After almost four years in Asia, Australia international Mark Milligan has decided the time is right – for now – to return home and play in the A-League.
The 26 year old arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday morning and is expected to finalise a deal to join Melbourne Victory as early as this week.
Milligan described his frustration at being unwanted by the new coaching staff at second tier JEF United Chiba and of the reasons behind his move back to Australia.
"The first conversation I had with the coach after I returned from my loan spell with the Victory at the end of last season was that he was looking to loan me out and that I wasn't a part of his plans," Milligan told The World Game before he left Japan.
"After that though I worked my way into the side and we went on a winning run for six weeks and he had to play me.
"I then headed off with the national team and at that time he got rid of one of the other foreign boys and then he basically left me out again and I knew that was the end of it.
"He's a young coach and he wants to implement his style with his players – and I wasn't one of them so I knew it was time to move on."
With the two parties agreeing to a mutual termination of the remaining six months of Milligan's contract, there were plenty of offers that arrived from within Japan, including one from former ACL winner Gamba Osaka that was turned down.
"It's been four years away in Asia and going home now is for both me and my family. We have a second child on the way and the A-League is moving in a good direction," the ex-Sydney FC defender said.
Although he hasn't yet put pen to paper with Victory, Milligan is impressed by the changes he's seen at the club.
And he feels with his former Australia U-20 coach, Ange Postecoglou, at the helm, Melbourne is set to reclaim its place as one of the league's leading sides.
"I think they were disappointed with the way things went last year and they want to change things," he said.
"Obviously Ange is a massive part of those plans and he's been so successful with the Roar and I think Melbourne and Sydney and other teams are trying to close that gap.
"You just look at the players he's already brought it, maybe some of the foreigners are unknown in some parts but Ange hasn't really got many wrong over the past few seasons."
The stability of Victory was also a big factor in Milligan's decision, although he was tempted by Western Sydney Wanderers, the club is potentially a risky prospect.
"The toughest thing about going to a new club is the stability that surrounds that and there's always a sense of heading into the unknown a little bit," he said.
"Melbourne is familiar territory for me after my loan there and my family really enjoyed our time there, even though we weren't so successful on the field, so it would be good to head back there."
Although he has played a variety of positions over the past few seasons Milligan is now keen to shake the utility tag and tie down a permanent role in the middle of the Victory side.
"I think when I was younger that flexibility was helpful, during my time at Sydney FC, for example," he said.
"But now I'm 26, 27 and I want to focus on one position. For the past two years I've been playing in the centre of midfield and you get used to playing in that position.
"There's a big difference between right back and centre back and it takes a while to adjust so if you can play in one spot regularly it can only be of benefit."