New to the City: A history of VISAs
This article originally appeared in the February 22 edition of City Insider and has been edited with up-to-date statistics.
Now into his fourth season at Melbourne City FC, it seems as though 2022 could be Florin Berenguer’s year as the Frenchman continues to take his game to new levels, much to the delight of fans.
In just 15 appearances, Berenguer has already surpassed each of his goal involvements tallies from his first three campaigns at City, with three goals and three assists to his name at present.
Even more impressively, the Frenchman became City’s all-time highest foreign appearance-maker last night, with Berenguer surpassing Bruno Fornaroli's 83 appearances in City's 2-1 win over Sydney.
The achievement by the Frenchman to surpass his four-time Uruguayan teammate from the 2018/19 season serves as a reminder of some of the contributions of international signings across City’s history, with this no more explicit than the two aforementioned players being a league-double winner and FFA Cup-winning captain respectively.
Now that the title of City’s most-capped foreign player has changed hands, there’s surely no better time to take a deep dive into the trends and quirks of the Club’s international signings over the years.
In 12 seasons in the A-League, players of 25 foreign nationalities have turned out for Melbourne City, with the overwhelming majority (17) unsurprisingly hailing from the dominant footballing continent of Europe. Three Asian nations (Japan, Philippines and Singapore) and three South American nations (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) have been represented. Martinique-international Harry Novillo and eight-time Liberian national team defender Patrick Gerhardt are unique in that they are the only City players to have represented their entire continents of North America and Africa respectively.
There’s certainly been a strong Dutch influence at City over the years, with a record seven players and inaugural Head Coach John van’t Schip all hailing from the Netherlands. City’s next most prominent foreign contingent is split three ways between Brazil, England and Italy, who’ve each been represented by four players, including Carl Jenkinson and Manuel Pucciarelli for the latter two nations respectively this season.
City has certainly had players hailing from some pretty non-traditional footballing nations over the years, with Malta, Singapore and Liberia’s respective current FIFA Global Rankings of 174th, 161st and 145th highlighting that fact. A special mention has to be given to Novillo’s Martinique, who aren’t a FIFA-affiliated national team.
Finally, onto the record-breakers and makers, it’s Berenguer who leads his foreign counterparts on 84 games played in all competitions after passing Fornaroli with his appearance against Sydney. The title of the next most-capped foreign City player is a tie, jointly-held by Argentinian Jonatan Germano and Dutchman Bart Schenkeveld on 57 appearances. Englishman Craig Noone (55) rounds out the top five.
Whilst Berenguer may have just dethroned Fornaroli in the appearances stakes, he may need to have a likely ill-fated discussion with Patrick Kisnorbo and Jamie Maclaren if he wants to reach the Uruguayan’s foreign record of 57 goals in all competitions. Fornaroli may be sitting on that one for a while, with no current City players in the top five. League double-winner Craig Noone managed 15 goals in his time with City, whilst Ross McCormack (Scotland), Harry Novillo (Martinique) and Adrián Luna (Uruguay) round out the five highest-scoring foreigners with 14, 13 and eight goals respectively.