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Roar in possible A-League cap squeeze

NZN 23/11/2016 Vince Rugari

Socceroo Jamie Maclaren could be just the start of Brisbane's retention issues, with some of the A-League side's most-important players coming off contract.

Skipper Matt McKay, attacking maestro Thomas Broich and defensive linchpin Luke DeVere are among almost a dozen Brisbane stars whose deals expire at the end of the season.

Like Maclaren, who has rejected the Roar's offer this week of a contract extension, all are free to start talking to potential suitors as of January 1.

With Tommy Oar and Brett Holman already locked in as Brisbane's marquee players for next season, coach John Aloisi and football director Craig Moore face a difficult task in squeezing them all under the salary cap and at the club.

However, Oar is reportedly attracting strong interest from an unnamed Chinese Super League club and could be sold in the January transfer window, according to SBS.

That would potentially pave the way for the Roar to offer a marquee deal to Maclaren, whose agent Paddy Dominguez had described Brisbane's initial offer as "disgusting" and "highly disrespectful".

Aloisi, who believes it's in Maclaren's best interest to stay with the Roar and continue to develop under his tutelage, is surprised money is suddenly the focus of his contract talks.

"Being one of the highest-paid players under the salary cap, I'm not sure that's disrespectful," Aloisi told reporters on Thursday.

"The conversations I've had with Jamie, even to get him here, it was never about money.

"If he scores goals, the money side of things is not a problem for him. It'll come. That's the understanding I had with Jamie.

"If it's about developing as a player and the environment that we're creating for not only him but the other players, then I think we can keep him.

"But if the people that look after Jamie decide to go for big money, then Australia is probably not the place - it's more Asia, Middle East, Europe - not here."

The experienced McKay and Broich are the Roar's incumbent marquees and both appear to have enough petrol in the tank to play at least one more season.

DeVere will be in hot demand from A-League rivals and potentially Asian clubs on the back of his long-awaited return to fitness, as will attacking utility Dimi Petratos and goalkeeper Michael Theo.

Complicating matters is the ongoing negotiations for the A-League's new TV deal, which will determine the size of the salary cap for the 2018-19 season and beyond, making it difficult for clubs to plan ahead.

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