Victory sign Hernandez for three years

Melbourne has re-signed Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez on a three-year-deal, while Thai international defender Surat Sukha has agreed to join the Hyundai A-League champions.

Melbourne has re-signed Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez on a three-year-deal, while Thai international defender Surat Sukha has agreed to join the Hyundai A-League champions.

Hernandez, who has been on loan from Costa Rican club LD Alajuelense since 2007, was bought by the reigning champion for an undisclosed transfer fee.

The 27-year-old attacking midfielder, who was a key member of the all-conquering 2008/09 treble-winning Victory team, has played 41 matches and scored eight goals for Melbourne in two seasons.

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole said the Hernandez deal had been a long and complicated one, but was one of the most significant in the club's four-year history.

"It's a fantastic signing, he's been a great asset to the club over the past two years," Cole said. "Of our 16 players who played in the Grand Final, we've secured 13 going forward. It's a really exciting time for the club."

"Normally the longer it takes to sign a contract, our chances of making that happen disappear. This has been the longest process bar none that we've been involved in. It's been complex but we've finally worked it out for everyone concerned and everyone's excited about that."

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said Hernandez was one of the most important players in his team and he was looking forward to getting the best out of him.

"There's no doubt our brand of football requires us to link the midfield and the defence with the strikers and that's where Carlos is very strong. His technical ability, his vision and his passing skills and he has got the ability to pass the ball around or through defenders and set-up strikers. Probably one of the best in the league at doing that," he said.

Hernandez said through an interpreter that he always wanted to stay in Melbourne it was just about finding the right deal.

"My first preference was to stay in Melbourne. Thankfully things worked out and we've come to an agreement. I'm happy to be here," he said.

Surat, who has been playing for Thai powerhouse Chonburi FC, joins on a two-year deal.

He played against the Victory twice last year in the Asian Champions League and now joins former team-mate Ney Fabiano at the club.

"We're pretty comfortable Surat will be comfortable when we play a back three type of defence but we want to be able to be flexible to cover a range of positions, depending on what formation we play," Merrick said.

The future of inspirational skipper Kevin Muscat remains up in the air with club and player yet to reach an agreement on extending his career into a 19th year.

He has captained Melbourne in each of the club's four campaigns so far, including its Championship successes of 2006/07 and 2008/09. He played every minute of the 2008/09 campaign.

"We're still (in) some really serious negotiations," Cole said. "All I know is that we really want to make that happen and hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later."