The Phoenix must sell Ben Waine in January

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For the past few seasons, there has been talk of Ben Waine leaving for Europe. Wellington Phoenix have turned down offers from Coventry City and Plymouth Argyle already, even though selling him is the best move for Waine himself.

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The most important reason is that he wanted to leave this offseason. Plymouth Argyle put in an official offer for the young forward, but Wellington rejected it. You can understand the side wanting to keep their homegrown talent, but Waine is too good to be kept in the A-League Men for much longer.

One key attribute of Waine is that he has kept improving every season in Wellington. Eventually this will stop though, unless he gets better quality coaching handed to him. The Phoenix have a lot going for them, but European clubs have the tools to help players become world-class.

Going to a European side will give him much a chance to become a better footballer, due to their elite facilities that the Phoenix cannot compete with.

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Waine should find inspiration in how former teammate Liberato Cacace has done after leaving the Phoenix. Cacace has already played 50 matches for Sint-Truidense in the Belgian Pro League as well as recently signing with Serie A club Empoli, playing one match.

Waine could learn a lot from Cacace’s success in Europe so far. Cacace has looked a class above while playing for the All Whites and that is something that Waine could do if he moves to Europe.

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Phoenix fans have an affinity to Waine because he debuted for the side when he was 17 and has grown so much over the years. This is true, but it would be selfish of the Phoenix to keep him hostage in Wellington when there are better options on the table.

Arguably, he should already be in England this season, but the club stopped the deal from happening. This is his fourth season at the club, Wellington need to let him go otherwise his window may pass and he will be stuck there forever.

David Ball is returning this week and this could well see Waine move back to the bench. He has spent much of his Phoenix career as a substitute, so why stay when you could do that if not better in a European league?

Waine has started the season incredibly well, but he still isn’t guaranteed to start at the Phoenix so he should move to Europe where he will be in a similar position.

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Another key reason the move to Europe would make Waine a better footballer is the number of games played there compared to the A-League Men. Most European leagues go for 38 matches or more, way higher than the 26 played in Australia. This would give him the ability to play a couple of matches a week, instead of just one like in the A-League and learn more. Playing more matches would allow Waine to continue to his development as a footballer, making Europe the best option for him.

An obvious reason to move is that European football is much more competitive than the A-League Men too. It is getting better, but the talent gap is still huge.

If Waine wants to become a great player, he must move away. Otherwise, he will struggle to get into the All Whites side moving forward with so many Kiwis going abroad to ply their trade already. Waine may get left in the dust if the Phoenix don’t finally let him go.

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One thing that some A-League Men players have struggled with in the past is homesickness. Waine may struggle early on like everyone, but he has an English passport and has a familiarity with the country. He has been linked with English clubs in the past, so England could be the perfect move for him to progress his career.

There are many reasons why Waine should leave the Phoenix and move to Europe. All of them will help to make him the best player he can be, instead of staying at the Phoenix and missing his opportunity to succeed abroad.

Feature Image Credit: Photomac

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Joshua Dean
Joshua Dean
Aspiring sports journalist! I love sports and enjoy writing, so added my two hobbies together! Studying Journalism at Massey University, Wellington.

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