Chris Ikonomidis Melbourne Victory

Chris Ikonomidis is looking forward to his first season with Melbourne Victory. (Photo: SEN 1116 - Twitter)

Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis' signing was influenced by the brand the club was building, as well as an already-established connection with coach Tony Popovic.

Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis’ decision to sign with the club in the off-season was based upon a variety of factors including an already-established connection with new coach Tony Popovic, the team’s brand, and the goal of silverware.

After Victory claimed their first wooden spoon in their 16-year history, the club has looked to the future with a flurry of new signings, including Lazio youth product Ikonomidis.

The 26-year-old from New South Wales first joined the A-League Men competition on loan to the Western Sydney Wanderers for 10 games throughout the 2017/18 season. Since then, he’s remained in Australia and after a three-year stint that included 41 appearances and 16 goals at Perth Glory, he’s signed a three-year deal with Melbourne Victory.

Speaking to media earlier in the week, in the lead-up to the A-League Men season kicking off, Ikonomidis confessed he had received multiple offers from clubs in Australia and overseas. Ultimately though, one of the driving factors on why he chose Victory was incoming head coach, Popovic, announced three months earlier.

“[Popovic] was the coach I wanted to play for,” Ikonomidis said.

“All the players that they’ve signed have been fantastic so I looked at the squad before making my decision and also the size of the club and what they stand for and where they want to venture to this season, [they’re] some of the reasons why I chose Melbourne Victory.”

Ikonomidis and Popovic have previously linked up together at Perth, the latter taking the helm of the club for two years from 2018 before a season with Greek outfit Xanthi. However, now with Popovic’s signature penned in the Melbourne-based club, Ikonomidis saw this an an opportunity to reunite once again.

The two have the experience of winning an A-League Men Premiers Plate together in 2018/19, and were runners-up when the Sydney FC prevailed 4-1 on penalties in that season’s Grand Final. Having already tasted this success together, Ikonomidis believes that despite the low finish last season, the club can bounce back quickly, highlighting the way the players have bought in to Popovic’s methods.

“I think we’re looking very good, obviously we’ve signed some very experience players and obviously under this boss we work very hard and everyone buys into the project so I’m expecting a very strong team,” Ikonomidis said.

“It’s not the same as Perth, obviously it’s a different club and a whole new group of players so [there’s] different expectations at Melbourne Victory obviously then Perth Glory as well so it’s a new challenge for me and I’m very excited to get started.

“Obviously I’ve played for him before so I’ve got back with insight and I felt like he’s a coach that gets the best out of me and equally gets the best out of everyone that plays under him so playing for a coach, and for a team that’s going to be challenging for stuff and gonna to be a very, very good team is an obvious decision for me.”

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What could we see from Melbourne Victory this weekend?

Having spent a large portion of the off-season with the Socceroos in Kuwait – having 15 international caps to his name -, and having just returned from a knee reconstruction towards the end of the most recent A-League Men season, Ikonomidis feels fully fit and ready to tackle cross-town rivals Western United in Round 1.

“I had a massive pre-season now so we really got to build that foundation of strength and fitness which you need for the whole year so the coaching staff here have been excellent with their preparations for all the players so we’re all raring to go,” Ikonomidis said.

The striker commented on the fact that the Victory squad was full of talent – another factor in his choice to move over to the other side of the country -, hoping that a front third along with Marco Rojas and Robbie Kruse can work well in tandem to change the club’s fortunes and win their fifth A-League Men Premiership.

“They’ve got some fantastic options, even before I arrived so hopefully we can all kind of give our own little dynamic edge to the front third and play one similar style,” he said.

“I think all the players, if you look at the lineup, do have a kind of similar style so hopefully you can see a brand of Victory football that’s entertaining to watch and also effective.

“Coming off a bad season, you want to aim as high as possible and me personally, without speaking for anyone else, I want to win everything we possibly can and try to get as high as we can as a team, and as a club.”

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