Melbourne, July 14 (IANS) Australia’s China-based football superstar Tim Cahill looks set to play in Australia’s premier competition, the A-League, after turning down a contract extension this week from his Chinese Super League club, Hangzhou Greentown.
Cahill’s official return to Australia appears imminent, with Fairfax Media reporting on Thursday that the 36-year-old had reached an agreement in principle to sign with Melbourne City for the upcoming 2016-17 A-League season, reports Xinhua.
If that deal goes through, Cahill — Australia’s all-time leading goal-scorer — will return to his homeland to play professional football for the first time in his career.
The former Everton and New York Red Bulls Star will reportedly sign on as Melbourne City’s marquee guest player — in a new rule change implemented by Football Federation Australia (FFA), which allows A-League clubs to sign a guest player for the full season, outside the salary cap.
In what has been referred to as the ‘Cahill Rule’, there has been speculation the FFA created this rule to accommodate Cahill’ s high-profile move to the Australian league. Cahill could reportedly demand as much as $3 million in the proposed deal with City.
After 44 appearances and 15 goals in the Chinese Super League, Cahill turned down a two-year contract extension offered by Greentown earlier this week.
Should he sign with Melbourne City – the club owned by English Premier League (EPL) giant Manchester City – Cahill will become just the second marquee player for the club, following the high-profile, but the short-lived signing of Spanish star David Villa two years ago.
An official announcement by the FFA and Melbourne City is expected in the near future.