July 22, 2015 – 12:06PM
Mat Ryan at his new club. Photo: Twitter/Valencia
Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan has sealed his dream move to La Liga, locking in a six-year deal with Valencia from Club Brugge.
The 23-year-old former Central Coast gloveman has passed his medical with the glamour Spanish side, which finished fourth in the country’s top tier last season and will play in the qualifying stages of this year’s Champions League.
It means he will be charged with stopping living soccer legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on a regular basis, especially given first-choice gloveman and Brazilian international Diego Alves is sidelined until next year with a knee injury.
Club Brugge, where Ryan spent a successful two seasons during which he was twice voted as Belgium’s best goalkeeper, has agreed on an undisclosed fee with Valencia believed to be worth STG5 million ($A10.56 million).
Ryan underwent his first training session with his new teammates and Portuguese coach Nuno Espirito Santo at Mestalla Stadium on Tuesday, before revealing just how bold his European ambitions are.
“We want to eventually win La Liga and win the Champions League, and I’ll be doing my best to help the team achieve this,” he told Valencia’s website.
“I’d like to say I’m very athletic, quick along the ground. You know, I like to be a sweeper keeper with the ball at my feet.
“So hopefully me coming here, and hopefully doing well and winning many things for Valencia, can open the door for a lot of other Australians to come over to Spain.”
Since leaving the Mariners in 2013 Ryan’s career has been on a firm upward trajectory, his sublime form catching the eye of numerous European clubs including Liverpool.
With 21 caps for Australia, the Sydney-born stopper also cemented himself as Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou’s No.1 pick between the posts.
Valencia chairwoman Chan Lay Hoon tipped Ryan to have a “major impact”.
“It has not been an easy task looking for a Champions League-level goalkeeper,” she said.
“Mathew may be young, but he is ambitious and a player with huge potential.”
Former Mariners mentor Graham Arnold said he was certain the prodigious talent had made the right move, adding he is perfectly suited to the Spanish game.
The current Sydney FC coach said Ryan’s natural leadership and ability to distribute the ball from the back would make him a success at his new club.
“I think it’s a very smart move, going to Spain rather than England,” Arnold said.
“It suits him much better, his style as a goalkeeper – it’s a fantastic move for him.”
Ryan’s move will also be music to the ears of Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth, with the A-League club pocketing 15 per cent of the total transfer fee due to a contractual `sell-on’ clause.
The Sydney Morning Herald