Mooy’s Terriers transfer seals ideal outcome for all sides

Evan Morgan Grahame Columnist

By , Evan Morgan Grahame is a Roar Expert

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    In the space of three-and-a-half years, the City Group have turned their acquisition of Melbourne’s second A-League club into an investment that has paid for itself.

    Aaron Mooy’s transfer to Huddersfield – making him a permanent Terrier, having enjoyed a wildly successful loan spell there last season – will see Manchester City, the City Group’s flagship franchise, net a profit of around £10 million.

    Signed from Melbourne City, Mooy was the first serious example of the City Group shuffling an Australian player asset from one wing of the organisation to another, with a legitimate view to making a profit.

    Mooy was talented – the A-League’s best Australian, in his final season here – but the success he went on to have at Huddersfield caused his value to skyrocket to a degree few would have expected.

    He was, along with Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey, and perhaps a few others, the Championship’s best midfielder, and was named in the Team of the Season. He was critical in the Terriers’ promotion push, a campaign crowned gloriously at Wembley with a penalty shoot-out victory in the Playoff Final.


    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    The fee he has reportedly commanded has made the whole A-League investment worth every penny; quite literally, the fee basically matches the sum the City Group paid to buy the Melbourne Heart.

    There are smiling faces everywhere now, on all sides of the agreement. Mooy stays with the club that value him so highly, and will be assured of a place in their starting XI next season, which happens also to be their first ever in the Premier League.

    Manchester City make a tidy profit, and will also have gleaming opinions now as to the reservoir of talent available to them in the A-League. Huddersfield get to maintain team continuity, which is so vital to promoted clubs. The most successful promoted teams over the last few years in the Premier League have all kept faith in the core talent that dragged them into the top division, with Swansea City, Southampton and Bournemouth all succeeding with players that have been fixtures at the club throughout multiple league divisions.

    As Huddersfield are now set to receive a staggering spike in income, they will no doubt garnish Mooy and the rest of the team with some more high-profile additions, but Mooy’s retention speaks volumes as to their practicality. Too many teams that gut their playing roster in a dizzy frenzy once promotion to the top league is secured end up going straight back down again, laden with players on big – and suddenly burdensome – wages.

    Mooy is 26, and may have thought his European career was over when he was shipped out of St Mirren in his early twenties. In the space of four A-League seasons, however, he has fought his way back to the top, and is now stepping out as one of our best exports.

    There were genuine concerns as to his short-term future when Manchester City signed him a year ago. Would he wallow on the edges of the first team? Would his career stall playing third-fiddle to City’s stable of exceptional midfielders, watching on mournfully as Yaya Toure, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho ate up all the playing time?

    The loan deal to Huddersfield allayed many of those fears, but still, nothing was assured. Players as good as Mooy have had tilts at European success derailed by bad luck, injuries or a lack of playing time.

    Mooy fought off all those threats by playing well, by making himself a vital part of a highly capable team, albeit the first Championship team to ever seize promotion with a negative goal-difference.

    The future now, for Mooy, is brighter than ever. The entire Huddersfield team will need time to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League, and supported as they are by the trust of their manager David Wagner, Mooy and the rest will be given that time.

    So many players – and managers – who are new to the Premier League speak of the ferocious pace the game is played at; no area of the pitch is more affected by this than the maw of the midfield, and Mooy’s abilities to pass and move under extreme pressure will be vigorously tested next season.

    Mooy is capable of thriving in these circumstances; he has that rare poise on the ball, a quality that set him apart in the A-League, but is a common requirement in England. Additionally, fully aware as he must be of the opportunity he has, his energy will no doubt be pushed to its limits. He was one of the Championship’s most active tacklers last season, and his effort in that regard will need to be just as – if not more – tenacious.

    The City Group’s incursion into football in Australia was met with no small amount of suspicion, and questions as to the effect – positive and negative – Melbourne City’s presence has on the A-League are still worth discussing. What we have now, though, in Aaron Mooy’s wonderful rise, is a genuine success story, one that, in effect, began in the A-League, and one that could not have reached its shining climax without the presence of the City Group.

    The loan system, particularly in City’s case, is so often a process where the player involved is shunted out the back end looking like a victim of some callous machine. Mooy is no victim, and he now stands at the base of a glorious alp, looking up at the golden mountaintop, preparing for his most exciting professional expedition yet.

    Evan Morgan Grahame
    Evan Morgan Grahame

    Evan Morgan Grahame is a Melbourne-based journalist. Gleaning what he could from his brief career as a painter, the canvas of the football pitch is now his subject of contemplation, with the beautiful game sketching new, intriguing compositions every week. He has been one of The Roar's Expert columnists since 2016. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_M_G.