Alex Wilkinson signs with Sydney FC

Sydney FC have won the race for Alex Wilkinson, signing the Socceroos defender on a two-year deal.

Wilkinson's short-term contract with Melbourne City expired with the end of their involvement in this A-League season, prompting a tug of war between the Sky Blues and Central Coast for the former Mariner's services.

That Sydney won is a coup for Graham Arnold's side, which has a gap in central defence after this month's departure of Jacques Faty.

The 31-year-old joined City in February after leaving South Korea's K-League title-winning outfit Jeonbuk Motors late last year, and has played nearly every match for John van `t Schip's side since, including both finals.

It's understood family reasons played a part in Wilkinson's decision to return to his native Sydney, with his partner expecting the couple's second child.

"It feels great to be coming back to Sydney and playing for the club that represents my home city," Wilkinson said.

"There are a core group of very good players at the club, and next season I believe we will be more than capable of winning silverware.

"It's going to be a great challenge for me, and I can't wait to link up with the squad."

Though defence was one of Sydney's strengths this season, the World Cup and Asian Cup Socceroo will add further stability alongside fellow centre-back Matt Jurman as the club rebuilds following an underwhelming campaign devoid of finals action.

Arnold said his new recruit brought with him a wealth of knowledge and experience.

"He was outstanding in the Socceroos World Cup campaign in Brazil and in the Asian Cup winning side last year, and has an exceptional work ethic and leadership qualities," Arnold said.

"He will bring added stability to our backline and will help improve the game of our younger boys and those around him."

Wilkinson is expected to link up with his new Sydney teammates shortly, in preparation for the Socceroos' upcoming friendlies against England and Greece.

Previously a regular in Ange Postecoglou's national squad, he was a late injury call-up for March's World Cup qualifying wins over Tajikistan and Jordan, and did not feature in either.

He will be available for selection in Sydney's Asian Champions League (ACL) squad should they make the quarter-finals.