Sydney FC star's future in the balance
FOOTBALL: He's a player that supporters "pay money to go and watch", but Sydney FC's hopes of keeping playmaker Milos Ninkovic beyond this season remain in the balance.
Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold said the club would not know until the end of the season whether a contract pitch centred on living and working in Sydney would hold sway over multimillion-dollar offers from the Middle East, and persuade the former Serbian international to re-sign with Sydney.
Exceptional all year in Sydney's charge towards the Premier's Plate, Ninkovic has deflected all queries about his future - certain to be fielding offers at least equal to the US$800,000-a-year contract Qatari side Al Gharafa tabled before the start of this season, a deal to which Sydney refused to agree.
Ahead of Friday night's clash with Melbourne Victory, that could carry Sydney to the brink of winning the minor premiership, Arnold said that Ninkovic was one of the finest players the A-League had seen, and acknowledged that his eight goals and 10 assists this season make him a hot property.
"We're working hard on his wife and his kids - happy wife, happy life, etc," Arnold said.
"Ninko's in a good space at the moment and he's such a fantastic person.
"He's enjoying life here in Sydney, he loves the club and sees what we do for him to be able to perform at the level he's at.
"We've had discussions, and they are that he wants to wait until the end of the season.
"He's got one thing on his mind and that's winning, that's all we're looking at the moment.
"He's definitely in the top five (players to have featured in the A-League) - he's exceptional.
"He's a player like Diego Castro at Perth that you'd pay money to go and watch.
"He does things on the pitch that are top European quality."