The Bentleigh Greens have captured one of NPL Victoria’s most outstanding players with the signing of Mario Barcia on a two-year deal.
The midfielder brings technical class and leadership to the Greens squad and has been one of the competition’s leading players since arriving in Melbourne, originally with Avondale FC back in 2021.
A product of the famed Newell’s Old Boys academy, Barcia also represented Argentinian giants Independiente in his youth, before embarking on a storied professional career that has taken him to Bolivia, New Zealand, Indonesia and now Australia.
A three-time champion of New Zealand, as well as an OFC Champions League winner, Barcia played out the back end of last season with the Oakleigh Cannons, helping them to seal the NPL Victoria championship.
Kingston Heath will be his home for the next two seasons, Barcia said he couldn’t be happier.
“When I learned of Bentleigh’s interest, I was very excited,” he said.
“I hear a lot of good things about them as a family club, but I have also always liked the style of football they try and play. Whenever I played against them, whether it was for Avondale or Oakleigh, it was always a very tough game, but they always tried to play the right way, to keep the ball and respect the possession.
“That was honestly one of the main things I wanted from my next club, and it was an important factor in my decision.”
Barcia said it was important for him to find a club where his style as an individual could serve a greater purpose in the team’s overall plan.
“I think as a player it’s important to be at a club where the style of football suits how you like to play,” he said.
“I spoke to [head coach] Alfredo before I signed, and it was good to hear from him the way he wants to play football, so I’m excited for the both of us in this new challenge.
“I like to be on the ball as much as possible and to try and play forward, and I know that Bentleigh also likes this in their game plan and in their players, as well as that physical element.
“I think I have a lot of good leadership qualities to bring to the group.”
Barcia found the back of the net in his last visit to Kingston Heath with the Cannons, coming off the bench to score a late consolation strike from distance, as the Greens ran out 3-2 winners, and he hopes to score plenty more at Kingston Heath over the next two seasons.
Whilst there are many new faces arriving at Kingston Heath ahead of Season 2023, Barcia will be amongst some familiar ones, having played with fellow new signings Scott Hilliar and Bon Scott at Avondale FC.
Barcia marks the sixth new addition to the squad, following on from the aforementioned Hilliar and Scott, as well as Western Australian imports Manase Abandelwa, Thiak Kuel and pacey wide-man Aydin Mustedanagic.
The club has confirmed the resignings of Lucas Derrick, Ben Carrigan, Kai Adachi, Tom Stickland, Christian Cavallo and Maceo Jones.