The Wellington Phoenix have sprung a surprise, signing 22-year-old Dutch midfielder Roly Bonevacia on a two-year contract.
A graduate of the famed Ajax Academy, Bonevacia made one appearance for the Amsterdam club in the top Netherlands division before being sent out on loan to NEC Breda then Roda JC.
Bonevacia played 17 Eredivisie games for Breda then 16 for Roda.
"I had two major problem areas to cover and I knew I had to have more depth in midfield and defence than last season," said Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick.
"When Albert Riera was injured it left a gap in the midfield, and when the All Whites went on international duty there was little cover in defence.I had been on the lookout for someone who can play both in midfield and at centre back or fullback. Roly fits the bill and will be pushing for a first team spot from the outset."
Bonevacia came to Merrick's notice through an agent and the coach was impressed when doing due diligence.
"I watched eight or nine full games Roly played in and liked what I saw," Merrick said.
"He has an excellent background and I also spoke to the Roda coach that signed him. I talked to Roly and so did our captain Andrew Durante. We both felt he was the type of lad who would fit in at the Phoenix."
Bonevacia, his wife Milou and daughter Ivy-Mae will arrive in Wellington as soon as the relevant documentation is acquired.
His signing spells bad news for the off-contract Paul Ifill, with all five of the Phoenix's import slots now filled.
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