On the Lam – Kisnorbo welcoming the versatility and leadership of new City signing

Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo has welcomed the versatility and leadership qualities that new signing Thomas Lam will bring to his two-time defending A-League Men premiers. 

A day before they face Wellington Phoenix in the Australia Cup Round of 16, City announced the signing of 28-time Finland international Lam on Tuesday morning; the former PEC Zwolle, Nottingham Forest, FC Twente, and CSKA Sofia man inking a deal with the defending premiers that will keep him at Casey Fields until the end of the 2023-24 A-League Men season. 

Described as an “athletic defensive midfielder also capable of playing as a central defender” by the club, Lam was born and grew up in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and Finnish mother, enabling him to represent Huuhkajat at junior and international levels. 

In signing for City, he fills the defensive utility void that had been left by Rostyn Griffiths, who reunited with former City assistant coach Des Buckingham at fellow City Football Group side Mumbai City in July. 

“I spoke to him over a phone call and spoke to him about what it’s like here,” said Kisnorbo.

Patrick Kisnorbo described Aiden O’Neill as “on track” in his recovery from a foot injury.
Image Credit: Melbourne City

“You’ve got to look at his career, he’s been a captain wherever he’s gone. He understands leadership and how to bring a group together. 

“He understands what we want to build here and where we’re going.”

Connor Metcalfe also having departed during the offseason, the fledgling Socceroo joining Jackson Irvine at German second-tier side St Pauli, Lam would ostensibly loom as the most likely starter in City’s midfield double-pivot alongside Aiden O’Neill, who Kisnorbo says is “on track” in his recovery from a foot injury sustained at the tail end of last season.

“By all accounts, he’s making the right progress,” Kisnorbo said of O’Neill.  

20-year-old Taras Gomulka, who saw significant minutes in the Asian Champions League but was largely relegated to a bench role in the league, is on hand as cover in the midfield and Lam himself can provide cover for starting centre-back pairing Curtis Good and Nuno Reis. 

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“I think we needed to look at and refresh our squad in some positions,” explained Kisnorbo.

“Thomas was available [and] he fits the way we want to play. He fits our style of play. 

“I’ve spoken to him personally so I think it was an easy one to bring in. But also, looking at his career, it was lucky that we were able to attract someone of his calibre. We’re glad to have him in our team. 

“He can cover two positions so, for us, I’m not going to limit him to one or the other. He’s able to play two and we’re very lucky to have a scenario like that in our team.”

Lam is the third signing that City has made as it prepares for the 2022-23 campaign, the 28-year-old joining former Sydney FC defender Callum Talbot and Dutchman Richard van der Venne, another ex-Eredivisie man, in the arrival’s hall. 

An attacking midfielder, 30-year-old van der Venne arrives in Australia having played nearly 100 games in the Dutch top-flight with RKC Waalwijk and Go Ahead Eagles – making 24 appearances, 23 as an attacking midfielder, for Waalwijk in 2021-22. 

He takes the international slot of Manuel Pucciarelli, who arrived with much ballyhoo ahead of the 2021-22 campaign as a former Serie A attacker but only managed 24 minutes across both the league and ACL before his release this offseason.   

“We’ll see. I don’t want to bring players just to make up the numbers. I’ll always add to the group if I think they add to the team,” Kisnorbo said when asked about further activity in the transfer market. “Hence why we’ve added these players. 

“Possibly there is availability for someone else to come in but I won’t bring in anyone that’s making up numbers. I’ll bring in someone that will add to the squad.” 

After securing a 1-0 win over NPL NNSW side Hamilton Olympic in its Round of 32, City will return to Australia Cup action on Wednesday evening when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Casey Fields; the first time City’s men will have played a competitive fixture at the venue. 

O’Neill, Nabbout, and van Der Venne all missed the win over Olympic, with Kisnorbo saying that the latter two had “trained well during the week” and that they were “up for selection”.  

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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