Melbourne City star Jamie Maclaren says fellow Socceroo Mat Leckie’s decision to join the A-League heavyweights is further proof that the national competition has “turned the corner” in bringing Australia’s best players home.
After 10 years in Germany, Leckie last week announced he was joining City next season.
A-League Golden Boot Maclaren, currently in Kuwait on Socceroos duty, applauded Leckie’s move, which on Thursday was complemented by another of the club’s star attackers, Andrew Nabbout, re-signing with City for three more years.
Maclaren also called on Australian football fans to embrace Leckie’s decision rather than question why top Socceroos were coming back to the A-League.
“It’s a huge signing not only just for our club but for the league,” Maclaren said.
“Sometimes A-League fans say ‘why are these players coming back?’ Even in my case they said ‘why is Jamie coming back?’
“But don’t you want the A-League to have high quality players and high quality Australians You can’t have it both ways.
“This signing is a massive intent not only from our club but from the league.”
Maclaren was grateful to Melbourne City’s owners for their willingness to sign top Australian players.
“I can’t thank the City Group enough for bringing in players … signing Andy, signing ‘Lecks’ – they’re top players that will add to this league immensely,” Maclaren said.
“A-League fans, if that’s not enough incentive to come to the games, then I don’t know what is.
“It’s great that our Socceroos still believe that even in their prime years, they can come back to the A-League and offer so much.
“It’s a massive signing, and it’s a sign that the A-League’s turning a corner now and really having a positive affect on players that want to come home.”
Maclaren and Leckie may combine for the Socceroos on Saturday morning against Nepal.
With a perfect Group B record of 18 points from six matches, the Australians have qualified for the next stage of the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup with two games to spare.
The game against Nepal is the Socceroos’ third in just over a week in Kuwait, where Group B is being completed in a condensed manner.
“We want to top the group. Two wins from two here already. We’ll be looking to add to that with two more wins in the games coming up,” Maclaren said.
“We’ve got a great squad. We’ve had a lot of different goalscorers in the last two games and the team is full of confidence at the moment.”