x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Al Shaab signs Australian Billy Celeski

Australian midfielder comes to UAE from Melbourne Victory and is expected to sign one-year contract with the Sharjah club, writes John McAuley.

The Australian contingent in the UAE top flight has swollen further with news that Al Shaab have completed the signing of Billy Celeski from Melbourne Victory, subject to a medical.

The midfielder, 28, was expected to arrive in the Emirates on Tuesday night to commit to a one-year contract with the Sharjah club, in a deal worth up to A$500,000 (Dh1.7 million).

Celeski spent the past five years in Melbourne and in his first campaign helped his side seal the A-League title.

He featured 27 times last season and recently played in friendly matches against Manchester United and Liverpool, the Premier League clubs.

"Billy has been an integral part of Victory's team over several years and in the past week we have seen him perform very well against some of the best midfielders in the world," said Ange Postecoglou, the Melbourne Victory coach.

Celeski is a defence-orientated midfielder; in 91 appearances with Melbourne over the past five years, he scored two goals.

He was born in what is now the Republic of Macedonia. He moved to Australia as a child.

"We wish Billy all the best for the upcoming season in the Middle East," Postecoglou said. "I'm sure many of our fans will be keeping a close eye on his performances, albeit from afar."

Although Celeski's contract with Melbourne Victory ran until next summer, the former Australian international he has one cap decided to move to an Arabian Gulf League that already houses compatriots Alex Brosque, Brett Holman, Milan Susak and Dino Djulbic.

"He's got a chance to experience something new he's never played abroad and he's also got a chance to get some meaningful financial gain," Postecoglou said. "He had a clause in his contract that the overseas club met, so he leaves with our blessing."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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