What’s the point of forever spruiking football’s participation rates if the A-League continues to struggle and the game’s various stakeholders can never seem to get on the same page?
Daniel Arzani’s departure has left the league in a funk as bad as when you watched your crush dance with someone else at the high school ball.
Gone now is the excitement Arzanic created as he wielded his on-pitch flair, the oohs and ahs they elicit when the get on the ball. We’re left with pedestrian and workmanlike players who merely fill a role rather than quench the fans’ thirst for excitement.
Or so say some.
In reality, the A-League is full of talent, from the silky skills of Keisuke Honda to the explosive exploits of Chris Ikonomidis.
While we delight in the flair of marquee players, it is easy to forget that talent can exist away from the bright lights of AAMI and NIB. The names below might not be household (yet), but their raw talent is on par with the best in the world.
1. Keanu Baccus – Western Sydney Wanderers
Brother of Melbourne City watercarrier Kearyn, the waifish Wanderer has a really smalle stature, yet there is huge talent in that tiny build. His vision and passing os amazing for a player of his age. He hasn’t had a chance to shine in Markus Babbel’s misfiring squad, but he’s a sublime talent nonetheless.
Best Role: Luka Modric-type deep-lying playmaker.
2. Josh Nisbet – Central Coast Mariners
Continuing in the theme of tiny attackers, Nisbet is another player with huge potential. He plays a more advanced role than Baccus and lacks his passing range and vision. He makes up for it, though, with truly impeccable technique. His close control is second to none and is spellbinding with the ball at his feet. He could be hard to find, though. Best pay close attention.
Best Role: Riyad Mahrez-esque skill goblin.
3. John Koutroumbis – Newcastle Jets
A mouthful to pronounce, the courageous cancer-fighter has recently made a heartwarming return to the green grass at McDonald Jones Stadium. He is no sympathy inclusion, though. His skill set isn’t as easily definable as he doesn’t seem to fall into a distinct footballing category. Maybe he’s just too good to describe with mortal prose.
4. Alex Sanchez – Sydney Olympic
He’s not an A-League player, but I’ve included him because I like the way he plays – and the fact that he scores goals for fun, and I mean a lot of goals.
What do you make of this list of up-and-comers, and whose name would you add to it?