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Aug 20, 2011

Kewell's Victory deal pressures Hernandez

Melbourne Victory admit they have some major salary cap restructuring to do in the wake of Harry Kewell's signing - and former A-League player of the year Carlos Hernandez may be the biggest victim.

Kewell's three-year deal announced at the weekend, and coach Mehmet Durakovic's pledge to play him behind the strikers, could open the exit door for the Costa Rican.

If Durakovic is true to his word, the Socceroo would effectively take over the role Hernandez has played in recent seasons.

Hernandez, voted the competition's best player two seasons ago, is already out of favour at the Victory after returning late from an off-season trial with a United States club.

He was disciplined by the Victory for that, missing the recent friendly against Celtic.

The 29-year-old has one year remaining on his contract and could find himself shopped around before the end of that, with the club now blessed with plenty of attacking talent.

As well as Kewell, exciting New Zealander Marco Rojas, Isaka Cernak and ex-Brisbane Roar star Jean Carlos Solorzano have joined in the off-season, adding to Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp.

Rearranging the club's marquee pecking order to ensure Kewell's potentially huge payout on his incentive-based deal is outside the salary cap is already under way.

"We've got Archie as our Australian marquee, and we're allowed one other designated marquee and Harry will fit into that," Victory managing director Richard Wilson said.

"Harry's an international, so he fits the category."

Underperforming international marquee Ricardinho has already been given his marching orders to clear the way for Kewell.

Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro said on Saturday the Brazilian, who has barely figured in his time in Melbourne, would be released at the end of his current loan to Brazilian second division side Parana Clube.

Kewell is set to move his pregnant wife, English actress Sheree Murphy, and their three children to Melbourne for the duration of his three-year contract.

The Victory expect Kewell to arrive in early September and begin training with the club immediately.

Much of his early work is expected to be with conditioning coach Adam Basil, with the Victory under rookie coach Durakovic and assistant Kevin Muscat working hard on building a strong fitness base for all players.

Kewell's signing is set to lead to a major upsurge in membership enquiries when the Victory club offices open on Monday.

"The interest has been amazing. We've been inundated by our members, our fans, and sport lovers in general," Di Pietro said.

"We expect significant upside in attendances, and that is for games all around the country as well."

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