Opinion

Arzani needs tough challenges to reach full potential

The rapid rise of Socceroos whiz kid Daniel Arzani has set many tongues wagging and already big things are being tipped for the most exciting talent to emerge in Australia since Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.

Arzani, who at 19 was the youngest player to take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, set the A-League alight with a sensational contribution for Melbourne City in the second half of the season.

His ability to unsettle opposing defences with his pace, passing and dribbling skills reminiscent of the wingers of old earned him a spot in Bert van Marwijk's squad for Russia.

Arzani lived up to all expectations whenever he was called upon and his confident play in Australia's group matches against Denmark and Peru added life to a front third that left a lot to be desired.

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Although the Socceroos went home early with a solitary point for their efforts and Arzani played a total of just one hour in the tournament, he did not fail to catch the eye of would-be suitors.

Arzani is on the verge of joining Scottish giants Celtic on loan via Melbourne City's parent company City Football Group, who are expected to acquire the striker's services for an equivalent of $500,000.

A subsequent loan deal to Celtic would appear to be the perfect move for a player who is clearly destined for stardom beyond Australia's shores.

Celtic are the undisputed and unchallenged leaders of Scottish football and Arzani's precocious skills would be enhanced at Parkhead.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has described Arzani as "a very talented player who went to the World Cup and looked very, very good. The club are working hard to try and get some signings in and I think he's been one that has been identified."

What CFG do with their players is their business, of course, but would Celtic be the ideal career path for Arzani?

I'm not at all inferring that Scottish football is not a step up for the Iran-born starlet, whose one glaring weakness is that he does not track back often enough when his team lose the ball.

Celtic are so dominant in Scotland that this will go against Arzani as far as his progress to the next level is concerned.
The reason is that, provided he gets picked fairly regularly, Arzani would not be expected to work too much defensively simply because with Celtic he will not need to. 

Yet when Celtic are engaged in tougher UEFA Champions League matches where the opposition will have much more of the ball, Rodgers could be tempted to play Arzani for a half or at most an hour, as he has often done with fellow Socceroos star Tom Rogic. Or not risk playing him at all.

The classy Canberran does not have a big engine and he hardly ever played the full 90 minutes under Rodgers in the tough matches against the Europeans.

It is also probably fair to say that we have not seen a marked improvement in the quality of Rogic's overall play since he first moved to Glasgow in 2013. 

Arzani's developing game might be better suited at a Belgian, Dutch or Swiss club that has stiffer opposition all-round where he can learn to defend as well as attack and become a more complete player.

And in so doing fulfil his rich potential.


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3 min read
Published 28 July 2018 at 4:31pm
By Philip Micallef