New franchise Melbourne Heart have begun preparations for their assault on the A-League next season with the signing of Adelaide United midfielder Kristian Sarkies and Newcastle Jets skipper Matt Thompson.
Meanwhile, former Socceroo midfielder Josip Skoko has revealed he has opened negotiations with the expansion franchise, while Sydney FC defender Simon Colosimo has distanced himself from rumours he had all but joined the as-yet unnamed club, which is operating under the Heart moniker ahead of a fan poll to decide its name.
Sarkies, 23, has signed a two-year deal with his hometown club that will commence in June 2010 and will bring to an end a three-year stint with the Reds after he joined from Melbourne Victory in 2007. It was revealed last week that Thompson would be heading south to Melbourne.
"Adelaide have been superb for me, since the day I got here they have really looked after me on and off the park, and it has been a pleasure to be here,'' Sarkies said.
"I've experienced a lot of good things while I've been here, we made the Asian Champions League Final, we made an A-League Grand Final and I've really enjoyed my time here. But all good things must come to an end, and I've decided to go back to Melbourne next season.''
Dutch coach John van't Schip is seeking to build an attractive brand of football at the new club as it seeks to differentiate itself from Melbourne Victory, and he sees Sarkies and Thompson as two players in that mould.
"I am excited that Kristian and Matt have joined me at the club. Both players are technically excellent, great professionals and moving toward the peak of their careers," van't Schip told AAP.
Skoko, currently based in Croatia with Hajduk Split, has said he is keen on a return to Australia to finish his career, but it's thought van't Schip won't commit to signing the midfielder before watching him play live.
Colosimo has decided to put his contract talks on hold until the end of the current campaign, despite reports in Australia stating he had signed for van't Schip's side. Colosimo, a possible 2010 World Cup bolter, will likely seek a lucrative move to Asia as his career enters its final years.
"I have not signed a contract with Melbourne Heart,'' Colosimo said. "I have put all contract talk on hold until the end of the season. My focus is firmly on the field and I am really enjoying my football at Sydney FC and I am aiming to win a championship with the club.
"At this time of year there's often discussion around contracts, but my focus will be squarely on football and I won't be commenting on any further contract speculation.''