Fringe Australia striker Bernie Ibini is heading to Belgium for a medical with Mat Ryan’s Club Brugge after parting ways with Sydney FC, according to sources in Europe.
The winger, whose stunning performances for the Sky Blues at the back end of the A-League season convinced Brugge coach Michel Preud'homme to take the plunge, is expected to arrive on Friday to reunite with his former Central Coast Mariners teammate Ryan, already a spectacular success with the club which finished runner-up in the Pro League this season.
Ibini, 22, trialled with French outfit Lille and Brugge in 2013 but was not considered ready then to make the step up.
But with four A-League goals from his last five games of the season and an impressive 28-game campaign under his belt for the Sky Blues, Ibini has now been handed the chance to fulfil his dream of forging a future in Europe, pending final formalities.
It’s understood that Shanghai East Asia, which loaned him to Sydney last season, has rubber stamped the move with a year of his contract in China still to run.
It has its full quota of foreign talent, with no room to accommodate his return.
The length of his contract is unknown, but it’s likely he has been offered a multi-year deal and the chance to progress at a club which will also feature in the qualifying rounds for next season's UEFA Champions League.
Ibini’s Sydney-based agent James Hardy refused to discuss his immediate future, other than to say: “Bernie has said on numerous occasions that his goal is to play at the highest level and that of course is in Europe.
“After the season he’s had it's no surprise that there’s interest in Europe but everything is determined by Shanghai.”
Hardy did want to clarify, however, Ibini’s absence from Sydney’s starting line-up in the exhibition match against Chelsea at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday, declaring: “Sydney paid a loan fee to Shanghai East Asia until May 31 and there’s no way that could be extended to take in the Chelsea clash.
“Sydney FC really had no say in the matter, as of 1 June he was contracted again by Shanghai and could never have played against Chelsea.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic, who swept the board at Sydney's awards night in April, is in Europe considering his next move after rejecting an offer to re-sign with the Sky Blues.
“Milos is catching up with family right now and will make a decision on which direction he wants to go in a few weeks,” said his agent, Melbourne-based Dragan Jevtic.