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As Socceroos challengers snap at his heels, is Mat Ryan's time up at another club?

Roar Rookie
30th March, 2024
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30th March, 2024
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Mathew Ryan’s tenure at AZ Alkmaar appears to be over, as the Eredivisie side are seemingly moving on from the 93-time Socceroo.

The decision comes as something of a surprise, as Ryan has been the consistent No.1 at the AFAS Stadion this season, and has largely played well, collecting 14 clean sheets in 31 games across all competitions. As well as this, the Socceroos captain has become quite popular with the fans of the Dutch club.

Overall, the move has been a positive one that Ryan can look back at with pride, especially compared to his previous spells at Arsenal, Real Sociedad, and FC Copenhagen that yielded just 12 appearances over three years.

This is not the first time the Blacktown native has found success in the Benelux region, as his wonderful first European adventure with Belgian giants Club Brugge ultimately led to his signing with Valencia and solidifying the Australian No.1 position. Another spell at KRC Genk helped revive his career after a tough period in Spain.

The decision makes a little bit more sense when it is considered that AZ boasts arguably the biggest goalkeeping talent in the Netherlands in their system, with the 19-year-old Rome-Jayson Owusu Oduro impressing in Ryan’s absence earlier this year.

Along with the even younger Kiyani Zeggen, the club that has seen players such as Tijani Reijnders, Teun Koopmeiners, Wout Weghorst, and Milos Kerkez come through is well stocked in the goalkeeping position.

This is a crucial moment in his career, with the Australian goalkeeping talent pool deeper and more talented than perhaps any other position. Of course, Aston Villa’s Joe Gauci is the closest to Ryan in terms of Socceroos contention, but Middlesbrough’s Tom Glover is another potential immediate challenger.

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Additionally, the European-based teenage trio of Steven Hall (Brighton), Anthony Pavlesic (FC Bayern), and Max Vartuli (Aalborg) are all particularly good prospects to keep an eye out for.

AZ Alkmaar goalkeeper Mathew Ryan celebrates victory during the UEFA Conference League quarterfinal match between AZ Alkmaar and RSC Anderlecht at AFAS stadium on April 20, 2023 in Alkmaar, Netherlands. ANP ED VAN DE POL (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Mat Ryan in happier times at AZ Alkmaar. (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Should Ryan be craving a move home, I am sure he would be welcomed back with open arms by the Central Coast Mariners, whose No.1 Danny Vukovic is surely near retirement. It also would not be surprising to see clubs like Brisbane, Newcastle, and Western United take a punt at Ryan.

However, this AZ stint has surely proved that Ryan still has what it takes to play at a very high European level. His old club KRC Genk will be saying goodbye to their goalkeeper Maarten Vandervoort this summer, who will be leaving to RB Leipzig, and fellow Belgian clubs Anderlecht and KAA Gent have both had goalkeeper issues this year and could be looking to upgrade.

Another option could be the MLS, where an array of clubs would be happy to bring in an experienced goalkeeper with his profile.

The most important thing is that he chooses a club where he will start, because we will soon be entering an era where the goalkeeping talent in Australia will be too big to ignore.

And if Ryan is sitting on the bench, it will be hard for Graham Arnold to rationalise starting him over Gauci, Glover, and whatever other goalkeeping talents come through in the next few years.

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