Sciriha gets his man as Fenech pens Valletta deal

Premier League leaders Valletta completed a major transfer coup yesterday when they signed Ryan Fenech from Ħamrun Spartans.

The 24-year-old penned a five-year contract and was expected to meet up with his new team-mates yesterday evening.

The midfielder is now set to make his debut for Valletta in Saturday’s Premier League match against Sliema Wanderers.

The deal had been in the offing after Victor Sciriha, the Valletta FC president, tabled a players-plus-cash offer for the highly-rated Malta international last Friday.

However, a reported sudden interest in the player by Floriana delayed the move as Ħamrun mulled all their options.

The Spartans committee discussed the transfer late Monday and yesterday they cleared the way for Fenech to join Valletta.

As part of the deal, midfielder Massimo Grima will extend his loan stay at the Spartans by another season while winger Dyson Falzon will also join the Reds but until May.

Fenech was relieved the protracted transfer was finally completed.

“Now, I can concentrate on my football. I’m delighted to join a prestigious club like Valletta,” he told The Times yesterday.

“There were rumours of all kinds the past few days but Valletta were the only club I would have left Ħamrun Spartans for. No other offer was of particular interest to me.

“My main objective is to settle down in my new club and help the team challenge for the major honours. I believe that Valletta are the only team with whom I can fulfil my ambitions. I’m looking forward to all this and hopefully I can finish with a championship medal this season.”

Lately, Fenech, who came through the Spartans’ youth ranks, had also attracted interest from Italian Serie B side Padova and English League One club Leyton Orient.

Despite his move to Valletta, Fenech made no secret of his hopes to continue his career abroad in future.

“Padova had shown interest and Leyton Orient also invited me for a short trial in March,” Fenech revealed.

“Obviously, now that I have changed clubs these offers will have to be put on hold. As I said, I will be dedicating all my energies to help Valletta win as many honours as possible.

“Still, I would like to move outside the country at some point in my career and I’ve already got Victor Sciriha’s guarantee that he will not stand in my way if there’s a chance to play overseas.”

This was another major acquisition for Sciriha at the helm of Valletta FC. He was pleased to have finally got his man after having chased Fenech’s signature for the past few years.

“I guess, Ryan Fenech is the biggest signing we’ve made since I became involved in this club,” Sciriha told The Times yesterday.

“I have always been a great admirer of Ryan’s qualities as a player. We’ve been trying to lure him to our fold for the past three years but with little success. Finally, we succeeded in securing his services. He is a great talent and will certainly be a valid addition to our squad.”

Sciriha said Falzon’s absence will be felt but the winger will be back at the end of the season and is likely to sign a new five-year contract at Valletta.

“It’s hard to see someone like Dyson Falzon going. He wanted to stay but his absence is only temporarily. He is really happy at our club and we expect him to accept our new contract.

“At least, with Ħamrun he’ll play more regularly for sure.”

Valletta will now hurry to beat the deadline and sign Andrade Anderson Antunes who could join Jesmond Zerafa’s squad tomorrow.

Initially, the Brazilian striker’s contract will last until the end of the season, Sciriha said.

Meanwhile, the Spartans have already started their efforts to replace Fenech as they are currently giving a trial to Bulgarian Nikolai Chipev who was on the books of Lokomotiv Plovdiv last year.

Chipev is a former U-21 international and was recommended to the Spartans by their former coach Atanas Marinov.

The Reds are also giving a trial to Serb defender Dragan Milovic.

Premier League statistics


Birkirkara: Lattes 6; Fenech 4, Galea 4 (1 pen); Vella 3; Cilia 2, Tabone 2 (1 pen); Vukanac, Borg.
Floriana: Woods 6 (2 pen.), Nwoke 6; Caruana 3; Mecerod 2; Dzhorov, Darmanin, Agius, Said, Draganov, Micallef, Farrugia.
Ħamrun Spartans: Spiteri 8; Grima 5; Pereira 4, Shields 3; Ryan Fenech 2 (1 pen), Anizoba 2; Mangion.
Red cards: Hrubsa (vs Floriana, vs Valletta), Bonnici (vs Floriana), Ryan Fenech (vs Floriana).
Hibernians: McManus 5; Cohen 3 (1 pen), Herrera 3; Pisani 2; Pulis, Caruana, Clarke, Farrugia, Pearson, Kristensen.
Own goal: Micallef (vs Vittoriosa).
Red card: Pulis (vs Ħamrun Spartans).
Marsaxlokk: Effiong 8; Templeman 2, Guerreiro 2, Sciberras 2; Alcorse pen, Kokavessis, Deanov, Licari.
Red cards: Alcorse (vs Valletta), Mamo (vs Floriana).
Qormi: Frendo 4; Mallia 3; Souza Santos 2 (1 pen), Bello Osagie 2; Bjedov, J. Farrugia, Chetcuti, Camilleri.
Red cards: Bondin (vs Ħamrun), Kang (vs Vittoriosa Stars).
Sliema Wanderers: Mifsud Triganza 5; Obiefule 4, Lima 4; Lachkhem 2; Scerri.
Red cards: Mintoff (vs Birkirkara), B. Muscat (vs Vittoriosa).
Tarxien Rainbows: Bueno 5; Sergio 4, Ricardo Costa 4, Cristiano 4 (1 pen); Caruana, Everton. Own goals: Pearson (vs Hibernians); Kang (vs Qormi).
Valletta: Scerri 12 (4 pens); Denni 8 (1 pen); Sammut 5; Falzon 2, Pace 2, G. Agius 2; Zammit, E. Agius, Temile, Borg.
Red cards: Ramon (vs Floriana), Falzon (vs Ħamrun).
Vittoriosa Stars: Ewurum 6; Edison 4 (2 pen); Santos Silva 3; Micallef, Grech. Own goal: Gauci (vs Hibernians).
Red cards: Campagnoli (vs Valletta), Edison (vs Birkirkara, vs Sliema), Mifsud (vs Valletta).

Next fixtures
Friday: (Tedesco Stadium) 7.30 p.m. Ħamrun vs Marsaxlokk.
Saturday: (National Stadium) 2 p.m. Qormi vs Hibs; 4 p.m. Sliema Wanderers vs Valletta.
Sunday: (Hibs Stadium) 2 p.m. Tar-xien Rainbows vs Floriana; 4 p.m. Vittoriosa vs Birkirkara.


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