Wellington Phoenix have confirmed Sarpreet Singh is set to join Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
Singh, 20, is currently in Munich touring the club’s facilities ahead of a potentially ground-breaking move to the German side, after the five-time Champions League winners approached Phoenix last week.
Bayern had been tracking the four-cap New Zealand international for some time but their interest was solidified after Singh’s excellent performances for the Kiwis during the recent U20 World Cup in Poland.
Should the deal be completed, Singh – who joined Phoenix from Auckland-based feeder club Onehunga Sports in 2015 – would become the first New Zealander to join the Bavarians.
It would be the biggest transfer in the nation’s footballing history, topping striker Wynton Rufer’s signature for Werder Bremen in 1989 and ex-Phoenix flyer Marco Rojas’ move to Stuttgart from Melbourne Victory in 2013.
“There were a few clubs that were interested in Sarpreet and that was the one he was most interested in exploring further,” Phoenix general manager David Dome told www.aleague.com.au.
“Now we’re just waiting for a formal offer to come across to see how much Bayern value the player at, and if it meets our expectations.
“All things being equal, Sarpreet could end up playing in Germany next year.”
Although Bayern plan for Singh to acclimatise in their reserve team – who will play in the third division of German football next season – the club hierarchy hope the attacking midfielder will progress to the first team in due course.
“He’s very excited. Sarpreet has always targeted going to play in Europe at some stage,” said Dome.
“Having said that, I think even the fact that he’s had interest from the fourth-biggest football club in the world, has given him a bit of a shock. But a very, very good one.”
Singh’s potential move to Germany would be the biggest nod of approval yet for the club’s football academy structure – one of the first to be established in the Hyundai A-League – which was started in 2013 and has operated full-time since 2016.
Current Phoenix first-teamers Louis Fenton, Liberato Cacace and Ben Waine are all graduates. Fenton and Cacace have won full international caps for the All Whites.
“We’re absolutely thrilled. If people didn’t get it before or understand the concept before, it’s very clear of the pathway in New Zealand about what can be achieved if you come to the Phoenix,” said Dome.
Singh is the latest Phoenix player set to depart the Kiwi capital, following the losses of Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna and strike partner David Williams, midfielder Max Burgess, club captain Andrew Durante and goalkeeper Filip Kurto.
But the club had planned for Singh’s potential exit prior to the U20 World Cup and are in advanced negotiations with a selection of young Australian and New Zealand-based talent, as well as high-profile international signings to bolster new coach Ufuk Talay’s renovation job.
Dome said Phoenix fans can anticipate some of these international players to be announced this week.
“We’re really advanced on some of those. Ufuk has come straight into it and done a great job identifying what we need to do.
“I’m absolutely convinced that the players that we’ve got coming through will make very, very strong Wellington Phoenix team next year, and that we’ll no doubt be challenging for the finals.”