Sam Kerr has been encouraged to find a European club by Perth Glory’s W-League coach Bobby Despotovski.
With the likes of Chelsea reportedly circling for the Australian attacker after strong performances at the Women’s World Cup in France, Kerr faces a big decision over whether to continue playing club football Down Under.
Though Despotovski would have to find a way to fill her void at Glory, he believes the time is right for Kerr to move on and continue her development having overseen her switch from winger to goalscorer.
“I wish she does take that plunge in the European league,” Despotovski told Goal.
“She needs a challenge, she needs to go sit down with her management and discuss which club because it’s very important to go into a good league with good players that will support someone of her stature.
“That’s the next step for her and I hope she does take that step sooner rather than later.”
As Europe starts embracing women’s football after a successful World Cup held in the continent, Despotovski suspects it will quickly become the go-to destination for players that have previously split their time between America and Australia.
“Obviously with the evolution of European football and leagues right now, I believe that’s going to overtake both American and Australian leagues and all the best players will look to go to Europe to play,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily bad for the W-League, yes the initial impact is going to be huge. But in saying that it will give more of an opportunity to our local girls to play because we import a lot of players from America and between Matildas and those imports there’s not many spots available to play.
“We don’t want this league to go to the point of the A-League where there’s no progression for the young players.”
While he can see the positives of Kerr making a move to Europe, Glory’s W-League coach says discussions for a possible return are ongoing and suggested Football Federation Australia can’t afford to let their best player depart as they bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
“As it stands now, I’m not sure. There’s ongoing negotiations with the management but I suspect she wants to go to Europe and she goes with all my blessings,” Despotovski said.
“From my point of view, if FFA don’t come to the party and make her a marquee player for this league, like they did last year, at a crucial time when they’re bidding for the World Cup then they’re making a huge mistake.
“I think FIFA is going to turn around and say ‘your best player is not even playing in your league, what do you have to host the World Cup?’ I think it’s a big blow for the FFA.
“It’s up to them to sit down and work out the deal, if they don’t it is what it is.”
Somewhat resigned to the likelihood of losing Kerr for next season, Despotovski has already turned his attention to finding the next superstar as he continues to give young, local players a chance to impress.
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“We have six Perth players in the Young Matildas and the Young, Young Matildas so we’re going to concentrate now on finding the next Sam Kerr,” he said.
“That’s our next step of the development to give young players a chance. Because younger players are breaking through but when they come to the first team there is no opportunity to play further up – this is a crime in itself. We all have an obligation to promote the youth and have a responsibility to not let our own drive for success to neglect our youth.
“If you have a little bit of money you can buy your whole team and win the league, I’m not about that. I’ve never been about that. When I first came to Glory I always said WA girls would be playing for my team.”