June 4, 2020 / 7:20 AM / in a month

Melbourne Victory captain Toivonen heading home to Sweden

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Melbourne Victory captain Ola Toivonen is heading home to Sweden, leaving the struggling A-League club with another leadership hole to fill following the departure of Spanish coach Carlos Salvachua.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Group F - Germany vs Sweden - Fisht Stadium, Sochi, Russia - June 23, 2018 Sweden's Ola Toivonen celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

A member of Sweden’s 2018 World Cup squad, Toivonen has opted out of the suspended A-League’s planned restart in July, with reports he is set to take up a deal with Swedish club Malmo.

The forward scored 25 goals in 40 appearances for Victory and said he left with good memories, despite the second bottom-placed team’s struggles this season with five wins from 21 matches.

“Melbourne is a fantastic city and Victory is a very professional and well-run club,” he said.

“While we didn’t achieve the success we had all hoped for over the past two years, it was a privilege to captain the club this season.”

Victory coach Salvachua, who was appointed until the end of the season after the axing of German Marco Kurz in January, left the four-times champions last week.

A number of Australia’s foreign A-League players and staff have been stuck in limbo since the competition’s suspension in March due to COVID-19, with salaries cut and no access to government welfare programmes enjoyed by local players.

Others have left for home, including Adelaide United coach Gertjan Verbeek who returned to his native Netherlands and said he would not be back.

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Kim Eun-sun also went home to South Korea and is not expected back.

The A-League will resume in mid-July providing an agreement can be reached with broadcasters, Football Federation Australia said last week.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Stephen Coates

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