Wellington Phoenix plan to fill the void left by the retirement of Ben Sigmund with the signing of Italian defender Marco Rossi.

The move shows the effort of the club in making a chase for the title when the A-League begins.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick said: “His experience will be enormously valuable to us given Marco has played Serie A and Serie B and represented Italy at Under 20 and Under 21 levels. This is the type of experience we wanted. He’ll be a terrific partner in the middle of defence with Andrew Durante.”

Merrick admitted that Durante has been the sole carrier of the backline responsibility since Ben Sigmund retired. However, he says he is confident that the new signing will provide a great deal of assistance.

The signing of Rossi joins other high profile signings like Gui Finkler, Kosta Barbarouses. The coach says the signings are an indication of the club’s ambitions in the A-League. Rossi got a two year deal with an option of an extra year. “We are certainly aiming for the playoffs but we want to be in the top four and we’re very serious about it, hence the quality of our signings,” Merrick added.

The Italian admitted that he had limited knowledge of the club and the league before agreeing to join them, but added that Australian goal keeper Mark Birighitti helped him make the decision.

Rossi said he thought a lot about it as it involved a “change in lifestyle.” He claimed he was focused on learning English as quick as possible and helping the team achieve their plans.
The departures of Manny Muscat, Blake Powell and Albert Riera left the defence empty so Merrick is on the look-out for another defender to join the current crop. Merrick insists that the club won’t rush in getting them as they want “the right players for the club.”