ADELAIDE United has lost its third high-profile player less than a week after its thrilling grand final win over the Wanderers at Adelaide Oval.
The club yesterday announced it had parted ways with Pablo Sanchez — the Spanish super-sub who scored the final goal in the 3-1 win.
He joins club champion Craig Goodwin — who has already flown out to join Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam — and Bruce Kamau who also scored in the grand final and who has signed with Melbourne City.
The 33-year-old Sanchez, who played 25 games this year but only started in eight, said he will always treasure his time at United.
“Scoring in the grand final was the icing on the cake for me and I will always remember this moment,” Sanchez said.
“I will never forget Adelaide and I want to come back one day, to enjoy the club and the people here, that I love.”
It is believed that Adelaide’s desire to maximise the output from their allotted five imports was the reason he wasn’t offered a new contract.
Adelaide will take part in the Asian Champions League next season — where only three non-Asian imports can play — putting more pressure on imported players.
United now must rebuild its squad with an eye on playing in three competitions next season — the A-League, Champions League and FFA Cup.
Reds’ general manager of football Ante Kovacevic said the club needed to increase its depth.
“We do have to plan for that and we need a bigger squad size than we had during the season,” Kovacevic said.
Stopper Dylan McGowan is in discussions to be re-signed, while striker Eli Babalj has been sent back to his parent club AZ for ongoing rehabilitation on a debilitating knee injury. With Mate Dugandzic also off-contract, Kovacevic does have to make some key decisions before the start of the new season.
It’s understood former Birkalla and ex-Newcastle Jet Ryan Kitto could return home while contracted pair Central Coast’s Mitch Austin and Melbourne City’s Ben Garuccio are candidates for Reds contracts.
City’s young striker Marc Marino is also a possibility for Adelaide.
And there is talk of former Reds midfielder Jacob Melling also returning from the Melbourne millionaires.