It has been a big day for the Hyundai A-League’s newest club, with three bright young stars of Australian football committing to Western United FC for their inaugural campaign.
Highly rated midfielder Sebastian Pasquali headlines the exciting trio, having spent the last couple of years with the youth academy at Dutch giants Ajax.
SIGNING NEWS: Three young guns join Western United FC
Talented Adelaide United striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos is also on board, while Melbourne City teenager Dylan Pierias completes the triple-signings announced on Wednesday.
Here’s a little more about United’s three new young guns!
If first impressions count, Pasquali certainly made the right impact when Australian football fans got their initial glimpse of him in 2016.
The then 16-year-old burst onto the scene for Melbourne Victory against Italian champions Juventus during the International Champions Cup at the MCG, a tournament which also involved Atletico Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.
His performance against Juve underlined his potential and showed experience beyond his tender years.
Pasquali would go on to make his Hyundai A-League debut later that year – in a Melbourne Derby no less – before Europe came calling.
And it wasn’t just any club that took him on, but the world-renowned Dutch nursery of Ajax Amsterdam.
He was a regular starter for Ajax’s youth side in the 2017/18 season, also featuring in the UEFA Youth League, before spending the rest of the campaign for Jong Ajax in the Dutch second division.
Despite the great promise he has shown, Pasquali has been restricted to just eight appearances for Ajax’s highly competitive U21 outfit this season, prompting his move back to the Hyundai A-League with the competition’s newest club.
Regarded as one of the most technically gifted young Australian players around, Pasquali will offer Western United FC plenty of options in the middle of the park, comfortable as a holding or attacking midfielder.
He also spent time as a ball-playing centre-back at Ajax, underlining his talent and versatility.
A former captain of the Young Socceroos, 19-year-old Pasquali is currently in Cambodia with Graham Arnold’s U23 side who are looking to progress on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
He may be the youngest of United’s new recruits, but Pierias’ ability has already been mentioned alongside the likes of Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior and Borussia Dortmund’s England international Jadon Sancho.
That honour came back in 2017 when Pierias was identified by the UK's Guardian as one of the 60 best young talents in world football.
Not bad for a kid who had only just turned 17 and was the only Aussie on the list.
But the Melbourne City full-back is no stranger to setting impressive benchmarks.
Pierias became the first player born in the 21st century to play in the Hyundai A-League when he debuted for City at just 16 in the 2016/17 season.
In the same campaign he was a key part of City's Foxtel National Youth League side that won the Championship.
Despite his undoubted talent, the 19-year-old hasn’t been able to lock-down a spot in City’s first team since, making just two short substitute appearances this season.
But with the likes of Caltex Socceroos right-back Josh Risdon also on United’s books, Pierias’ game will only develop further with the competition’s new boys.
While most of United’s recruits so far have been defenders or midfielders, Stamatelopoulos is the club’s first out-and-out striker signing.
And he brings all the attributes needed to become a consistent goalscorer in the Hyundai A-League.
The 19-year-old is strong on the ball and deceptively quick, while his composure and finishing in front of goal is improving all the time.
He has shown seen glimpses of his undoubted ability during his two years at Adelaide United, where he signed a scholarship contract in 2017.
He has only managed 16 Hyundai A-League appearances under Marco Kurz, scoring twice in matches against Western Sydney Wanderers last season and Central Coast Mariners earlier in the 2018/19 campaign.
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Injury has restricted him to just five games for the Reds this season, meaning Stamatelopoulos will head to United with a point to prove in the club’s inaugural campaign.
With the right service from the likes of marquee man Panagiotis Kone and Pasquali, Stamatelopoulos could well be in for a breakout season in 2019/20.