Australian striker Richard Porta has sealed a lucrative two-year deal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which he hopes will bolster his chances of a Socceroos call-up.
Sydney-born Porta, who struck 17 times in 14 starts for Uruguayan champion Nacional last season, rejected an offer in England in favour of a multi-million dollar contract with ambitious UAE Pro League outfit Dubai Club, joining Australia regulars Mark Bresciano and Sasa Ognenovski in the Persian Gulf.
Richard Porta in action for Nacional:
Brought up in Uruguay, Porta, 28, continues to nurse a long-held desire to play for the country of his birth and is convinced his return to the UAE, where injuries cruelled him in a brief loan spell with Al Wasl last season, will put him in the Socceroos shop window.
Touted by many as a possible panacea to Australia’s attacking woes, Porta escaped the attention of former Australia coach Pim Verbeek and to date, his successor Osieck.
But with the likes of Harry Kewell, Josh Kennedy and Tim Cahill and Alex Brosque struggling to find the net for their country, there is a growing chorus for Porta to be offered a cap, possibly as early as the international friendly match between Australia and Scotland in Edinburgh on 15 August.
Porta was monitored during his injury-hit eight-game spell under Diego Maradona at Al Wasal and Osieck has recently requested an updated DVD of his exploits in Uruguay, where he has spent all but the first year of his life.
“The offer from Dubai was too good to refuse and Richard is hoping that by moving there he will become much more visible to Australia’s coaching staff,” Porta’s Sydney-based brother and advisor Gonzalo said.
“The club is very ambitious and they kept coming back to us with improved offers until it became impossible for him to refuse.
“Richard is aware that some of the Socceroos players are now based in the Middle East and hopefully that can also work in his favour. He would dearly love a call up and has certainly not given up hope.
“They were certainly following him when he was last there and I am sure that will happen again. If he does well then hopefully the recognition will come.”
Twice leading scorer in Uruguay’s top flight, Porta will fly imminently to Dubai to conclude formalities and undergo a medical ahead of his lucrative move to a club with a new French coach – Rene Marsiglia - and a burning ambition to improve on last season’s unimpressive 10th place in the UAE Pro League.
“The club has big ambitions to become a force in the region and they see Richard as somebody who will provide the goals they will need,” Gonzalo Porta said.
Porta, who was expected to return to Europe, made a $3.7 million move to Serie A club Siena in 2008 but the switch turned sour when the club changed its coach. That was followed by a loan spell in Portugal with Belenenses where another change at the top stunted his progress.
He has represented Uruguay at under-20 level but has come no closer to a call up for Australia than an Under-17 camp in 1999.
Ben Halloran is set to play in Germany's 2. Bundesliga next season after Brisbane Roar approved a request from the midfielder to head off to Europe.