|By EMMA STONEY
Carlos Hernandez is returning to the A-League after signing a two-year deal with Wellington Phoenix.
The attacking midfielder spent five seasons at Melbourne Victory, where he made 121 appearances and scored 36 goals.
The Costa Rican will join Wellington when his contract with Indian I-League club Prayag United ends in June.
"Getting Carlos to Wellington is a massive signing for the Phoenix because everyone has seen the impact he made in the A-League," said coach Ricki Herbert.
"He is an exciting player who can make things very difficult for the opposition and is a dead ball specialist."
Hernandez was named the A-League's player of the year in the 2009-10 season and said last October he was keen to return to the competition when his stint in India ended.
"It was important that when a player of Carlos' ability became available that the club should try and get him here. It signals the direction the club is taking and Carlos fits perfect with our strategy," added Herbert.
"The fact that he has been A-League player of the year says it all as that is voted on by his peers.
"I'm delighted Carlos has decided to continue his career with the Phoenix."
Herbert has been busy during in the opening months of 2013. He signed left-back Ian Hogg at the start of January and then midfielder Isaka Cernak later the same month when he was released by Victory.
Last Saturday, Australia youth international striker Corey Gameiro was added to the squad on loan until the end of the season.
But Hernandez's signing is by far the biggest and most important considering the Phoenix's struggles this season.
They are ninth on the ladder and were ripped apart by Central Coast last time out and face an important trip to Brisbane this weekend. The Roar are just one spot and one point above the Phoenix.
Herbert will be hoping the 30-year-old can provide the creative spark next season that will turn the Phoenix into contenders.