City fans have been bombarded with squad news this afternoon, with the re-signings of Nathaniel Atkinson, Florin Berenguer and Rostyn Griffiths offset by the significant loss of midfielder Josh Brillante.
Atkinson and Griffiths have signed two-year deals, running until the completion of the 2021/22 season, whilst Berenguer will extend his stay in Melbourne until the end of 2020/21.
Atkinson’s re-signing is particularly significant given the controversy of his initial departure from the club as he attempted to join Perth Glory, who were unable to complete the acquisition given Western Australia’s hard border closure. The 21-year-old took to Instagram when the move looked to be off the table, posting an infamous scene from The Wolf of Wall Street to let fans know that he was, in fact, not f***ing leaving.
This afternoon’s news wasn’t all good, however, with Josh Brillante confirmed to be departing the club. One of our most influential players in the 19/20 campaign, Brillante departs having made 28 A-League appearances, scoring one goal. The midfielder was contracted for two seasons at City, but has elected to mutually terminate his contract as he pursues other opportunities in these trying times.
The squad update provides some much-needed reassurance ahead of what will be an unprecedented season for football in Australia, with the City squad now looking more solidified. Aiden O’Neill’s earlier signing now looks like a decent bit of business, with the holding midfielder – though different in his performance of the role – likely to be a ready-made replacement for the outgoing Brillante. With no rumour of Luna going anywhere and Berenguer having been resigned, the club have done well to construct a decent-looking midfield that will be supplemented by the promising depth options of Metcalfe and Gomulka (and Griffiths, if needed).
The primary concern for the club will now be holding onto the likes of Craig Noone and Harrison Delbridge, who have both been linked with moves away from the club. Though Delbridge’s departure would arguably be less damaging to the squad given our centre-back depth, the loss of Craig Noone would be huge. If the Englishman were to go, the remaining wingers would all be under the age of 21, with Tilio and Najjar as options for the left and Najjarine and Colakovski on the right. This would also impact tremendously on Jamie Maclaren’s likely goalscoring output for the season ahead, with the poacher relying on quality service from the wings in order to score.
This offseason looms as one of our most crucial for a while and though there are still several months remaining until the new season gets underway, the club have managed to limit most of the damage from COVID so far…