The Wellington Phoenix have announced their first off-season signing with Sunderland’s reserve team captain Alejandro Gorrin agreeing to a two-year contract.
The 20-year-old Spaniard, who goes by the name of Alex, is a ball-playing midfielder and will join the A-League club for the start of pre-season training in June.
Assistant coach Chris Greenacre played a major role in acquiring the services of Tenerife-born Gorrin, who joined Premier League club Sunderland’s Academy in 2011.
He played four seasons for their under-21 side but is being released.
Greenacre played alongside Sunderland’s assistant under-21 coach Robbie Stockdale for four years at Tranmere Rovers and the pair have stayed in regular contact.
“We were chatting one day and I asked if there was anyone available who was worth looking at,” Greenacre said.
“He told me about Alex and said he was surprised they were going to let him go.”
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says Gorrin was just the kind of player he was looking for.
He had obvious talent and was close to forcing a first team place at Sunderland.
“Twenty-year-olds aren’t going to break into the Premier League too often, especially when a team is fighting against relegation as Sunderland are this season,” Merrick said.
“We want players who can grow with the club and Alex fits into that category.”
Viewing videos of Gorrin convinced Merrick that Gorrin had good technical skills and the necessary fitness to play a role at both ends of the pitch.
“Alex can play a range of roles including getting forward if the goals he scored against Liverpool and Fulham reserves are anything to go by.”
Gorrin’s signing was announced at the Phoenix awards dinner on Wednesday where another Spanish midfielder, Albert Riera, was named player of the year despite missing the last 10 games through injury.
The Phoenix faded without him to finish ninth in the 10-team league.