Jets confirm deal with Argentine winger Patricio Rodriguez
TweetFacebookHerald understands that the Jets have been in talks with Rodriguez for almost a month and his arrival hinges on a visa.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna confirmed on Wednesday nightthat they“have been negotiating for a while” and“are close to announcing our new potential signing”.
Rodriguez, who was on a contract worth $775,000 a year in Greece,was close to joining the Jets in the pre-season.However,coach Ernie Merrick’s preference was for a No.10 and they opted for Rodriguez’s AEK teammateRonny Vargas.
The Jets have been guarded over the indentity of potential injury replacements for Vargas, who broke his ankle in round three and is not due back until late March.
“I know there is one player we are chasing hard,” Merrick said.“[Football operationsmanager] Joel Griffiths and Lawrie have been working diligentlyon that.
“I list the players in orderand if we get the top of the list, as we did with Ronny, I will be very happy and so will our fans.”
Rodriguez can fill a central role but has played most of his career on the left wing.
One source told the Herald that the pacey left footer would be“the Neymar of the A-League”.
Rodriguez played alongside the Paris Saint Germain superstar at Brazilian club Santos in 2012.
A product of Argentinefootball nursery Independiente, Rodriguez signed a two-year deal with AEK Athens in 2016 and played 27 games for the Greek club, many alongside Vargas.
If the deal is done, Rodriguez would arrive a few days before the transfer window opens onJanuary 3.
The Jets play Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium that night but the paperwork isunlikely to be processedin time for the date with A-League leaders. The Jets host the Mariners on January 9.
The Jets are also in the market for a replacement for injured striker Roy O’Donovan, who will be sidelined until March with a torn groin.
However, finding a suitable No.9 of the Irishman’s pedigreewilling to take up a three-month contract wasproving problematic.
The Jets this week secured former Adelaide midfielder Riley McGree on loan from Belgium powerhouse Club Brugge until the end of the season.
The 19-year-old will join his new club in late January at the end of the n under-23s commitments at the Asian Cup in China.
Jets striker Andrew Nabbout hailed the addition of McGree on Friday.
“It’s always good to have players like that,” Nabbout said.“He’sobviously signed at a very bigclub like Brugge and they wouldn’t have signed him unless he was a very, very good playerand you can tell that’s why he got called up to the national team. To have him here, it adds to our depth and it gives us another option to play and he’s a very tidy player, so we’re looking forward to having him.”
Nabbout addressed the media on Friday morning, before theHeraldreporting the club’s potential signing of Argentinian attacker Patricio Rodriguez, but he said the likely addition of players in the January transfer window was “a massive step for the club”.
“You have to bring players in in January,” he said. “I think that’s what wins you championships, when you restock that squad in January. You’veobviously got a lot of injuries here, we need those extra players to get us through the second half of the season and into the finals, so it’s good they are taking that initiative to bring in players and we’re happy to get any help that we can.”
**Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna has called on supporters to join in a special banner unveiling at the start of the clash against Wanderers at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
The flag will be flying at the game Friday night thanks to FFA and the Stadium for making this happen c u in Bay 1 pic.twitter苏州楼凤/MrwITzv5RB
— Lawrie McKinna (@LawrieMcKinna) December 21, 2017
McKinna said Newcastle’s supporter groups had been in contact and would gather in Bay 1 to roll out a 10×10-metre Jets banner, which had been donated back to the club by memberRoss Greig. He saidFFA andstadium authorities had approved the unfurling, with safety procedures in place,from the top of Bay 1.McKinna and former players like Joel Griffiths andLabinot Haliti will join also gather in the sectionto watch the game.
In another initiative, the Jets are hosting 300 people, coming throughnine local charities, at a Christmas celebration at the game.
McKinna said clubsponsor QMS, the Jets and McDonald Jones Stadium came together tooffer many in need a special Christmas.
Those attending will havea buffet dinner, a Santa visit and receive ashowbag of goodies. A-League, W-League and Youth team players will be on hand andinvited children will feature ina guard of honour andhalf-time entertainment.
–with CRAIG KERRY