One former A-League captain says new A-League expansion club Western Melbourne should open the marquee purse strings and lure a truly global name to light up the league and supercharge their new club.
Today FFA announced Western Melbourne Group as one of the two successful expansion clubs to join the A-League. The Victorian outfit will join the competition next season, offering the tantalizing prospect of nine Melbourne derbies from season 2019/20 in an 11-team competition.
The other new club is Macarthur South West Sydney FC, who like Western Melbourne represent a booming population corridor but will have to wait another season before they join in season 2020/21 bumping up the league to 12 teams.
Former Western Sydney Wanderers skipper and Socceroos defender Robbie Cornthwaite says the Western Melbourne club needs to electrify the league and bring a huge signing along the lines of an Alessandro Del Piero.
“We need a player that can fill not just their stadium but other stadia across the country. Like a Del Piero," Cornthwaite told FTBL.
“We need to go straight to the very top to get the biggest name, absolutely the biggest name you can. Go straight for someone like Zlatan [Ibrahimovic]. if you can't get Zlatan get the next biggest one.
"The marquee that I've heard mentioned is [Celtic Skipper) Scott Brown, but he's underwhelming and I don't think, with respect, that type of defensive-minded player works.
"We need someone with flair and presence that's going to fill not just their stadium but every stadium in Australia; someone he fans will love; the media will love who'll excite the sporting public," said Cornthwaite, who since retiring works as a football pundit on Astro in Asia and Fox Sports in Australia.
Coincidentally the man who brought Del Piero to Australia, agent Lou Sticca, is a key part of the new Western Melbourne club's successful bid and more than likely is already planning a big-name marquee to electrify his new club.
“And don't get me wrong," added Cornthwaite. "At Melbourne Victory [Keisuke] Honda has been absolutely amazing, absolutely loved him so far but how many people does he drag into stadiums across the country?
"We need a world class name a huge name like a Del Piero someone on that level."
Cornthwaite added a local element to the new club in Western Melbourne would also work nicely.
“You've got local born guys like Adrian Leijer, Matthew Spiranovic, Ivan Franjic and Stefan Nigro who have played football in the A-League but are at other clubs," he said. "Guys like that will be great.
"That would be a good angle to have local guys also in the team too. Exciting times for this new club. I understand it's a diverse and very fast-growing region and their fans now can enjoy huge new derbies in Melbourne now."
The defender said he would've liked to have seen more clubs come in in 2020, not just Macarthur South West Sydney.
He added: "Obviously it's a bit disappointing overall not to make more of an impact if they'd said two new teams would be coming in at the same time.
"I would've liked to have seen more teams join the league in the season after next, and with a decent chunk of time for those sides to have got their clubs ready to go.
"I would've liked to have seen that."