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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Guardian sport with Australian Associated Press

Socceroos goalkeeper Joe Gauci joins Aston Villa in record-breaking Australian transfer deal

Australia goalkeeper Joe Gauci makes a save at a Socceroos recovery session during the Asian Cup
Socceroos goalkeeper Joe Gauci has signed for English Premier League club Aston Villa in a record transfer fee for an Australian player. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Australian goalkeeper Joe Gauci has sealed a dream move to Aston Villa, amid a rush of transfer activity in the Socceroos’ Asian Cup camp.

The Premier League side have reportedly broken the transfer fee record for an A-League Men player heading overseas to secure Adelaide United’s Gauci on a deal until 2028.

Gauci will head to Villa as an understudy to Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez, who won the Golden Glove award as the best goalkeeper at the 2022 World Cup.

The talented young keeper joined the Reds ahead of the 2020-21 A-League season and made 76 appearances for the club.

Gauci moves to Villa for an undisclosed transfer fee that is reportedly worth AU$2.5m (€1.5m) plus add-ons, and comes only days after fellow Adelaide goalkeeper Steven Hall joined Brighton and Hove Albion’s academy.

The 23-year-old is currently with the Socceroos squad at the Asian Cup and will link up with Villa upon his return from the tournament.

The move was confirmed less than 24 hours before the Socceroos’ bumper Asian Cup quarter-final against South Korea in Doha.

Gauci looms as Australia’s heir apparent to Mat Ryan, and deputised for the Socceroos captain in a pre-tournament friendly against Bahrain.

The young Socceroos shot-stopper earned his first cap against Ecuador last year.

Ryan played in the Premier League with Brighton between 2017 and 2021, including a short loan stint at Arsenal.

The 31-year-old said he was delighted for Gauci, ahead of the deal being confirmed.

“He’s someone that’s obviously shown a lot of potential, and he’s a great kid,” Ryan said.

“He’s got a great attitude. He’s very professional. He’s very mature for his age and technical aspects as a goalkeeper. He’s got a lot of talent there.

“So obviously I’d wish him all the best, and if he’s wanting to seek some advice on all that, I’m there to be helpful in whatever way I can.”

With Marco Tilio already sealing a loan move back to Melbourne City from Celtic, the Socceroos’ camp has turned into a relative hive of transfer activity as they prepare for their Asian Cup quarter-final against South Korea.

Aziz Behich has already moved on loan to Saudi powerhouse Al-Nassr, home to Cristiano Ronaldo, while out-of-favour Leicester City defender Harry Souttar is expected to stay at his club despite links to Sheffield United, Everton and Leeds.

Souttar is aware he needs to get back playing at club level again, but he has left the wheeling and dealing to his agent while he focuses on the Asian Cup.

“I’ve kind of said to him, ‘just deal with it, I don’t want any part of it’,” the 25-year-old said.

“My whole concentration is just going to be on this tournament. We want to try and be successful.”

Tilio has struggled for game time at Celtic, but has looked sharp at Socceroos training and in recent cameos off the bench for his country.

The 22-year-old returns to City, where he scored 20 goals and made 19 assists in 86 appearances.

Former Central Coast Mariners star Nectarios Triantis is also on the move, joining Scottish Premiership outfit Hibs from Sunderland.

The young defender will join on loan until the end of the season, linking up with former Mariners boss Nick Montgomery.

The 20-year-old has made just three appearances this season for the seventh-placed Black Cats who are chasing promotion to the Premier League via the Championship playoffs.

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