Melbourne City ‘reluctantly agree’ to release Tolgay Arslan: ‘A player we absolutely wanted to keep’

Melbourne City have announced the departure of star midfielder Tolgay Arslan after “reluctantly” agreeing to the mutual termination of his contract.

Arslan was contracted to the Isuzu UTE A-League club until the end of 2024-25 but the former Serie A midfielder – who reported to pre-season training on Monday – sought an early exit, which a “disappointed” City agreed to.

The 33-year-old made an immediate impact in his first season with City after arriving from Udinese, scoring 19 goals and supplying seven assists across 34 appearances as the German claimed the club’s inaugural Scott Jamieson Medal and Players’ Player of the Year award.

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“Whilst it’s very disappointing to lose a player of Tolgay’s quality, especially after the commencement of pre-season training, sometimes there are factors out of our control,” said director of football Michael Petrillo.

“He’s a player we absolutely wanted to keep, and we did everything in our power to find a way for him to stay. In my 20 years of working in football, I’ve never seen an instance where keeping a player against their will ended up being a positive thing for all involved.

“We would like to thank Tolgay for his contribution and wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

In the Isuzu UTE A-League, Arslan scored 13 goals as City scraped into the Finals Series before losing to Melbourne Victory in the Elimination Final.

He also scored four goals in the Australia Cup and a further two in the AFC Champions League, while he was selected in the A-Leagues All Stars Men’s team which crushed Newcastle United 8-0 in May.

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“I’m disappointed to be leaving Melbourne, but I am grateful for the opportunity to have played for City and appreciate the club’s understanding in my decision,” said Arslan.

“I want to thank my teammates, the coaches, the staff, and the City fans, and wish them the very best of luck for the season.”

Arslan is the ninth player to depart Aurelio Vidmar’s City this off-season, after Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good, Terry Antonis, Leo Natel, Marin Jakolis, Jordan Hall, Vicente Fernandez and Nuno Reis.

Meanwhile, City have signed Kai Trewin and extended the loan of Socceroo Marco Tilio while re-signing Jamie Young.