On paper, Western United are looking the goods ahead of their inaugural A-League season.
An impressive coaching panel headlined by Mark Rudan and John Anastasiadis has been assembled while a playing group rich in both international experience and promising youth continues to blossom.
The arrival of former Greece captain Panagiotis Kone at the new West Melbourne franchise is a welcome coup for the A-League while the signature of Socceroo Josh Risdon also looms as an exciting one.
However, another intriguing signature captured by Western United is that of Connor Chapman - a player who left the A-League as a young centre-back but returns as a midfield anchor entering the prime of his career.
The 24-year-old spent the last two seasons with Incheon United and Pohang Steelers in Korea, and is confident his time in the K-League will see him return to Australia as a better footballer.
“I definitely think I’ve improved as a player since I left the A-League,” Chapman told FTBL.
“My time in the A-league felt a bit stop-start at times with injuries, but to have my body go more than 60 games over two years in a top league like the K-League, I think I’m definitely coming back as a better footballer and my goal is to be a key player for Western United.
“Technically and speed-wise the game over there sometimes feels a little bit better than the A-League, but that doesn’t mean there’s a huge difference.
“There’s probably a little gap but I think the A-League is still at a very high standard.”
While Chapman featured as a centre-back for both Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City during his time in the A-League, he has since found his feet as a defensive midfielder.
Chapman was praised for his tenacity in midfield and long-range passing during his two seasons in Korea, and even registered four assists in his last campaign with K-League heavyweights Pohang Steelers.
With four centre-backs already on the books at Western United, coach Mark Rudan foresees Chapman functioning as a midfield anchor in a five at the back formation.