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Italiano's Dilemma | Retaining Stars Amid Success

 Italiano's Dilemma | Retaining Stars Amid Success

Head coach Giancarlo Italiano
Head coach Giancarlo Italiano of the Wellington Phoenix looks on at half time during the A-League Men round 13 match between Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory at Sky Stadium, on January 19, 2024, in Wellington, New Zealand.(Image-Getty) 

Wellington Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano emphasized the importance of retaining Kosta Barbarouses, describing it as a "no-brainer" due to the star's stellar performance. Barbarouses, a four-time A-League champion, has scored eight goals in 12 appearances this season and played a crucial role in the team's recent success.

Italiano acknowledged the challenges of managing player contracts within salary cap constraints, likening players to assets. Despite the interest in Barbarouses, the coach expressed confidence in retaining him beyond the current season.

In contrast, talisman Oskar Zawada may be on the verge of leaving Wellington. Despite his impressive record of 15 goals in his first season and four in six this term, injuries have hampered his contribution. Italiano acknowledged ongoing interest in Zawada, highlighting the player's potential move overseas.

The coach emphasized the financial aspect and ongoing discussions with Zawada about his future, stating that the decision involves assessing budget constraints and the player's desire to stay. Italiano recognized Zawada's aspirations to explore opportunities in a challenging league abroad, indicating that discussions between the player and the club would unfold in the coming weeks.

Regarding Bulgarian attacker Bozhidar Kraev, Italiano acknowledged the player's desire to potentially return overseas despite expressing interest in staying. Kraev's improved performance, with four goals in 12 games, adds complexity to the decision, and Italiano expressed willingness to retain him if he chooses to stay.

In summary, Italiano navigates the complex dynamics of retaining key players, considering financial constraints, player aspirations, and the overall team dynamic.

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