Just hours after his release from Melbourne Victory, Marcos Flores has signed a one-year contract with A-League championship holders Central Coast Mariners. The rumors, it seems, were true all along as Graham Arnold will make Flores his no. 10 as the Mariners replace a wave of departed players.
Per a club press release, Flores excitedly said over the phone:
"I am so happy to be able to play again with a smile on my face. I am ready to eat the world for the Mariners. They are they champions, they are always successful, and it is exciting to join 'Arnie' as he wants me to be his no. 10. I feel happy now and I have so much energy and enthusiasm for the Mariners. I have been good in the A-League before, but with the Mariners I will be better."
With the likes of Bernie Ibini and Oliver Bozanic securing permanent moves and last season's golden boot winner Daniel McBreen on loan in China for most of the rest of the year, Arnold needed to address his attacking options for 2013/14. Matt Simon is returning to play as a striker and the Mariners have budding youngsters Mitchell Duke and Nick Fitzgerald up top, but Flores will occupy the no. 10 spot with the club hoping he can provide the kind of attacking threat that led to his 2010/12 Johnny Warren medal as the A-League's top player.
The move is also significant as it shows the willingness of the Mariners to pay for a well-known international player, something Central Coast have not often been interested in or capable of doing. Said Central Coast general manager Peter Turnbull:
"We are excited as a club to have Marcos Flores sign with us because we know his talent, but we also wanted to demonstrate to our members and fans that we are determined to give them every chance to defend the Hyundai A-League championship."
Yet the Mariners were able to secure Flores without the Marquee Player designation, according to Arnold. Though the 27-year-old Argentine will likely be the highest paid player on the roster, the club will continue without having signed a Marquee. Said Arnold:
"It is well known that Marcos was Victory's Marquee Player last year, so for us to not only sign him but fit him inside the salary cap is a fantastic coup for the club."