Daniel Arzani’s nightmare in the Netherlands looks set to end, with the Socceroos starlet expected to end his virtual exile from the Utrecht team by sealing a transfer.
Elsewhere, Jackson Irvine put a difficult 2020 firmly behind him in a superb debut for his new club.
Here’s how all the Socceroos around the world went this weekend in today’s Roo Radar!
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Arzani’s Dutch disaster
Daniel Arzani was one of the most promising talents in Australian football in recent years, starring for Melbourne City and the Socceroos during the 2018 World Cup before sealing a blockbuster move to Manchester City.
Since then, the prodigious talent’s career has stalled, with a loan move to Celtic turning into a injury-ravaged nightmare that saw him make just two appearances in as many years.
Manchester City last year secured a fresh loan deal for the flashy winger, to FC Utrecht in the Dutch top flight, a move which was roundly praised given the club’s strong reputation for developing talented youngsters.
To say it hasn’t worked out would be an understatement. Arzani has made just four league appearances for a total of 58 minutes, having fallen out of favour with manager Rene Hake.
At 22, and having hardly played regular football in over two years, the Australian has reached a career crossroads.
A transfer now appears likely, something Hake admitted last week in a brutal swipe at Arzani.
“That could happen. It’s clear that he doesn’t meet our expectations,” Hake said in a press conference. “He was part of the squad sometimes, but last Tuesday we decided something else.”
Hake said Arzani’s stint at the club has been disappointing so far: “Yes, he has been. I think I can expect more of him in all ways.
“I think as a player of FC Utrecht you need to show something to make me think, ‘This is a player I can build and rely on’. If he brings too little, you can make the choice to leave him out of the squad.”
With the January transfer window in full swing, the 22-year-old appears likely to seal a fresh loan move.
And Socceroos assistant coach Rene Meulensteen has lashed the Dutch side for their treatment of the six-cap Australian.
“It looks like Daniel isn’t the flavour of the month for the current coach,” Meulensteen told The World Game.
“If coaches don’t like the look of this or that then it becomes very difficult.
“And that’s the situation Daniel finds himself in. We all know he’s a very talented boy and a fantastic player. But he also needs a certain way of management to get the best out of him.
“He hasn’t been given a dog’s chance (under Hake).
“When he’s been with Socceroos and the Olyroos we’ve seen how gifted he is and Arnie (head coach Graham Arnold) and I both agree he can be a really good player for us.”
A return to the A-League remains a distinct possibility given Manchester City and Melbourne City are both owned by the City Football Group.
Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo recently expressed an interest in bringing the former starlet home.
“If that option came up we’d probably talk about it. I haven’t spoken to Daniel,” he said.
“At the end of the day, that’s their business. I need to worry about what we want to do here and what we have here at the moment.
“I just wish Daniel all the best in what he needs to do with his career.”
Irvine’s incredible debut
Midfielder Jackson Irvine was in club limbo since exiting Hull City in July of last year. But 2021 looks to have given him a new lease on life. After signing for Scottish side Hibernian last week, Irvine debuted on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock.
Irvine lasted 74 minutes – despite having not played since March 7, 2020!
“I was surprised he lasted as well as he did because he has only trained a couple of days with us,” Hibernian manager Jack Ross said at his post-match press conference.
“But we had a good chat and he felt good. He will get better but, equally, I thought his contribution was excellent for someone who hasn’t played … He can be pleased and I’m pleased he managed to get minutes in because the easy decision would have been just not to involve him. I felt it was worth the gamble and it paid off.”
Irvine played alongside fellow Socceroo Martin Boyle, who has starred for the Hibs this season. In 23 league appearances, Boyle has notched five goals and five assists, with Hibernian third in the Scottish Premiership.
Also in Scotland, Tom Rogic made his second consecutive start for Celtic – this time as a second striker – after a run of five league games as a substitute, one of those unused.
Celtic drew 0-0 against Livingston, and remain second in the league, well behind runaway leaders Rangers.
UK: In the Championship, Harry Souttar played the full 90 for 10-man Stoke City in a 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers.
In League One, Bailey Wright claimed a clean sheet for Sunderland, playing the 90 in a 3-0 win over Wimbledon – their first league victory in over a month.
Kenny Dougall played 83 minutes for Blackpool in a comeback 1-1 draw against Hull.
BELGIUM: Danny Vukovic’s 10-man Genk lost 2-0 to lowly Royal Excel Mouscron.
GERMANY: Ajdin Hrustic came off the pine in the 52nd minute for Eintracht Frankfurt as they sealed a 3-1 win against Schalke.
GREECE: James Jeggo played 55 minutes as a starter for Aris Thessaloniki in a 1-0 defeat to Panathinaikos.
TURKEY: Aziz Behich started and lasted 83 minutes as his Kayserispor lost 2-1 to Gaziantep.