FRINGE Socceroos defender Mark Milligan will finally fulfil his desire to play abroad after yesterday completing a deal that will tie him to ambitious Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua for the next three years.
After many fruitless trials in Europe over the last 18 months, Milligan will fly out to China on Monday for a medical examination before completing a $300,000 transfer from Newcastle Jets. Coincidentally, his first competitive match for Shanghai could be against his former club, Sydney FC, who have a sister-club relationship with Shenhua and are due to play two games in China at the end of next month.
The departure of Milligan, the impending departure of Joel Griffiths to another Chinese club, Beijing Guoan, and ongoing uncertainty about whether new recruit Nikolai Topor-Stanley will also join the Asian exodus before he even arrives have left the Jets scrambling for players before the February 11 registration deadline for the Asian Champions League. It is believed the club made an audacious attempt to entice former players Stuart Musialik and Mark Bridge back to the club this week, but the approach was rejected by Sydney FC.
Meanwhile, Sydney are digging in their heels over utility player Simon Colosimo, who wants to accept a lucrative offer from Korean side Chunnam Dragons. Colosimo, 30, has another year left on his contract.
Incoming Sydney FC chief Scott Barlow yesterday reiterated that he was "very keen" to keep Colosimo at the club, but would "be happy" to look at an offer if it was formalised.
"We haven't yet received any official correspondence from Chunnam," Barlow said.
Colosimo's agent, Leo Karis, took a different view, saying: "They [Sydney FC] do have an offer, but it's my understanding they have rejected it on the basis they don't consider it an official offer. Simon wants to go, and we're hoping to work something out soon. Otherwise Chunnam will look at the alternatives, which is their right."
Elsewhere, two unnamed A-League strikers have been targeted by Iranian clubs competing in the ACL. The deals are worth $US200,000 ($300,000) for the six ACL group games, as well as the final six games in the Iranian league. The four Iranian clubs in the ACL are Esteghlal, Saba Battery, Sepahan and Piroozi Athletic.
Karis, who is trying to broker the deals, believes they represent a solution to the growing Asian exodus. "We either lose players on a permanent basis to places like China or Korea or we lose them between seasons to the Middle East, which means they stay in the A-League," he said.