Central Coast Mariners have formally agreed to let go attacking midfielder Michael McGlinchey on loan for the next 12 months but will regain former favourite Bernie Ibini in his place.
McGlinchey will join ex-Mariners coach Graham Arnold at J-League club Vegalta Sendai for the 2014 J-League season, meaning he will miss the start of the next A-League season. He is eligible for the next two Mariners' matches before departing.
However, his position will be filled by Ibini, sold by the Mariners for $650,000 just six months ago. His Chinese club, Shanghai East Asia, agreed for him to return to Australia after the death of his father in November and have now allowed him to rejoin his former club until June.
McGlinchey's loan fee from Vegalta Sendai – said to be around $70,000 – will pay for Ibini's loan fee, which stood at $65,000, a figure that put off other clubs, including Sydney FC.
"Of course it is not ideal for us to lose a player of Michael McGlinchey's quality mid-way through the season, but when an opportunity to move to a league such as the J-League presents itself, players naturally want to head abroad and test themselves," said Mariners coach Phil Moss.
"'Mikey' is headed to Vegalta under Arnie for a season and will return as a Central Coast Mariners player when the J-League season concludes."
Moss said the club wanted to make sure that if the talented New Zealander was lost to the club that they were able to replace him with a similar talent.
"Throughout our negotiations with Mikey and Bernie's representatives, as well as Vegalta and Shanghai, we were clear that we were not willing to let Mikey go on loan unless we were guaranteed to get a high-quality player back in return," he said.
"Everyone that has watched the A-League over the past few seasons knows exactly what Bernie Ibini is capable of, and we know he will be an important member of our squad for the remainder of the domestic season as well as our 2014 Asian Champions League group stage campaign. We're delighted to welcome Bernie back to the club."