Football Season Guide

Melbourne Victory


Ahmad Taleb (gk), transfer from Melbourne City, Paul Izzo (gk), transfer from AO Xanthi, Kike Cadete (def), free transfer, Tomi Juric (att), transfer from Macarthur FC, Nathan Konstandopoulos (mid), transfer from Adelaide United, Noah Smith (def/mid), transfer from Central Coast Mariners, George Timotheou (def), transfer from Adelaide United, Nani (mid), transfer from Venezia, Eli Adams (mid), transfer from Brisbane Roar, Matthew Bozinovski (def), loan at Wellington Phoenix ended.


Marco Rojas (mid) (r), transfer to Colo Colo, Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio (transfer to Campbeltown, Francesco Margiotta (att) (sp), transfer to Latina Calcio, Jason Davidson (def) (r), transfer to AS Eupen, Brendan Hamill (def) (r), transfer to ATK Mohun Bagan, Ivan Kelava (gk) (r), released, Robbie Kruse (att) (sp), released, Aaron Anderson (def) (sp), released, Zaydan Bello (def) (sp), released, Birkan Kirdar (mid) (sp), released.

The more time elapses, the more this squad becomes a Popovic squad. He's gathering all manner of familiar faces to him; players he can depend upon, and knows inside out. When he achieves his goal, it tends to result in silverware but it'd be challenging to state that they've actually improved their squad since last season, which fell disappointingly flat toward the end due to a lack of incisiveness in the final third. Nani's arrival may change that but the same strengths and weaknesses remain. Outs - losing LB Davidson was a big blow but also a necessary one. He looked to lose stamina throughout the season. Brendan Hamill was a surprise departure, but one that they've solved. Ivan Kelava, their regular GK, was a really big surprise departure but, again, he's been replaced well. Marco Rojas was superb last season but, with Nani coming in, it shouldn't be a big deal. By the time Nani retires/leaves, Rojas will most likely be ready to return to Australia - again. In essence, they've replaced everybody that they've lost; no big losses. Ins - Nani is the headline signing. As good as Rojas was last season, his finishing continually let him down, which is something that seldom used to be the case when he was younger. Nani is not only a gifted creator but a superb finisher so he's a fantastic addition to a team that loves a 1-0 win; he'll help them get their noses in front more often. Juric - well, as a former WSW player under Popovic, it's fair to say that it was always a matter of 'when' rather than 'if' he'd return to playing for his former mentor. Unclear if he'll displace D'Agostino as a starter; he is a better forward, Juric, but also one that struggles with fitness more often. Kike Cadete is Davidson's replacement, and bigger than that was the signing of Noah Smith - he was very impressive at CCM last season, and his arrival finally prevents the awkwardness of fielding Nigro at LB. Izzo is a very good proven goalkeeper at this level; should be a shoe-in for Kelava. Timotheou's a solid enough CB. Adams is a good impact player. Konstandopoulos is a weird signing though. He struggles with injuries a lot, and even when fit he's ok at best. Never write a Popovic team off. They may be soul-destroying to actually watch but they're smart, organised, and consistent. When this team finds a consistent way to getting in front - and the arrival of Nani may well be it - then they'll be a lot more dangerous because they are tough to score against. More defensive depth makes them better equipped to annoy opponents. Lots of speedy wide threats, and good set piece takers and scorers. Two good, reliable strikers to choose from. Should be set for a title push. Should start strongly; Popovic teams often do due to intense work on fitness before other clubs get going. Likely key players - Nani, Brillante, Folami, Miranda.