“They’re all places that sound good on paper” — Why Jamie Maclaren stuck with Melbourne City

Jamie Maclaren says that the high-end Socceroo talent that Melbourne City has banked played a big role in re-signing with the A-League premiers and that when it comes to international moves, the grass isn’t always greener. 

City announced that Melbourne-born Maclaren had added an extra two years onto the one year he had remaining on his contract on Wednesday morning, tying him to the club until the end of the 2023-24 season.

Hot off the heels of the signing of sometime Socceroo captain Mathew Leckie and 2018 World Cup squad member Andrew Nabbout to three-year-deals, it means that City, on paper, has locked in the league’s best Green and Gold-powered attack for years to come. 

“We are so pleased to be able to finalize a long-term contract with Jamie and to be able to do it so quickly shows his passion for the club, his hometown and the fans,” City Director of Football Michael Petrillo said. 

 “This is another example of the culture we have built at our club. Jamie is obviously a massive influence on the pitch, but he’s also a fantastic leader in the dressing room.

“By committing to Melbourne City for the next three seasons, Jamie has shown his desire to win more silverware at the club.”

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Set to miss this weekend’s Grand Final after being placed in hotel quarantine after returning from Socceroos duty, Maclaren told a video hook up with journalists that, having done some sly recruitment himself, the confirmation of Leckie’s three-year deal with City gave him the extra impetus to seal his own return to Casey. 

“When I was camp I had a little conversation with Lecks about coming and joining City and once it was official it was a little bit of a trigger,” he said.

“We were in discussions with the club but it was a little bit of a trigger to know we were going to have quality players and that the club can attract high-end, quality talent like Lecks. 

“I know him quite well and we’ll form a good partnership and score goals and really entertain again.”

Also helping the 27-year-old, former Sunbury United and Green Gully junior in opting to remain in the A-League was the significant success that he has tasted since signing with City mid-way through the 2018-19 season. 

After qualifying for their first Grand Final in club history last season, City secured their first A-League trophy in club history by lifting the Premiers’ Plate in 2020-21 and will host Sydney FC in this weekend’s decider with a chance to secure the double.  

On an individual level, the Socceroos striker has netted 55 times in 60 games across all competitions since returning to Melbourne — winning back-to-back Golden Boots — and added a further nine assists. His 30 score involvements in just 24 games in 2020-21 equalled Western United’s cumulative offensive output for the season and six better than Newcastle Jets’. 

“The success that you’ve had,” Maclaren said when asked why he had stuck with City. “And when you play week in and week out with a bunch of boys — and playing under PK [Patrick Kisnorbo] and Erick [Mombaerts] last season, you’re just happy and confident. 

Maclaren in action for Melbourne City
Image Credit: Melbourne City

“I think that that goes into Socceroos selection as well. You’ve got to be playing regularly, there’s no point going somewhere and realising that you’re not going to play regular football because for me, at 27, I’ve got a lot of important years coming up and there’s no better place. 

“Obviously, my numbers at City right now are quite good and I want to build on that and not only that, be a legend for this club. I don’t think I’m there yet but I want to continue to build my standards and there’s no better place than my hometown. 

“The game is too short not to enjoy it, your career is way too short. 

“So, I’m in a fantastic place mentally, physically and the success, it helps. And not only that, I want to help build a winning culture here. 

“I’ve enjoyed the last two and a half years and I’ve got three more to go on this new contract. It’s fantastic for me and I’ve glad that the club has put a lot of faith in me.”

Ostensibly in the prime of his career, Maclaren had been widely tipped to leave City in the coming off-season; the striker expected to parley his goalscoring run at a domestic level into another move abroad. 

He himself confirmed to ESPN prior to leaving for Socceroos duty that he had been fielding offers in early May, declaring that the coming months would be “an interesting period”. 

“You could say Europe, Middle East, Asia, even America,” Maclaren said of the interest he’d had on Wednesday. “They’re all places that sound good on paper but I realise that when you’re happy and things are going well, you want to enjoy your football.”

But now, with at least his next three years tied to AAMI Park, Maclaren said that he was happy to be playing in the A-League and that he was confident he would continue to contend for national team call-ups while playing in the league. 

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“Some A-League fans, if you want to call them, they’re saying ‘how come these Socceroos are coming back. They’re wasting their time’,” he said. 

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Do you want to have the best Socceroos and some good foreigners or do you want to have no Socceroos and some ok foreigners? Don’t you want to have our league the best it can be? 

“That was my take on it.

“If you’re playing games and you’re playing well I do think the A-League is a good place to get picked for Socceroos and Olyroos.

“One thing that Arnie has made very public is that he wants his players playing. 

“I went to Germany and got played as a ten and before I knew it, I went from being a striker to changing positions so it didn’t suit me and I lost the chance to go to the Socceroos and the Honduras game in the qualifiers. 

“Little things like that add up. If your club form is good you’ll get selected for Socceroos and you’ve got to earn that call up because you don’t click your fingers and get it, you’ve got to be playing and you’ve got to be scoring.”

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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