Former Barcelona midfielder Victor Sanchez completes the “spine” required by Western United to win the A-League.
Part of a star-studded Barcelona squad that won La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles in 2009 with a Pep Guardiola-coached team that included Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta, 33-year-old Sanchez is out of quarantine and ready to make his mark in Australian football.
“I feel really good,” Sanchez said via a translator.
“I’ve been training by myself the last four months, and it was great to be able to train with a team again.
“I’m very happy to be here. Everyone welcomed me really well.”
For Western United coach Mark Rudan, Sanchez – who has spent the past eight years at Espanyol – is the remaining piece in the puzzle for a club well placed for a title tilt in just its second year of existence.
“It (defensive midfield/central midfield) is clearly an area that we identified that we needed someone of real quality and experience,” Rudan said.
“You look down the central spine of any team and a strong team’s got a strong spine.
“We’ve already got (goalkeeper) Filip Kurto, (central defender) Andrew Durante, (playmaker) Alesandro Diamanti and (striker) Besart Berisha.
“We just identified that (heart of midfield) as an area that we needed to be better in and we were ecstatic with the acquisition of Victor.
“He’s a great professional and 300 games in (the Spanish) La Liga speaks volumes for his pedigree. He’s going to be a huge bonus for us.”
Sanchez may not have the necessary match fitness to play in his new club’s first match of the season on Monday night against Adelaide United in Geelong, but he’s not far away from being ready.
“He got out of quarantine, he’s fit, all his testing results came out extremely well,” Rudan said.
“If you compared him to the group that came in for the first day of pre-season, he’s in the top three in all those testing results, so he’s in good nick.
“He’s a super professional and he’s going at add a lot of quality to our team.
“We’ll make a decision whether he plays some part against Adelaide most likely the day before the game (Sunday).”