Mark Milligan has rejected a lucrative offer from the United Arab Emirates and will see out the final two years of his Melbourne Victory contract, barring "extreme circumstances." The 27-year old holding midfielder was presented a $2m per year deal at Baniyas of the UAE Pro-League but has decided to keep his family in Melbourne for the time being.
Milligan played at Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets from 2005-09 before departing for Shanghai Shensua and the Chinese Super League. He then signed on at JEF United Chiba in the J.League Division 2 but sought an exit from Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Following a 10-game loan spell in Melbourne late in the 2011/12 season, Milligan signed a three-year contract with the Victory last offseason. He rewarded Ange Postecoglou's confidence with a tremendous season, scoring eight times and helping revitalize the Victory's midfield.
Baniyas were in the market for a new foreign player after Nick Carle completed the terms of his loan from Sydney FC. The Abu Dhabi outfit qualified for the Champions League and have already spent big money on Swedish winger Christian Wilhelmsson, who recently played in MLS with LA Galaxy, Egyptian legend Mohamed Aboutrika and Senegalese striker André Senghor. Milligan would have replaced Carle as a fourth foreign player, but now Baniyas will have to seek a big name player elsewhere.
A week ago, Gulf News, an English language newspaper in Dubai, reported that Milligan was also sought by recently relegated English club Queen's Park Rangers. Though given their inability to correctly identify Nick Carle (Nicholas Alberto, his first and middle names), perhaps that was little more than a rumor.
Milligan does not seem to be seeking a move anywhere, especially as he tries to retain a starting spot with the Socceroos. Perhaps that will change if Australia do not qualify for Brazil 2014, but for now preparing for national team call ups via the Victory is his focus. Milligan told The Herald Sun,
"Excluding extreme circumstances, I had every intention of staying. We didn't go out looking for things and it was dealt with quite quickly actually. I'm very happy and settled at the moment."