Williams out the Victory door after agreeing to Saudi deal


Fringe Socceroos defender Rhys Williams is on the brink of sealing a lucrative deal in Saudi Arabia, in a move timed to push his cause for a national team recall.

With neighbouring United Arab Emirates to host January’s AFC Asian Cup, the 29-year-old will be hoping that a solid season in the Saudi Pro League - at the yet-to-be-named club - will convince new coach Graham Arnold to restore him to the green and gold after missing out on 2018 FIFA World Cup selection.

Though he has a year remaining on his Victory contract, Williams - who made 25 appearances for the Navy Blue last season after his arrival from Perth Glory - is understood have a buy-out clause.

That clause has been triggered and he is now almost certain to be heading to the Middle East, where fellow Socceroos defender Matt Jurman is in the process of concluding a deal with Jeddah-based Al-Ittihad.

Going the other way is former Victory skipper Mark Milligan, who despite three hugely impressive displays for Australia at the World Cup, has just been cut loose by Al Ahli after just eight appearances for the Jeddah giant, and with six months of his contract to run.

Williams, capped 14 times for Australia, put several years of injury setbacks behind him to show his enduring qualities last season and while he turns 30 this month, he will be confident of adding a successful final few chapters to a career often cursed by ill fortune.

His impending departure leaves Victory coach Kevin Muscat scrambling for centre-backs, with James Donachie departing for Korea's Jeonnam Dragons last month.

However, Portugal-based Nick Ansell is set to rejoin the club after struggling to break through in Europe.

Victory fans anticipating a third AAMI Park coming for Milligan, 32, may be disappointed, with early indications that he will be looking to remain in the Gulf.