Australian A-League side Newcastle Jets are targeting a move for Singapore’s National Football Academy (NFA) player Saifullah Akbar.
The 16-year-old midfielder, who is currently in the second week of a month-long training stint in Newcastle, has made an impressive impact in his time with the club so far, leading to clear interest from the Jets to offer the youngster a professional contract.
“Saifullah was training with the Under-16s, but he was too good for that, and now he’s with the Under-18 boys,” Jets’ assistant coach Mark Jones told The New Paper.
“We’d like to get him involved with the youth team, and see how he does there.
“He’s got excellent speed, good weight of a pass, can read the game well and can drift between the lines like what [Spanish star] David Silva does for Manchester City [in England’s Premier League] – he is a rare talent, and we’d love to have him here.”
A FIFA rule on the signing of young foreigners, however, is likely to prevent a move to the Jets in the near future for the Southeast Asian prospect. In response to this, the Jets have opened their doors to Saifullah to continue his training program with their youth team.
“He has more than held his own and the Jets are interested in signing him, but he cannot be registered to play for the team at this point due to FIFA rules that require his parents to be living and working here [in Australia] in non-football related industries,” explained Jones.
The interest in Saifullah comes after the recent signing of Korean defender and former youth international Lee Ki-je from J-League outfit Shimizu S-Pulse until the end of the current 2014-15 season. The Jets have also had previous success with Asian players signing from impressive trials, with midfielder Song Jin-hyung joining as a 20-year-old and helping the club to their only A-League Championship title in the 2007-08 season.