La Liga set to welcome Mat
S O C C E R O O S g o a l k e e p e r Mathew Ryan is poised to join a club with ambitions to shake up the dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spanish football.
Ryan was due to have a medical with Valencia overnight after agreeing to terms for a transfer from Club Brugge, where the 23- year- old has shot to prominence in the past two years since moving from the Mariners.
The move furthers Ryan’s remarkable career trajectory, having won the Belgian League’s goalkeeper of the year award in both of the past two seasons, as well as the Belgian Cup and the Asian Cup with the Socceroos.
But even more will be demanded of him at a club bankrolled by S i n g a p o r e a n billionaire Peter Lim, hoping to restore Valencia to the level where it won La Liga in 2004 and reached the final of the Champions League in 2000 and 2001.
Valencia have qualified for next year’s Champions League after finishing fourth in La Liga last season.
Ryan is likely to get an extended opportunity to establish himself, with first- choice g o a l k e e p e r Diego Alves out until next year with knee l i g a m e n t damage suffered at the end of last season.
Valencia – coached by P o r t u g u e s e Nuno Espirito Santo, with former Everton captain Phil Neville as his assistant – had been linked with former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes, but instead made Brugge an offer that persuaded Ryan ( left) to head for Spain.
“It’s been a joy to be at this club,” Ryan told the Club Brugge website. “They have done everything they could to keep me another year which made it even harder for me to make this choice.
“I’ve had a wonderful time at the club but now it’s time to take this next step. Last season I already declined a nice offer, but this time I couldn’t. I’m very grateful that the club gave me this chance in Europe.
“For a young lad there’s no better club to develop, I’m their No. 1 fan from now on. And last but not least: a big thank you for the best fans of Belgium.”
Meanwhile, Ryan’s Socceroos teammate Tomi Juric is likely to be offered a return to the A- League, two months after he quit the Wanderers in search of a European deal.
Perth are believed to be preparing a bid for the striker, in the wake of Andy Keogh’s departure.
Keogh walked out of Perth yesterday after talks to renegotiate his contract – at the centre of the salary cap scandal that cost the club a place in the finals – proved fruitless. It’s thought that Keogh has a lucrative deal lined up in Thailand, though he had also been linked with the Wanderers.