Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta
Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta

Clubs hover as FFA contact Iniesta armed with $3m war chest

FOOTBALL Federation Australia is set to make contact with Andres Iniesta's management to see if the Spanish legend's interest in an A-League stint is for real.

It comes after four clubs flagged their intention to use a new $3 million war chest announced last week to bring big-name players to the competition next season.

It may be too late to snare Iniesta, with reports out of Japan suggesting the Barcelona great is to sign a three-year deal rumoured to be worth almost $40 million with J-League club Vissel Kobe.

But it's understood Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers are the clubs who will be in the market for recognised name players next season.

Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona plays the ball
Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona plays the ball

The CEOs of the four clubs are due to meet on Thursday to discuss their budgets and how the funds, provided by Fox Sports, will be used.

The views of coaches, who have previously been reticent to take on marquee players, will also be taken into account.

However, A-League chief Greg O'Rourke said the view across the game was "overwhelming" that the competition needs to revisit the marquee concept.

"We will determine with (the CEOs) how this is going to work. Do we go out and use $3 million to go and hook one big fish, or three small ones?" O'Rourke said.

"There's some history that would say that (Alessandro) Del Piero, when he was here with (Emile) Heskey and Shinji Ono was actually quite amplifying."

Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta holds up the cup after the team won the Spanish Copa del Rey
Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta holds up the cup after the team won the Spanish Copa del Rey

Spanish outlet Sport claimed Iniesta, 33, had named Australia has the "preferred destination" to end his glittering career.

O'Rourke confirmed FFA would reach out to the 2010 World Cup winner, but if they miss out as expected, he said approaches have already been made to other potential A-League recruits in recent days.

O'Rourke said a list of targets would be drawn up using publicly available information, as well as help from their PFA and their networks - including the world players' union FIFPro - and input from clubs.

The A-League had a centralised 'guest marquee' fund in 2016 but it garnered only one player, Tim Cahill, whose stint at Melbourne City did not have the desired impact on crowds and TV ratings.

Western Sydney (Eduardo da Silva) and Melbourne Victory (Alessandro Diamanti) had attempts to sign players under the same rule knocked back because they did not meet strict marketability criteria.

O'Rourke said while similar criteria will apply, FFA's approach will be more "holistic" this time around.

"I think you'll see a lot more of a collaborative approach rather than (the clubs) bringing players to us, which was the previous approach," O'Rourke said.


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