Paper Talk: Ex-Caltex Socceroo keen on Hyundai A-League homecoming

Newcastle Jets are set for a bumper Hyundai A-League pre-season schedule, with likely clashes against three teams from Spain’s La Liga on the cards.

Elsewhere, a former Caltex Socceroo is considering a return home after a long stint abroad, while a Wellington Phoenix star has found a new club in Europe.

It’s all here and more as we wrap up the best bits from clubs and the media in our Hyundai A-League Paper Talk.

MCDONALD READY TO RETURN

Former Celtic, Middlesbrough and Motherwell striker Scott McDonald might be about to lend his scoring nous to a Hyundai A-League club.

Capped 26 times at international level, the 34-year-old is investigating the possibility of returning to the country he left as a teenager.

FourFourTwo Australia reports McDonald is fit and hungry to remind local fans of the talents that took him to Southampton in 2000.

"There does come that motivation to do that," he said.

"I think a lot of people see senior players in Europe coming home thinking it’s a holiday. Sometimes it’s not worked out for those individuals. 

"I wouldn’t be coming to do that."

During his prolific three seasons at Celtic, McDonald scored famous UEFA Champions League goals against the likes of AC Milan and Manchester United.

He made his senior debut for Gippsland Falcons in the old National Soccer League.

Scott McDonald
McDonald memorably lobs Edwin Van Der Sar in 2008.

JETS SET TO SOAR TO SPAIN

Ernie Merrick’s side is set to have a massive pre-season under their belt before looking to go one better in the next Hyundai A-League campaign, with the club in line to face some big-name La Liga opposition.

Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna is putting the finishing touches on a deal to play three La Liga outfits in Spain in late July and early August.

"We're getting that signed off, hopefully tonight or tomorrow night," McKinna told FourFourTwo.

"We're definitely playing against [Madrid-based] Leganes and the other two games, we've been given a list of teams, and we need to decide."

The Spanish trip is part of a massive pre-season schedule for the Hunter club, who are also reportedly due to compete alongside Sydney FC and Chinese Super League outfits Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenhua at the 2018 Free Trade Port Super Champions Cup in China.

NEW HOME FOR PHOENIX MIDFIELDER

Serbian midfielder Matija Ljujic won’t be returning to Wellington Phoenix in the 2018/19 Season, inking a three-year deal with Portuguese side Belenenses this week.

The 24-year-old played the second half of last season in Wellington, catching the eye with a number of excellent performances in a struggling outfit.

In all, he made 14 appearances in the Hyundai A-League, scoring two goals including a stunner in a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers.

"This is the biggest challenge of my career and I am very happy to sign for the Belenenses. I will do my best and I will do everything I can to seize this opportunity," Ljujic said on the Belenenses website.

"It was a very easy decision, I had offers from other clubs, but I chose the Belenenses and I know it will be the best for me.

"I really like the Portuguese League and I believe that my style of play will become the way to play for the team."

BOZZA THROWS DOWN CHALLENGE TO NIX

Still on the Phoenix and former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich has thrown his support behind the appointment of Mark Rudan as the club’s new head coach for next season.

But the ex-Manchester United and Chelsea gloveman doesn’t want Wellington’s ambition to stop there, urging the Kiwi club to now go after some world-class playing talent.

While confident Rudan will make Phoenix a more competitive outfit in 2018/19, Bosnich wants to see the squad boosted by off-season additions.

"Go and get somebody, a world star, who is outside the salary cap, who's basically going to excite not just New Zealand and Wellington Phoenix, but going to excite the whole league," Bosnich told RadioLIVE.

"I'm talking about a big-hitter - we've seen a lot of those people originally when the competition started.

“We had Dwight Yorke here, we've had Alessandro Del Piero, we've had Emile Heskey, Shinji Ono at Western Sydney Wanderers - I want someone of that type of ilk.”