Melbourne City lose two star imports due to ‘personal reasons’

Melbourne City pair Thomas Lam and Richard van der Venne will not be back for the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season, having been granted early releases to return to Europe.

Finland international Lam and Dutchman Van der Venne had a year remaining on their two-year deals with the three-time reigning premiers and 2022-23 Grand Finalists, however, the two star imports are departing the club due to personal reasons.

Lam was a mainstay in the City side last season, starting all but two of his 27 appearances while he also scored a goal.

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Despite an injury-interrupted season, Van der Venne still ended the campaign as the team’s fourth-highest scorer (seven) having netted a memorable hat-trick against Macarthur FC. He also supplied five assists.

Rado Vidosic’s City have already lost stars Aiden O’Neill (Standard Liege), Jordy Bos (Westerlo), Thomas Glover, Valon Berisha (end of loan) and Scott Jamieson (retirement)

“Despite our best efforts to find a way to keep both players here, it was clear that their family issues could not be resolved. Therefore, we have agreed to let them return to Holland to be with their families,” said City’s director of football Michael Petrillo.

“Both Thomas and Richard have been integral parts of our historic third consecutive Premiership, and are incredibly popular with the squad, club and our fans.  

“We will miss them but understand their reasons for departing and wish them all the best.”  

A 27-time Finland international, Lam joined City from CSKA Sofia, having also previously played for PEC Zwolle, Twente, Nottingham Forest and AZ Alkmaar.

The 29-year-old established himself at the heart of City’s defence as the team made it to a fourth consecutive Grand Final, but lost 6-1 to Central Coast Mariners earlier this month.

“We are expecting our second child in September and because of this, have had to make the very tough decision to be closer to our family so we can have that extra support from them,” said Lam. 

“It was such a difficult decision to make because we loved every minute of our time in Melbourne and on the pitch, it was amazing to be part of a history-making season. I’m going to miss the city, the club, my teammates and all of our fans.  

“I want to thank everyone at the club for my time here and I hope to one day return in the future.” 

Van der Venne made the move to Melbourne from RKC Waalwijk in his native Holland, where the 31-year-old attacking midfielder also played for Go Ahead Eagles.

He added: “It’s been a tough decision to leave Melbourne City, but I have to put my family first. I thank the club for understanding and I’ll always remember this special season in Melbourne.  

“I am very grateful that I’ve been part of this special squad and I am happy to be a little part of history.  

“The City fans have been amazing and welcomed me in with open arms straight away. I appreciate all of their support throughout the season and will miss playing in front of them at AAMI Park.”