Melbourne Victory have confirmed Australia U-23 captain Thomas Deng will depart the club after accepting an offer in Japan's J1 League.
The Victory announcement did not confirm the destination club for Deng, who made his full Socceroos debut in October 2018 in a friendly against Kuwait.
However, the 22-year-old’s move to the Japanese top flight comes just days after he successfully led Australia U-23 to victory in the AFC U-23 Championship third-place play-off to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games
Deng made his senior debut for the Victory in 2015 and appeared a total of 71 times in the Hyundai A-League for the club – winning the 2017/2018 Hyundai A-League Championship in addition to being part of the side that won the FFA Cup Final in 2015.
Deng initially joined the Victory in their National Premier Leagues team before becoming a key member of their senior team in recent seasons.
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Deng told melbournevictory.com.au that he departs the club where he made his professional debut with mixed emotions.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Melbourne Victory for the belief and support they’ve shown me since I arrived back in 2015,” Deng said.
“The club has given me so much over the journey, and as tough as it is to say goodbye, I think it’s a great reflection of Victory’s professionalism and investment in their players.
“It was a tough decision to make, but for my professional career the opportunity to play in the J1 League is one I couldn’t pass up.”
“I’ve made some great friendships and memories at Victory and I want to wish the players and staff all the best for the remainder of this season and beyond.”
“Finally, to the Victory members and supporters, thank you for all your passion and support. You are without question the best supporters in the league.”
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Football Operations Manager, Paul Trimboli, wished Deng all the best for the next chapter in his career.
“After much consideration we understand this is a wonderful opportunity for Tommy’s career and we wish him well,” Trimboli said.
“We’ve watched Tommy grow on and off the pitch, he’s a much loved member of the dressing room and the broader Victory family.”
“On behalf of everyone at the club we wish Tommy all the best for the next phase of his football career, he is always welcome at Melbourne Victory.”
“With only a couple of days left in the transfer window, we’re working hard to find a suitable replacement to fill the spot made available in our squad.”
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
Saturday, 1 February 2020
Kick off: 6.45pm local, 9.45pm AEDT