12 A-League entertainers to watch

With the A-League having just kicked off here are some of the players to watch this season.

A league players
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cover Art

Just last season Adam Le Fondre was lighting the oppositions teams goal nets on fire with his constant barrage of strikes. Craig Goodwin was doing Craig Goodwin like things. Riley McGree was pleading his case to be a future Socceroo under the watchful eye of Graham Arnold. Milan Djuric was doing wonders for the Mariners possibly not seen since the heydays of players such as Jendinak, Rogic and Ryan. And Paul Izzo was being an absolute rock at the back.

Now to some blasts from the past, Allesandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono all played in the same historic competition together at one point. That was for Sydney, Newcastle, and Western Sydney respectively. Dwight Yorke has also plied his trade in this memorable league. As have Australian legends such as Archie Thompson, Mark Bosnich, and Alex Brosque. Players might come and go, but what every single name on this list shows, is that the A-League will always have players who entertain and are worth the price of match-day admission alone, just to see them work their magic. Here is one player from each club, who you surely cannot miss this amazing season.

Sydney FC – Luke Brattan (30)

The former Manchester City player when at his best form, is simply mesmerising to watch. His passing ability is second-to-none and he arguably now has a bigger influence on the Sky Blues midfield, than that of club legend Milos Ninkovic. With 22 shot assists and 1518 accurate passes last season, it’s safe to say he certainly knows what he’s doing. He’s also a tenacious defender, having made 39 tackles last campaign. Simply put, he’s the complete package. And many would find it hard to argue that he’ll be a key piece to the puzzle for Sydney in their incredible pursuit of a 3rd straight Championship.

Melbourne City – Jamie Maclaren (27)

From 2019 onwards, ‘Macca’ has scored a simply incredibly 28 goals from 35 games for City! And in his previous and illustrious stint at the Roar, he bagged 40 from 53! Whilst for the Socceroos, he’s posted a nice 5 from 15. He is the best Striker in the A-League and quite possibly one of the best going about in all of Asia. There’s no doubt about it! He has a killer instinct in front of goals and is constantly relentless in his maniac like attacking pursuits. The poise and the skill that he has as an attacking player make him incredibly fun to watch. He also added 4 assists last season, to go along with his Golden Boot award for good measure. This man right here, he always lives up to the hype.

Wellington Phoenix – Ulises Davila (29)

Once on the books at non-other then Chelsea FC, it’s certainly safe to say that Davila disappointed no one last season. Forming a part of a deadly attacking trio with Ball and Hooper, he made both himself and Wellington incredibly joyous to watch. In the last campaign, he produced 12 goals and 5 assists, as his Phoenix side finished in 3rd spot, in what was truly a magical season for them. And now with Wellington facing more pressure this season than ever, the Mexican-born maestro will have that extra added pressure put on top of him to succeed. He made us all fall in love with the Nix last season and given he should have more touches of the ball this campaign, that love will no doubt continue this time around as well.

Brisbane Roar- Masato Kudo (30)

All-in-all the Tokyo-born Forward produced a scintillating 66 goals from 189 appearances for Kashiwa Reysol. He has also produced goals in 50% of the occasions that he’s represented Japan. In 2017 he scored 7 goals and in 2015, it was 16. And he’s had some even better campaigns before that. Now imagine his experience, combined with his goal-scoring pedigree, linking up with fellow veteran and former Celtic FC and Socceroo, Scott McDonald. That along with young, burgeoning stars such as the 23-year-old Wenzel Halls, the 20-year-old and fellow Japanse player Danzaki and 23-year-old Champness, among others. That’s quite a fun sight to imagine, isn’t it? And he’d be the key piece to it all! This Japanese influx is only going to benefit the A-League, that’s for sure!

Western United FC – Allesandro Diamanti (37)

Imagine being the ripe old age of 37 and still tearing up players perhaps just a bit over half your age? Well, that’s exactly what the Footballing legend did this last A-League season as he won the Alex Tobin Medal and led W.U. to the 2nd week of the finals in their inaugural campaign. And as well as that, throughout his long and memorable career, he’s also featured for clubs such as Empoli, Florentina, West Ham and Watford. He’s a magician in the midfield, as he moves the ball with such class and carefulness at his feet. And he always seemingly finds the perfect pass to make to his team-mates as well. He is an absolute joy to watch and this was strongly evident through his 8 goals and 7 assists of last season. Long live Diamanti!

Perth Glory – Bruno Fornaroli (33)

He famously led Melbourne City to their maiden trophy (an FFA Cup), during his illustrious stay there. He also had a pretty sour exit from City, being sat out for an entire season, which dominated the headlines. And hasn’t the lively Uruguayan forward just lit up the A-League? For Melbourne, he bagged 48 goals from 70 appearances. And for Perth, in just the one campaign, he’s gotten 13/28. He lives and breathes to score goals! And it’s just so fun to watch him do exactly that! The attacking trio he’ll form with fellow counterparts Chris Ikonimidis and Andy Keogh will be just something special. And with him at the heart of it all, we’re no doubt going to see another superb season from the man affectionately nicknamed ‘El Tuna’

Adelaide United – Javi López (34)

252 matches he played for Espanyol! He’s played in one of the toughest leagues in the world (La Liga) and he’s also a magician with the ball at his feet. And with no Craig Goodwin, no Riley McGree and Isias, Lopez will get a lot of chances to show what he can do. His highlight reel will be like something out of ESPN, such will be the depth and skill involved within it. And combined with that, Adelaide currently has in their possession an incredibly young side. Seeing his presence calm them down and help them mature, will be a remarkably interesting thing to take note of with regards to his non-playing attributes. Lopez won’t get much time to rest and view the side. He’s extremely important to the Reds.

Newcastle Jets – Ali Abbas (34)

Abbas is a fan favourite, having previously played for the club from 2009-2012, good for 60 appearances for the Jets. And during his time with Sydney FC, he suffered a horrific injury, one that meant he was sidelined for 405 days. And upon his return, he scored a beautiful goal, and it was against non-other then Newcastle. He is a player who is resilient, hard-working and will give 100% every time he steps foot onto the field. He’s not your Messi or Neymar, silky and mesmerising type. He’s more like a Jordan Henderson or like fellow team-mate Steven Urgarkovic, he puts it all out there, without getting the plaudits. And given that he’s had a two-year break from playing in Australia, it’s great to see the former Iraqi international playing back where he belongs.

Western Sydney Wanderers – Bernie Ibini (28)

He’s got the blistering pace, the experience (having previously repped sides such as Sydney FC, Club Brugge, Vancouver Whitecaps and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), and the stats (10 shot assists, including 2 actual assists from 6 games last season), to make him one hell of an entertaining player to watch. Late last campaign, away from home at Jubilee Stadium, Newcastle came back from a 1-0 deficit against Sydney FC, to win 2-1 with a 90th-minute winner. Ibini was monumental in that match! His pace had the Sky Blues constantly second-guessing themselves and he also won 8/13 duels and completed 24 accurate passes, good for a 79% completion rate, amongst some of his other stats. And in a Wanderer’s uniform, he’ll no doubt impress and be one to watch!

Melbourne Victory- Rudy Gestede (32)

Metz, Cannes, Cardiff City, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and now the Victory, it makes for quite the impressive playing list for Gestede doesn’t it? And that high-quality experience alone will make him a simply superb addition to the A-League, little lone what he’s actually capable of doing. The French-born striker has plenty of appealing highlights to look at and was thought of by the Victory hierarchy as the perfect man to replace the now-departed Ola Toivonen. And that’s quite the compliment. His pedigree should help him have an instant impact in what is a strongly reconstructed Victory side for this newly started season. And coming from someone who is by no means a Victory fan, the A-League needs plenty more star lads such as these running around.

Central Coast Mariners – Dylan Ruiz-Diaz (19)

The 19-year-old and U20’s AUS international is a star in the making. And he made his presence felt strongly in the Mariners final game of last season against the Victory. At an empty stadium, he let his game do the talking in a commanding 3-2 win, via his double. He scored his first in the 85th min to even things up. Then in the 89th min, with a strong right-footed shot, he scored the match-winning strike, much to the delight of his side. It was a perfect way for the Central Coast to end their campaign and for him to give his career a good kick-start. This is just one of the many things that the brilliantly talented youngster is capable of doing. Keep an eye on him this season. Hopefully, he can do great things.

Macarthur FC – Matt Derbyshire (34)

In 21 games for Olympiacos, he banged in 11 goals. He scored 17 for Rotherham United over 69 matches. For Wrexham, he had 10/16. And for Great Harwood Town, he scored 21 from 31 appearances. And those are just some of his career stats, which make for pretty damn good readings. He will bring an exceedingly high pedigree of scoring goals to the new franchise, which is exactly what they should want and need. And as evidenced throughout his entire career, he’s shown time and time again exactly what he is capable of doing. He is going to help make the Bulls a dangerous force to be reckoned with.

And there you have it, the 12 exciting, innovate and overseas-experienced players that you should be keeping an eye on for this current A-League season. They’ll dazzle you and make you fall in love with the game even more. And with all of them playing and matches currently happening thick and fast, there’s never been a better chance to show your support for your club and favourite player/s with a membership. Seeing these players live, well that’s the real deal!

Toby is somebody who is a knowledgeable and passionate sports fan, but none more than the NRL. From a young age, he has been covering and supporting Australia’s greatest code. He has diplomas in both sports and business, while he loves a good laugh, some good food and travelling.

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