Jets star eyeing dream European move

Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti says he’s not closing the door on the Hyundai A-League but a return to Europe is his top priority for next season.

Birighitti, who had a loan stint at Serie B side Varese last year, is coming off a stellar season with the Jets, a shining light in a tough campaign in which the club finished in eighth spot.

The 25-year-old played 26 games in 2015/16, keeping three clean sheets and making 98 saves, including two from the penalty spot.

Hyundai A-League Team of the Season

Now out-of-contract with the Hunter club, Birighitti said he was hopeful of having his future settled in a couple of weeks.

Mark Birighitti

“The A-League is a fantastic league, I’ve been here for eight years now. But every young footballer growing up has ambitions of playing at the top level and in Europe,” Birighitti said.

“I managed to get a little taste of that last year when I went over to Italy and after the year I’ve had now I want to taste that again.

“I’m not closing the door on the A-league yet. The season’s just finished and I’ll know more on my future in the next few weeks.”

Birighitti was linked with a potential moves to EPL clubs Newcastle and AFC Bournemouth earlier this season but opted to see out the campaign with the Jets.

There are reports of interest from clubs in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland but, as of yet, there are no concrete offers for the Perth-born gloveman.

While keen to move back abroad, Birighitti is not against staying in Australia for another year and praised the Jets for helping him develop his game.

Mark Birighitti saves a shot from James Jeggo.

“I love the Newcastle Jets, it’s a great club, I’ve been there for four years and they are the ones that have given me the opportunity to play regular first team football,” he said.

“My agents are based overseas and they are trying very hard to get me over there.

“I’m not closing the door on the A-League or the Newcastle Jets or any other A-League club.”

Reflecting on his and the Jets’ season, Birighitti feels the club made significant strides and can see a bright future in the Hunter.

“On an individual note, it was quite a successful season. It was a bit disappointing we couldn’t make the top six but where the club was last year to this year we’re making steps,” he said.

“This club is on the way to bigger and better things. Slowly, slowly we’re making steps.

Jets players acknowledge their travelling fans following Sunday's 1-0 win over the Mariners.

“There’s a lot of players coming off contract this year. I think the key is going to be recruitment, making sure we bring in a lot of good players, a mixture of good and old. The coaches are doing a fantastic job and I’m sure they’ll figure it out.”