Mate's change of Heart

New Melbourne Heart signing Mate Dugandzic has cited philosophical differences as his reason for his switch from cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory, a move which is certain to strengthen the rivalry between the two Victorian clubs.

New Melbourne Heart signing Mate Dugandzic has cited philosophical differences as his reason for his switch from cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory, a move which is certain to strengthen the rivalry between the two Victorian clubs.

Dugandzic was given his Hyundai A-League chance by Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick in late 2009 and has since represented the Victory on 37 occasions, playing in an attacking midfielder/striker role.

But the 21-year-old, who revealed on Tuesday that he was the subject of interest from clubs in Germany and Belgium in recent months, said the opportunity to play on the wing in coach John van 't Schip's usual 4-3-3 formation appealed to him and that is why he has signed a multi-year deal.

"I met with John recently and we chatted a bit about his philosophy on football and that's what most attracted me to the Heart and to make this decision," he said.

"I enjoyed my time at Victory and Ernie continued to play me, so I thought I did have a future at Victory. I'm grateful for that opportunity to play, and I'm grateful to the fans. But I decided that this is a move I wanted to make and I needed new challenge."

"I like to play on the wing. That's my preferred position and that's where I've grown up playing. At Victory, a lot of the game was more central. Maybe I didn't suit that to a tee, but I enjoyed playing it. But when Heart came and had a chat, I was quite intrigued."

Dugandzic and Merrick parted ways in less than friendly terms last week when the youngster told the club he would not be signing a short-term deal for the AFC Champions League.

Dugandzic wouldn't elaborate on the details of that discussion, but said that a combination of factors had led to him not re-signing, and that Heart never came onto the radar until recent weeks.

"It wasn't an easy decision making this move. I've still got a lot of good friends at Victory," he said.

"Early on in the season I was offered a longer deal. I didn't feel comfortable signing a contract so early on. After that, they did approach me again, but there was an option to go overseas from my management, that's why I put that off. And only recently did they offer a deal for the ACL."

Van 't Schip said Dugandzic was an excellent addition to his squad for the club's second campaign, especially considering the personnel changes following the inaugural season.

"He's a player we are very happy to sign. A young, talented player and a player we think we can use very well up forward. We've seen him play a lot of games and he can play in different positions, so we are happy we have signed him up. We hope to see a lot of good things from him," he said.

"He comes from Victory, which makes it a little special. But I think this will happen more times in the future that players from the two clubs will change. Mate is the first one. Maybe that says we made a good impression overall. We've shown that we want to play a certain way of football."

"There's a lot of future in the Heart. That could be one of the things that helped Mate make that decision. I think it's a compliment to the whole club."