Babalj lands four-year AZ Alkmaar deal

Having only returned to Melbourne Heart and the A-League in January, striker Eli Babalj has secured a fresh move to Europe with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar Indonesia   By GOAL AUSTRALIA

Melbourne Heart striker Eli Babalj has signed with AZ Alkmaar on a four-year deal after the two clubs and the player agreed terms on Saturday.

Babalj, 21, travelled to the Netherlands to undergo a medical and resolve personal terms after AZ scouts visited Melbourne to watch him play at Heart after his return in January.

Babalj has attracted interest from European clubs since his breakout campaign in 2011-12 when he scored nine goals, propelling Heart to its first finals campaign.

The striker's potential was recognised last year as Serbian Superliga side Red Star Belgrade signed Babalj, where he tasted 2012-13 UEFA Europa League action.

The Australia international returned to Heart in January this year for the remainder of the season, signing a deal for the 2013-14 campaign.

However, both parties agreed the striker could travel overseas during the off-season.

"When Eli returned, we sat down and agreed that he could explore his options in Europe with the view to sign with a club if the opportunity presented itself," Heart chief executive officer Scott Munn said.

"We didn't want either Eli's or the club's pre-season to be disrupted so we allowed him to travel during the off-season.

"Eli has attracted attention from Europe which is testament to his calibre and character and we wish him all the best at AZ."

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