Ten years after leaving Newcastle Jets for an odyssey which has taken him to India, Saudi Arabia and Japan, Arthur Papas is earmarked to replace Craig Deans as head coach next season.
The former assistant to Gary van Egmond has spent the last two-and-a-half years in Japan, first riding shotgun with Ange Postecoglou at Yokohama F. Marinos before striking out on his own in February with Kagoshima United.
But he’s parted company with the J3 club, and has been promised a healthy budget to head up a Jets rebuild in 2021-22 by the three-team Australian Professional Leagues consortium which runs the club.
It’s understood Deans will step aside but is in discussion with the club over continuing his 13-year stretch on the Hunter in some capacity.
It’s believed that in recent weeks Deans has been sounding out potential signings for next season.
But the move for Papas, 41, has changed the dynamic.
Papas played a significant role with Yokohama as they famously won a fourth J1 League title in 2019.
He has long been linked with A-League vacancies and was primed to take the Jets job ahead of Deans last November under the proposed ownership model of a Sydney-based consortium, which ultimately pulled out.
However, it looks like second time lucky for the coach whose 14 weeks in charge of Kagoshima brought three wins, three losses and two draws.
The Jets' principle backers - led by Sydney FC, Western United FC and Western Sydney Wanderers - are planning to provide funding to bring in visa players and aid Papas in reviving the club’s fading fortunes.
The aim is to turn the Jets into a credible force once more, adding value to attract a suitably credentialed future buyer.
Newcastle Jets executive chairman Shane Mattiske said: “Our policy is that we can’t comment on speculation.”