July 03, 2015 08:42:36 UK
Wellington Phoenix attacker Nathan Burns is on the verge of sealing a move to J.League side FC Tokyo.
The 27-year-old won the Johnny Warren Medal last season as the A-League’s top player, with his form also earning him a recall to the Australia squad. FC Tokyo triggered a release clause in his Phoenix contract by making an offer of around $300,000.
Wellington, who are 11.00 to win the Grand Final, expected to lose him before the start of next season, and he missed the club’s two-game trip to Fiji so he could finalise the move.
Burns is heading to Tokyo to replace Japan international Yoshinori Muto, who moved to Bundesliga side Mainz in May after scoring ten goals in 17 games. It will mean a second spell in Asia for Burns, his first stint in the continent being a frustrating two-year spell with Incheon United that saw him play just three times due to injuries.
He revived his career during a 12-game loan spell with Newcastle Jets in the second half of the 2013/14 season but when the Jets failed to secure him on a permanent deal Wellington stepped in.
Burns netted 13 goals in 20 games for the Phoenix, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou rewarding his form by handing him an international return after a three-year gap. He played twice as Australia won the Asian Cup on home soil in January, and partnered Tim Cahill up front in last month’s 2018 World Cup qualifying win in Kyrgyzstan.
Wellington general manager David Dome said the club had accepted terms and the striker, who is understood to have been offered a two-year deal, was flying to Japan to complete a medical.
“We expected this to happen given the season Nathan had with us,” said Dome. “It became even more likely when he won the Johnny Warren medal for the best player in the A-League.
“Ernie Merrick has been looking at alternatives for some time and will continue to do so. Nathan has been terrific for the Phoenix and we wish him well for the future.”
Wellington are 21.00 to win the FFA Cup.
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