How City sealed Maclaren after deadline
Melbourne City has finally secured Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren, with the protracted transfer saga stretching into this morning.
City have exploited a loophole enabling them to sign Maclaren, 25, hours after the A-League transfer deadline closed.
Maclaren's German parent club Darmstadt and Melbourne City had agreed a deal, registering the transfer via FIFA's Transfer Matching System (TMS) before Thursday night's midnight A-League transfer deadline.
It gave City and Maclaren leeway to knock over the final domino - his Hibs loan termination - before the end of the German transfer window, which closes at 10am AEDT (11pm UK time).
It is a legitimate, but unique deal in A-League circles, and is unlikely to have occurred without the influence and international transfer expertise of City Football Group.
City went into the final day of the January transfer window confident of securing Maclaren's services, but they were left to sweat by Hibs, with the Scots digging in their heels.
Hibs were clearly reluctant to release Maclaren, after Thursday's shock departure of manager Neil Lennon by mutual consent after he was suspended on Saturday following a heated exchange with club employees.
Maclaren was nervously awaiting his fate in Edinburgh, having made it clear to the club that he wanted to return to the A-League and posting a "story" on Instagram watching TV in his Edinburgh home with the clock ticking down.
While Lennon had agreed to release Maclaren, Hibs were protecting themselves as they decide on a new boss with Maclaren one of just three recognised strikers on their books.
Edinburgh Evening News reported that Hibs had three bids rejected for Reading's Marc McNulty, with Hibs unwilling to release Maclaren without signing a replacement.
But they finally granted Maclaren his release, despite not yet securing a replacement striker.
City coach Warren Joyce has been bereft of attacking options, playing without a recognised striker for three months, although he chose to banish the club's record goalscorer Bruno Fornaroli from the first-team.
Maclaren, whose Asian Cup commitments with the Socceroos were also a factor in the protracted negotiations, will be relied on heavily for goals for the rest of the season as fourth-place City attempt to break into the top three and qualify for the Asian Champions League for the first time.
Born and bred in Melbourne, Maclaren has torn up his Darmstadt deal to sign a multi-year back-ended contract with City.
"Hibernian FC can confirm that on-loan striker Jamie Maclaren has been allowed to return to parent club SV Darmstadt 98," Hibernian said in a statement.
"Jamie had indicated a desire to move closer to home upon his return from the Asian Cup, having featured less often this season.
"Between his initial loan spell last January and the summer return to Edinburgh, he managed nine goals from 30 appearances and was able to cement his place in the Australian national squad alongside Mark Milligan and Martin Boyle.
"Jamie leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Easter Road."
Maclaren fills one of two vacant spots on the roster inside the salary cap, after Scot Michael O'Halloran and Osama Malik departed in January. He will be promoted to marquee status from next season.
City was hoping to make one more attacking signing after the deal to sign West Brom's Irish attacker Wes Hoolahan, 36, collapsed.
But they still have the option of signing a free agent once the window is shut, as long as that player had broken his contract by Thursday (January 31).
Despite being fit, Maclaren faces a race against the clock to be available for Sunday's six-point clash away to Sydney FC.
But he will almost certainly start in the Round 18 home clash against Adelaide United on Saturday week.
Maclaren scored his first Socceroos goal at the Asian Cup and has netted nine in 38 games with Darmstadt and Hibernian since leaving Brisbane Strikers 18 months ago.
He scored 51 goals for Glory and Brisbane, including an impressive 43 in 59 games at Roar.
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