Adelaide United Director of Football, Bruce Djite, says signing Louis D’Arrigo and Al Hassan Toure to long-term contracts was “a big priority”.
Toure and D’Arrigo both agreed to extensions will run until the end of the Hyundai A-League 2022/23 season.
Djite said ensuring local South Australian talent remained at Adelaide is extremely important in building a clear identity and strong connection with the fans.
“That’s one of our key strategies,” he told reporters at a press conference.
“I’ll tell you now on December 1 we got the list of off contract players and I look at all the SA born and bred ones that are currently playing in other teams.
“To compound that we look at keeping our best young talent here.
“One of the first things I did when I got here was to restructure our youth team.
“We’ve got less players now because we want to give the best young local talent, the best possible chance of getting into the A-League team.
“And you’re the two best examples of that so far this year.”
Djite further added: “Toure was signed but I think the significance in this is that we’ve renewed scholarship contract players onto full A-League contracts.
— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) December 6, 2019
“The culture we’re trying to build here and the mantra and – I’ve been to the youth team training and been to A-League training and explained this – is that for us a scholarship player is not an A-League player.
“A scholarship player is “the best young players” – it changes very quickly – that doesn’t have to work at Woolworths stacking shelves and go to training every day, but they actually get paid to come and train full-time.
“On the flip side, I also believe and it’s not fair to have your scholarship players in the starting eleven week in, week out earning scholarship salaries.
“They’ve to be rewarded as such and it’s a sign for them and all the other young boys that if they do a good job, we’re willing to invest in them and we’re no longer looking at these two as scholarship players, they’re A-League players now.”
Djite said securing the duo on senior professional deals also sends a positive message to the youth players at the Club, aspiring to break into the first-team.
“I think the signal it sends and the fact is we’ve got a club and a coach that is very interested in the youth,” he said.
“He goes to all the games, National Youth League games, the NPL games and he’s interested to see how the youth are going, how they’re progressing and who’s good enough to come up and be part of the A-League team.
“Toure wasn’t even on a scholarship when myself and Gertjan got here, now he’s on an A-League contract.
“We believe in these kids, we’ve invested in them, we’ll continue to do so and look forward to seeing them progress.”
Adelaide United host Newcastle Jets in Round 9 of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season on Sunday, 8 December at Coopers Stadium. Kick-off is at 5.30pm ACDT. Gates open at 4.30pm. Live and Exclusive on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and the My Football Live App.