Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim will welcome back Argentinean attacking duo Luciano Figueroa and Jorge Pereyra Diaz in 2018.
Figueroa is one of the biggest names to have played on Malaysian soil, after joining JDT ahead of 2014 and spending two seasons at the Larkin Stadium.
Best known for his time in La Liga with Villarreal and being an Argentina international, Figueroa initially retired at the end of 2015 and returned to Harimau Selatan at the start of this year in an ambassadorial capacity.
However, at the age of 36, it appears that he has been coaxed to put on his boots again after the club confirmed on Sunday he will be a playing member of the squad next season.
“I would like to welcome back Luciano Figueroa into our squad for 2018 season,” said Martin Prest, the club’s sporting director, in a post on their official Facebook page.
“He is our legend here and also our club ambassador. It [is] an [honour] to have him here with us.
“His experience and hard work will be an example to all our players. He’s been working hard on his fitness with us over the last couple of months, and [continues] working hard in Argentina.”
Figueroa will play an important role as a senior member of the team in 2018, especially with JDT set to embark on a new direction by putting an increased emphasis on youth.
Along with him, Prest also identified the likes of Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan and Hariss Harun as players who will have to lead the way for the next generation.
“We have quality senior players such as Luciano, Natxo [Insa], Marcos [Antonio], Hariss, Aidil and Safiq to lead our young players in [JDT] and guide them to be top players in the future,” Prest added.
“We like how they do things in Juve[ntus], Bayern [Munich] and PSG [Paris St-Germain]. A mix of [experienced] senior players and young talented players.
“2018 will be interesting.”
And less than 24 hours later, JDT also confirmed the return of a former fan favourite in Figueroa’s compatriot Pereyra Diaz, who returns after spells in Argentina and Mexico with Independiente and Club Leon respectively.
The 27-year-old previously helped the club win the Super League in 2014 and 2016 and was the competition’s top scorer in the latter season with 18 goals to his name.
“We would like to express our thanks to Gonzalo Cabrera and Gabriel Guerra. The Johor Darul Ta'zim FC (JDT) door is always open for them and we are confident that they will be part of the club in the future.“ -Martin Prest
— JOHORSouthernTigers (@OfficialJohor) November 20, 2017
The club also confirmed the departure of Gonzalo Cabrera and Gabriel Guerra, who combined for 39 of the 106 goals they scored in all competition this past year.