Paper Talk: Sydney FC's marquee search

With Hyundai A-League pre-season in full swing, rumours of player signings and departures have dominated the headlines in recent days.

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And there has been some serious footballing pedigree linked with moves down under.

Find out who in our latest edition of Hyundai A-League Paper Talk!

TORRES SIGNS FOR JAPANESE STRUGGLERS

Former Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea forward Fernando Torres has signed for Japanese club Sagan Tosu.

The off-contract Spaniard had reportedly been the target of interest from Sydney FC according to multiple reports including The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald.

But the 34-year-old used Twitter to confirm his move to Sagan, who are currently seventeenth in the J-League, with Torres citing a "new challenge in a completely different place" as the reason behind the move.

Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend told Fox Sports the Sky Blues came close to tempting the Spaniard the harbour city.

“There were moments in the process when we thought we had the deal done,” Townsend said.

“The level of engagement was so strong and the feedback we were getting was that we were right in there with a shout, so that’s probably why it’s so disappointing.

“When you’re on the losing end you think back at what you could have done differently.

“The fact we were so close is a testament that we were all in — we weren’t messing around.”

While the capture of Torres has fallen through for the reigning Premiers, Sydney could instead be set to turn their attention to another ex-Liverpool striker.

According to Fox Sports, Peter Crouch is being monitored for a potential move to Australia, with Steve Corica's side the leading destination for the Stoke City forward.

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Crouch has scored 106 goals in 461 Premier League appearances while plying his trade for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Portsmouth.

The 37-year-old currently has one year left on his deal at the Potters, who were relegated from the Premier League last season. 

 

PHOENIX YOUNGSTER SET FOR DUTCH MOVE

Wellington Phoenix youth James McGarry is primed for a move to The Netherlands according to Dutch newspaper BD.

The 20-year-old fullback has been training with Willem II since Monday after watching a recent friendly from the sidelines.

McGarry had been on the books at the New Zealand capital since 2015 but has only made just two substitute appearances for the senior side.

Willem II hope to seal the deal for the New Zealand youth international imminently.

McGarry
McGarry playing for New Zealand U17's in 2015.

HYUNDAI A-LEAGUE REF FOR WORLD CUP FINAL?

Hyundai A-League referee Matthew Conger is in the running to officiate the FIFA World Cup™ final having been included on the shortlist of 12 whistle blowers who could take charge of the final few games in Russia.

Conger, who was in the middle of three Hyundai A-League fixtures last season, has already refereed Nigeria's 2-0 group stage win over Iceland, and was the fourth official during England's last-16 win over Colombia.

With Uruguayan referee Andreas Cunha assigned to France’s win over Belgium on Wednesday morning, it leaves the other three referees for the other semi-final between England and Croatia, the final and the third place play-off game still to be announced.

FIFA's referee shortlist for the final four games is as follows:

AFC: Alireza Faghani;
CAF: Malang Diedhiou;
CONCACAF: Mark Geiger, Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos;
CONMEBOL: Andres Cunha, Nestor Pitana, Sandro Ricci;
OFC: Matthew Conger;
UEFA: Cuneyt Cakir, Bjorn Kuipers, Milorad Mazic, Gianluca Rocchi.

Hyundai A-League referee at the FIFA World Cup.
Matthew Conger