The array of imports across the Hyundai A-League has been impressive. There’s a “Kiwi Messi” a Guardiola and more in our top 8 imports from the opening five rounds.
Nico Martinez (Western Sydney Wanderers)
The nimble, pint-sized playmaker has been eased into the Hyundai A-League by coach Tony Popovic but we’ve seen just how good a player he is in recent weeks. After coming off the bench in the first three games, the Argentine has started the last two weeks and been involved in all of the Wanderers three goals in those games.
Not only did the 29-year-old score the club’s fastest-ever A-League goal against Glory on Sunday, but he set up the equaliser in a man-of-the-match performance. He’s getting better every week, as is his combination with Mitch Nichols which has all the ingredients of being a deadly one for the Red and Black.
Sergi Guardiola (Adelaide United)
The Spanish striker has a famous name and he’s living up to the hype so far, despite the Reds’ struggles at the start of season 2016/17. Guardiola has excellent touch and uses his frame to bring others into play.
And we’ve started to see his ability in front of goal in recent weeks as well, with goals in his last two appearances. The 25-year-old go reach even greater heights now playmaker Marcelo Carrusca is fit again for the champions and as he adapts to what is a physical league.
Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City)
Any questions about whether Fornaroli could back-up his record-breaking debut campaign into this season have already been answered. Emphatically.
The Uruguayan striker has showed no signs of slowing down, with four goals already this season and a few more amazing bits of skill to add to his highlights reel. He’s again at the top of the scoring charts with four to his name and his all-round game seems to have gone to another level with the added responsibility of the City captaincy and far more attention from opposition defences.
Will anyone be able to stay with him in the race for the golden boot?
Thomas Kristensen (Brisbane Roar)
Tasked with the huge challenge of filling the boots of Corona, Kristensen has been excellent in a Roar side becoming stronger every week.
The Danish star is the leading midfielder in the competition when it comes to interceptions [with 20] and was immense in shutting down the supply to Melbourne City’s attackers last Friday night as he worked his socks off at Suncorp.
An excellent distributor as well, Kristensen is emerging as a key component in John Aloisi’s in-form Brisbane outfit.
Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)
Ninkovic almost left the Sky Blues in the off-season for the riches on offer in other Asian leagues, only for Graham Arnold to put a stop to the move. And it’s easy to see why the Sydney boss – who believes Ninkovic is one of the best imports ever to play for the Sky Blues – wanted so badly to keep his Serbian star.
In his second season in the competition, “Ninko” looks far more comfortable in his surrounds and his performances are showing that. He has not only scored two goals but had a couple of assists as well and made nine key passes in Sydney’s perfect start to the campaign.
Fernando Brandan (Melbourne City)
The Argentine is City’s pocket rocket on the wing. He presses like crazy, he assists, he scores and is passionate about winning. All done with a classic mullet, too. How can we not like this guy?
In City’s star-studded squad, Brandan may have started the season under the radar but everyone knows his talent now. The 26-year-old is an excellent foil for the likes of Fornaroli and Cahill. With two goals in the Hyundai A-League – plus one in the Westfield FFA Cup derby win over Victory – and an assist, Brandan has been a joy to watch over the first five rounds.
Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory)
Ominously for the rest of the Hyundai A-League, Rojas declared last week he’s nearing the form which saw him win the Johnny Warren Medal in 2013. Which is a scary thought because the man known as ‘The Kiwi Messi’ has been pretty strong this season as it is.
Rojas jointly leads the competition in goals (four) and assists (four) despite playing one game less than most of his rivals. With incredible speed and excellent dribbling ability in one-on-one situations, Rojas is a defender’s nightmare and at 25 is probably still yet to reach the peak of his career.
Clearly he’s loving being back in the Hyundai A-League.
Roy Krishna (Wellington Phoenix)
Krishna is on fire. In fact, all three Phoenix goals this season have been slotted home by the Fijian. In a team that’s generally struggled thus far, the livewire winger has stood out for the side in ninth and looms as their X-factor as they aim to work their way back up the table.