TWG can reveal Perth Glory’s protracted courtship of Shane Smeltz has finally been consummated with the Kiwi ace agreeing a three-year deal worth an estimated $1.2 million.
Glory’s new overseas marquee will fill the void vacated by the departure of ageing marksman Robbie Fowler, at roughly half the price – but still at a salary that makes him one of the A-League’s highest earners.
Smeltz’s decision to head west, after coming off contract at Gold Coast United, further depletes a club that is also set to lose his strike partner Bruce Djite, with Adelaide United close to securing his signature in the face of competition from Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC.
Smeltz, who scored nine goals in 12 starts with Gold Coast last season as it surged to within a game of the grand final, opted for Perth over Newcastle after the Jets hierarchy refused to meet his wage expectations.
Gold Coast was also keen to keep the 29-year-old but with billionaire owner Clive Palmer vacillating at keeping the franchise alive beyond next season – and only one year contracts on the table – the hitman’s decision to move on was an easy one to make.
It’s expected Glory will officially announce his arrival within the next 24 to 48 hours as owner Tony Sage continues the rebuilding program following last season’s disastrous campaign that saw the club finish second bottom.
Smeltz is Perth's sixth recruit to date for next season with Travis Dodd, Dean Heffernan, Evan Berger and goalkeeping duo Danny Vukovic and Neil Young already confirmed arrivals.
Meanwhile, Adelaide United coach Rini Coolen confirmed the club’s interest in former son Djite, who made his senior football breakthrough at the Reds before signing for Turkish Super Lig outfit Genclerberligi in 2008.
After failing to make an impact there, the 23-year-old returned to the A-league with United last season, scoring 10 goals in 23 appearances.
'Bruce is a fantastic young player and he’s definitely one we’re looking at closely, along with a couple of others," said the Dutchman.
'Nothing has been signed yet but we are certainly interested. We have lost Mathew Leckie (to Borussia Monchengladbach) and Travis Dodd (to Perth) and we need to improve our options up front where Sergio Van Dijk is going to need more support.
'Bruce is out of contract and of course he will be attracting plenty of interest because he knows how to score goals."
The exit of Smeltz, with Djite expected to follow close on his heels, has left United coach Miron Bleiberg with a huge rebuilding job at Gold Coast, which also lost Englishman John Curtis and Brazilian defender Anderson in the past two days.
Anderson jetted to Portugal where he is in talks with Braga, while one-time Manchester United defender Curtis is back in England looking for a new club.
With Dino Djulbic, Bas van den Brink and Steve Pantelidis all now in Asia, Zenon Caravella signed with Adelaide and goalkeeper Glen Moss impressing during on-going trials with Sheffield United, Gold Coast has been reduced to a skeleton club looking ahead to 2011-2012.