It wasn’t that long ago that the A-League was besotted by the magic of South American football and Brazil in particular.
Look through the 10-season history of the national competition and you will find most foreign signings have come from Brazil, with 36 signed by A-League clubs since the league kicked off in 2005.
Local fans marvelled at the class, skill and speed of the South Americans such as Juninho, Fred and Reinaldo to name but a few.
Today, however, the love affair appears over with only three Brazilians — Gui Finkler (Melbourne Victory), Henrique (Brisbane Roar) and Sidnei (Perth Glory) — among the 10 clubs.
Maybe it was the influence of recently departed Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau, but the balance of power has shifted. Now it is the Spanish culture which appears to be gripping A-League coaches as they search for an edge.
Gombau brought a new style of football to Adelaide United and the A-League when he joined in 2013 with a heavy reliance on Spanish players. He signed Isaias Sanchez and Sergie Cirio in his first season then Pablo Sanchez and Miguel Palanca the following year.
Now other clubs are trying to follow the same formula. Western Sydney Wanderers recently signed two Spaniards, Andreu Guerao Mayoral and Dimas Delgado. Perth Glory joined the rush yesterday, announcing they had signed 33-year-old attacker Diego Castro Gimenez for the new season as their international marquee, bringing to eight the number of Spaniards that will be involved in the A-League.
It is also interesting to note that Spanish coaches are also infiltrating the national competition. Gombau has been replaced by his assistant from last season, Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor. Another Spaniard, Pau Marti, will be his assistant while Wanderers boss Tony Popovic will have Andres Carrasco next to him on the bench.
© 2015 The Australian | This article was written by Ray Gatt and first appeared in The Australian on 7 August 2015.