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Jan 12, 2006

Archie goes Dutch, Victory claims a win

The A-League's first major overseas transfer deal is finally complete, with Socceroo striker Archie Thompson granted his dream move from Melbourne Victory to European giant PSV Eindhoven.

Thompson will join the Dutch champion on a six-month loan immediately after he plays for the Victory in its must-win match against Queensland Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

The deal, which includes the option for a permanent move, comes just 24 hours after Thompson threatened to walk out on the Victory in protest at the protracted transfer negotiations, which had stretched on for a fortnight.

But the Victory's decision to play hardball against one of Europe's giants paid off when the club got what it had been fighting for - the right to negotiate a transfer fee for any permanent move at the end of the loan period.

Victory chairman Geoff Lord hailed the move a win for all parties, saying the club had broken new ground for Australian clubs negotiating with their European counterparts.

"We believe in Archie Thompson's ability and we were prepared to fight for the right to negotiate at market rates, not an ambit pre-determined amount," Lord said.

"We also believe in the A-League and Melbourne Victory, and we were determined not to be pushed around and bullied into taking the first offer that came our way.

"We dug in our heels and obviously the delay caused some angst with the player, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was a good deal for Melbourne Victory.

"I believe our stance has been vindicated and I hope it serves as a precedent for other A-League clubs who find themselves in a similar position."

The Victory had been hammered mercilessly for its stance in recent days, not the least by the usually mild-mannered Thompson.

He launched into Lord and club officials in an impromptu press conference after training on Thursday, blaming the Victory for possibly scuttling the move.

On Friday it was a different story.

Thompson said he was thrilled with the chance to play for PSV, maintain his fitness ahead of the Socceroos' World Cup campaign, and play in the world's best club competition - the European Champions League.

"This deal allows me to pursue my dream of playing in the World Cup," Thompson said.

"Its a dream move to a great club and hopefully it will be a major boost for my career."

But Thompson could well return to the Victory for next season if a permanent deal cannot be worked out, or if he fails to impress at PSV.

He faces a difficult task to break into the first-team with three international strikers on PSV's books - DaMarcus Beasley (US), Arouna Kone (Ivory Coast) and Jefferson Farfan (Peru).

Thompson joins fellow Socceroo Jason Culina and two other Aussies - goalkeeper Nathan Coe and defender Lindsay Wilson - at the Dutch club.