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Australian Football: The top five A-League signings of all time

There have been a couple of big signings in the A-League this off-season with both Nani and Charlie Austin joining Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar respectively but the competition has never been short of marquee arrivals.

(This article was originally published on 26.07.2022)

It is fair to say that the A-League has never been seen as one of the top competitions in world football.

The league was only formed back in April 2004 and it is impossible to compete against the likes of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A etc.

Even lesser known leagues throughout the world are more attractive to players looking to forge out a successful career.

However playing down under does come with its benefits. The main two being the climate and fantastic lifestyle. The chance to live in one of the amazing states, playing football in warm weather, can be a big pull for some players, particularly those coming towards the end of their careers.

So let’s take a look at some of the big signings to arrive in Australia over the last 18 years. Here we have picked out the top five.

Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC)

The arrival of the Italian legend at Sydney FC has to go down as the greatest signing in A-League history.

No-one could quite believe it when the Juventus playmaker made his way from Turin to the harbour city in 2012.

Yes he was 37, but after making over 500 appearances for Juve and almost 100 for the Italian national side, Del Piero was one of the biggest names in world football still.

Although Sydney did not win silverware with Del Piero on board, the forward was still a revelation during his time with the Sky Blues. He made a total of 48 appearances, scoring 24 goals. He will never be forgotten by the Sydney FC fans.

Dwight Yorke (Sydney FC)

Yorke was the first big marquee signing to arrive in the A-League when he joined Sydney FC for the A-League’s inaugural 2005/06 season.

The forward had made his name with Aston Villa and Manchester United, before spells with Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City.
He then made the switch to Sydney and at the age of 33, still had some good years ahead of him. The arrival of such a high-profile player certainly helped to promote the A-League and he was a huge success for Sydney FC.

The striker made 22 appearances, scoring seven goals as the Sky Blues won the inaugural A-League grand final. He set up the only goal in the win over the Central Coast Mariners before moving back to the UK to join Sunderland.

Yorke will be back in the A-League for the 2022/23 season, this time as a coach, after being appointed as the man to replace Ante Milicic at Macarthur FC.

David Villa (Melbourne City)

The Spaniard’s spell in the A-League was far too short. He made just four appearances and scored two goals.

However the fact that a player of such quality arrived in the A-League, will never be forgotten by the Melbourne City faithful.

The former Valencia and Barcelona star was on the books of MLS side New York City at the time, but made a loan switch to Melbourne in 2014.

He was just 32 at the time and although his spell with Melbourne was short, it was also sweet as his quality was there for all to see.

Harry Kewell (Melbourne Victory)

Kewell may be an Australian but it was still a big deal when he returned down under to join Melbourne Victory ahead of the 2011/12 A-League season.

The forward had enjoyed successful spells with Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasary and was still only 32 when he joined Victory.

Despite signing a three-year deal with Victory, Kewell spent just the one season with Victory. During that campaign he made 25 appearances, scoring eight goals.

Kewell had a second spell in the A-League in the 2013/14 season when he joined city rivals Melbourne Heart, which did not go down well with the Victory faithful.

He made just 16 appearances, scoring two goals, before hanging up his boots to move into coaching.

Daniel Sturridge (Perth Glory)

The former Liverpool and Manchester City striker could win the award for the biggest flop in the history of the A-League. However he also has to go down as one of the biggest signings.
It was touted as one of the biggest signings in A-League history when Perth Glory announced he would be on board for the 2021/22 campaign.

The move was disappointing to say the least as the 32-year-old struggled with injuries. He made just six appearances, starting just one game and failed to register a goal or an assist.

It came as no surprise when he left the club at the end of his one-year contract.

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