Arzani should consider A-League return, says Socceroos boss

Graham Arnold has urged stranded Socceroos winger Daniel Arzani to consider a return to the A-League to revive his flagging career after copping a stinging assessment from his coach in Holland.

Arzani rose to prominence with a series of eye-catching cameos for Australia at the 2018 World Cup but is facing a career crossroads, having played a total of just 669 senior club minutes in the two and a half years since Russia.

Daniel Arzani looks headed for the exit at FC Utrecht after copping a stinging assessment from his coach.Credit:Getty

It appears the 22-year-old is being forced out of FC Utrecht, the Eredivisie club where he is on loan from Manchester City, after manager Rene Heke took a brutal swipe at his ability last week.

"It’s clear that he doesn’t meet our expectations," Heke said at a press conference. "Yes, he has been [disappointing]. 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."

It was at Melbourne City in the 2017-18 A-League season where Arzani mounted an irresistable World Cup selection case to then-Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk, who used him off the bench in all three clashes against France, Denmark and Peru.

Daniel Arzani with Socceroos legend Tim Cahill at the 2018 World Cup.Credit:Getty

Arnold, who took over the national team after Russia, said Arzani was at a "crucial age" and should keep the A-League in mind when he mulls over his options in the forthcoming transfer window.

"He should be considering all options to play football, play 90 minutes regularly," Arnold said. "In my view, Daniel needs to get out and start playing minutes. Wherever that is, he needs to play football.

"He's hardly kicked a ball in two years … for me, the most important thing is he gets on the field. Sitting on the bench or sitting in the grandstand's not helping anyone."

Arzani moved to Celtic on loan immediately after the 2018 World Cup and broke through for a debut in the Scottish Premiership under Brendan Rodgers – only to injure his ACL in that match.

Daniel Arzani hurt his ACL on debut with Celtic.Credit:PA

A change of manager at Utrecht appears to have sealed his fate, with Heke, who took over in November, clearly no fan of his. Arnold had spoken about Arzani with his predecessor, John van den Brom, who gave him four Eredivisie appearances off the bench before leaving for a new job in Belgium.

"Coaches all have different views," Arnold said. "What's important is Daniel hears what he says and is continuing to work hard at his club.

"He's an extremely intelligent kid. All of this stuff is a learning process and he's probably learning a lot of things over the last few years. The one thing that I expect that he's learned out of this is hard work is the key, and finding a club or coach that believes in your and will give you those match minutes that will turn you into a great player [is important]."

Arnold used the example of Arzani's former Melbourne City teammate Ramy Najjarine – who Luke Brattan once said was a “more complete player” than Arzani – of how important regular gametime was.

Najjarine, now on loan to the Newcastle Jets, is one of many exciting young players to have emerged in the A-League this season.

"Everyone's talking about Najjarine at the moment. That kid when we were in camp in November with the Olyroos, at the age of 20, had played 22 times in the A-League for 520 minutes," Arnold said. "By this time next week, because he's gone to Newcastle on loan, he would have already played 540 minutes this season.

"Daniel's at a crucial age, between 18 and 22, 23. Kids becoming adults, going into adulthood – they need to play football. They will never develop and grow as players if they're sitting and watching."

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