The Wellington Phoenix have signed Spanish midfielder Alejandro Gorrin to bolster their 2014-15 A-League roster.
Gorrin, 20, is the reserve team captain at English Premier League club Sunderland and has signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix.
He will be in Wellington for the start of pre-season on June 2.
Phoenix assistant coach Chris Greenacre played a major role in acquiring Gorrin, having played with Sunderland's under-21 assistant Robbie Stockdale at Tranmere Rovers.
"We were chatting one day and I asked if there was anyone available who was worth looking at," Greenacre said.
"He told me about Alex and said he was surprised they were going to let him go. Robbie said a couple of Championship clubs had made enquiries and that if we were keen, to get in touch with Alex."
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick opened up an import slot by releasing Belgian striker Stein Huysegems on Sunday.
"He isn't the finished article but was knocking on the first team door," Merrick said of Gorrin.
"20-year-olds aren't going to break into the Premier League too often, especially when a team is fighting against relegation as Sunderland are this season. We want players who can grow with the club and Alex fits into that category.
"I've watched his coaching videos, which Sunderland were kind enough to share with us, and was impressed. I also like it when a coach recommends a player rather than an agent.
"He is technically very good, has a good engine and is good at winning the ball, passing and retaining it. You could say he is a young version of Albert Riera. Alex can play a range of roles including getting forward if the goals he scored against Liverpool and Fulham reserves are anything to go by."
The Phoenix finished ninth of 10 teams in Merrick's first season at the helm.
Gorrin's signing means the club has filled its allotment of five imports, alongside club player of the year Riera, Carlos Hernandez, Kenny Cunningham and Roy Krishna.
That leaves off-contract striker Paul Ifill needing to gain New Zealand citizenship, as well as recovering from a ruptured Achilles, if he is to win a new deal.
The signing of Gorrin is likely to allow Cunningham to play a more natural attacking role next season after the Costa Rican international was asked to play in the midfield in the disappointing 2013-14 campaign.
- Fairfax Media
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