Socceroos winger Martin Boyle has been relegated at new club Al-Faisaly on the last day of the Saudi Professional League season, just 13 games after a big-money move from Scotland.
It leaves his transfer future in doubt – which is exactly the case for Tom Rogic, who still doesn’t have a new club after leaving Celtic.
Meanwhile, there’s updates on the status of other Aussies abroad, including plenty of big – and surprising – moves.
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BOYLE’S BIG MOVE BACKFIRES
For Scottish-born winger Martin Boyle, leaving his country of birth to play in the cashed-up Middle East was a difficult choice – but one he says he made to secure the future of his family.
However, just five months after leaving Hibernian for Saudi club Al-Faisaly, this morning the star Socceroo’s team was relegated from Saudi Arabia’s first division in heartbreaking fashion.
Boyle started in a 2-1 defeat to defending champions Al Hilal, who secured an 18th Saudi Professional League title with victory. Former Watford and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo scored twice.
Adding insult to injury, Al-Faisaly had their goalkeeper sent off 10 minutes into stoppage time as the game descended into chaos.
Boyle played 13 league games, scoring three goals and adding an assist.
Despite the club’s relegation, there is some good news for Boyle, who played a key role as Al-Faisaly enjoyed a sensational debut in the Asian Champions League, making it out of the group stage in first place. Boyle scored once and added an assist in his six group stage games.
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The Round of 16 does not take place until February next year, but it remains to be seen whether Al-Faisaly look to cut costs given their relegation to the second tier – with Boyle one of the club’s highest earners.
His former club Hibernian reportedly has a buyback clause in his contract, giving them thee opportunity to match any transfer offer made for Boyle from any English club.
Boyle’s form in Scotland – 14 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions in the first half of this season before his transfer – might have Hibernian and other clubs looking for a cut-price deal, while Boyle himself might look for a better level of competition ahead of the World Cup.
He has been arguably the Socceroos most consistent attacker since debuting in late 2018, contributing five goals and six assists in 17 games.
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ROGIC MYSTERY REMAINS
A month after leaving Celtic, and Tom Rogic appears no closer to finding a new club.
Rogic, still just 29, departed a legend of the club with 16 trophies including seven Scottish league titles. The playmaker scored 46 goals in 273 appearances for the Hoops, and added 49 assists.
But according to manager Ange Postecoglou, the Socceroos star thought the time was right for a new challenge.
However, it is puzzling that he has not yet found a club, though reports overnight state he has now turned down a big-money offer from Persija Jakarta in Indonesia.
Multiple A-League clubs are reportedly interested in bringing him back down under. But at 29 – and having enjoyed a successful season with Celtic – Rogic could look to remain in Europe or cash in with what will likely be the last big-money, long-term deal of his career.
With the World Cup less than six months away, his next move could be crucial to his Socceroos hopes.
LUONGO’S BIZARRE EXIT
Former Socceroos midfielder Massimo Luongo is set to leave Sheffield Wednesday after a bizarre turn of events.
On Wednesday, a club statement named Luongo as one of three players departing the club at the end of their current contracts, and having ‘declined new contract offers’. But Luongo took to social media to reply ‘Have I?’ in a dubious retort.
A statement from the Owls said: “Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Massimo Luongo and Joe Wildsmith have declined new contract offers and will leave Hillsborough at the end of June …
“Luongo signed for Wednesday in the summer of 2019 and played 73 games … The Owls would like to thank all three players for their services and wish them well for the future.”
Soon, the Aussie took to his Instagram to write: “Have I? Oh okay …” alongside an emoji with a puzzled expression of inquiry, and a shrugging emoji.
The 29-year-old delivered five assists and a goal in 30 appearances this season in all competitions.
He has not played for the Socceroos since January 2019, having been struck by repeated injuries since then.
KEEPER JOINS ENGLISH SECOND TIER
Gloveman Dean Bouzanis has trotted the globe in a wonderful journeyman career which began as a Liverpool junior. He has played in Australia, Greece, and the Netherlands as well as multiple stints in England.
Now he’s risen up the ranks of the English football pyramid with a three-year-deal to join Championship side Reading.
Bouzanis said: “I’m over the moon, it’s a massive football club, and delighted to be here. Can’t wait to get going.”
He becomes the fourth Australian gloveman to have played for the club, with former Socceroo Adam Federici the most famous. Bouzanis said: “He’s someone who Aussie goalkeepers look up to, he’s had an incredible career.”
Reading struggled for depth last season in the goalkeeping position, using four different glovemen at times and finishing the year with just one fit senior keeper – and almost being relegated from the second division.
The club is led by manager Paul Ince, a legendary English midfielder who played for both Manchester United and Liverpool in a stellar career.
Bouzanis, 31, is the second keeper to be signed by Ince this transfer window, after Joe Lumley was brought in on loan from Middlesbrough.
It is an incredible reward for Bouzanis, who moved to England when partner and Matildas superstar Steph Catley signed for Arsenal in July 2020.
Bouzanis joined National League (fifth tier) Sutton United, who won the competition in his first season and were promoted to the EFL for the first time in their 123-year history.
Bouzanis again enjoyed a strong season this year with Sutton in England’s fourth division, finishing an impressive eighth as well as playing at Wembley in a cup trophy. He departs after 95 appearances for the club with 39 clean sheets.
Bouzanis recently spent “a good four and a half weeks” back in Australia, having been stuck in England due to Covid-19 since then.
In transfer news, left-back Jason Davidson has been rewarded for a sensational year with Melbourne Victory with a move to Belgian club Eupen, where he’ll play alongside fellow Australian Jimmy Jeggo. Davidson’s form in the A-League Mens also earned him a first Socceroos cap since 2015, and his European move should keep him in contention for a place on the plane to Qatar in November.
Another left back in 31-year-old Aziz Behich is also set to move clubs, with the veteran set to leave Giresunspor when his contract expires in coming days. He appears likely to remain in Turkey’s Super Lig, with a move to rivals Alanyaspor likely.
Socceroos veteran Trent Sainsbury is reportedly close to signing for Qatari club Al Wakrah after leaving Belgium, which should have him feeling right at home when the World Cup arrives.