Melbourne City’s ‘rare’ signing makes A-Leagues history after arriving from Ligue 1

Melbourne City are continuing to ramp up their preparations for the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season with the signing of Hamza Sakhi from Auxerre in Ligue 1.

The 27-year-old attacker joins the three-time reigning premiers on a season-long loan deal with an option to buy, and he is set to become the first Moroccan to play in the A-League Men.

INS AND OUTS: Isuzu UTE A-League 2023-24 Transfer Centre

Sakhi has spent a decade in France, amassing 175 appearances, 20 goals and 24 assists in Ligue 2 but last season saw the former Morocco youth international play in Ligue 1 for the first time.

He came up against champions Paris Saint-Germain, superstars Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar as Auxurre were relegated from the top flight in 2022-23, joining Patrick Kisnorbo’s Troyes in going down to the second tier.

Sakhi, who emerged from boyhood club Chateauroux before playing for the likes of Metz and Sochaux, scored a goal and supplied two assists in 27 Ligue 1 appearances.

“I’m so excited to begin this new chapter in my career with Melbourne City. The challenge of
joining a new league in a new country is something that I’m really looking forward to,” he said.

“I want to help this team build on their incredible success over the past few seasons and I can’t
wait to meet and play in front of the City fans.”

Sahki reunites with fellow City recruit Samuel Souprayen. The pair previously played together at Auxerre.

“I spoke with Samuel before and he told me only good things and that I should come,” he said. “And that’s what I did, I came!”

It has been an off-season of change for City following their 6-1 rout at the hands of Central Coast Mariners in the Grand Final.

Jordan Bos (KVV Westerlo)Scott Jamieson (retirement)Valon Berisha (end of loan), Raphael Borges Rodrigues (Macarthur FC), Matthew Sutton (Western United), Kerrin Stokes (Adelaide City), Tom Glover (Middlesbrough)Aiden O’Neill (Standard Liege)Thomas Lam (PEC Zwolle), Richard van der Venne (St Gallen), Florin Berenguer (Brisbane Roar) and Marco Tilio (Celtic) have all left.

City, meanwhile, have signed Tolgay Arslan (Udinese)Alessandro Lopane (Western Sydney Wanderers), Patrick Beach (Central Coast Mariners), Zane Schreiber (Sydney FC)Steven Ugarkovic (Wellington Phoenix), Jamie Young (Western United)Terry Antonis (Western Sydney Wanderers)Samuel Souprayen (Botev Plovdiv)Marin Jakolis (Angers – on loan), and Aziz Behich (Dundee United).

“To sign someone of Hamza’s quality gives us another wonderful attacking option, adding depth and flexibility to an exciting squad,” said City’s director of football Michael Petrillo.

“It is rare to be able to lure a player at 27 years of age, with over a decade of experience in Europe, and straight off a season of 30 games in Ligue 1. He brings great experience and adds variety and flair to an already strong midfield unit.

“Hamza is a technically gifted footballer and knows how to find the back of the net and provide assists. A welcome addition to the club, he’s a footballer that will suit the City style of play and a player that City fans can look forward to watching.”