James Troisi’s decision to leave his home town club has left many Adelaide United fans furious.
And they’re right to feel disappointed.
The Reds have come out and admitted they told Troisi in September he could speak to other clubs. This was due to the fact that there was no clarity about squad sizes, the salary cap and TV money.
Troisi’s contact was heavily back-ended – meaning he would be on a lot more money this season than last.
United had to make a call on some players who were earning good money because with a salary floor (the minimum spend of the cap towards playing staff) in the A-League, they would have a few players on a good wicket but not enough flexibility to fulfil minimum squad requirements or be able to put together a strong, competitive squad.
But, in the same breath, United also clarified that once they had sold the likes of Izzo, McGree and Brook and Nikola Mileusnic’s wages were off the books, Troisi was told:
- He was a required player;
- He was wanted by the club and the coaching staff of Veart and Aloisi (the latter of whom, from all reports, Troisi was very fond of and was thoroughly enjoying working with); and
- That the club would fulfil his contract.
For his part, the Asian Cup winner refutes he was ever subsequently told he was a required player but that doesn’t seem to line up with the club’s behaviour.
On November 24, Troisi was performing media duties for the Reds, spruiking the release of the fixtures for the new season.
If Djite et al were trying to move the Socceroo on, why would they get him in front the cameras? It seems an illogical and unnecessary risk.
If Troisi was not needed at the club, why didn’t he issue a “come get me” to clubs in that presser?
Instead, he spoke about his delight to be able to play in front of fans at Hindmarsh and his plan to get in 90 minutes every week for United.
Carl Robinson, the new Western Sydney coach who pursued Troisi, was appointed in the middle of October and yet the first rumours of the ex- Kayserispor player’s departure from the Reds didn’t surface until December.
The timelines simply do not fit.
Furthermore, InDaily understands that Troisi told Djite as late as last week he had no intention of leaving the Reds.
Troisi and his representatives can spin it any way they want but, the reality is, he decided to leave.
He had a chance to make himself a fan favourite by ignoring the overtures of Western Sydney and staying in South Australia.
When Robinson got in touch with him, he could have simply said: “Thanks, but no thanks.” And I’m certain that if he had sat down with the Reds’ hierarchy about getting another year on his deal – they would’ve taken the request seriously.
It seems that Troisi was interested because the offer from Western Sydney extends his career.
The realist in me says he’s looked after himself and his family.
But he’s also turned his back on his home town club and a fan base which accepted him with open arms, even though he played many seasons for Melbourne Victory.
He seemed to always have one foot out the door since arriving.
His early good form brought rumours of interest in his services which led to speculation he would leave in January.
But Bruce Djite told the media on Tuesday that they never had a formal offer for their former star player and that they even rejected a recent inquiry from the Wanderers who subsequently said they would not pursue Troisi.
And again, if Troisi wasn’t required why would Adelaide rebuff that enquiry?
Who is available to sign?
Adelaide’s director of football also said in his press conference that replacing Troisi would be difficult but he loved a challenge.
A glance at the current global free agent list makes for interesting reading.
There are some tantalising names who would strengthen the Reds immensely but are highly unlikely propositions.
For example, former Chelsea midfielder Ramires is available. As is Jack Wilshere. Mario Mandzukic is another.
I would argue there are two clear options. They would be tough to get over the line but it’s worth a shot.
Option one: Shinji Kagawa. Now before you roll your eyes, hear me out.
The season in Japan is almost finished so a return home for Kagawa would mean no games until later in 2021.
He’s 31, still super talented and a natural number 10. Plus, the exposure it would bring United and South Australia in Asia would be phenomenal (remember Shinji Ono?).
The stumbling block, of course, would be wages: for Kagawa to even consider a move here, he would want big dollars.
That, in turn, means he would need to be a designated player (or marquee as it’s more commonly known).
Adelaide could make it happen with the backing from the governing body but since they’re about to hand over the competition to the clubs, they’re probably not going to reach into their pockets.
But signing Kagawa and slotting him into the midfield behind Juric would be amazing. And maybe the Japanese star may be tempted to be closer to home as his career in Europe slowly winds down.
Option two: Jackson Irvine.
The Australian has been without a club since leaving Hull City in July. He can play anywhere in central midfield, is a natural leader, hard worker and would suit the system Veart prefers.
Adelaide could also point to their recent record of attracting Australian talent, re-igniting their careers before allowing them to move on to bigger leagues (think McGree, Goodwin, and Garuccio for example).
That might just be enough of a temptation to get Irvine over the line.
For now, though, it looks likely that until new signing Javi López has ended his quarantine and is ready to slot into the midfield, Veart has some serious thinking about how his starting 11 looks come December 28.
And another thing…
Congratulations to Eastern United, Sturt Lions and Campbelltown City for winning the State League 2, State League 1 and National Premier League (SA) grand finals respectively.
But we also need to take a moment to congratulate those behind the scenes at Football SA for getting the season finished despite two COVID-enforced breaks.
It would have been easy to end the season after the state-wide lockdown but FSA wanted to reward the teams for their persistence in 2020.
Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist and commentates soccer matches for Football South Australia.
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