Sky's the limit for Arzani if he's handled with care

Melbourne City whizkid Daniel Arzani has set many tongues wagging since he made his grand entry to the A-League season in spectacular fashion less than two months ago.


Daniel Arzani has set the A-League alight Source: AAP

He clearly is a very special talent who will draw fans to games but it is important that he is managed properly by the people around him because too often players in his situation fall victim to excessive hype and unrealistic expectations and end up on the scrapheap or thereabouts.

It has happened too many times in Australia and abroad.

Which is why Arzani should be considered a 'protected species' and treated accordingly.

The precocious 19-year-old midfielder-cum-striker has been an absolute revelation since City coach Warren Joyce unleashed him on an unsuspecting public with deadly effect.

Arzani was introduced to the A-League last season when he made six cameo appearances as a substitute.

But when he came on as a substitute for City in their away match to Sydney FC last month he has never looked back.

After two positive appearances off the bench against Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix, Joyce could not prolong the inevitable any more and gave him four consecutive starts against Perth Glory, Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets.

The Englishman who has worked with Manchester United and helped develop such gifted footballers as Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford knows a prodigious talent when he sees one and he had no qualms about throwing Arzani in the deep end.

His foresight was richly rewarded because Arzani, who joined the club two years ago from the Australian Institute of Sport, has emerged as one of the brightest lights of the season.

He has all the makings of a top attacker even though he has yet to find the net from open play in the A-League.

He possesses incredible close control, an explosive burst of speed and a capacity to play telling and accurate passes.

He has a positive arrogance about him for one so young which is probably what enables him to glide past opponents as if they are not there.

You can sense a level of anticipation among the crowd whenever he gets the ball because something is bound to happen. And often it does.

Joyce hailed Arzani's "bravery" for putting his hand up to take a penalty which he coolly converted when City were trailing the Jets 1-0.

Arzani, who has Iranian heritage, can do no wrong at the moment and the reviews understandably have been rave, but all those who see him as the new star of Australian football might be advised to settle down and recognise that he is a young man who is still learning his trade.

There is no point in putting him on a pedestal so early in his career because he clearly has not 'arrived' as a professional player and talking up his ability could be counter-productive and damaging.
Joyce has said that the player must get rid of a few "bad habits" if he is to make it in the big time.

Joyce did not elaborate but he may have been alluding to the fact that Arzani's defensive capacity leaves a lot to be desired and he loses the ball too much due perhaps to his penchant for too many step-overs.

Arzani, it is to be noted, is also not a 90-minute player yet and, significantly, he was replaced in the second half in each of his four starts.

Arzani no doubt will continue to learn and eventually he will leave the A-League to further his career abroad but it is important that he goes at the right time, which is where his agent Vince Grella comes in.

Grella is a player agent these days and it is vital that the Socceroos legend, who knows a thing or two about the shark-infested waters of European football, navigates his prodigy properly and responsibly.

Players of Arzani's ability and temperament do not surface too often and it would be a great shame if he were to pick the inopportune time to go to Europe or settle for the wrong club.

Arzani is too good a player to be mismanaged and risk being lost to Australian football.

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4 min read
Published 27 January 2018 at 2:29pm
By Philip Micallef