When Manchester City signed Daniel Arzani from Australian topflight side Melbourne City this summer, he came already distinguished as a special talent. But with the Etihad Stadium already filled with outstanding players, a loan deal was the best option to ensure regular first-team action in order to acquire much needed experience in European football. Celtic showed interest and he was loaned to the Scottish champions for two seasons.
However, the 19-year-old is yet to taste first team football since the season began. He has not even made the substitute bench as far as the first team is concerned. The best the young Australian international has had at the club is the Hoops academy side where he scored a fine free-kick on his debut.
After observing the situation, Celtic legend Willie Wallace weighed in on the matter.
“Arzani is a good little player, and Brendan Rodgers disappointed me on that one.
“He’s saying it’s going to be a while before he plays. Well, why are Celtic paying the wages and not Man City?
“If I was the board at Celtic, I’d have kicked the manager’s a*** out the door.
“Why would you take Arzani for two years if he isn’t going to play in your team? The kid, for me, will finish up a better player than James Forrest.
“Arzani is quick, he takes people on, and he reminds me a bit of Jimmy Johnstone because of that.
“He doesn’t have Jinky’s trickery, but he gets balls over, and did really well at Melbourne City for a couple of seasons.
“When I heard Rodgers say he wasn’t ready, I was baffled. Why take the boy if he thinks he’s not ready?
“If I was the lad, I’d ask to go back to City or go somewhere else to get a game.”
But the Celtic boss has come out to deny reports in Australia that there is a clause in the player’s contract that allows him to cut short his loan spell. Such a clause could allow him return to parent club Manchester City if he does not get enough playing time with the Bhoys. The manager took the opportunity in a recent interview to explain why Arzani is yet to feature for the senior side.
”His situation is very simple,” he said. “He is a 19-year-old boy who has come in for two years to get experience. He has burst onto the scene and of course they will want him to do well, but there is no exit clause.
”He has adapted very well and much as people would love him to come in and play he wasn’t ready. So it’s all a process.
”Coming in after a World Cup with players a number of weeks ahead of him in terms of fitness and training, he is adapting to a more physical game.
”There are lots of things, but he is very happy and we have been very pleased in terms of how he is making progress.
”It’s not easy to just snap your fingers and just come into a top team with top players who have done very well, but I have been really pleased with how he is developing and working and adapting to how we want to work.
”It’s a really good education for him,” he concluded.
But for a player that featured for the Australian national team during the international break and gave a good account of himself, it is difficult to fully agree with Rodgers. This is especially so given the fact that the player is also not included in the Celtic squad for the Europa League.
In the end, one has to wonder maybe Wallace is right. Why take a player you have no immediate need of in the first team? The young Socceroo is not at the club for trials or youth team football. He is there for game time in the first team for his development and experience in Europe. He will be better off playing with Manchester City’s youth team than that of Celtic.
The 19-year-old was not voted best player in Australia for nothing. He had already distinguished himself playing first team football there. He should be given the chance to make his case on the pitch with the first team in Scotland too. At least, that’s why he went there.
We would not be talking about Kylian Mbappe if former Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim didn’t give him a chance. And if Jadon Sancho can command a regular first-team place at Borussia Dortmund, certainly Arzani should be a regular for Celtic.
All the same, if his time on the sidelines does make him better and he finally joins the first team with a bang, the end will justify the means. All we want is to see Arzani develop into a vital player for City in the years to come.