• Daniel Arzani in action for FC Utrecht (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Daniel Arzani is battling to convince interim FC Utrecht boss Rene Hake to gamble on his unorthodox gifts, with club legend Patrick Zwaanswijk insisting the exciting Socceroos winger must dig deep to make an impact with his former team.
Dave Lewis

23 Nov 2020 - 5:01 PM  UPDATED 23 Nov 2020 - 5:01 PM

Arzani has yet to see a single minute in Hake’s first two games in charge since his elevation from the Under-23s to fill the void left by John van den Brom’s departure to Danny Vukovic’s KRC Genk.

Zwaanswijk - who finished his career with the Central Coast Mariners and is now on the coaching staff at Western Sydney Wanderers - believes Arzani can still make a huge imprint in the Eredivisie.

But he must first get himself “top fit”.

“Everybody will have an opinion on Daniel but my view is that if he can win over the Utrecht fans he has a really good chance of becoming a star for the first team,” Zwaanswijk told The World Game.

“That scenario would also set the tone for his future career.

“The thing for him is to get top fit because Utrecht is a club where fitness is first and foremost for the brand of football they try and play.

“Daniel has to work on that and be physically and mentally ready for when the new coach comes in because I feel Rene won’t be there long-term.

“Utrecht have ambitions to be a top-four club and will go after a name coach, as they have in the past with the likes of Dick Advocaat.

“I think Daniel will get his chance again because technically he has so much to offer.”

Zwaanswijk worked with Arzani last year in Qatar with the Olyroos as he fought his way back from the anterior cruciate injury which sabotaged his two-year stint at Celtic, and he has an ongoing Utrecht link on a scouting basis.

He recommended Arzani to Utrecht when he was breaking through at Melbourne City but the path took him to Manchester City and on to Parkhead instead.

“Daniel can be at a different level if he wants to - it almost seems like it can be switched on and off,” Zwaanswijk added.

“He needs to get away from the perception - whether right or wrong - that he might lose a little interest in games and fade in and out a bit.

"For him, Utrecht are a good club because he can develop there and hopefully he will soon get back to his best.

“We know Daniel has the quality to break games open and he has to be ready to showpiece everything he’s got when the opportunity next comes.”

It was former Anderlecht coach van den Brom who collaborated with technical director Jordy Zuidam to bring Arzani in from parent club Manchester City - a move aimed at helping the exciting attacker weld the pieces of his career back together again after his Hoops frustrations.

The expectation was that Arzani would be given largesse and licence to weave his off-the-cuff magic in an environment where free-wheeling football is cultivated and encouraged.

Prior to the exit of the man who led Utrecht to last season’s cancelled KNVB Cup final, Arzani, 21, had made four Eredivisie appearances off the bench and one in the cup for a total of 98 minutes.

It was incremental progress for a player Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is desperate to restore to the fold for next year’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers and Tokyo Olympic Games.

But with the Domstedelingen mired in mid-table eight weeks into the season, Hake appears disinclined - at least at this stage - to give Arzani the minutes he craves to build lost momentum.

He last featured in a 45-minute shift off the bench in the 4-2 cup win at Dordrecht nearly a month ago.

With Hake certain to be in situ until at least January, the challenge for Arzani is to win him over by application and dedication on the training pitch, as the Socceroos hierarchy watch and wait in the hope he forces his way off the bench and back onto centre stage.