11 marquee players A-League clubs should target


With 11 clubs in the A-League next season, we take a look at 11 players - over the age of 30 - whose contracts are all expiring by mid-2019 and could help re-ignite excitement in the Australian domestic competition.

For all its ups and downs, the A-League has managed to recruit some big name superstars as they look for one last big paycheck or want a taste of the laid-back Aussie lifestyle as they approach the end of their careers. 

Alessandro Del Piero, Keisuke Honde, Dwight Yorke, Robbie Fowler, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, John Aloisi, Juninho and Shinji Ono have all helped bring in the crowds and media coverage that the A-League so desperately needs to continue to grow. 

Looking ahead to next season, here is a list of some big-name players, who are available and are as realistic - or even more realistic - a chance of joining the league than Del Piero was in 2012. 

Of course, the major obstacle is the financial one, on top of the fact that some players do not want to be so far away from their homes.

But with crowd numbers and TV ratings falling, more investment in the on-field product is needed.

And with big names comes more revenue through ticket sales, merchandise and sponsorship opportunities. 

The league is at a tipping point and the fact that it is not at a stage where it is able to generate enough interest through young local talent, investment in marquee players is clearly needed. 

Arjen Robben 

The 35-year-old is one of the greatest wingers of his generation. He has won league titles in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany.

He's played in a FIFA World Cup final and scored the winner in a UEFA Champions League final. 

If there are no worthwhile offers, the veteran will hang up his boots at the end of this season with Bayern Munich.

It has been reported that several J-League clubs are interested in the man who cuts in from the right and shoots with his left-foot better than anyone apart from maybe Lionel Messi. 

Robben has said his family would play a big role in choosing any future club, which could be a positive for the A-League. 

“If offers come in, I’ll really consider them 100 percent and if it’s something nice, I’ll play on," Robben told German Football magazine Kicker

“I have three children and they also must be happy… The family plays a very important role in every decision of mine.”

Santi Cazorla 

One of the most 'two-footed' players ever to grace the game and a fan favourite wherever he has played.

The 77-time Spain international has a rough injury history but don't worry about his form this season, he's been one of the few bright lights in a struggling Villarreal side. 

The 34-year-old even scored twice against Real Madrid this season, no doubt his magic would mesmerise Australian fans. 

And one A-League club might already have an in with Cazorla sharing an agent with Melbourne Victory defender Raul Baena. 

Franck Ribery 

Six years ago he was judged the third best player in the world, which is usually as good as it gets in the era of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

At 35-year-old, he's past his peak but has still played 22 times for Bayern this season. 

The German giants have made it pretty clear they will not offer Ribery a new contract, and no doubt his technical brilliance would be appreciated in Australia.  

Wesley Sneijder 

The brilliant Dutch number 10 is currently playing in Qatar where he has been since the start of 2018. 

With his contract up in June this year, could the 34-year-old be looking for a change of lifestyle? 

Sneijder has won league titles in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Turkey.

He was at the heart of the Inter Milan side that won the treble in 2010 and in the same year led the Netherlands to the final of the World Cup. 

Sneijder also shares an agent with former Melbourne City coach John van't Schip. 

Mile Jedinak 

Probably the most realistic target on the list, with the 34-year-old rarely featuring for Championship side Aston Villa this season and surely looking to move. 

The former Socceroos captain has already been linked to the incoming South-West Sydney that will join the competition in the 2020-21 season.

With that in mind, what a perfect time for Western Sydney Wanderers to get one over their new local rivals and bring him in a season earlier. 

It would help fill the new stadium and the Wanderers badly need leadership and require an addition in the defensive midfield position. 

Jedinak would ultimately be valuable for any A-League side, given his quality and leadership capabilities.

However, a defensive midfielder is probably not going to spark the same excitement as some of the other more creative attacking players on this list. 

Robin van Persie 

Currently playing at Dutch club Feyenoord, van Persie is one of the Premier League's most prolific strikers having huge success at both Arsenal and Manchester United. 

While the 35-year-old has said he will retire at the end of the season, there is always the possibility of the right offer convincing him to hold off for an adventure in Australia. 

Dani Alves 

A right-back is not exactly who you want as a marquee signing, but when that right-back is Dani Alves you can make the exception. 

An incredible talent, the 35-year-old still has the stamina to play for PSG, however maybe not with the regularity he would like. 

Reports in Spain suggest Flamengo have been in contact but also add that he's not necessarily sold on the idea of returning to Brazil. 

Hatem Ben Arfa 

At the height of his talent, Ben Arfa can compete with nearly any player on this list. 

The 31-year-old has issues with consistency and has fallen out with numerous clubs, but there is no doubt if he found the right environment he would be worth the price of admission alone. 

Currently playing regularly with Ligue 1 mid-table side Stade Rennais, he could have over five good years left in him. 

Shinji Okazaki 

Okazaki is one of Japan's greatest ever strikers - his pedigree up there with the likes of Honda and Ono, who have both been success stories in the A-League. 

The current Leicester striker was looking to move in January, before a potential transfer fell through, and has only started one Premier League match this season. 

Any team playing AFC Champions League football would also massively benefit from the 31-year-old's experience playing in Asia. 

Mathieu Valbuena 

The 34-year-old attacking midfielder played 52 times for France and was a star with Marseille during the late 2000s until the mid 2010s. 

Currently with Fenerbache in Turkey, it is strongly rumored that he is looking for a move and his creativity could light up the A-League. 

Samuel Eto'o 

Eto'o was a goalscoring machine at Barcelona in the mid to late 2000s, where he won two Champions League titles. 

He backed it up with a UCL trophy in his first season at Inter Milan in 2010. 

Last year it was reported that he was interested in moving to the A-League, although FFA did not want to dip into the marquee fund for the Cameroonian legend. 

They may be even less likely to do so this year for the now 37-year-old, however seven goals in 12 games for Qatar SC this season suggests he hasn't lost his touch.