Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has confirmed the club are in talks with former Newcastle United and AC Milan forward Obafemi Martins.
AAP first reported Phoenix were interested in the 33-year-old and were hopeful of signing him before their first game of the upcoming season in a month’s time under the A-League’s marquee fund.
It comes after Wellington’s previous attempt at signing former Chelsea star Michael Essien fell flat, but they remain firmly in the market for a big-name recruit at the right price.
Martins is currently contracted to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, but is unwanted after recovering from a hamstring injury.
If the injury isn’t deemed to be too serious, it appears Martins will be playing his football in Wellington next season.
One major drawcard the Phoenix have in luring the former Nigerian international to New Zealand is the fact that one of Martins’ former Newcastle teammates, Steven Taylor is contracted to the club.
The pair played alongside each other between 2006-2009. Martins was unaware Taylor was in Wellington until the pair spoke, which seems to have increased his interest in coming to New Zealand.
“Obafemi looked after Taylor when he was a young kid coming through the ranks at Newcastle,” Rudan told Newshub.
“He has a very strong rapport with him. He didn’t know Steve was here before I mentioned it.
“They spoke last night, and Steven came back with some positive feedback himself. We’re hopeful, but there is still a long way to go for anything to happen.
“He is a marquee type of player who would be great for this club, but we have to go through the right channels.
“He is currently in London getting a second opinion on his injury. He wanted to assess himself personally with somebody he trusts.”
The Phoenix currently have 17 players contracted to their team for next season. They open their 2018/19 A-League campaign against the Newcastle Jets on October 21.