Football: Wellington Phoenix boost A-League title pursuit with Costa Rican midfielder Youstin Salas

Coast Rican midfielder Youstin Salas will provide a timely mid-season boost for Wellington Phoenix, as they pursue their first Australian A-League title.

The current tabletoppers have secured Salas, 27, on a loan agreement with Costa Rican champions Deportivo Saprissa, but coach Giancarlo Italiano has tracked the international since assumed control of the Phoenix last year.

"When I spoke to him, his first goal was that he wants us to win the championship," said Italiano. "That was the first thing he said to me and I like that.

Youstin Salas celebrates with Costa Rica at the World Cup.
Youstin Salas celebrates with Costa Rica at the World Cup. Photo credit: Getty Images

"He wants to win something and create something special for the club. That's the sort of player I want in the team, someone who's here to make us better.

“He’s a player with high amounts of energy, he’s technically very sound and he’s a winner by nature.

"Youstin’s a very decorated player, he's won a lot of trophies and importantly, he can fill in across a number of positions. He has World Cup appearances as a right-back, but he mostly plays as a six and he can fill in as a 10, if needed."

Salas has made seven appearances for his national team, including two at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and follows in the footsteps of countrymen Kenny Cunningham and Carlos Hernandez, who have previously played for the Phoenix. 

"I come from being a three-time champion with Saprissa and I want to be a champion also with Wellington Phoenix," he said. "That is my mentality.

"I can contribute a lot to the team. I consider myself a fast, technical footballer that gives his all in training and in matches.

"Despite my height [1.73m], I am good aerially and tactically I am diligent. I am going to give my best effort and contribute as much as I can to the team."

"For a long time, I have been waiting for such an opportunity to play outside my country. I want to be able to give my family a better quality of life."

Salas will join Wellington as soon as his work visa is approved.