Wellington Phoenix’s hope of landing former Inter Milan and Newcastle United star Obafemi Martins have been dashed, with the Nigeria striker opting to continue a long recovery from injury in London.
Phoenix were given the go-ahead by FFA to use part of their designated marquee fund to pursue Martins, who is currently contracted to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.
However the Australian intermediary between Shenhua and Phoenix, agent Ante Alilovic, said Martins, 33, was not tempted to come to the A-League, even though he’s surplus to requirements at Shenhua who have just welcomed back forward Demba Ba from injury.
“I’ve spoken with Obafemi and he just wants to continue to rehabilitation from his injury (a badly torn hamstring and quadricep injury suffered back in April) in the UK for the time being,” he said.
“He’s told me he wants to hold off until January (to make a decision on his future).
“I don’t think the A-League is a serious option in terms of what he can earn elsewhere. He won’t be coming to Australia and I think he sees his future remaining in China.”
Phoenix coach Mark Rudan wanted Martins on a guest player contract and the club were willing to match FFA dollar for dollar to snare him.
Martins’ Chinese Super League contract, which expires at the end of this season, is worth an eye-watering $9 million.
That’s at least three times what he could expect to earn in Australia.
Martins sustained his season-ending injury against Kashima Antlers in the AFC Champions League back in April.
He signed for Shenhua at the start of the 2016 CSL season from Major League Soccer side Seattle Sounders and scored a hat-trick for Shanghai in his only league appearance this season - a 4-2 league win over Hebei China Fortune.