Two months after Melbourne Heart finished its 2012/13 season, the ninth place finishers are no closer to retaining Richard Garcia. The 31-year-old former Hull City attacker signed a one-year contract in August 2012 and is now considering other options beyond AAMI Park, according to a report in FourFourTwo Australia.
Heart have tabled what CEO Scott Munn has referred to as, "a really competitive offer," as Garcia weighs various locations and leagues. But lest anyone suggest they know what Heart's Player of the Year has decided, Garcia tweeted the following on June 24:
To all who are asking about my future, I haven't signed with anyone just yet......sorry I can't say more....— Richard Garcia (@RichGarcia19) June 24, 2013
Two cruciate ligament injuries while at Hull left Garcia without a contract and available in mid-2012. Heart were unsure what they might get from the sometimes Socceroo but the gamble paid off as Garcia was excellent in midfield, despite the club's difficult season. Now, with a successful year to use as leverage, Heart's best player could be moving on.
Should Garcia exit the Heart this offseason, free agent Zenon Caravella could be an option to replace the production in midfield, though Munn has also suggested that his club are not yet done in recruiting high profile players to AAMI Park. Harry Kewell and Rob Wielaert have already signed while Massimo Murdocca and Iain Ramsay bring plenty of A-League experience to the Heart's midfield. Meanwhile, rumors of bigger European names persist.
Manager John Aloisi is in the process of turning over his team with nearly a dozen players released, retiring or moving on to other clubs. Retaining Garcia would keep one of the few positives from 2012/13 in place, though the wages required to keep the former Premier League player could also be a hindrance to further squad turnover and development. At the moment, the player and the club are balancing priorities in a delicate game of chicken. Both might end up needing each other, as was the case last year, though it seems both might be happy to move on if the better options present themselves.