Western Sydney are facing a battle to keep Shinji Ono, with his former national team manager, Philippe Troussier, attempting to lure him to China.
High-flying Western Sydney Wanderers are suddenly facing a tough battle to keep Japanese star Shinji Ono, with his former national team manager, Philippe Troussier, back in the frame to lure him to China.
With the Wanderers yet to re-sign Ono, his availability is generating growing interest, with Hyundai A-League rivals Melbourne Heart and Perth Glory also believed to be keen to prise him away from Parramatta Stadium.
Ono, 33, has been a revelation after a slow start to the season - scoring five goals and contributing three assists in 18 appearances so far. While it's believed the former Japanese international is keen to remain in Australia, he hasn't ruled out a return to Asia.
Troussier - the Frenchman who coached Ono at the 2002 World Cup - has been chasing his signature ever since he took charge of Shenzhen Ruby two years ago.
Now in the final year of a three-year contract, Troussier believes Ono can provide the spark to lead Shenzhen back into the top-flight after a failed promotion campaign last season.
While Melbourne Heart and Perth Glory are focusing on making bids for next season, the issue for Western Sydney is that Shenzhen Ruby want him before the Chinese transfer window closes on February 28.
Wanderers boss Lyall Gorman, however, is ruling out an early departure, saying: ''We wouldn't contemplate letting him go before the end of the season. We haven't heard anything about an offer from China. If you're talking in our off-season, then that's a different conversation.
''All the indications we're getting is that he's happy here, and wants to stay for another season. In fact we're setting down with his management team in the next week to try and sort it out.''