Storied Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looks set to depart German giants FC Schalke, with his contract due to expire in the European summer.
The 33-year-old hoped to stay at the Royal Blues but that now looks increasingly unlikely, with German publication kicker reporting a minimum games clause in his deal will bring his stay in Gelsenkirchen to a close.
Ajax are said to be keen on the forward, one of his former clubs, where he made 92 appearances and scored 76 goals. That form earned him a move to Real Madrid in 2009, albeit a short-lived one spanning just 20 matches.
With his career moving into its twilight but still with plenty left to offer on the pitch, the 76 times-capped Netherlands international is a perfect fit for marquee status in the A-League, for any club and in any capacity.
The league has not welcomed a genuine international marquee since Spain star David Villa landed down under for his brief stay with Melbourne City and is in desperate need of another global identity.
Huntelaar meets a number of key criteria to qualify as a guest marquee, meaning clubs could be in line to receive subsidies from Football Federation Australia.
Football Pedigree – check.
Media & Marketing Impact and Commercial Value to the A-League – check.
Other practical considerations such as whether the player speaks fluent English, the size of their social media following and age factored into the points system – check and check; Huntelaar has a massive Twitter following of 426,000.
For any football fan, Huntelaar’s standing as marquee worthy is undisputed.
However, contentious is this – does he appeal to the mainstream sports fan? Probably not.
Unlike Tim Cahill, the league’s only guest marquee thus far, Huntelaar does not have the same standing that can cut through to the mainstream Australian sporting public.
If a lay person was asked who Huntelaar was in a vox pop, the answer would likely be ‘never heard of him’.
Would Huntelaar come to the A-League? He has never signalled his intention to move to Australia, but for that matter, has not pinpointed a preferred destination post-Schalke.
Even as a marquee, the big hurdle for clubs to overcome is Huntelaar’s steep wages. He is reported to be earning approximately £5 million yearly.
Even with an improved marquee fund of AU$3 million, the figure still presents a steep slope for Australian clubs to overcome, and that could be what holds us backing from bringing another football star to our shores.