Former Socceroo, Robbie Slater, believes there was never really any chance of an A-League club competing with overseas teams for the signature of Tim Cahill.
The midfielder is set to make a switch from Everton to New York Red Bulls after the English Premier League club announced on Tuesday (NZT) they had agreed a fee, believed to be about 1 million pounds ($1.96 million), with the US Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.
Slater says it's disappointing from a fan's perspective that Cahill won't be heading home after 14 years in England but, with the 32-year-old still able to interest bigger teams overseas, such a move would have been highly unlikely.
"There's a slight selfish point of view that he's not coming back to the A-League but fully understandable," Slater told AAP. "It was a selfish feeling that quite a few people will have. It's not a criticism at all - it's just one of those forlorn hopes, I guess, that maybe he would have come back."
With the A-League having lost Harry Kewell following the forward's decision to return to England for personal reasons after one season with the Melbourne Victory, a marquee capture such as Cahill would have been an undoubted boost.
Newly-formed club Western Sydney Wanderers could have been a natural fit for Cahill, who grew up in Sydney's southwest, although they are believed to still be in the market for Socceroos captain Lucas Neill who is unattached after being released by United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira in June.
The BBC reports Cahill has already agreed personal terms with the Red Bulls, who boast French great Thierry Henry and former Barcelona defender Rafa Marquez on their books, and the move will be confirmed once the Australian passes a medical.
With Cahill chasing a third World Cup appearance in Brazil in 2014, Slater said although it was sad to see the veteran's long Everton career come to an end, the move may pay dividends for both player and the Socceroos.
Having spent several seasons in England's top flight during his own career, Slater said the physical demands of the MLS would be far less than those Cahill would experience by staying with Everton, where he became a fans' favourite following his move from Millwall in 2004.
"Tim's up for the challenge, going to New York and the MLS - the first Australian to do so in this capacity - is an exciting challenge for him," Slater said. "Obviously, Timmy wants to make it to Brazil ... It's important for him to play at the level he thinks he needs to continue that dream of playing in Brazil."
"It's certainly friendlier on the body than the Premier League."