Sydney (AFP) – Tim Cahill is returning to Australia to end his career playing in the A-League for Melbourne City, putting to rest speculation over the talismanic striker’s future.

The 36-year-old, who is Australia’s top goalscorer, signed a two-year playing contract with the sister club of the English Premier League’s Manchester City after leaving Chinese Super League (CSL) side Hangzhou Greentown last month.

“I am incredibly excited to have signed with Melbourne City and ultimately the City Football Group,” Cahill said in a statement Thursday.

“There is real ambition and purpose here, qualities that are immensely important to me.”

The club did not reveal the size of Cahill’s contract, but Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper said it was Aus$3.5 million (US$2.7 million) for the first year of the contract and that the deal was the biggest for the A-League involving an Australian player.

The Melbourne and Manchester clubs are both owned by Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group and the Australian team’s managing director Brian Marwood said the deal would include a third year for Cahill in a coaching capacity.

“The plan to transition Tim to join our coaching team is both significant and exciting,” Marwood said.

“Following the player-to-coach pathway of (New York City FC coach) Patrick Vieira, Tim has a real opportunity to develop within City Football Group both on the field and from the touchline.”

Former Everton striker Cahill had been one of the biggest foreign names in the cash-rich CSL, whose clubs have lured talent with huge salaries and transfer fees.

He left Everton in 2012 and joined the New York Red Bulls, before moving to China with Shanghai Shenhua last year. He joined Hangzhou earlier this year after his contract was terminated by Shenhua.