Australia star Massimo Luongo is good enough to grace the shirt of English Premier League giants Arsenal, according to Harry Redknapp – the man who handed him his debut for their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur four years ago.
By
David Lewis

18 Nov 2015 - 9:27 PM  UPDATED 18 Nov 2015 - 10:08 PM

Redknapp has been tracking the rise of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup player of the tournament and is convinced he possesses the technical qualities, fluidity of movement and passing range to fit into Arsene Wenger’s Emirates template as the Gunners sit equal top of the Premier League after 12 games.

The ex-Spurs coach used Ballon d'Or nominee Luongo off the bench as a 19 year-old in a League Cup tie against Stoke City back in 2011, with the Sydneysider missing a penalty as Tottenham were knocked out 7-6 in a shootout at White Hart Lane.

Luongo, who skippered Spurs' academy team, was on the bench twice more for the first team but never made his Premier League debut before moving on to Swindon town and subsequently his current club, Queens Park Rangers.

“He is a big talent, that’s for sure,” said Redknapp, who resigned as coach of QPR late last season as the club plunged towards relegation from the top flight.

“He has tremendous natural ability and is a really good all-round footballer who can play at the very top level.

"I can see him playing for Arsenal one day … I believe he’s that good. He is one of those players who would fit into to that type of set-up, no problem. For me, he has a really big future.

“He definitely has that Premier League quality about him and the better players he plays with, the more he will shine because he’s one of those really technical types.

“When I brought him on in that game against Stoke for Spurs, he was only really a baby back then.

"But now he's progressed so much, and that’s why he got the move to QPR. He actually played against us (in the League Cup) for Swindon when I was in charge at QPR a couple of years back, and he ran the show and was fantastic that night."

Swindon won that tie 2-0 at Loftus Road.

Redknapp, who quit Loftus Road as knee pain plagued him, said had he stayed on he would have signed Luongo himself, just as his predecessor Chris Ramsay finally did in the off-season.

“He’s shown he can do it on the international stage also with Australia by what he did at the Asian Cup and if I was still at QPR, he’s somebody I would definitely have looked at bringing in."

Redknapp, however, pointed out that Luongo's influence on matches is dependent on coaches exploiting his qualities through tactics which promote slick passing, quick movement and playing through the midfield, rather than taking a route-one approach.

With renowned long-ball proponent Neil Warnock now caretaker at QPR, after the recent sacking of Ramsay due to a string of poor results, Luongo may find his first team opportunities stifled after making 13 appearances so far for his new club.

He was an unused substitute in Warnock’s first game in charge, the 0-0 draw against Preston 10 days ago, and isn’t expected to even travel with the squad for this weekend’s trip to Middlesbrough on his return from Socceroos duty against Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh.

“Massimo needs to play in team that wants to play and keep the ball on the ground," Redknapp said.

"He’s not the type to thrive if you’re going to start booting it from back to front."

While Luongo might find himself marginalised under Warnock's more direct style, it’s understood that QPR’s director of football Les Ferdinand is moving quickly to find a full-time replacement for Ramsay as the club seeks to climb away from mid-table mediocrity and make a charge for the Championship play-offs.

Ferdinand, who was instrumental in recruiting Luongo whom he also worked with during his time at Tottenham’s Academy, has his eye on Chelsea legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, now in charge at League One Burton Albion, and fellow Dutchman Clarence Seedorf, who was sacked after four months in charge of AC Milan in 2014.