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Jan 5, 2006

Victory set to lose Socceroo Thompson

Socceroos striker Archie Thompson looks to have played his last match for the Melbourne Victory, with European giant PSV Eindhoven tabling a formal transfer offer for the A-League star on Friday.

Thompson's move to last season's Champions League semi-finalist could be ratified as early as Sunday, with both his agent and the Victory confirming PSV - coached by Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink - had made an offer to sign him.

It would allow Thompson to link with Hiddink and PSV's other recent Aussie signing - Socceroos midfielder Jason Culina - at the Dutch champion.

The move would make the 27-year-old the A-League's first big overseas transfer, and lift him into the stratosphere of Australians playing abroad.

While more than 100 Australians ply their trade in Europe, the only Aussies playing at clubs of similar stature are Culina, Liverpool's Harry Kewell and AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, though Kalac is reserve keeper at the Italian giant.

PSV is also in this season's European Champions League, meaning Thompson would be eligible to play in the world's best club competition when it re-starts in February.

With the Victory's hopes of making the A-League finals now slim at best after a 1-0 loss to Adelaide United on Thursday night, Thompson's move appears a fait accompli - with the Victory likely to make the decision either this weekend or early next week to cash in on their prized asset.

Thompson cost Melbourne nothing to sign from Belgian side Lierse after he came out of contract in May after spending four years in Europe.

He has been arguably the A-League's best player, scoring seven goals - including possibly the goal of the season against Sydney FC in October.

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole refused to disclose details of the offer.

But Dutch media are reporting a possible fee of around 600,000 Euro ($A1 million) could be on the table for the Socceroos striker, which would allow Melbourne a tidy return on its investment.

Thompson, just six months into a four-year deal with the Victory, is also desperate for the once in a lifetime opportunity the transfer would bring.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out it's a great move for Archie," his agent John Grimaud told AAP.

"If it was a lower league club, he wouldn't have thought about it. He'd have continued in Australia.

"But you can't deny him going to one of the giants of European football. He'll never get another chance like this."

Family reasons played some part in Thompson's initial move back to Australia, with his wife Emmy giving birth to the couple's second child in August.

It is believed his young family would have no problem with the move to Holland, with a far better financial package than he was on in Belgium off-setting any problems with a return overseas.

Hiddink is a huge fan of Thompson and has played him in four of his five Socceroos' matches as coach.

Day-to-day contact with Hiddink would no doubt boost his chances of playing a pivotal role in Australia's World Cup campaign.

The Victory is likely to convene a board meeting over the weekend or early next week to discuss whether to accept the transfer deal.

"It's good to finally have an offer on the table after all the speculation over the past week," Cole said.

"The PSV offer will be considered by the Melbourne Victory board and will be responded to in due course."

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