Celtic-bound Daniel Arzani’s next challenge is to become a “90-minute footballer”, according to former mentor John van’t Schip.
The Dutchman, who was in charge at Melbourne City when Arzani was making waves in the youth team, is an avowed advocate of the 19-year-old’s potential, dubbing him easily the most gifted Australian player on the horizon.
But with emerging playmaker still in the foothills of his professional career, as he joins the Scottish giants on loan from Manchester City for two seasons, van’t Schip sees this as a crucial phase in his development.
“Daniel has special qualities. The big thing with him is he needs to be playing regular because he still isn’t yet a 90-minute footballer,” he said.
“That’s the most important thing he has to get used to, playing on a high-level for the entire match.
“If you’re not capable of that, coaches will have doubts about starting you because they know you’ll be a player that will have to come off.
“That’s why it’s important to go to a competition and play with the club that knows how to turn him into that 90-minute player.”
Now in charge of Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle, van’t Schip unsuccessfully sought to bring Arzani to the Netherlands on loan late last year.
He has little doubt he can carve a top-tier career for club and country, so long as he has the right nurturing as he enters his twenties.
“Going to a team and playing under a coach [in this case Brendan Rodgers] who is willing to give you the minutes you need is vital,” he added.
“I’m sure a lot of thought has gone into to this from his advisors and also the City Football Group, who of course want him to succeed.
“It’s all about choices and making sure you get the most from the year ahead.
“He needs to play a lot of games at Celtic, or it’s not going to help him.
“If you are only used as an impact player, you never quite know what sort of player you can be.”
Playing from the start at Celtic Park will be no easy feat for the winger with the flashing feet and deft football brain.
The Hoops are stacked with internationals, including fellow Socceroo Tom Rogic, and Rodgers has already stated that Arzani will be given time to “come up to speed” as he enters the next phase of his fast-moving career.
“I’m sure there is a plan for him at the club and things will have been put in place to ensure he’s given opportunities,” added van’t Schip.
“Then, for Daniel, it will be all about performing. I think the picture they have shown him will be all about making the next step.”
Iran-born Arzani, who made three eye-catching cameos for Australia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is in the midst of finalizing his visa requirements for the Scottish Premiership and his loan move from Manchester City to Celtic will be officially announced once those formalities are completed.
Arzani has been told previously that he needs to compliment his delicate touches and dizzying runs with tracking back duties.
Van’t Schip puts it like this: “It’s not that you can do one thing more than the other.
“For the exceptional player like Messi, yes maybe there are a lot of players around him who can make an extra step. But he’s playing in one of the best teams in the world.
“So Daniel needs to be at a team that plays football on the ground.
“If you keep a lot of possession then you don’t have to defend too much.
“Or you defend in a way that he’s capable of doing ... perhaps on the half of the opponent with short pressing.
“He has great potential and if he makes the right choices in his career and does the right things on the physical and the mental side, he has a big future.
“He’s still making his first steps and there’s a long way to go.”