FRUSTRATED Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond will venture back to the transfer market this week after his marquee signing Edmundo Zura walked out on the club yesterday morning, just a day after playing in the club’s 2-1 loss against Queensland.
Since joining the Jets on loan from Ecuadorian side Imbabura in August, the striker failed to adjust to life in the Hunter and despite making nine appearances and showing the occasional flash of brilliance, his stint ended without a goal. His partnership with Joel Griffiths promised plenty but proved a real disappointment for van Egmond, who was forced to admit that the two struggled to play alongside each another.
However, while the coach gave Zura more than enough chances to succeed, it was clear the player wasn’t happy on or off the park, leaving van Egmond ready to move on and find a replacement.
"We’ll now go back and have a look for another potential marquee player, and obviously we’d like to get one before the Asian Champions League starts up, as well," he told the Herald yesterday. "But we won’t be making any rushed decisions and we need to make sure the next person we get in our budget is the best player we can possibly get."
Van Egmond said that while the club was keen to replace Zura quickly, he was undaunted by the prospect of travelling to Perth to face the Glory on Sunday with only Joel Griffiths available as a recognised striker.
"That depends what you class as strikers. I would say I’ve got probably 15 or 16, because every single player fancies themselves in front of goals," he said. "We’ll have a look to see if there’s anything around or anyone to come in, but I’m fairly sure we’ll go with what we’ve got for this week … we’ve got plenty of talent within ourselves, so there’s no excuses."
Zura becomes the latest high-profile South American to fail to settle in Newcastle, with Mateo Corbo, Mario Jardel, Denni, Jorge Drovandi and Milton Rodriguez all lasting less than 12 months.
However, van Egmond believes it is the duty of all A-League clubs to occasionally go beyond the tried-and-tested types in the hope of finding something greater.
"You can sit on your hands and get a six or seven out of 10 player, but this could have been a 10 out of 10 player," he said. "You have to try and bring exciting players to this country for the good of the game and the entertainment of the game in Australia."
Newcastle chairman Con Constantine said the player was well-liked by the fans and those at the club and left the door open for his return.
"I speak to all my players as often as I can, and he raised a few issues with me. First was that he couldn’t communicate with anyone, and for the second he said, ‘I can’t live without my family’. I told him I respected that very much," Constantine said yesterday.
"It’s a shame, because he was a lovely guy and never caused any problems. But if I had one bit of advice for him, it would be to learn English, because it can be used in so many parts of the world. If that was the case, he’d be welcome back."
When contacted for comment at lunchtime yesterday, Zura said he was preparing to board a plane at Sydney Airport bound for South America and did not want to comment further on his departure. In an interview just a fortnight ago, the Ecuadorian gave the Herald no indication he was looking to head home.
"I have a good 12-month contract … I have no complaints," he said at the time. "I will give everything I’ve got to the club. I am really looking forward to getting my family here. I am very confident things will be very good then."
While the striker believed his wife and child had been cleared to join him in Newcastle by the Australian Embassy in Chile, further complications arose, delaying their arrival even further than first anticipated.
Zura now rejoins Imbabura, who play in Ecuador’s second division.