Movers and shakers: A-League preparing for European transfer onslaught

Nicholas Rupolo Roar Guru

By Nicholas Rupolo, Nicholas Rupolo is a Roar Guru

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    Perhaps the essence of the silly season has allowed football supporters lips to wobble as we edge closer to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    Mindful that it doesn’t take much for football fans these days to oscillate in an orchestrated squall.

    A plethora of names have been jammed down the rabbit hole for the immensely coveted prize of a ticket to Russia. Now is as good a time as any to remind people of the importance of thorough research when it comes to Socceroos talk.

The shirt is sacred and only 23 of them are given. Considering we’ll be meeting one of the greatest young French teams on paper and a dangerous Denmark, we’d best make sure it’s the best 23 men we can offer.

    I’ll set the record straight now. These players I’m suggesting here do not yet deserve World Cup spots. They’ve worked hard in the A-League but will need to kick into another gear before they can catch a glimpse of our Green and Gold.

    In the meantime, I believe Joshua Brillante, Paul Izzo and Dimitri Petratos are the most likely candidates for a place in European competition abroad next season. They’ve shown they’re above the rest, but now it’s time for them to show they have the cojones to earn that contract.

    Joshua Brillante – Sydney FC
    The 24-year-old midfielder from Bundaberg is the only one on this list to have made it to a European League. In 2014 much to the surprise of supporters, Brillante was swept away by historic Serie A club ACF Fiorentina after 46 matches with the Newcastle Jets.

    Then coach Vincenzo Montella took Brillante out of the frying pan and into the fire, starting the first Serie A match of the season. Humiliatingly, he was substituted after 35 minutes.

    The 24-year-old found his feet in the Italian second division with Calcio Como 1907 where he played 21 Serie B matches. He returned to the A-League under Graham Arnold and has since become perhaps the best Australian player in the A-League after Aaron Mooy’s departure.

    Young Socceroos midfielder Josh Brillante

    A cunning trait of his is his composure on the ball and awareness off it, which is much needed for the fast paced technicality needed abroad. Brillante has an accomplished passing range and vision as well as positioning to open up space for himself and other players.

    His almost telepathic understanding with Brandon O’Neill shows that he is able to negotiate his way forward adding as another threat to Sydney FC’s already relentless attack.

    Josh Brillante deserves to be in Europe next season more than anyone else. He left Australia with the brawn and came back with the brains. With it all polished off, a move abroad is likely this year for the midfielder.

    Paul Izzo – Adelaide United
    If you were to tell me 18 months ago that Paul Izzo was going to be moving, shaking and making some serious waves in the A-League I would have asked you to get your head checked.

    Just 18 months ago as starting keeper for Tony Walmsley’s Central Coast Mariners, Izzo was the last line of a defence that conceded a record 70 goals in 2015-16 where they failed to keep a clean sheet, looking clumsy and without answers.

    It was a season that had the potential to ruin careers. Luckily Paul Okon arrived to stem the fall as he was able to inject some life back into the Mariners and within a season, Izzo was back home in Adelaide.

    Under new coach Marco Kurz, Izzo – turning 23 in early January – is No.1 at Adelaide for a reason. After learning from some harsh lessons on the coast he has become a rather competent marshaller of a defence as well as one of the best shot stoppers in the league with 40 saves in 12 matches.

    The extent of a great goalkeeper isn’t their ability to smother one-on-one’s or make last ditch saves. Just like attackers, the way they earn their keep is the amount of points they win for their team. On countless occasions this season Izzo has come up trumps, stealing the show with immense muscle tearing saves to keep a lead or a clean sheet in tact.

    Izzo still has a long way to go, but as a younger keeper he has the potential to be in the Socceroos frame in the next cycle provided he finds a move to Europe in the near future.

    Dimitri Petratos – Newcastle Jets
    For some, Dimitri Petratos’ breakout year at the Jets under Ernie Merrick was a surprise. For me it certainly wasn’t.

    In the 25-year-old’s last two seasons for Brisbane Roar in 43 matches he accumulated 19 goal contributions, bordering on the edge of a goal or an assist every other game. At Newcastle his numbers have skyrocketed with ten contributions in 13 games.

    From a young age Petratos always had trickery and countless goodies in his bag and at Brisbane and the Jets has found his rhythm to express himself.

    Dimi Petratos

    (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

    The difference in Newcastle being, he isn’t wasted out on the right, barricaded to the sideline, in the centre he thrives with his fearless traverses forward and exceptional creative vision.

    Coupled with his ability to strike from long distance and splendid close control of the ball, there is a luxury player that a team in Europe would pay a pretty penny for.

    Petratos has the ability to truly make it in one of the top six or seven leagues in Europe, perhaps Portugal or Turkey where a player of his attributes is truly valued.

    Why do I believe that? If he can improve the rate of his contributions, come the finals series, he would have numbers bordering on that of Aaron Mooy in his final season at Melbourne City.

    It’ll be an exciting January in the A-League.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • Columnist

      December 30th 2017 @ 11:38pm
      Stuart Thomas said | December 30th 2017 @ 11:38pm | ! Report

      Three terrific players mate and a well written piece.

    • January 3rd 2018 @ 1:10pm
      Paul said | January 3rd 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

      Agree totally. Have been pushing for Izzo to get a start in green and gold. Ryan, as good a stopper as he is, makes me very nervous when he tries to instigate a play out from the back situation.

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