Defender Trent Sainsbury is to remain a Central Coast Mariners players – at least for now.
The club’s Player of the Season will not be joining UEFA Champions league-bound Swiss title winner FC Basel, after concluding his nine-day trial without being offered a contract.
Sainsbury confirms the news on Twitter:
It’s understood that Basel had a late change of heart over the 21 year-old central defender – not because he didn’t impress – but because departures from its own ranks didn’t eventuate.
Switzerland-based Australia great Scott Chipperfield, who spent 11 seasons with Basel, said: "From what I understand Trent didn’t get as much time with the first team as he’d have hoped because they were involved in some big games.
“But there’s no doubt in my mind he’s a very good prospect and I am sure he is ready to take the step up to play in Europe. He’s certainly one of Australian football’s emerging talents.”
Mariners coach Graham Arnold, who last month urged Sainsbury to commit to one more A-League season, may now get the opportunity to work again with one of the country’s top prospects.
Other than a previous offer to trial at Championship club Bolton Wanderers, there are no current deals on the table for Sainsbury, who last month was part of a Socceroos’ train-on squad ahead of the three FIFA World Cup qualifiers this month against Japan, Jordan and Iraq.
His current deal ties him to the club until the end of next season – unless an offer deemed acceptable is tabled in the interim.
But the club has not given up hope of even extending Sainsbury's deal beyond next season.
While Sainsbury’s departure is on hold, livewire Bernie Ibini’s $600,000 switch to Chinese Super League Shanghai SIPG has been signed off at the Mariners end, with the club awaiting official announcement from the Chinese.
It has crushed Sydney FC twice this season and holds a 10-point break at the top of the A-League, but Ranko Despotovic insists Brisbane Roar could meet its match at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.