After making headlines in luring Harry Kewell back to the A-League, Melbourne Heart have added Dutch defender Rob Wielaert for the 2013/14 season. The long-time Eredivisie player is 34 and a veteran of PSV, NEC Nijmegen, Twente, Ajax and most recently Roda JC. At the height of his career, Wielaert commanded a €3m transfer fee to join Ajax.
Having fulfilled the terms of his two-year contract at Roda, Wielaert was a free agent and therefore required no transfer fee from Heart. Manager John Aloisi saw the defender play in Holland in May and reached out to bring him to Melbourne for the upcoming season.
"I have played all of my career in the Netherlands and now it is an exciting time to play abroad. So when Melbourne Heart contacted me, I was enthusiastic immediately. The club sounds great, the city and the country too, so I am looking forward to giving everything for this club and the people around it."
Heart have also announced two more modest but important signings. Attacker Jason Hoffman and no. 1 goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne will continue with the Heart after each inked a new deal, the club announced today.
Hoffman, a 24-year-old attacking midfielder, was a foundation member of the Heart, joining the club from Newcastle Jets ahead of the inaugural 2010/11 season. He has featured forty-four times over the club's first three seasons and will return for 2013/14 on a one-year contract.
Heart have a very crowded midfield with Hoffman returning to join new signings Kewell, Massimo Murdocca and Iain Ramsay as well as holdovers Nick Kalmar and Jonatan Germano. The club has yet to reveal whether or not Richard Garcia will be back in Melbourne as the terms of his initial one-year contract expired in March.
Redmayne joined the Heart before the 2012/13 season after spells at Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar. Taking over the no. 1 shirt in January, the 24-year-old recorded two clean sheets in his thirteen appearances last season. The club did lose its final five games, allowing ten goals in the process. Redmayne's original two-year contract has been cast aside with a new three-year deal keeping the goalkeeper in Melbourne through the 2015/16 season.
The retention of Redmayne means Aloisi will not have to worry about his starting goalkeeper throughout the pre-season. Bringing Hoffman back, while not as important as the decision on Garcia, will be very helpful in filling out a strong midfield for the upcoming season. Aloisi may yet have decisions to make about who will feature most frequently out of his abundant options, including youngsters Stefan Mauk and Ben Garuccio, but keeping Hoffman at the Heart will be appreciated by fans and benefit the team on the field as well.