Your club's biggest losses - and how they can be replaced: part two

The Hyundai A-League has been hit with some big-name departures ahead of the 2018/19 kick off.

With pre-season only just emerging across the competition, there is still plenty of time for clubs replace outgoing stars and assemble their final rosters ahead of the new campaign.

PART ONE: Your club's biggest losses - and how they can be replaced

SQUAD CHECK: Every Hyundai A-League squad updated ahead of 2018/19

BYE-BYE BES: Berisha's Hyundai A-League legacy analysed 

But which clubs have been hit hardest by key departures? 

We take a look at your club's biggest losses - and how they might be replaced...


In: Matthew Ridenton (Wellington Phoenix)

Out: Daniel Alessi, Devante Clut, Ivan Necevski, Riley McGree (loan ends), Pato Rodriguez, Mario Shabow

Biggest losses: Pato Rodriguez, Riley McGree, Mario Shabow

The departures of Pato Rodriguez, Riley McGree and Mario Shabow leave Ernie Merrick with a creative midfield hole to be filled before the 2018/19 campaign gets underway.

All three outgoing players are made of a similar build - versatile attacking midfielders capable of playing on either flank - while McGree’s five goals from midfield in his 12 Hyundai A-League appearances will be sorely missed.

In addition, the loss of Andrew Nabbout, who joined Urawa Red Diamonds in March, remains a pressing issue for the Novocastrian faithful.

Nabbout contributed to 16 of Newcastle’s total 57 goals last season and headlines the most urgent need for the Jets – highlighted by the fact Merrick fielded Jason Hoffmann on the right of an attacking three in the Grand Final.

Roy O’Donovan’s 10-match suspension further adds to the current depletion of Newcastle's front line.

Patricio Rodriguez
Pato Rodriguez

How they can be replaced

Having already stated their intention to bring in an attacking player, Jets fans can surely expect their current front line vacancy to be filled via the transfer market.

However, the early absence of O’Donovan and period of adaption for a potential new arrival could hand Joe Champness an opportunity to nail down a spot in Merrick’s front three in the fledgling weeks of the season.

Champness scored five goals in his 25 appearances last season, and could be set for greater involvement in 2018/19.

Andrew Nabbout
Andrew Nabbout's absence still looms over the Newcastle squad.


In: Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Tomislav Mrcela (unattached), Brendon Santalab (Western Sydney Wanderers), Matthew Spiranovic (unattached)

Out: Adam Taggart

Biggest loss: Adam Taggart

Injury curtailed the impact of Adam Taggart for Kenny Lowe’s side last season, but the 25-year-old still managed to return eight goals despite only featuring in 14 matches. Now on the books of Brisbane Roar, Taggart, scored 21 goals during his 48-match tenure at nib Stadium.

Andy Keogh, Joel Chianese, Chris Harold and new signing Brendon Santalab will all be vying to impress Tony Popovic in pre-season, but Taggart's departure leaves both Keogh and Santalab as the only out and out goalscorers for the new Glory boss.

Adam Taggart
Adam Taggart

How he can be replaced

As Glory's first choice striking partnership, Taggart was primarily fielded alongside Keogh in a 4-4-2 when fit last season. But his departure could well be compensated by a formation change as Popovic takes the helm, as opposed to a like for like replacement. 

Popovic deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation with wide forwards during his time in Parramatta, and Andy Keogh appears the obvious choice to spearhead the attack centrally for the new boss if he persists with this set up.

The signing of Santalab provides an obvious replacement for the Irishman. Santalab’s ability to impact matches from the bench has proven a valuable ploy during his time at Western Sydney Wanderers. Although the 35-year-old is still capable of leading the line, his usefulness as an injection of intensity could likely see him used as an impact substitute.

With Keogh and Santalab competing for central roles, Popovic’s potential formation change opens up the door for the likes of Chianese and Harold to compete for positions on the flanks of the front line.

But given that both players are usually deployed from the right wing, and accounted for just four of Glory's 37 goals last season, the possibility that Popovic is scouting a wide forward to share the goal-scoring burden with Keogh and Santalab appears very real.

Andy Keogh
Andy Keogh becomes more important through Taggart's exit.


In: Trent Buhagiar (Central Coast Mariners)

Out: Jordy Buijs, Luke Wilkshire, Matt Simon, David Carney, Anthony Kalik, Fabio Ferreira

Biggest losses: Jordy Buijs, Luke Wilkshire

Jordy Buijs and Luke Wilkshire were two of the most rugged components of the Sydney FC rearguard that broke defensive records last campaign.

Moreover, the pair were crucial players in establishing a defensive unit that ranks among the best in Hyundai A-League history.

Buijs missed just 12 minutes of the 2017/18 campaign, and the Dutchman's excellent distribution will be missed alongside his tough-tackling demeanour. 

Wilkshire defied his 36 years of age to make 24 appearances last season, with most of them coming from the right back position. Now plying his trade for Wollongong Wolves in the NPL NSW, the veteran defender's versatility and experience is a big loss for Steve Corica.

How they can be replaced

Although Rhyan Grant returns to the defensive fold after recovering from a serious knee injury, Corica will need to bolster the back third for the reigning Premiers, who currently lack central defenders. 

Youngsters Ben Warland and Aaron Calver offer options for the incoming Sky Blues coach, but Alex Wilkinson remains the only genuine central defensive presence in Corica's squad.

The new Sydney FC boss will surely be looking to the transfer market as he begins to reinforce the Sky Blues back line.

Jordy Buijs; Luke Wilkshire




Out: Michael McGlinchey, Matthew Ridenton, Matija Ljucic, Andrija Kaluderovic, Goran Paracki

Confirmed Squad: Andrew Durante, Liberato Cacace, Dylan Fox, Nathan Burns, Roy Krishna, Oliver Sail, Thomas Doyle, Louis Fenton, Ryan Lowry, Adam Parkhouse, Sarpreet Singh

Biggest losses: Matthew Ridenton, Andrija Kaluderovic

Has there been a more versatile player in the Hyundai A-League than Matthew Ridenton?

The Kiwi international featured sporadically in both attacking and wide midfield roles following his debut in 2013, but has since become a dependable presence in either fullback positions. Last year, Ridenton made a deeper-lying midfield role his own and started all but three fixtures for Wellington.

Andrija Kaluderovic may not have impressed new Phoenix boss Mark Rudan enough to prolong his stay in the New Zealand capital, but the 30-year-old marksman did provide nine of Wellington's 31 goal league goals in 2017/18. 

The Serbian's departure leaves Wellington short of a pure goalscorer up front. Moreover, the Phoenix have just 11 players in their roster as things stand - meaning Rudan will have quite the shopping list planned not only to compensate for the key losses of Ridenton and Kaluderovic, but to bolster the currently-threadbare Phoenix squad.

How they can be replaced

Rudan has previously signalled his intention to promote locally-based Kiwi players into his plans for the upcoming campaign, and this could fill out Wellington's roster with talented youngsters hungry for their first shot in the Hyundai A-League.

But in the priority areas of centre forward and central midfield, Rudan could be looking toward the transfer market - and his vacant marquee spots - to bring in new talent. With his squad currently bereft of central midfield options, the market is surely where the former Sydney United 58 stalwart will be heading to bolster the middle of the park.

Perhaps the arrival of Rudan could spark Nathan Burns back in to form? The 30-year-old forward hasn't scored a goal in over two years, but the new dawn feel at the Phoenix fostered by Rudan could revive the former Johnny Warren Medal winner, whose 13 goals led Wellington to a fourth-placed finish in 2014/15.

Nathan Burns
Nathan Burns won the Johnny Warren Medal in 2014/15.


In: Nick Fitzgerald, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik (all from Melbourne City), Tarek Elrich, Jordan O'Doherty (both from Adelaide United), Tass Mourdoukoutas (youth team)

Out: Jack Clisby, Alvaro Cejudo, Michael Thwaite, Chris Ikonomidis (loan ends), Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Brendon Santalab (Perth Glory), Steven Lustica (released)

Biggest losses: Brendon Santalab, Chris Ikonomidis

Brendon Santalab quickly became a firm fan favourite for the Wanderers when he joined in 2013. 

The striker's ability to make decisive impacts off the bench for Western Sydney only endeared the 35-year-old to the Red and Black further, particularly in the latter years of his Wanderers career (12 of Santalab's 34 goals for the Wanderers were match-winning strikes).

Santalab's viability as a genuine starting option dwindled as fitness struggles and the club's on-field evolution continued, but there's no doubt his exit is still being mourned by Wanderers fans. 

In contrast to the ever-present Santalab, Chris Ikonomidis' Wanderers' career lasted all of six months, but also leaves a significant shortage in the team's firepower. The 23-year-old attacker excelled while on loan from Lazio, and his return to the Serie A club leaves a spot on the attacking right open to be claimed.

How they can be replaced

While Babbel's plans for the Wanderers are still unknown, there's a variety of existing options for the new boss to ponder. The former FC Luzern coach has employed a wide range of tactical formations in his managerial career to date, and the two leading candidates appear to be 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1.

No matter the set up, Oriol Riera will once again be the main man for the Wanderers after his superb debut campaign in the Hyundai A-League, but Babbel could potentially relieve the goalscoring pressure on the Spaniard by employing two strikers up front.

Santalab's exit could see more playing time for young forwards Lachlan Scott and Abraham Majok, who will both be looking to impress the new coach during pre-season.

Meanwhile, Melbourne City duo Nick Fitzgerald and Bruce Kamau could both be vying for positions on the right flank.

Lachlan Scott
Lachlan Scott