New Wanderer Santalab comes full circle

Western Sydney Wanderers have signed former Sydney FC and North Queensland Fury striker Brendon Santalab on a one-year deal.

Santalab has spent just over four seasons in China playing for Chengdu Blades and, most recently, Chongqing Lifan, but has been tempted back to Australia to play under former teammate, Wanderers head coach Tony Popovic.

The deal has a back-to-the-future feel to it for the 30-year-old Santalab, who started his professional career with Parramatta Power in the old National Soccer League (NSL), who played at Western Sydney's home ground, Parramatta Stadium.

"I'm really excited to be back in Sydney with the opportunity to join the Wanderers," Santalab said on Friday.

"I played with Popa (Popovic) at Sydney FC and know the standard he sets so it will be great to be part of that as a player.

"I've also heard a lot about the amazing atmosphere at Wanderland and can't wait to play in front of the fans."

Santalab also played for Sydney United in the NSL, was on the books of Sydney and North Queensland in the A-League, plus has had stints in Belgium, Hungary and Singapore.

The Wollongong-born forward scored 33 goals in 75 appearances in over four years playing in China, which indicates he is looking for more playing time at the Wanderers.

Western Sydney's main weakness in their inaugural season was in the lead-striker position with Dino Kresinger and Joey Gibbs both having been dumped by Popovic since.

Santalab could fill that hole in the 2013/14 A-League campaign, although he will be challenged by recently-capped Socceroo Tomi Juric, while Popovic expects his new forward to play a variety of roles.

"I'm pleased that Brendon has joined us at the Wanderers," Popovic said.

"He is a real asset to our squad and brings great versatility.

"Brendon can play anywhere across the front line and will give us more options and depth on the field."