New signing Ulises Davila brings Mexican flair to Wellington Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix have replaced Sarpreet Singh's creativity with a former Mexican age-group international who once signed a five-year contract with Premier League giants Chelsea but never played.
Just four days after the club sold rising star Singh to Bayern Munich II for an undisclosed transfer fee, the Phoenix have announced the addition of 28-year-old attacking midfielder Ulises Davila on a two-year contract.
Davila is a crucial piece of the puzzle. With Singh moving on to bigger things after leading the Phoenix with eight assists last season, new coach Ufuk Talay was forced to deep into the transfer market to sign an elite playmaker.
And he believes he has got that in the form of Davila, a former Mexican under-20 star who was loaned out to five separate top-tier European clubs during unsuccessful spell with Chelsea before returning to his native Mexico, where he spent three seasons with LigaMX club Santos Laguna.
He arrives in Wellington via a brief spell with Indian Super League club Delhi Dynamos at the beginning of the year, where he played under former Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers coach Josep Gombau.
"It's a very important signing. The visa spots play a massive role in our team and I think bringing a player of Ulises' quality to the team will help us reach our goals," Talay said.
"He's a creative midfielder, he can assist our strikers, he scores goals himself, he's a player that plays in that No.10 role that can dribble at players.
"He's versatile, we can play him in two different positions, and also bringing this experience in is very important because firstly he's a good player but he's a good person as well.
"When I spoke to him previously before he did sign I said we're going to have a younger squad and he's going to need to be a leader in the team and help those younger players develop at the same time."
Davila is the first import signed by Talay and brings the total number of players signed up to 14. He will don the No.10 shirt.
"I heard very good things that it's a very good place to live, a good quality of life and nice people, nice weather. So that's why I talked with my wife and said we have to go and have this new experience and new challenge," Davila said.
"I know the team has great players, great talent and the project which the Phoenix have, the way that Ufuk wants to play, that is what I like and why I choose to come. I think it's a very good project and we can aim for very good things in the cup and in the league."
With English defender Steven Taylor returning for a second season, the Phoenix have just three import spots left to play with. At least one of those will be used on a striker to replace Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna.
"We might have something on the cards by next week, we'll know that shortly, but at the same time I'm not going to rush with the visa players," Talay said.
"The visa players are important in the sense that the need to complement each other as well, so if you bring in a player with certain attributes the next player has to have certain attributes within the team as well, that's why there's no rush. We have a player of Ulises' quality who can assist and help players score goals so for me the next visa spot is how do we complement his playing attributes with the next player."