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Damien Duff set to join Melbourne City

Damien Duff has been released by Fulham.

Former Republic of Ireland international Damien Duff is set to sign a deal to join the rebranded Australian side Melbourne City, sources have told ESPNFC.

Duff's contract with relegated Premier League side Fulham will expire this summer, with his advisers presented with a host of options in Australia's A-League as the 35-year-old Dubliner looks to extend his career.

The former Chelsea and Newcastle winger, who was capped 119 times for his country and played in the 2002 World Cup finals and at Euro 2012, had hinted that he was interested in following in the footsteps of his colleague and former Ireland international teammate Robbie Keane to play in America's MLS.

Yet the club that has been known as Melbourne Heart in this season's A-League and will soon be renamed as part of a takeover from the same Abu Dhabi-based investors that own English Premier League champions Manchester City see Duff as a marquee figure to lead their new era.

Duff recently suggested that he was eager to play in an overseas league before he hangs up his boots, with his desire to play a final season in the League of Ireland still burning brightly.

"I've looked at the Australia or America thing for a bit, it would be a different way of life, a different league," Duff said in a recent interview with the Irish Times. "I think life's too short just to be stuck in the rat race, if that's the right phrase, so I'd maybe like to taste something new before I go back home.

"Everybody knows I want to go back and play in Ireland, but whether that's this summer I don't know. My body feels good so I'd like to do a year or two elsewhere first."

Duff has been struggling with a knee injury for much of 2014, but he is clearly eager to add a final chapter or two in a career that hit the heights when he starred in Jose Mourinho's first title winning sides at Chelsea in the 2004 and 2005 seasons, as he formed a fearsome wing partnership with Dutchman Arjen Robben.

Veteran Australian international and ex-Liverpool and Leeds United star Harry Kewell is currently on the books with the Melbourne Heart club.

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