In what has been a busy week of arrivals and departures in Melbourne’s A-League clubs, the Spanish have featured heavily. First there was the announcement on Wednesday that Melbourne Victory had made the decision to sack coach Marco Kurz after only 13 games in charge, and to replace him with his Spanish born assistant coach Carlos Salvachua, till the end of the season.
The 46-year-old Salvachua has been at Victory since 2018 when he was appointed as an assistant to Kevin Muscat. Prior to that, the UEFA Pro License coach had worked with Spanish clubs Real Valladolid CF, Villarreal CF, CD Guadalajara and Real Madrid’s academy for six years. He commented at the announcement of his promotion to the head coach’s job at Victory: “I know this club is an important team in Australia and always they play to win.To get an attacking style, an attacking performance, an entertaining style for the members. This is what I trust in the squad of players and we can do it.”
Victory’s announcement of a new coach, was soon followed by Melbourne City’s announcement of its latest recruit, the vastly experienced Spanish winger/midfielder Markel Susaeta. The 32 year old Susaeta joins the A-League with one of the best pedigrees yet for an A-League import having played almost his entire professional football career at La Liga club Athletic Bilbao. After making his senior appearance there as a 19 year old, Susaeta went on to make 507 first team appearances for the club, playing in Copa del Rey finals against Barcelona, and breaking the club appearance record for European competition matches. Along the way, he captained the side. He also picked up a full Spanish International cap along the way, scoring against Panama.
City had initially targeted Susaeta after his departure from Athletic at the end of the 2019 season, with the player opting to leave Spain rather than join a Spanish club and play against his former club. Susaeta instead chose to join J-League club Gamba Osaka for a short stint. However City eventually succeeded in signing Susaeta after Javier Cabrera’s departure vacated an import spot on City’s roster. City fans will anticipate that Susaeta, who is a fine crosser, passer and set piece specialist, will form an exciting attacking partnership with goal scorer Jamie McLaren .
Meanwhile, speculation continues as to the ultimate destination of former A-League star and New Zealand international Marco Rojas. The 28 year old forward is currently out of contract with his Danish club SonderjyskE and his former club, Melbourne Victory are reportedly keen on enticing him back. Victory are reportedly willing to release either Kristijan Dobras or Jakob Poulsen to vacate an import spot to enable Rojas’s signing. Victory’s rivals Western United are also reportedly interested in signing Rojas.