Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic says he doesn’t regret failing to secure Shinji Ono past this season, despite the star playmaker admitting he would have preferred to stay at the A-League club.
Ono confirmed last week he will leave the Wanderers when his contract expires at the end of this season to join Japanese division two side Consadole Sapporo.
But the former Japanese international conceded he would have stayed at the Wanderers if they’d offered him a contract extension.
Last season the Wanderers waited until March to sign Ono for this campaign and Popovic said they were in no rush this time.
“No I wouldn’t say there’s regret,” he said.
“We’ve had discussions, and they’re private discussions that I’ve had with Shinji.
“We’re both happy with the outcome. The detail of that will remain between me and Shinji but we’re all pleased that he’s still here until the end of the season.
“At such an early stage as this is. Last year we came to terms around March time for him to stay longer.
“But we’re delighted for him, he’s decided to go home.”
Wanderers shotstopper Ante Covic said the players were solely focused on the remainder of this season and will deal with Ono’s loss when the time comes.
“When we’re preparing for next season I’m sure we’ll come to terms with that,” he said.
“But I’m sure Poppa is not one that’s going to be sitting there crying his eyes out that we’ve lost Shinji.
“We’re not focused on next season, we’ve got Shinji right now and that’s what we’re concerned about.”
Livewire winger Youssouf Hersi and key midfielder Aaron Mooy are also out of contract at the end of this season with reports various rival clubs are circling.
But Popovic says, despite losing the race to secure Ono, he doesn’t feel any urgency to act quickly with either of the duo.
“That speculation is what you expect,” he said.
“If players aren’t signed at this stage they have a right to speak to other clubs.
“But we’ve got a process in place in how we deal with our players internally and we’re happy with how that process is going.
“The players are happy playing for this club, that’s the main thing.
“We’ll sort out the future in due time.”