Australian coach Holger Osieck fears flooding the A-League with ‘average’ imports could stunt the progress of future Socceroos.
While admitting the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono will only benefit the Australian game, it’s the lower quality foreign talent which he believes could hurt future national team players.
With more than 40 players from abroad aligned with clubs for the upcoming season, there is a fear local talent is getting overlooked and missing the chance to gain valuable experience.
Osieck is adamant only the very best foreigners should be denying Australian players spots in domestic teams.
“If you have foreign players here they have to be top class,” the Socceroos boss said on Wednesday.
“They have to help the development of domestic football, they have to be role models for the younger players.
“But that could only be a limited number and they don’t take away too many spots for the young Australians.
“But if the number of average players is growing and they take away positions from the young Australians … if they are kept away from playing because some average foreign player is in his position that is definitely the wrong approach.
“But with the top guns you can never make a mistake.”
Osieck’s worry is understandable given the difficulty he is having regenerating what is an ageing Socceroos squad.
But he hopes the young talent – and the domestic league – will go to a new level with the arrival of the likes of Del Piero and co.
“When you have top-class players of international calibre that definitely will help the A-League and brings a lot more attention to the A-League obviously,” he said.
“Let’s say, talking about a player like Alessandro Del Piero, he has been outstanding over almost two decades in Italian football.
“And if he brings the same attitude and the same enthusiasm to the A-League that he has done in Italy he definitely will help the game improve domestically, that’s for sure.”