Bulgarian international signs two-year Phoenix deal on 'feeling'

Source: AAP

Socceroo Awer Mabil has helped Wellington Phoenix land a star new signing, convincing Bulgarian international Bozhidar Kraev to make an A-League Men's move.

Bozhidar Kraev controls the ball for Bulgaria.

Kraev, 25, played alongside Mabil at his last club, Danish side Midtjylland, and admitted knowing very little about the league or the Phoenix prior to signing a two-year deal.

"He's a fantastic player, a fantastic person. He's a very close friend of mine, one of my closest in football," Kraev said in Wellington on Friday.

"I did my research ... he gave me good feedback, good information.

"He said it's good football here. Playing with passes, not that much long balls.

"Yes it's physical, but (Wellington) specifically tries to score goals and interesting football."

The deal underlines the global nature of the sport: a Kenyan-born Australian recommending a New Zealand club to a Bulgarian while playing together in Denmark.

"The offer from the Phoenix interested me," Kraev said.

"It's a kind of feeling sometimes you feel. The offer, I felt with my heart."

Kraev brings an exciting pedigree to New Zealand with 24 international caps to his name, most recently against world champions France last year.

The attacking midfielder has also played in the Champions League and won the 2017/18 Danish title.

He was sent on loan to Portugese clubs Gil Vicente and Famalica in recent seasons and was used sparingly last year after a contract dispute with Midtjylland.

Coach Ufuk Talay signed him to play as a number 10, and has handed him the number 11 shirt.

Under Talay, Wellington have made a habit of using an international visa spot on a quality attacking midfielder, adding Ulises Davila and Gael Sandoval in recent seasons.

Talay said his age and profile made him a bit different to other talents they had signed.

"He's a lot bigger. At 186 centimetres tall he's a good size. He's strong on the ball and deceptively quick for his height," the Australian said.

"But he's still technically good on the ball and he can score goals.

"He's also energetic and when I spoke to him on the phone about making the move he was excited to come to New Zealand and play in the A-League."

Talay said Wellington "definitely" intended to use the remaining two visa slots on another number 10 and a striker.

The Nix missed out on bringing star striker Roy Krishna back to the A-League after the Fijian star signed a deal with Bengaluru to stay in India.

Melbourne Victory also added a new signing on Friday, signing Spanish left-back Enrique 'Kike' Lopez on a one-year deal.