Sydney FC boss Graham Arnold rates Serbian star Milos Ninkovic as one of the top five players to ever play in the Hyundai A-League and revealed the secret weapon to try and keep the off-contract playmaker at the club.
Ninkovic has been a standout performer for the high-flying Sky Blues, scoring eight goals and contributing 10 assists from 21 games this season.
It’s the type of form that not only has the 32-year-old being talked about for the Johnny Warren Medal but will also be attracting the attention of cashed-up overseas clubs.
The Sky Blues blocked a proposed transfer to a Middle East club before the season and could face a battle again to keep their silky star with his value sure to soar after his string of fine displays.
Speaking ahead of Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash with Melbourne Victory, Arnold said the club was doing everything possible to convince him to stay beyond this season.
“We’re working hard on his wife and his kids. Happy wife, happy life,” the Sky Blues boss said.
“Ninko’s in a good headspace at the moment. He’s such a fantastic person, he’s enjoying life here in Sydney, he loves the club and he can see what we do for him to be able to perform at the level he’s at.
“We’ve had discussions and they are he wants to wait until the end of the season. He wants to have one thing on his mind and that’s winning. That’s all we’re doing at the moment.”
Asked where Ninkovic sits in terms of the best players to have graced the Hyundai A-League, Arnold said: “Top five definitely.
“He’s exceptional. He’s a player, like [Diego] Castro from Perth, you pay your money to go and watch because he does things on a football field that is top European quality.”
And Sydney will hope Ninkovic is at his dazzling best when they play host to second-placed Victory in Harvey Norman Friday night football at Allianz Stadium.
The Sky Blues have an eight-point lead at the top and will all-but clinch the Premiers’ Plate with a win over Kevin Muscat’s Big V.
“The only thing we’re looking at is winning the game on Friday night. It [Premiers’ Plate] hasn’t been discussed and to be honest it hasn’t been thought about,” Arnold said.
“We set our goals at the start of the year and 58 points is what we’re looking at and the rest will take care of itself.
“Muscat’s doing a good job and they are a good side but we feel we’re in great shape mentally, tactically, physically and we expect to win.”
Arnold said he had 20 fit players to choose from for selection, with defender Sebastian Ryall (hamstring) still a couple of weeks away from a return.