Central Coast Mariners have moved swiftly to tie-up gun teenage striker Alou Kuol to a professional deal, in a bid to ward off predators and ensure a sizeable future transfer fee.
A deal is in the offing between the shock A-League table-toppers and Kuol’s management, with the Mariners hierarchy confident that negotiations will see the Sudanese-born sensation commit his future to the club for at least another season and very possibly two.
The 19-year-old marksman’s effervescence on the field has been matched by his exuberance off it - and he sits joint-top of the A-League goalscoring charts alongside Brisbane Roar’s Dylan Wenzel-Halls with five goals apiece.
His double off the bench in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Western United exemplified how important the charismatic kid from Shepparton has become for coach Alen Stajcic.
Asked how close the Mariners are to nailing down Kuol to a pro deal, CEO Shaun Mielekamp said: “It’s not club policy to talk about player contracts.”
However, it’s understood an agreement is likely to be announced before the end of the week.
Mariners Academy chief Nick Montgomery, the former Sheffield United midfielder, believes Kuol, though still rawer than sashimi, can “go far in the game”.
“I’ve no doubt he has a bright future because goalscorers are always in demand, and it’s also the way he scores them,” explained the Englishman.
“He’s very hard to deal with in the box and is dynamic in the air also.
“There aren’t many players like that in Australia.
“We’ve worked a lot on that side of his game, plus his positional play and his fitness, and you’re seeing the results, especially with the amount of headed goals he’s got this season (two more came against Western United).
“He’s come through a lot in life and both (academy coach) Sergio (Raimundo) and I are proud of the progress he’s making.
“He’s one a few youngsters breaking through here ... so it’s exciting times.
“He’s in the right place to develop right now and he’ll get the game time to develop.”
Montgomery received an email in 2019 from a scouting contact extolling Kuol’s promise.
“We got in touch with his agent John Grimaud, who said there had been no real interest from either Melbourne Victory or Melbourne City for him,” Montgomery recalled.
“So we said let’s get him in and have a look.
“The first session we saw something. The kid was, and still is, very raw but he had an infectious personality, great athleticism and massive potential.
“You could see he needed a lot of work but he could score goals and he was a bit different to what we had.
“We offered him an NYL contract straight away and what he needed most was time and effort invested in him.
“He was the top scorer for us in the NYL and I’m really not surprised to see him duplicating that in the A-League.
“For me, he’s a breath of fresh air. The A-League really needed a player like him.”
Younger brother Garang, 16, also a member of the Goulburn Valley Suns NPL production which spawned Alou, has followed his sibling to the Mariners.
“He arrived this week on the Coast,” confirmed Montgomery.
“He’s totally different to Alou,” he said. “He’s very quiet and a different sort of player also.
“He plays wide and reminds me a bit of my former Sheffield United teammate Peter Ndlovu in the way he just glides past players.
“He’s got a lot growing to do but in terms of potential hopefully he can follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“We have a high opinion of him.”