Football 3 years ago

'Hungry' Leonardo a coup for Jets

  • 'Hungry' Leonardo a coup for Jets

Newcastle Jets coach Scott Miller believes he's on a winner with new import signing Leonardo.

The 32-year-old Brazilian has joined the Jets on a one-year contract and boasts the arguably the best resume of any overseas player at the club since Emile Heskey, with more than a decade of experience in the Dutch top flight.

A classic No.10 who can also play in wide areas or as a second striker, left-footer Leonardo is a product of the Feyenoord youth system and won the UEFA Cup with the Eredivisie in 2002, before moving to NAC Breda and then European powerhouse Ajax.

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However, over the last four seasons he has struggled for game time, and was unable to become a first-team regular at Red Bull Salzburg of Austria, Hungarian club Ferencváros or second-tier German outfit 1860 Munich.

In fact, he has not played a senior match in nearly a year, having taken time away from the game after falling out with his last coach.

Miller said his recent history made Leonardo a "hungry" player - one who he reckons can call the shots in the final third for a new-look Newcastle side equally desperate to move on from last season's wooden spoon and the dark days of the Tinkler regime.

"Not only just his CV but the ability, and the passion he's shown on the telephone, and then the references and (his) research on the club and the squad and the environment... he's focused on joining us and he's looking forward to it," Miller said.

Leonardo is not due to land in Australia until mid-September but Miller had no concerns over his fitness, having told him he must be ready to play upon arrival.

"He'll have to be. I'm demanding that from him," he said.

"I speak to him every week and he's actually been undertaking a program for three to four weeks now that we've put in place for him.

"He's sent video clips of him training as well and he's looking well."

Leonardo was in reasonably high demand, with reports from abroad linking him with a move to Spanish La Liga club Real Betis before he settled on an A-League sea change.

His signing almost brings Newcastle's off-season recruitment drive to a close, with Miller seeking only one more player - a line-leading centre forward. The Jets have four foreign players on their books, leaving room for one more.

Meanwhile, SBS is reporting the sale of the Jets to a consortium headed by Dundee United owner Stephen Thomson is imminent.

Thomson is said to be due in Sydney to finalise a $4 million deal with FFA to take over the Newcastle club, which would free the governing body to intervene at Brisbane Roar should that club's sale fall through.

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