Daniel Arzani’s advisors are looking to find an alternative outlet to revive the career of Australia’s top young prospect, as the clock ticks down on a frustrating two-season loan at Celtic.
Despite a total of just 27 minutes in a Hoops shirt - stretched 15 months apart and comprising two appearances off the bench - Australia’s brightest young prospect has not yet given up hope of forcing a rethink by Hoops coach Neil Lennon entering the final weeks of the season in Scotland.
But the reality has dawned on Arzani’s management team that the 21-year-old’s future almost certainly lies away from Celtic Park, and talks with parent club Manchester City over exactly where that might be are believed to have already begun.
The ACL injury Arzani suffered on debut against Dundee back in November 2018 cast an ill omen over what was trumpeted as triumphant move to a club where Socceroos teammate Tom Rogic had written his name into folklore.
It was hoped Arzani might have a similar impact for the treble treble winners.
But recovery took longer than expected, and with each passing month his dream of forcing his way in a squad stacked with talent diminished.
It’s understood destinations in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are being looked at in what is shaping as the most critical move of the former Melbourne City magician’s stop-start career.
With so much lost time, Arzani can ill afford to linger much longer on the periphery of club football if he’s to live up to the expectations placed upon him during one breakout A-League season, and three cameo caps for the Socceroos at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Australia coach Graham Arnold, a longtime Arzani proponent, has mounting concerns over a player he has previously described “as our greatest young talent”.
Arnold holds genuine fears that Arzani’s gifts could end up being squandered and his future unfulfilled, at a time when the national team is crying out for a player of his instinctive qualities on the road to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Whilst comparisons with France’s attacking star Kylian Mbappe might seem spurious, the chasm in how their respective career trajectories have unfolded since Russia 2018, when the 21-year-olds came up against each other at the group stage, is instructive.
The Paris Saint-Germain wonder weapon went home with a winners’ medal from Russia and hasn’t looked back, scoring 35 goals for club and country this season alone.
Those stats are something Arzani can only gaze at with awe and wonderment as he ponders his next step.
Arnold, for one, believes his main aim should be to nail down senior football, and conjure regular 90-minute performances, at a club - for argument’s sake in the lower reaches of the Eredivisie - who will give him the time and opportunity to develop and potentially flourish.
A heavy responsibility to make that happen lies with his agent, former Socceroos midfielder Vince Grella, and on Arzani himself.