Merrick Adds More Spanish Flavour To Midfield

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick yesterday completed his first off-season signing with Sunderland’s reserve team captain Spaniard Alejandro Gorrin agreeing to a two-year contract.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick yesterday completed his first off-season signing with Sunderland-s reserve team captain Spaniard Alejandro Gorrin agreeing to a two-year contract.

The 20-year-old, who goes by the name of Alex, is a ball playing midfielder and will be in Wellington for the start of pre-season training on June 2.

The signing was announced at the Phoenix- Awards dinner in Parliament-s Banquet Hall on Wednesday night, during which Spanish midfielder Albert Riera was named 2013-14 Player of the Year despite missing the last 10 games through injury.

Assistant coach Chris Greenacre played a major role in acquiring the services of Gorrin who spurned an approach from La Liga-s Tenerife to join Premier League Sunderland-s Academy in 2011.

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. “Robbie said a couple of Championship clubs had made enquiries and that if we were keen to get in touch with Alex.”

Merrick said he was delighted to sign Gorrin who was just the type of player the club was looking for.

“He isn-t the finished article but was knocking on the first team door,” Merrick said.

“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.

“We want players who can grow with the club and Alex fits into that category.

“I-ve watched his coaching videos, which Sunderland were kind enough to share with us, and was impressed. I also like it when a coach recommends a player rather than an agent.

“He is technically very good, has a good engine and is good at winning the ball, passing and retaining it. You could say he is a young version of Albert Riera. “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.”