Much has been made of the added opportunities afforded young domestic players during the early weeks of the new A-League season.
Already we have seen the emergence of Macarthur FC’s Lachlan Rose, Newcastle’s Valentino Yuel and Sydney FC’s Calem Nieuwenhof, just to name a few. With those players and a plethora of Olyroo eligible talent also on show, the competition has looked much better for it.
Should Graham Arnold’s long term plans include guiding the fortunes of Australia’s Under-23’s and the Socceroos, he much surely be champing at the bit; in anticipation of working with what looks such a talented group of players.
However, the pick of the bunch has been one player not really that new; a player we all knew about but one who’s limited A-League opportunities appear to have hidden much of his talent from us in recent seasons.
Newcastle Jets took Ramy Najjarine on a loan deal from Melbourne City on the eighth of October 2020. No doubt Newcastle’s motivations behind the move were to provide Craig Deans with some increased depth to what was looking a threadbare squad, but also to provide opportunity to a player with considerable potential.
From the loaner’s perspective, Melbourne City must surely have had long term intentions for the Sydney born Najjarine and sending him off to the Hunter was an undoubted ploy to add some miles to his legs and some added smarts and experience to his football brain.
After just three games of the 2020-21 season, it is likely that City will now be watching even more closely than they expected to be; with many A-League pundits already sitting up and taking notice of Najjarine’s impressive performances.
A graduate of Westfield’s Sports High in Sydney, Najjarine has long been touted as a future star. How far that potential can take him in the game will, as always, come down to the amount of work he is prepared to do.
Western Sydney saw it and 20 games at NPL level in the red and black quickly led to interest elsewhere. As is becoming disturbingly commonplace, the City Football Group lurked outside the Wanderers’ dressing shed, eager to chat, and the teenager headed off to Melbourne to enhance his reputation.
Sadly, he did little of that across two seasons. Limited minutes and just 22 appearances left public opinion on Najjarine unchanged; an exceptionally talented young player with a world of potential, but one far from establishing himself as a consistent and top-class A-League player.
On Sunday afternoon, it became crystal clear that such commentary had now become well and truly inaccurate. After two strong performances to open the season and the Jets a little unlucky not to have something to show for their efforts, Najjarine turned on the style at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Sadly, it was to be another disappointing afternoon for Newcastle, where despite plenty of possession and chances they failed to find a second half equaliser against Ante Milicic’s Macarthur FC.
It was not for want of trying and at the heart of much of that endeavour was a young Jets midfielder finally receiving the game time a player of his talent deserves. And did he ever make good use of that game time, with a sparkling performance as arguably the most influential player on the pitch.
Najjarine played with the skill and precision of a top class foreign veteran, picking up the ball in midfield time after time and dexterously slipping past defenders to propel the Jets into attack.
At times it reminded me of former Adelaide legend Isaias and for a brief second it occurred to me that Najjarine’s movements and distribution were akin to those displayed by a young Aaron Mooy, albeit with a more impressive turn of foot.
Whilst visually frustrated by some of the decisions made by teammate s this season and no doubt unhappy with the Jet’s points haul to this point, Sunday saw Najjarine announce himself to the A-League community as nothing less than a future star.
If the match slipped by without your attention, make every effort to catch a replay of it. There was something truly different and polished about the performance of Ramy Najjarine.
His involvement and energy had me beaming from ear to ear, knowing that despite a few seasons of frustration with Melbourne City, the A-League was about to consistently see one of the brightest young domestic talents in the country.