Phoenix lose striker

Young New Zealand striker Costa Barbarouses has signed a three-year deal with the Brisbane Roar.

Young New Zealand striker Costa Barbarouses has signed a three-year deal with the Brisbane Roar.

The 20-year-old has opted to leave Wellington Phoenix in order to get regular game time after making just 21 appearances and scoring two goals for the Phoenix in three seasons at the club.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata admitted Barbarouses' departure was disappointing but given the lack of a youth league set-up at Wellington it was not a surprise.

"We offered Costa a two-year deal to remain at the Phoenix but we understand that, given we have no youth league set-up, he wanted the opportunity to play more regular football," Pignata said.

"The youth league component is vital for us and for football in New Zealand, but it has proven difficult for us to develop a way in which we can give our young talent the opportunity to shine.

"Unless something changes soon, it will be very difficult for us at the Phoenix to bring young talent through and that would be a huge shame.

"We definitely need a youth league or reserves set-up and we've been working hard with New Zealand Football for quite some time to arrange something.

"If we can't sort something out we will continue to lose young talent like Costa because there is no vital stepping stone in that professional career pathway."

Barbarouses, who made his senior New Zealand debut against Fiji in 2008 during qualification for this year's World Cup, admitted leaving his home-town club would be difficult but that the opportunity given to him by Brisbane was too good to turn down.

"It's a time in my career where I have to get out of the comfort zone and really give myself a challenge," Barbarouses said.

"These next few years with Brisbane will be really crucial for my career leading into the most crucial years of the early 20s.

"I'm leaving my hometown club and I'm really excited for the challenge ahead with the Roar.

"I think we can do something special with the team that's being built there."

Roar coach Ange Postecoglou expected Barbarouses to work well alongside his current strikers Reinaldo and Sergio van Dijk.

"I think he fits in with the style of football we want to play," Postecoglou said.

"He's quick, exciting at an age where he really wants to break through and make a name for himself.

"We don't have his type of striker at the club, when you have a look at what we have with Reinaldo and Sergio, they are big strong strikers.

"Costa will give us that variety and we've already shown that if young players are good enough we'll play them."