Why Hariss Harun's move from JDT to Lion City Sailors could work for all

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What will Hariss Harun bring to Lion City Sailors? (1:15)

Gabriel Tan explains Hariss Harun's decision to move from Johor Darul Ta'zim to Lion City Sailors. (1:15)

With one signature, Lion City Sailors secured the services of the Singapore captain -- a seasoned campaigner with over a hundred caps to his name, seven Malaysia Super League titles to his name, and even an AFC Cup in 2015.

With that same signature, Johor Darul Ta'zim have lost a key contributor to their success since 2014, clocking almost 200 appearances in that time and serving as their steadying influence as skipper during their debut AFC Champions League campaign in 2019.

Hariss Harun completed his return home on Monday after leaving JDT by mutual termination of contract to sign for the Sailors.

There are often clear winners and losers in transfers, but could this be a move that benefits all involved?

A new challenge closer to home for Hariss

From the time he made his debut as a 16-year-old, Hariss has been known for his professionalism on and off the pitch.

He has captained almost every side he has played in, even as a Singaporean playing for the biggest club in the land of their fiercest rivals Malaysia, where he hardly took anytime to command the respect of the dressing room.

Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutting down of borders, he would have been the last to bemoan being away from his young family. But it would have been on his mind.

Considering he has won everything there realistically is to win in Malaysia a new challenge also made sense as he approaches his 31s birthday. Where better to head to than an ambitious Lion City outfit? A side essentially aiming to emulate what JDT have done, starting with the Singapore Premier League title.

Could Lion City Sailors have found the final piece of their puzzle?

From the time Lion City were born out of the now-defunct Home United, the club's owners have not been afraid to invest in their quest for success.

Last year's debut campaign saw an influx of established names like Stipe Plazibat and Gabriel Quak, while they lured Brazilian Diego Lopes -- formerly on the books of Portuguese giants Benfica -- ahead of this season.

With a staggering 44 goals from just 14 league games last term, and already 29 from nine in the current campaign, the Sailors boast the best attack in the SPL but they also concede more -- and often in narrow defeats when it truly matters.

Hariss offers plenty in the engine room or in the heart of the defence, but perhaps most importantly, his value lies in his role as sturdy shield in front of the backline.

Such a presence, which also allows the likes of Plazibat, Lopes and Quak to focus on doing their best work in the attacking third, could just be the key to Lion City's title quest.

Being forced to reinvent could be blessing in disguise for JDT

JDT deserve credit for the empathy shown in allowing Hariss to return home. That is testament to the way the club is managed, as well as the esteem the player was held in.

Barring 2017, when he had a failed loan spell in Spain with L'Hospitalet before spending the rest of the year at Lion City's predecessors Home, Hariss has been a mainstay in the Harimau Selatan midfield.

But while a stabilising force in midfield was previously the key, especially in their first two seasons in the ACL, JDT are a club who are always looking to take the next step.

Now preparing for a third consecutive appearance in Asian football's premier club competition, that could mean sacrificing a player like Hariss for one that could potentially provide that match-winning piece of brilliance when they come up against the likes of Nagoya Grampus and Pohang Steelers later this year.

Hariss' departure frees up JDT's Asian foreign player spot and opens up a world of possibilities for coach Benjamin Mora and his scouting team between now and the start of the ACL East Zone group stage in June.

If they get it right, it may not be all doom and gloom for JDT in losing a player of Hariss' ilk -- and there could potentially be three satisfied parties as soon as the end of this season.

A happy Hariss, reunited with his family, helping the Sailors to the SPL crown, while JDT, with a new foreign star on their books, continue to make waves on the continental stage.