Brisbane Roar will look to set a new benchmark for strike power in the A-League next season when they replace departing striker Besart Berisha, according to Manager Mike Mulvey.
Roar yesterday confirmed that Berisha, a former A-League Golden Boot winner and the club’s leading scorer this season with six goals, will depart the current league leaders at season’s end to join Melbourne Victory on a marquee deal.
Mulvey conceded Berisha would be a big loss but that Roar have already started the process of identifying and recruiting the best replacement possible.
“We have a database of players now that we are scouring the world for and there are a lot of good players around,” Mulvey said.
Mulvey has repeatedly asserted this season that Berisha is the “best striker in A-League” and agreed that any replacement for the marksman will ideally set a new benchmark for strike quality in the competition.
“This club is progressive, we want to get better, we want to improve and that’s what we intend to do.”
He further clarified: “We developed (Berisha) and gave him the platform to succeed. We will bring somebody else in and the same thing will happen.”
Mulvey conceded he was not surprised by Berisha’s decision and admitted contingencies were in place, saying he was thinking “years ahead”.
“If you were surprised at a decision like that then you probably shouldn’t be in the role I’m in,” he explained.
“The salary cap is very restrictive, particularly when you got players who achieved what Besart has achieved.”
“Besart is demanding marquee status through himself and his agent, and that’s fine, I do not disagree with that.”
“We couldn’t accommodate him. We tried, we tried everything we could possibly do.”
However, Mulvey made it clear there were no hard feelings over Berisha’s departure, saying he was still his “favourite Albanian”.
“One thing I can promise you is that Besart, at the end of the day, goes with our blessing because he has given good service to Brisbane Roar,” he said.
“He’s looked me in the eyes, he’s looked the players in the eyes, and he has promised that he will give 100 per cent to Brisbane Roar for the rest of the season”
While there was no confirmation of potential transfer targets, former Roar Grand Final winner and Costa Rican youth representative Jean Carlos Solorzano has trained with the club this week.
Rumours also abound that All Whites international Shane Smeltz, who worked with Mulvey at Gold Coast United, is anxious to return to Queensland where he started his professional career in the National Soccer League with Brisbane Strikers.
“We’ve got a lot of good players at this club and next year is another year, but right now we will take care of what we need to take care of.”