EXCLUSIVE: Melbourne Heart are expected to reveal they have pulled off a major coup and snared the signature of one of their city rivals' most revered stars by signing Victory hero, Fred.
The 2007 grand final legend is believed to be one of two Brazilians about to be confirmed as signing for Heart next season, with an announcement possibly as soon as tomorrow.
Playmaker Fred - who will be 32 by the time the 2011/12 season is underway - carved himself a place in Melbourne Victory folklore with four assists for striker Archie Thompson in the club's crushing 6-0 win over Adelaide United to claim their first Championship in 2007.
It was the climax of an impressive debut season at Victory, despite an inauspicious three match ban for elbowing.
But the A-League salary cap meant Victory were unable to hold onto their new star and he left after just one season to move to the MLS in America and a spot at DC United (where he was later joined by Victory striker Danny Allsopp).
He returned briefly to the A-League in 2008 for a short stint as a guest player for Wellington Phoenix but that was cut short by the death of his father and he left after just three games and one goal.
Since then he has had a season with Philadelphia Union and a return to DC United after opting not to take up a contract at New England Revolution.
Now he is expected to make a second return to the A-League with Heart.
Heart coach John van't Schip admitted to the Dutch press this week that he had already signed three Brazilians for next season, including Alex Terra, and Fred is believed to be one.
As well as Dutchman Rutger Worm, he said he is also on the lookout for a fifth foreigner to fill a hole in defence.
"Right now I have my four foreigners, three Brazilians and Rutger Worm," he told Dutch website voetbalprimeur. "I'm still looking for a central defender. This could well be a Dutchman.
"I try as best as possible to keep abreast of the Eredivisie on the Internet, including YouTube. I get a lot of CDs sent from players from the Netherlands and I view them all meticulously."
Today Heart refused to comment on the speculation about an imminent return for Fred.
But an insider admitted a deal was close.
"We are speaking to a number of Brazilians and Dutchies but nothing is finalised just yet," he said. "Hopefully it's not too far away."