If one of the modern laments about the World Cup is that we know so much about the greater football world that there are no players that come out of nowhere to blow you away, there are many around the Australia squad who quietly think that could be set to change. All it will take, they believe, is one electrical charge from Daniel Arzani.
When the 19-year-old finally makes his first appearance, it will be noteworthy because every commentator will instantly announce him as the youngest player at the World Cup, but the expectation is he will cause everyone to take note for much more exciting reasons.
Tim Cahill certainly thinks to, so has decided to take Arzani under his wing for this tournament, and is regularly giving him advice and little tips.
Former Manchester United reserves manager Warren Joyce thinks similarly, having managed him at City Football Group’s Melbourne City. Joyce is highly respected for his development of young players, and it looks like Arzani is the latest, although so much of his recent explosion in the A-League has obviously been down to his own talent.
A teenager with exceptional technical quality who can play anywhere across the pitch in the creative positions, he made his debut for City in October 2016 but finally got a run of games from January this year, and proceeded to turn the competition - and so many defenders - over. Arzani made himself undroppable, but that also saw some previous perceptions of him drop away.
Having initially been seen as a talented but lazy player off the ball, to the point he wasn’t considered all that highly by previous club Sydney FC, it’s now just impossible for any concerns to be completely blown away by his immense impact - and maturity - on the ball.
Arzani has electrified crowds with his control, the ability to beat players that comes from it, a flourish to his game, and some devastating precision.
By far the player Australia has been most excited by since Harry Kewell, his sudden surge in the A-League saw a clamour for him to be called up to Bert van Maarwijk’s preliminary squad in June despite never having been capped before, only for his first two appearances to make it abundantly clear he should be going to Russia. The Iranian-born Arzani - who moved to Australia at the age of six - found his feet in a friendly against the Czech Republic, before really finding his form in the last warm-up against Hungary.
With the score at 0-0, Arzani came off the bench to score his first international goal with a strike from distance to make it 1-0, and then played a divine through ball that ultimately brought an own goal and a 2-1 win.
There is now virtually a campaign to actually start him against France in Kazan, but one feeling in the camp is that he might have even more effect again coming off the bench.
That’s something that has worked with previous teenagers in similar circumstances at tournaments, and would only add to the wonder should he really follow through and announce himself on the world stage.
Australia has stated to expect and, while that’s a lot of pressure, what has really been most exceptional about Arzani so far is that he doesn’t seem to feel it.
He just sees and plays, something that might be all the more exciting as the rest of the world gets to see him play.
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