The 10 most important A-League signings this season

Portrait of Sydney FC new signing Adrian Mierzejewski. 22nd September 2017, Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sydney Morning Herald.
Portrait of Sydney FC new signing Adrian Mierzejewski. 22nd September 2017, Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sydney Morning Herald.
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1. Oriol Riera???, Western Sydney Wanderers

There's a degree of scepticism that comes with every centre-forward signing that arrives at Blacktown. Whether it was Dino Kresinger, Federico Piovaccari or even cult-hero Kerem Bulut, the goals never arrived but Spanish striker Oriol Riera promises to be the man to change that. Arriving directly from La Liga, already he's shown plenty of promise in the FFA Cup. Mobile, technical and industrious - he has all the traits that endear players to supporters. More composure in front of goal should come with with time and if that is met with improved service, Riera could become the number nine the club has long sought.

2. Adrian Mierzejewski???, Sydney FC

When rivals informally complain about a signing, you're usually on to a winner. Sydney FC's capture of the 40-time Poland international earned the ire of other clubs as they managed to squeeze such a skilful player into their salary cap. A classy winger who can operate behind the strikers as a traditional number 10 and even as deep as a number 6. He's creative, clinical and mobile. Possesses a superb passing range and great awareness. He'll operate as the fulcrum of Sydney's attack alongside player of the year Milos Ninkovic where the two will torment rival defences.

3. Wout Brama???, Central Coast Mariners

Will Spanish striker Asdrubal be the man to deliver the goals for Central Coast? Can Daniel De Silva perform to the lofty expectations on his shoulders? Those are the two biggest questions asked by Mariners fans but the answer they hope for relies much on the performance of the star in the engine room. It's not just experience and pedigree that comes with the arrival of the former Dutch international, Wout Brama, but a degree of class and technique not seen for some time at Central Coast Stadium. A regular in the Eredivisie until his arrival, the fruit of his labour will mostly be the success of others which makes his role the most important for the Mariners.

4. Matias Sanchez???, Melbourne Victory

Few leagues are more physical than the A-League and by those harsh Australian standards, Matias Sanchez stands out. The Argentinian defensive midfielder adds more steel to what is already one of the most aggressive teams in the competition. His name is just as prominent in referee reports than newspapers, having entered the book 87 times in his career. But the 30-year-old arrives in Melbourne with plenty of experience having played for Argentine giants Estudiantes and Racing. A combination with the likes of Carl Valeri and Mark Milligan makes for what could be the most imposing and intimidating midfield partnership in the competition.

5. Ross McCormack, Melbourne City

Bruno Fornaroli's replacement will make the headlines in one way or another. The question is for what? "McCormack quits after training ground bust-up with Warren Joyce" is just as likely a back page splash as "McCormack breaks Fornaroli's goalscoring record". The volatile yet supremely talented striker arrives at Melbourne City just one year after Villa paid $23 million for his services. The Scottish international was one of the most prolific goal scorers in recent seasons of the English Championship but his temperament remains as hot as his scoring streaks. If coach Warren Joyce can manage that, City will have a gem on their hands. One way or another, the TV cameras will be at their training base.

6. Ersan G??l??m???, Adelaide United

The Reds lost one of the league's most consistent defenders in Dylan McGowan and replaced him with the one that got away for the Socceroos. Ersan Gulum chose to represent his ancestral home of Turkey rather than Australia and with the national team's defence looking rather thin at present, his move to the A-League could show exactly what we missed out on. Titles are built on the backbone and the former Besiktas man will carry Adelaide's hopes of atoning for last season's failures so long as he can avoid another injury to a once problematic knee.

7. Xavi Torres, Perth Glory

A defensive midfielder in the best years of his career abruptly left La Liga to move to the A-League in what could be the coup of the season. The 30-year-old Torres is reunited with his former Getafe teammate Diego Castro at the Glory, opting for a new challenge after suffering relegation with Sporting Gijon, and the combination between the two could propel Perth to new heights. Coach Kenny Lowe says he barely needs to provide instructions for a man who will instinctively operate as the metronome for Perth.

8. Massimo Maccarone???, Brisbane Roar

The biggest name to arrive this season has been met with as much doubt as fanfare. At 38, questions over the Italian's ability to compete in the hot, humid and physical conditions of the A-League seem justified. However, the Aloisi brothers leading Brisbane Roar have no such concerns. As recently as May, he was playing in the Italian Serie A and the coaches suggest there's no substitute for his experience. Even if he's not as mobile as he was in his younger years, he remains deadly from set pieces and loves striking from distance.

9. Alvaro Cejudo???, Western Sydney Wanderers

A season in which the Wanderers struggled to penetrate, create clear chances and convert the ones they made prompted the board to open the chequebook for marquees. It delivered La Liga regular Alvaro Cejudo to their training base at Blacktown where he'll likely be the highest paid player in the A-League. The dynamic winger was brought to provide service for his former teammate, Riera, where he'll rekindle a former strike partnership that flourished in one of the best competitions in the world.

10. Ronald Vargas???, Newcastle Jets

Not since the arrival of Emile Heskey in 2012 has a foreign signing provided as much optimism for football in the Hunter as that of Ronald Vargas. The Venezuelan forward will carry the hopes of ending the Jets' eight-year search for finals football. He's quick, technically strong, good in the air despite his height and can score from distance. All in all, he's a complete forward. The pressure is on coach Ernie Merrick to get the most out of him.

This story The 10 most important A-League signings this season first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.