Grading your A-League club’s international players

Grading your A-League club’s international players

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With the season run and won, Outside90 editors Joel Fruci, Brayden May and Hugh Schuitemaker run the ruler over each club’s internationals.

Adelaide United

Baba Diawara

Signed by Gui Amor in hopes of saving Adelaide’s season in January, the 29-year-old took time to adapt to the A-League but soon started proving any doubters wrong. Finished the campaign with three A-League goals to his name and two in the ACL, ensuring that fans would be crying out for his move to be made permanent.  7.5

Kim Jae-sung

Another who came to South Australia midway through 2016-17, Kim provided some veteran stability and a creative spark to a depleted Reds midfield line. Netted an important goal for Adelaide against his former side Jeju in the Champions League. 7

Sergi Guardiola

A name Adelaide fans will be quick to forget following their horror 2016-17. Spanish signings always generate a buzz at Coopers Stadium, yet Guardiola could only show why he had not made it overseas and left the A-League in late January. 3

Sergi Guardiola returned to Spain prematurely

Marcelo Carrusca

Despite his likely last season with Adelaide being interrupted with injury, the Argentine was still central to Amor’s attack whenever he was on the pitch. It was all the more quizzical then that Carrusca was left out of the ACL squad. 6.5

Iacopo La Rocca

Could not deal with the added pressure that came his way after key defensive players had left the club in the previous offseason. Never really looked settled against any opposition threats and was part of a backline that conceded 46 goals for 2016-17. 4

Brisbane Roar

Thomas Broich

The guy just does not age. Even at 36, he still found a way to have an impact on matches, though he did require some extra physical management. Broich is leaving Brisbane, but regardless of whether he remains in the A-League or not, the dual Johnny Warren medallist will leave an incredible legacy behind. 7

The German leaves behind a tremendous legacy

Thomas Kristensen 

Arguably the most underrated foreign signing of the A-League season. John Aloisi plucked the Dane from the Ducth Eredivise and Kristensen barely missed a beat in the No.6 role. He scored four goals, finished sixth in the league for total passes and fourth for tackles. A shrewd piece of business. 8.5

Manuel Arana

Did not hit the heights of Corona but did not plummet to the lows of Javier Hervas. Arana was used mainly as a rotation option, particularly when the Asian Champions League was in full flight. Would have liked to have had a greater impact. 4 

Central Coast Mariners

Roy O’Donovan

The Irishman scored 11 of Central Coast’s goals this term, an impressive return considering the rebuilding club struggled to eighth position. Often found himself isolated as most strikers do, but O’Donovan scarcely left anything on the pitch. He is off to Newcastle Jets next season and will take some replacing. 6.5

Fabio Ferriera 

Finished the season strongly in a new No.10 role, but prior to then, Ferriera was stuck in a mire of inconsistency and often found himself down the wingers pecking order and on the bench. He will be trying his luck in an Asian league next season. 5.5

Jacques Faty 

A Tony Walmsley signing, Faty became surplus to requirements quickly under new boss Paul Okon. The Senegalese’s decline began in Round 1, when he punished three times for three errors against Perth Glory. Fortunately for those in yellow, the Mariners manufactured a remarkable comeback to draw 3-3. Will not be at the club next season. 1

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Mickael Tavares 

Followed his cousin to the coast but was not nearly as poor. Tavares started the campaign strongly and added experience to the Mariners midfield, but he never forced his way back into the XI after an ankle injury. Expected to be released. 3.5

Melbourne City 

Fernando Brandan

The Argentine quickly became the player opposition fans loved to hate during his maiden A-League campaign, which was cruelly ended by a knee injury. Brandan provided plenty of flair and trickery in his 19 appearances, which culminated with three goals and assists. 6.5

Nicolas Colazo 

Failed to reach the heights which were expected of him during his loan spell from Boca Juniors, as City fell in the first week of the finals. His numbers are neither poor or outstanding, having finished with four goals and five assists in 22 matches. 5.5 

Bruno Fornaroli

Last season’s Golden Boot winner played the role of captain perfectly at times during the season, standing tall when his side needed him most. Fornaroli was once again among the league’s top scorers in another successful season down under. Perhaps we expected too much from him following his stunning first season. 7

Michael Jakobsen

Arguably City’s best signing of the season, but was unfortunate to see his body let him down so often. Jakobsen provided the necessary leadership and experience the club lacked in his absence. A full preseason will only do him the world of good. 8

Jakobsen burst onto the scene with a brilliant FFA Cup goal

Thomas Sorensen 

Often forced to settle for a place on the bench as Dean Bouzanis made the number one position his own. The former Stoke City custodian made just eight appearances, conceding 12 goals and is now set to depart the club. 4

Melbourne Victory

Alan Baro

The Spanish defender took time to find his feet but when he did, he excelled for the most part. He did not reach the lofty heights of predecessor Matthieu Delpierre, but did his absolute best and should be remembered fondly for his efforts if he departs, which rumour suggests is the case. 9

Besart Berisha

Berisha’s case is an interesting one. Sure, he won another Golden Boot, but if you were to ask most Melbourne Victory fans they will tell you the Kosovan could have delivered more, and three missed spot kicks suggests as much. It speaks volumes of his quality to have had a positive season but still be met with discontent. 9.5

Marco Rojas 

Rojas faded somewhat late in the season, but overall his efforts should still be considered a great success having returned from an ill-fated stint in Europe, netting 12 goals. Registered 11 assists too, the joint leader alongside Player of the Season Milos Ninkovic. 8.5

Fahid Ben Khalfallah 

Either side of two spells finding himself out of favour, Khalfallah went a way to rediscovering the form which won him the Victory Medal in his debut season at the club in 2014-15. A contractual dispute threatened to derail his season completely, and though it did not, the Tunisian will still leave Victory at season’s end. 7

Where to next?

Newcastle Jets

Wayne Brown 

One of the shining lights for the Jets in an otherwise disappointing season. The Englishman earned himself a new deal having shown strong form throughout the campaign as he made 22 appearances, scoring two goals. 6.5

Ma Leilei 

Recruited to the club as part of a request from owner Martin Lee to have a Chinese player in the squad’s ranks. The 28-year-old showed signs of his best but failed to hold down a regular starting position. Reports suggest he will leave the club. 6

Aleksandr Kokko

His position at the club was in jeopardy during the January transfer window but managed to convince former manager Mark Jones to retain him. A frustrating campaign with just one goal in 13 appearances was compounded by injury. 4.5

Morten Nordstrand 

So often the creative spark for the Jets, but on too many occasions did the Dane fail to make a major impact. Nordstrand finished the season with three goals and two assists, a far cry from the numbers a player of his ability can produce, which may have cost him his place at the club. 5.5 

Mateo Poljak 

An ever-present member of the Jets line-up, making a total of 24 appearances. The former Wanderer often distributed the ball well, but reports suggest he has not been offered a new deal. 6.5

Perth Glory 

Diego Castro

Once again this man was simply a joy to watch as he tormented opposition defenders on a weekly basis, registering 13 goals and seven assists in the season. All fans, not just those of the Glory will be hoping he sticks around. 9.5 

Lucian Goian

It’s hard to get a gauge on whether or not we saw the best of the Romanian defender having arrived in late March with the Glory’s defensive stocks wearing thin. Produced his best match in the final against Melbourne City. 6

Andy Keogh 

Keogh once again ensured Perth got their money’s worth this season with 12 goals and five assists in 28 appearances. The 30-year-old was only withdrawn from matches on three occasions, a credit to his ability to run out matches. 8

Nebojsa Marinkovic 

The Serbian became very much an impact player for Kenny Lowe’s side this season with 11 of his 23 appearances coming off the bench, scoring six goals. Marinkovic is now out of contract and could be a strong signing for a rival club. 6

Joseph Mills 

With the Glory’s back four so often changing, Mills was often forced to quickly adapt to his teammates in his first season down under. Whenever he did take to the pitch, he provided a solid outlet down the left hand side. 6.5 

Sydney FC

Milos Ninkovic

What really needs to be said about Sydney’s Serbian magician? Johnny Warren medallist. Nine goals, 11 assists. Premier. Champion. Re-signed and ready to go again next season. 10

10/10

Filip Holosko

The Slovakian was an ever-present on the right-hand side for the Sky Blues, missing only one game. He played an eerily similar role to Shinji Okazaki at Leicester City in their own incredible title-winning season, putting in a shift for an hour and then replaced. Could be the victim of Ninkovic’s re-signing, though. 8

Bobo

Really, criticism of the Brazilian early in the season was totally unfounded. Bobo played every game of the season and scored 15 goals, and while some might have expected more, it must be remembered there is more to a striker’s bow than just goals. Few in the league hold the ball better than the former Besiktas man, and he can look forward to defending a well-deserved champions medal by penning a new deal, as is expected. 9

Milos Dimitrijevic

Dimitrijevic was Sydney’s Player of the Season last campaign, but such is the quality of their midfield he could scarcely get a look-in with Ninkovic, Josh Brillante and Brandon O’Neill ahead of him. 5

Jordy Buijs

It was as though he was there from the very beginning of Sydney’s incredible run. That was not the case though; Buijs signed for Sydney as a stop-gap solution following Matt Jurman’s mid-season departure. What made his seamless transition even more impressive was that he had not played for a number of months before moving to Sydney. Graham Arnold had the Midas touch in season 2016-17 and Buijs was exhibit A. 9.5

Wellington Phoenix

Roly Bonevacia

With consistency always an issue at Wellington, Bonevacia’s form dipped in 2016-17 with a return of just four goals in 26 appearances. The Dutchman is rumoured to be looking to make a move within the A-League and a change of environment might be what he needs. 5.5

Gui Finkler

Created so much excitement with his return to New Zealand, however, Finkler only provided flashes of the brilliance he had become known for. Had bright spots early and late in the season, but was not influential enough. 6.5

Roy Krishna

A terrific 2016-17 from the Fijian was unfortunately clouded by Wellington’s poor overall record, yet Krishna’s 12 goals briefly had them in contention for a top six spot. 7.5

Marco Rossi

Perhaps thrown into the deep end too quickly at centre-back, Rossi was always readily available for the Phoenix, but could not keep up with the well-oiled attacks that the top four sides boasted. 5

Alex Rodriguez

Netted a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat against Sydney FC, however, once more inconsistency was the story of his 2016-17. 5

Western Sydney Wanderers

Nicolas Martinez

The marquee signing rarely missed a minute for Western Sydney and during their tough start to the season, looked to be the one consistent attacking spark on the pitch. Netted a memorable goal against Perth from distance which will go down as the fastest ever in club history. 7.5

Wanderers fans will be hoping he hangs around

Jumpei Kusukami

Took more time to get settled into Tony Popovic’s system, but once the Wanderers found their momentum Kusukami began to impress. Registered five goals across all competitions and will only get better in the A-League next season. 7

Aritz Borda

Scored a goal in a February clash with the Glory, however, the veteran Spaniard also saw two red cards and at a point was banned for three matches. 4

Bruno Pinatares

The Uruguayan was consistent during the minutes we saw him on the pitch without stealing any headlines. Like Kusukami, he has the potential to become a key name for Popovic if given more playing time next campaign. 5.5

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