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FFA will fight to keep Arzani as A-League exodus continues

Cam Reddin

A-League boss Greg O’Rourke has called for calm in relation to concerns about an exodus of top-line players from the competition.

In recent weeks, high-profile players Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory), Adrian Mierzejewski and Bobô (both Sydney FC) have departed Australia to play in other leagues.

Berisha accepted an offer to play in Japan. Mierzejewski, a Johnny Warren Medalist in his only A-League season, recently debuted for Changchun Yatai in China, while Bobô is off to Turkey.

Calling for calm on fears Australia’s premier football competition is bleeding players to rival leagues in Asia, Mr O’Rourke has encouraged a regular turnover of players to freshen up the squads each season.

“One of the things the fans are saying to us is they don’t want to turn up and see the same team trotted out that was trotted out last year. They want to see movement, they want to see change, they want to see improvement,” Mr O’Rourke told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Cam Reddin.

“To do that, obviously you have to let some players go,” he said.

“There’s been more players let go than the big international stars… but obviously those big international stars such as the Bobô’s and Besart [Berisha]’s are going to get more media”.

O’Rourke says the clubs must strike a balance between promoting local talent and keeping the league’s top players.

“[The A-League clubs] are looking to freshen up their team, they’re looking to get some more youth in their team, they’re also looking to balance it up with some new international names,” he said.

Socceroos and Melbourne City young gun Daniel Arzani, 19, received considerable attention from his cameo roles at the World Cup, leading some to speculate his days playing in Australia will soon be over.

Mr O’Rourke says while the final decision rests with Melbourne City, he will “absolutely” encourage the club to fight to keep Arzani in Australia.

“My guess is they’ll want to keep Daniel in their squad for the season coming,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“He only really burst onto the stage, at least at the A-League level, mid-year. It would be great to have another 27-30 weeks of Daniel and, particularly after his World Cup exposure, to have the Australian and New Zealand fans be able to pop out and watch him play locally,” he said.

Click below to listen to the full interview

Cam Reddin