Jets. Del Piero scored the game-winning goal against Western Sydney Wanderers FC (1–0), becoming the first player to score in the Sydney Derby.

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The Italian forward scored four goals and added an assist in Sydney’s 7–1 victory over the Phoenix; it was the first time he had scored more than three goals in a single game, earning a standing ovation.

He scored his 11th goal of the season in a 2–1 home win over Brisbane Roar, breaking the club’s record for most goals in a single season.

Although Del Piero was unable to help Sydney qualify for the finals at the end of the season, despite his impressive tally of 14 goals in 24 matches.

In the following season, he was selected captain where he scored a total of 10 goals for Sydney FC in the 2013/14 season, earning him the club’s Golden Boot.

Before being released from his contract with Sydney FC, he helped the club qualify for the finals series by setting up both of his team’s goals in the last match, a 2–1 home win against Perth Glory. In his final match with Sydney, the club was defeated 2–1 by Melbourne Victory.

Newcastle Jets:

In 2012, Premier League footballer Emile Heskey joined Newcastle Jets as their marquee player for the 2012/13 season.

He made his debut in the Jets’ 2–0 home loss against Adelaide United, when he was replaced by James Virgili in the 72nd minute. Heskey scored his first ALM goal in a 3–2 away win over Sydney FC.

With his goal against Sydney FC, Heskey increased his goal tally to five in five starts, with one goal against F3 Derby rivals Central Coast Mariners, two goals against Melbourne Victory and one goal against Western Sydney Wanderers, putting him joint top scorer in the league.

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“Heskey Cam” was used during the match versus Melbourne, allowing viewers to follow Heskey’s moves with a single camera throughout the game.

Heskey signed a new contract for 2013/14 in April 2013, after finishing 2012/13 with nine goals in 23 games and receiving a nomination for the Jets’ Player of the Year award.

Heskey left the Jets in 2013/14 after scoring once in 19 appearances to explore a transfer to an English team.

Conclusion:

Having an elite footballer on an Australian team is worth the splurge. However, clubs can’t rely on star players to carry their teams to victory.

With the above statistics, it is safe to argue that these players make a positive impact on their teams but winning requires far more than just one player stepping up.

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Paloma Darjani
Paloma Darjani
Covering the Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.

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