Western Sydney fill vacant striker role with veteran Bundesliga star Alexander Meier
A former Bundesliga top-scorer is Markus Babbel’s answer to his striker problem, with Alexander Meier set to join Western Sydney this week.
News Corp Australia understands the 36-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt legend is the unnamed European free agent coyly mentioned by Babbel during the Wanderers’ 3-0 FFA Cup quarter-final loss to Melbourne City on Wednesday night.
Babbel has been on the hunt for a new forward, a search that was cold as recently as last weekend and compounded by the continued absence of Mitchell Duke – though the skipper is expected to be fit for the start of the A-League season.
But he confirmed on Wednesday the Wanderers had filled the visa position, and that the mystery man would arrive in Australia on Saturday.
“We were talking on Monday with him, on Tuesday we signed the contract and on Friday he’s on the plane,” Babbel said.
“So I was talking to him - he comes for the right reasons and I’m very happy that he decided to come to us and I hope he can help us.”
Meier scored 137 goals from a total 379 appearances with Eintracht over 14 years, including 93 Bundesliga goals.
In 2014-15 he finished as the Bundesliga’s top-scorer despite missing the last seven games to have knee surgery, his 19 goals from 26 outings bettering Bayern Munich pair Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski.
The Harburg product was also out for most of the 2017-18 season with an ankle injury and his contract subsequently not renewed.
But Meier left the club as a talisman before returning to his first professional side FC St. Pauli until July this year.
Recently he was quoted as saying he would play on if “something interesting” popped up.
Compatriot Babbel would have crossed paths with Meier during his years managing VfB Stuttgart, Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim.
“I was looking for a player who is different to what we have and also to come with the right reasons,” he said.
“Because this is the biggest problem - of course, Sydney’s a beautiful city ... but this is not the reason to come, to come is to have success with Western Sydney Wanderers and I’m very happy that we could wait so long to find him.”