The Phoenix have lost star playmaker and captain Ulises Davila for next season, with the Wellington club confirming the Mexican’s departure this afternoon.
The Phoenix ended weeks of speculation in a statement about the 30-year-old, revealing their “record-setting efforts” to keep him weren’t enough.
“The Wellington Phoenix put forward the single-largest contract ever in its history in order to retain Ulises, who has shone in the A-League within Coach Talay’s system,” Phoenix general manager David Dome said.
“But Ulises and his family have chosen to pursue a different challenge for next season and we fully respect that — so we thank Ulises for the two exciting seasons he gave us and wish him all the best with this footballing future.”
Dome said the silver lining to the outcome was the ownership’s clear commitment to investing in the Phoenix’s future.
“While the club is disappointed in Ulises’ decision, this process signals that the Welnix ownership group are prepared to do whatever it takes to build a winning team — including investing heavily in retaining and recruiting players next season to help build a stronger Phoenix squad.
“We’ve already re-signed the architect of our recent success in coach Ufuk Talay, as well as three key New Zealand players in Oli [Sail], Clayton [Lewis] and Waino [Ben Waine] and will be making further announcements soon.
“Given how we ended this season [on an 11-match unbeaten streak] despite the immense challenges the Phoenix faced as a football club this season due to Covid, I see exciting times ahead for this club.”
Regardless, Davila’s exit is still a big loss for the Phoenix with the Mexican being the most influential player at the club since he joined in 2019, scoring 19 goals in 49 matches while setting up plenty of others for teammates.
Davila has been linked to A-League rivals Macarthur FC, where a reported multi-year deal has been tabled.