City go French for goal-scoring boost as reports link Victory to Swede
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City go French for goal-scoring boost as reports link Victory to Swede

Melbourne City are looking to some French flair to bolster their offensive stocks for the upcoming season having signed attacking midfielder Florin Berenguer as one of their visa players.

And reports are circulating that cross-city rivals Melbourne Victory are poised to sign France-based Swedish World Cup striker Ola Toivonen.

However, no confirmation of the potential transfer has been made. Toivonen has played 64 times for his country and scored in the World Cup group game against Germany. His arrival in the A-League would represent quite a coup.

City confirmed their deal with Berenguer on Thursday. The 29-year-old spent nine seasons as a professional in France, playing in both the top and second divisions with Dijon and his hometown team Socheaux.

New City signing Florin Berenguer.

New City signing Florin Berenguer.

Photo: Supplied

The father of two was an uncontracted player at the end of last season and jumped at the chance when scouts from the City Football Group, Melbourne official Michael Petrillo and head coach Warren Joyce sounded him out about moving to Australia.

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And a positive report on the A-League from his friend Eric Bautheac, who plays for Brisbane Roar, sealed his decision to move to the other side of the world with his wife and two young daughters.

''I played in league two and league one in France. A scout was on the phone and asked if I wanted to come here," said Berenguer, who watched his new teammates reach the quarter finals of the FFA Cup with a win over Newcastle on Wednesday night.

''I had Michael Petrillo on the phone and the coach and they showed me the project of Melbourne City and I see the training centre, the stadium and I have taken the choice to come here with my family. I am very happy and it's a new experience.

''I see some of the games and I like the way the game is played. I have a friend who plays in Brisbane, Eric Bautheac and I called him to find out about Australia and football. He confirmed my decision and I came.

''I went to Socheaux when I was 12 to 19 and after that I signed professional for Dijon, had five years there and then went back to Sochaux. Now I am very excited to come here.''

City's attacking stocks were weakened by the loss of teen sensation Daniel Arzani to parent club Manchester City and Joyce will be looking to Berenguer and another new signing, former Glasgow Ranger Michael O'Halloran, to help fill the gap.

City boss Joyce was pleased with the progress his revamped squad is making, the team qualifying for the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup after overcoming Newcastle Jets - in the process gaining some measure of revenge for the semi-final defeat they suffered at the hands of Ernie Merrick's men in the A-League finals series last season.

''I thought it was a solid defensive performance, we handled the ball well and passed through the lines. We had good defensive structure throughout the game, people were doing their jobs. In the second half at times I think we gave the ball away sloppily in transition.''

He was happy to see Riley McGree and Lachlan Wales make good contributions and for Bruno Fornaroli to score the decisive goal.

''It was a good finish, I thought he was strong and led the line well. He has worked hard and is striving to be the best he has ever been. That's what we are working towards.''

City now face Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park in the Cup quarter-final.

Michael Lynch, The Age's expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.