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Increasingly difficult’ to find guest marquees – Muscat

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Having been denied the opportunity to sign Alessandro Diamanti, Melbourne Victory’s coach isn’t certain Football Federation Australia’s guest marquee criteria are realistic

 Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat believes A-League clubs can’t afford to meet the guest marquee criteria if they also want a player who can perform on the pitch.

Muscat confirmed on Tuesday that Victory had approached Football Federation Australia (FFA) in the hope of signing former Italy international Alessandro Diamanti but were turned down as the 33-year-old midfielder didn’t meet the guest marquee rule’s marketing criteria.

FFA introduced the guest marquee rule ahead of the 2016-17 season in the hope of attracting high profile players to the A-League that can boost attendances and ratings, but so far only Melbourne City have taken advantage to sign Socceroos striker Tim Cahill.

While Muscat applauded the arrival of Cahill – “I want to see good players playing in our competition” – he questioned whether any of City’s opponents would be able to recruit a similar player.

“It’s going to cost between $4 and $6million, probably even more, to get someone that fits all the criteria,” Muscat told reporters.

“Have clubs in Australia got that capacity to spend? I don’t think so.”

The guest player rule, which allows A-League clubs to apply for FFA financial support, has been introduced to lure the type of European stars that head to MLS and the Chinese Super League each year.

But taking a look at the annual salaries of the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Kaka in MLS, which are publically available, underlines Muscat’s claim.

Lampard is paid US$6million per year by New York City, Kaka earns $7.17m at Orlando City and LA Galaxy pay Gerrard $6.13m, although Didier Drogba is only paid $2.17m by Montreal Impact.

Muscat insisted that he understood FFA’s reasons for focusing on players already well known in Australia, but was frustrated that he was unable to bring Diamanti to the A-League.

The 43-year-old coach is convinced Diamanti, who played for Atalanta and Watford on loan from Guangzhou Evergrande last season, would have thrived in the A-League.

“It’s disappointing because he’s obviously a very, very talented footballer, and his next club will be in a major league, so it tells you he’s still at his peak in terms of his football ability,” Muscat said.

“But I do understand that that’s not the be-all and end-all to qualify through the certain criteria.”

Muscat has refused to give up on the guest marquee rule, claiming he will “ask the question again” if another player comes across his desk, but he insisted that he will always prioritise individuals who are “going to impact the football side of things”.

Meanwhile, the Australian agent representing Miroslav Klose has claimed the German striker’s age is putting off A-League clubs.

Jon-Paul Michail of FIA Sports Management told Outside 90 that the 38-year-old, who scored eight goals in all competitions of Lazio last season, is ready to come to Australia.

“We haven’t gotten to a stage of price. Biggest deterring factor is age,” Michail said.

“Klose is a legend of the game and would be a huge asset for not just an A-League club but for the competition in general.

“Miro has aspirations to coach once his playing career concludes – what an incredible mentor he would be for young Australian players.”

Alessandro Del Piero was the same age as Klose when he joined Sydney FC on a two-year contract in 2012.

© 2016 Goal | This article was written by Michael Huguenin and first appeared on The Goal website on 23 August 2016.

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