Midfield star Nick Carle will leave Sydney FC to play in Abu Dhabi in arguably the shock transfer of the A-League's off-season, the club has confirmed.
Carle, who has a year left of his contract, will join the Baniyas Sports Club which plays in the United Arab Emirates League.
Carle will play for Baniyas on a loan deal for a year.
He will be expected to come back to Sydney after 12 months.
Carle and his family will leave Sydney at the end of the week.
“I’d like to thank Sydney FC for allowing me to play in the UAE for the next 12 months,” he said via a club press release.
“I have loved playing for Sydney FC and working with everyone at the club and I look forward to coming back next season (2013-2014).
“I’d like to wish the team good luck for this season and I know they will do well under the leadership of Ian Crook, who has put together a strong squad that has been looking good in pre-season.”
The sudden departure of Carle will put pressure on Sydney to find an adequate replacement to appease its fans.
Australia midfielder Jason Culina, who has not played since injuring himself at the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2011, is training with the club but is understood to be still unprepared for competitive football so he is not an option at this stage.
Carle joins an influx of Australian players who have opted to continue their career in the Gulf.
Australia captain Lucas Neill and fellow Socceroos Mark Bresciano, Sasa Ognenovski and Matthew Spiranovic will all play in the Gulf this coming season.
Promising striker Tomi Juric has been lured to Western Sydney Wanderers on a two-year deal as coach Tony Popovic sets about tweaking his Premiers’ Plate winning side for next season.