Sydney stars in two-way fight for ACL spot
STAR Sydney FC imports Milos Ninkovic and Adian Mierzejewski appear locked in a two-way fight for an Asian Champions League spot in Graham Arnold's burgeoning squad.
The Sydney coach is only permitted to include three of his four foreign players in his ACL squad, meaning one of Ninkovic, Mierzejewski, Bobo and Jordy Buijs will have to be omitted.
Arnold revealed yesterday he was looking to sign an Asian player, preferably who can play out wide, suggesting either inform winger Mierzejewski or marquee playmaker Ninkovic could be left out.
Under the ACL's 3+1 rule, an Asian player can be signed outside the salary cap and play exclusively in the continent's flagship competition.
"We've got a plus one in an Asian foreigner available and that can be outside the salary cap," Arnold said.
"We're looking for someone with pace and someone that can change the game.
"We're always looking, but it's whether we can get them here or not."
Asian Champions League success is the next frontier for the Sky Blues, who have taken all before them in the A-League over the past 12 months and left Sydney players in demand from rival clubs.
Arnold said a number of his off-contract players already have offers on the table from Sydney FC, but wouldn't confirm if star imports Ninkovic and Bobo were among them.
With the January transfer window just days away from opening, clubs will be circling Sydney FC's 11 players who are off contract at the end of the season.
But Arnold isn't worried about losing any of them to A-League rivals, including Bobo and Ninkovic.
"They've still got until the end of the year and they're being spoken to," Arnold said. "They want to stay, so we're not concerned about them at all.
"We've had no interest in our players and a lot of these players will be re-signed quite soon.
"Five or six of them have got offers on the table as we speak, it's just a matter of them and their agents sorting it out.
"Sydney FC is a fantastic club and is the greatest club in the country, so there is no reason for any of these boys to want to leave to go to another club in the A-League. If it's overseas then it's a different story, but they're all happy."
Sydney play Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium tonight, with only Matt Simon in doubt.
They beat Wellington away 4-1 last week, following a 3-1 win over Melbourne City and a 5-0 thrashing of local rivals Western Sydney.
But Arnold is still looking for an improved performance from his team.
"I was pretty angry after the Wellington game because I thought our performances need to be much better than what they are," Arnold said.
"We expect every week our performance to get greater and greater. That's the purpose of what we do every week and what we do on the training pitch. I can see there's a lot of improvement that's come from our front four, I can also see the improvement will get greater and greater as the season goes on."