|By PADDY HIGGS
Melbourne Heart right-back Michael Marrone has departed for China to discuss terms with an unnamed club.
Marrone has made 70 appearances since joining Heart for their inaugural 2010-11 season, and has long been linked with a move overseas.
He was on the verge of a move to Serie A outfit Cagliari before the 2011-12 campaign before a change of coach scuppered the transfer, but it now appears he has gotten his wish.
Speculation had linked former Adelaide United man Marrone with Shanghai Shenhua - the club of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka and the former home of now-Sydney FC striker Joel Griffiths - but Goal.com understands that is not the case.
Newly capped Australia international Marrone will miss Heart's Week 16 match with the Sky Blues on Sunday, with coach John Aloisi wishing the 25-year-old the best.
"Michael has been a great servant of the club and has become a fan favourite," Aloisi said via statement.
"During his time with the Heart he has become one of the competition's standout full-backs, with his performances drawing recognition from his peers and earning him a Socceroos cap last month.
"Michael has been presented with a great opportunity and the club will not stand in his way of chasing professional football in the highly-competitive Asian market.
"Michael has always expressed his desire to play football overseas and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours."