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Victory dump Ben Khalfallah and Finkler from Champions League squad

Five into three simply doesn’t go, and it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to see Melbourne Victory’s French winger Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Brazilian midfielder Gui Finkler omitted from the club’s Asian Champions League squad.

Australian clubs can only field three visa players in their ACL squads, so two were always going to miss out.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat has opted to go with French defender Matthieu Delpierre, Albanian striker Besart Berisha and Kiwi international Kosta Barbarouses.

The latter has been linked with an off-season move to Wellington Phoenix, his home-town club, which has, according to the industry rumour mill, been making a major financial play to attract Barbarouses back to NZ.

But even if he were to move, Victory could replace him with Ben Khalfallah in the second phase of the competition should Muscat’s men qualify for the knockout rounds.

In Finkler’s case the omission is a double blow, as he was one of the unlucky players who failed to make the cut in 2014, the last time Victory took part in the continental showcase competition. At that time he was recovering from a serious knee injury.

Whether he will want to remain at the club when his current deal expires in the light of this development is a matter for conjecture.

Some have expressed surprise that Delpierre, who turns 35 in April, has been included, but Muscat has made it clear that he would do everything he could to have the cultured central defender in the group.

Muscatrates the ex-Bundesliga-winning captain as one of the best defenders he has coached or played with, and, given the plethora of attacking talent that Victory will face from cashed up Chinese, Japanese and South Korean clubs, the Victory boss was always keen to ensure Delpierre was in the squad.

Muscat believes that if his ageing body is not up to the rigours of regular midweek games and A-League matches on a quick back-up he has sufficient cover for the veteran with youngsters like Thomas Deng, Jason Geria, Nick Ansell and Giancarlo Gallifuoco as options in the middle of the defence.

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