The overseas interest in Wellington Phoenix defender Liberato Cacace is growing, only added to by his match-winning performance against Western United.
Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay is relieved they've kept the overseas wolves from the door of star defender Liberato Cacace, whose talent has shone through in another A-League win.
Cacace's status as one of the elite teenagers in the A-League was enhanced with his goal and all-round display in the 2-0 win over Western United in Wellington on Friday.
The result lifts the Kiwi club level with second-placed Melbourne City on 30 points and with the momentum to push for a high play-off position.
Talay is getting the best out of a host of players, none more so than 19-year-old Cacace, who he rates among the premier fullbacks in the league.
Talay's worst fears were realised during the January transfer window when at least one offshore club began making enquiries about the tireless athlete whose value comes at both ends of the pitch.
"No official offers but there was interest in him at that time," Talay said.
"I think Libby's an integral part of the way we play and the way we set up so, for me, it was very important that we keep him here until the end of the season and we'll look at that at the end of the season.
"I think he is one of the best left backs in the competition. He's only 19 and he'll keep growing from that."
Cacace's goal, from a crisp volley that snuck inside the far post, was his third for the club since making his debut as a secondary school student.
Retaining the Wellington born-and-raised defender will soon become near impossible for the Phoenix, who farewelled another homegrown star in the off-season when Sarpreet Singh signed with German powerhouses Bayern Munich.
Talay wants to get everything he can from his youngster until then and hopes his team won't lose any momentum from a 16-day break before they play again, caused by next weekend's scheduled match away to Sydney FC being shifted to mid-March.
Having sat out a recent bye, an irritated Talay said he'll find ways to keep his players busy before they travel to face Central Coast.