In a huge boost to Newcastle Jets' Hyundai A-League title ambitions, the club announced on Friday they have secured the services of Patricio Rodriguez for the rest of the season – subject to a medical.
The winger – formerly of Greek giants AEK Athens – has been brought in as an injury replacement for Ronald Vargas, who is currently sidelined after dislocating and fracturing his ankle earlier this season.
Rodriguez graduated from the youth system at Independiente, going onto make 96 appearances for the first team before joining Brazilian Serie A outfit Santos.
Ironically, Rodriguez also played alongside Vargas, the man he will be replacing at the Jets, at AEK Athens.
“Ronny was speaking with Patricio regularly, talking about what a great town Newcastle is and how much he’s been enjoying his time here,” Jets boss Ernie Merrick revealed.
“They’ve played together quite a bit,so I think that will be a massive advantage for us when we have them both on the park together later this season.
“Patricio is a very good one-on-one dribbling type player that knocks in great crosses, he’s technically very strong and has great speed.
“I’m keen to get him into more goal scoring opportunities, he’s a wonderful striker of the ball and will add a great deal to our front third.”
“He’s got all the characteristics of an Argentinian player, he’s strong, resilient and knows how to win a game – he’s a wonderful addition to our squad.”
Rodriguez has been contracted until the end of the 2017/18 Season and Merrick expects to make a permanent spot available for him in his squad during January.
“We’ll be tinkering with the makeup of our squad during the transfer window,” the Jets boss said.
“Players come and go during January, and we’ll be working to ensure we can see Patricio, Ronny (Vargas) and Roy (O’Donovan) on the pitch together later this season...it’s an exciting prospect.
“Seeing the club in this position is testimony to Martin Lee and his willingness to invest in the Jets as well as the hard work of Lawrie McKinna and Joel Griffiths in getting this deal over the line.”
Rodriguez is expected to land in Australia between Christmas and New Year, where he will begin training with teammates in the lead up to January.
It’s expected that he will make his debut at McDonald Jones Stadium in the F3 Derby against the Mariners on Tuesday, January 9.