Sky Blues to splash cash on star man
SYDNEY FC is cautiously confident of keeping Milos Ninkovic next season, having begun early talks with the Serbian playmaker about a drastically improved contract.
Ninkovic's agent, Zoran Jevtic, is based in Belgium but is due in Australia in three weeks to discuss the futures of several players.
Nothing substantive is likely to happen with any of Sydney's senior off-contract players until the end of their A-League season, with coach Graham Arnold keen to avoid disturbing the focus of his record-breaking side before the finals.
But in early conversations the Sky Blues have signalled to Ninkovic they are serious about keeping him in the face of likely interest from the Middle East and China for a player who is red-hot favourite to win the Johnny Warren Medal.
"I'm hopeful that we can keep Milos for next season after he's had such a fantastic year," said Sydney CEO Tony Pignata. "He's said consistently that he wants to wait until the end of the season before discussing things seriously and we'll respect that.
"But certainly he's a player that's very important to us, and he knows we want him to stay."
Though Pignata declined to discuss how the club will attempt to fend off lucrative offers from overseas, the new deal for Ninkovic will involve a marquee package, with both of the existing marquees - Bobo and Filip Holosko - also off contract at the end of the season.
It's understood Arnold is keen to keep both, but Holosko is likely to have to accept a new deal inside the salary cap in order to stay.
One of the players Jevtic will also discuss is Milos Dimitrijevic, who it's understood has triggered an extension clause in his contract after making 13 appearances this season.
Though Dimitrijevic has primarily been used off the bench in the wake of the form shown by Brandon O'Neill and Josh Brillante, he has been an effective weapon for Arnold and will play against Wellington on Saturday with Brillante and O'Neill suspended.
Rhyan Grant is expected to switch from right back to partner Dimitrijevic, with Aaron Calver to play at right back and Jordy Buijs returning at centre back.
Meanwhile the Mariners have re-signed right back Storm Roux for another two seasons. The New Zealand international fought back from a horrendous triple injury suffered last season, and has made 22 starts this campaign.
"To be able to extend my contract here at the Mariners means a lot," Roux said. "This club gave me my chance in professional football at 20-years-old and I was thrown right into the starting team which was massive for me."