Few have marked their first seven months in senior football as impressively as Daniel Arzani. But the teenager's move to Celtic will be his greatest test yet.
Arzani faces an almighty challenge to make the grade in Glasgow. Brendan Rodgers' side is coming off back-to-back treble winning seasons and despite a rocky start off and on the field, failure to seal a record eighth straight title would be deemed a failure around Parkhead.
The 19-year-old has made just 15 starts in his senior career to date but will now be featuring in four competitions across a 60-plus game season.
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However, as Caltex Socceroos boss Graham Arnold remarked last week, Arzani has a plan and exudes enough maturity and resolve to follow it.
He also has an Aussie close at hand to ease the transition in Tom Rogic, and could view Rogic's tricky path to Celtic stardom as a source of comfort and reassurance.
Both players landed at the Scottish giants carried by their whirlwind breakout seasons in the Hyundai A-League, and Arzani's progress alongside his Australian teammate will be fiercely monitored this season.
HOW WILL ARZANI BE USED?
Arzani has completed the full 90 minutes just four times in his senior career.
But despite his rawness, the young winger has undeniably proven a game-changing player for both club and country.
It’s this ability to make an instant impact that has made his rise to prominence so enthralling and could likely see him thrust immediately into the first team picture at Celtic.
It took him a mere 67 seconds to open his international account against Hungary back in June, while his inspiring cameos against France, Denmark and Peru off the bench in Australia’s FIFA World Cup™ campaign raised eyebrows around the globe.
He drew a similar wide-eyed reaction in the Hyundai A-League last season. Arzani made just 15 starts in Australia’s top flight but the teenager completed a massive 89 dribbles during the Regular Season, 22 more than any other player in the Hyundai A-League.
A long domestic campaign coupled with Australia’s involvement at the FIFA World Cup™ could see Arzani gently eased into the fold by Rodgers.
But the boss has already spoken in glowing terms about his latest acquisition and fans should anticipate him to be unleashed sooner rather than later.
Rodgers has switched between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1 formations during his tenure in Glasgow, and a spot on the flank of the attacking three appears the most likely destination for the Caltex Socceroos’ starlet.
Arzani could just as easily be deployed on either wing: he made eight starts from the left and seven from the right flank for City in the Hyundai A-League last season.
His capability on either side should hold him in good stead as he attempts to crack into the starting eleven.
ARZANI’S ROAD TO THE FIRST TEAM
Arzani’s chances of an immediate impression will be enhanced further by Rodgers’ track record of developing young talent and handing young players a chance to prove themselves.
Celtic’s rampaging left back Kieran Tierney is a prime example of Rodgers’ ability to nurture bright prospects – the 21-year-old rose through the youth team and is now a mainstay, even attracting attention of England’s biggest clubs.
A more appropriate example of Rodgers’ ability to nurture talent is current Manchester City star Raheem Sterling. Rodgers helped the English forward evolve into a lethal attacking threat at Liverpool, and it could prove to be a blueprint for Arzani’s transformation.
Arzani’s path to the first team will be anything but straightforward though. He arrives at a Celtic side coming off the back off back to back treble winning seasons and brimming with attacking options.
One of several obstacles for Arzani is 25-year-old Callum McGregor, who has been massively impressive for Celtic early in the season primarily from the left side. Former Premier League winger Scott Sinclair is also a viable option from the left.
Two pacey Scotsmen lie in his way on the left in James Forrest and Ryan Christie, and pose big threats to Arzani’s place in the first team.
TOM ROGIC COMBINATION
Even if Arzani is unable to craft an instant impact he could look toward Rogic's Celtic career as a source of reassurance.
Rogic may have won man of the match honours in his Celtic debut, but struggles with a groin injury and a loan to Melbourne Victory saw him swept from the first team picture for nearly two years.
Just like his Caltex Socceroos teammate, it could be a waiting game for Arzani in the long-term, while FIFA World Cup™ commitments means Celtic’s Aussies may need some bedding in time before reaching peak form in 2018/19.
The pair have only been on the pitch at the same time for 28 minutes – two late cameos against Denmark and Peru.
But when both players have fully settled, the partnership between the two Australians will provide Rodgers with a potentially lethal attacking combination across the front line.
At a glimpse, both players would balance Celtic's attack. The languid, shrewd Rogic has proven arguably the most important operator in Rodgers' side.
While the 25-year-old is compatible alongside all of Celtic's attackers, he has traditionally enjoyed the partnership with James Forrest – sharing more joint goal contributions with the nominal right winger (13) than any other Celtic player during his time at the club.
Arzani could be the most explosive tenant in Celtic's system. His ability to run at defenders and drive infield may yield a successful partnership with Celtic's barnstorming left fullback Tierney, while a combination with Rogic would similarly whet the appetite around Celtic Park.
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