Melbourne City’s failed attempt to sign New Zealand winger Marco Rojas, the club has turned to veteran Spanish winger Markel Susaeta, who boasts a stellar record in Spain’s top flight.
The 32-year-old attacker made 507 appearances for Spanish side Athletic Bilbao – the club renowned for only signing local Basque players.
A product of Bilbao’s academy, he went on to make 379 appearances for the side in Spain’s top flight, with 38 goals and 60 assists over 12 years.
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Adding to his extensive resume is over 60 appearances in European competition, including reaching the final of the Europa League in 2011-12.
He was also capped once for the Spanish national team, scoring in a 5-1 win over Panama. That lone appearance came in 2012 during Spain’s era of European and global dominance under coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Susaeta only departed Spain six months ago as he did not want to be forced to play against his former side.
“My dream has always been to be an Athletic ‘one club’ man, but circumstances have not helped,” he said in 2019.
After rejecting offers from multiple La Liga rivals, Susaeta was also approached by City as well as clubs from the MLS, before opting for a stint with Japanese heavyweights Gamba Osaka.
City’s Director of Football Michael Petrillo was ecstatic at the signing.
“Markel is a player that is well suited to the style of game we have implemented under Erick (Mombaerts) and a player who will add flair, potency and experience to our front third,” Petrillo said.
“We have been tracking Markel for quite some time now so to be able to get him into the squad is testament to the Club and its ability to attract a player of Markel’s pedigree.
“His outstanding record at Athletic Bilbao speaks for itself and his experience in La Liga and Europe, will lift the whole squad as we look to continue our push towards the latter stages of the season.”
The star Spaniard fills City’s final visa spot, vacated by Uruguayan winger Javier Cabrera who returned to South America after just nine A-League games (one goal, four assists).
Susaeta should be available for Saturday’s Round 15 clash with last-placed Newcastle Jets.
In a statement from the club, Susaeta said: “I’m excited to be joining Melbourne City for the rest of the season and can’t wait to get started in Australia.
“I’m hoping I can help the group play the exciting, attacking football the club prides itself on and achieve the success the group has set out at the start of the season.”