Jonatan Germano's hamstrings appear the biggest barrier to the Argentine becoming the find of the year.
Jonatan Germano's fragile hamstrings appear the biggest barrier to the Argentine becoming the Hyundai A-League's find of the year.
Arriving in Australia midway through 2011, on a trial, with no expectations, Germano took a major risk, but at 23, and having spent much of the past three years being loaned out by his club Estudiantes, he felt it was time to try something different.
Given a month to show himself, Germano surprised everyone with his progress and found himself on the club's books eager to make an impression.
The rules regarding foreign signings meant that Heart coach John van 't Schip must have been impressed with Germano to offer him one of the few visa spots on offer.
The former Ajax man is a huge fan of technically correct football and he saw all the right characteristics in Germano from the beginning.
"Throughout his trial period at the club, Jonathan proved himself to be a player of significant technical quality who compliments the other pieces of our team," he said at the time.
"Having spent time at a club like Estudiantes is a clear sign of his ability, but of more importance to us was the way he was able to demonstrate his quality."
The Heart's inaugural season taught van 't Schip that international signings must be given time to settle in and adjust, but he also needed experience and poise to complement the talented young players he had in his side.
It meant Germano made his club debut in Round 1 against Newcastle, his first serious match in almost 18 months.
Two weeks later, he was thrust into the fire of the Melbourne derby. He was immediately impressed by the standard of football and knew that he had found the right league for him.
''It's a lot quicker and faster than Argentina. There are a lot more pauses and they slow the game down a bit more at home and I am now getting used to the speed here a bit more,'' he told reporters in November.
''Technically it's improving a lot, it's good. It's not that much of a difference between here and Argentina, at least in some ways. Of course, you have got your top teams and players over there, but the standard here is a lot higher than people might think.''
Van 't Schip still had ace up his sleeve when it came to the Argentine. Having allowed him time to assess and adjust to the tempo of the A-League in a screening role in defensive midfielder, he then encouraged Germano to show more of his creative flair.
He responded by scoring the winning goal in an away win over Gold Coast United in November, chipping the keeper after a clever run into the box. A few weeks later, he made himself national headlines when he scored again against Brisbane Roar and pulled a Santa hat out of his shorts to celebrate with the crowd.
He received a yellow card, but plenty of goodwill from fans. It was an interesting way to make your name.
But he would be forced to cool his heels after going down with a hamstring injury, seemingly the curse of all the Heart's imports.
The club admits Germano pushed himself too soon in a bid to get back for the Melbourne derby just before Christmas. It meant a three-week injury became a five-week one, and he didn't make his return until January 15 against Perth.
With Fred out of the team, van 't Schip needed Germano to step up during a busy period of three games in six days. He returned to the starting line up against Central Coast and then scored his debut home goal in the 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar.
During that match it was easy to see what the Heart saw in the Argentine ahead of the season. He is a quality player at both ends of the park, providing toughness in defence and poise going forward.
The footballing nomad has said he is ready to settle down and thinks the Australian way of life will suit him and his young family.
''I wanted the chance to get the experience to grow as a person and a player, and I am really enjoying it. I am really enjoying the lifestyle, it is much more relaxed than Argentina," he said earlier in the season.
''I just want to go on day by day, I am happy here and haven't looked too far into the future. We are in a positive position now. We have to keep on working, the team is getting used to each other.''
The only dark cloud is those dang hamstrings. In the aftermath of the Brisbane Roar match, Germano was sent for scans after feeling another twinge.
While an MRI cleared him of any serious damage, it was a warning sign that for the short term, he will be handled with care.