SYDNEY FC's defence of the A-League title has begun in earnest just days after they won it, with the club persuading player of the year Milos Ninkovic to return for another year.
Ninkovic, the Johnny Warren Medallist and architect of Sydney's record-breaking season, will become one of the club's marquee players for next season, replacing Filip Holosko.
Despite interest from the Middle East and China, where prospective deals would have far outweighed the money on offer in the A-League, Ninkovic was persuaded to re-sign for a campaign that will include a return to the Asian Champions League.
Coming less than a year after Ninkovic was offered nearly US$1m to move to the Middle East, it marks a serious statement of intent from the Sky Blues that their title-winning squad will largely be kept intact.
"I love this club, I love this city, I love my teammates and I love our wonderful members," Ninkovic said.
"This season has been the most special of my career and long may it continue. We have a fantastic squad and we want to stay together and continue to create history."
Head coach Graham Arnold had worked for weeks on convincing Ninkovic that his family would be happiest remaining in Sydney.
"Milos has proven to be a class above this season and his understanding with the rest of our strike force will only continue to flourish," Arnold said.
"It is a huge tribute to Sydney FC, our staff and the culture we have at the club, that after such a fabulous season, he has agreed to come back for another year.
"It is an exciting time to be a Sydney FC supporter with the Champions League coming up and a chance to further assert our command on Australian football."
Sydney also hope to re-sign Brazilian striker Bobo as their second marquee in coming days, before the club plays Liverpool in two weeks time.
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