Star playmaker and captain Ulises Davila has officially parted ways with Wellington Phoenix.
After weeks of speculation, the club has confirmed the Mexican will move on, despite their "record-setting" efforts to retain his services.
The 30-year-old has been linked with A-League rivals Macarthur FC, where he's reportedly signed a multi-year deal.
"The Wellington Phoenix put forward the single largest contract ever in its history in order to retain Ulises, who has shone in the A-League within coach Talay's system," says Phoenix general manager David Dome.
"But Ulises and his family have chosen to pursue a different challenge for next season, and we fully respect that, so we thank Ulises for the two exciting seasons he gave us and wish him all the best with this footballing future."
Davila's departure leaves a huge void for the Phoenix. Since joining the club in 2019, he's been the team's most influential player, scoring 19 goals in 49 matches, while laying on plenty of chances for his teammates.
Despite Davila's departure, Dome insists the future looks bright for the capital-based club, which fell agonisingly short of the playoffs this season.
Last week, they extended coach Ufuk Talay's deal, and re-signed key players Oli Sail, Clayton Lewis, and Ben Waine. Veteran defender Steven Taylor has also recommitted for another season.
"While the club is disappointed in Ulises' decision, this process signals that the Welnix ownership group are prepared to do whatever it takes to build a winning team - including investing heavily in retaining and recruiting players next season to help build a stronger Phoenix squad," says Dome.