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Wanderers lead AL race for Robbie Keane

NZN 24/11/2016 Emma Kemp and Vince Rugari

Western Sydney lead the A-League race to sign Robbie Keane after coach Tony Popovic made clear his interest in attaining the veteran Irish striker.

The Wanderers are believed to be seriously weighing up a marquee offer for Keane, who announced last week he'll be leaving LA Galaxy after six seasons and is yet to decide his next move.

The 36-year-old former Tottenham, Liverpool and Ireland star is yet to decide his next move and has already been linked to a number of overseas clubs including other MLS franchises, Middle East outfits and Dublin hometown team Shamrock Rovers.

Within Australia, Brisbane loomed as the stiffest competition, but coach John Aloisi hosed down speculation on Thursday amid a contractual stand-off with striker Jamie Maclaren.

It leaves the door open for a tilt from the Wanderers, who have room in their squad to recruit additional players during the January transfer window.

Popovic confirmed he was looking to bolster stocks ahead of the club's highly valued Asian Champions League campaign, and revealed Keane was of interest.

"He's certainly a player it's hard not to have a look at," Popovic said.

"I'm sure there are several that are being mentioned and there are more than several that have been put on our desk, but obviously Robbie is the one everyone is talking about at the moment.

"He's had a fantastic career, he's a great player and still scoring goals, so he's certainly a player we'd have a look at."

While the Wanderers still have a free marquee spot alongside Argentine playmaker Nicolas Martinez it's understood Keane would likely satisfy Football Federation Australia's strict criteria for the 'Tim Cahill rule', meaning the governing body would dip into its marquee fund to help with recruitment costs.

With 146 caps (68 goals) for Ireland before retiring from international football in August, 238 (91) for Spurs and 125 (83) for LA Galaxy, Keane would be seen as a valuable marketing face for the Australian game.

Brisbane managing director Mark Kingsman this week signalled the Roar intended to make an approach, saying "we will make the call".

But Aloisi dampened that enthusiasm on Thursday and put to bed any conjecture he'd been in the ear of his former Coventry City teammate.

"I played with Robbie, but I haven't spoken to him for 15 years so I don't know when people are saying that's the connection there," Aloisi said.

"When people are speculating that's nothing for me to comment about.

"I know Mark, our managing director, has mentioned it in the media but as a football department or the owners, I haven't spoken to the owners about any marquee player.

"They're the ones who will decide if we're allowed to get a guest marquee player, and then we'll decide if it's good for our team."

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