Melbourne City will bar Bruno Fornaroli from joining another A-League club in January, but would likely consider an overseas approach for the ostracised Uruguayan.
The 31-year-old marquee striker’s relationship with coach Warren Joyce is badly broken following his refusal to travel to Brisbane and sit on the bench three weeks ago, and his sub-par fitness levels.
The World Game understands that Melbourne City - unless Fornaroli suddenly offers the hand of contrition - could play hard-ball to the extent of possibly freezing him out for the entire season, rather than allowing him to sign for a rival.
City aren’t in the habit of capitulating to player power, with Fornaroli losing his war of wills with Joyce, who has jettisoned him from the last three games against the Roar, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory.
The Englishman took the same hard-line stance with Tim Cahill at the start of last season, as the Socceroos great agitated for a move over lack of game time.
Cahill was likewise denied a switch to another A-League club and subsequently returned to former team Millwall for a brief stint leading up to the FIFA World Cup.
Fornaroli’s feud with the club has been fermenting since he was refused an off-season move to Sydney FC, who were prepared to match his $1.4 million wages at City and offer an extra season into the bargain. He is contracted at City until the end of this season.
City have picked up three points from nine in Fornaroli’s absence and lie fifth in the A-League.
But with Fornaroli’s attitude seen as unacceptable as his skinfolds, Joyce not only has the backing of his bosses in this stand-off, he also has the support of the dressing room.
That largesse doesn’t extend to the fans who see Fornaroli as the innocent party, and want him restored to the line-up.
As flamboyant and finessed as Joyce is curt and brusque, Fornaroli will once again be missing when City face Adelaide United on Sunday, with the Englishman sweating on the return of Scottish winger Michael O’Halloran from his pre-season hamstring injury.
All of which points to Fornaroli, who is in his fourth season at City and has bagged 48 goals in 70 league games, having played his last match for the club.