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‘Fighting fit’ Arzani opens up on Celtic ‘frustration’ as next career step looms

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Daniel Arzani has revealed he’s in the dark over his immediate future, but insists wherever he’s playing next season he’ll be “in the best shape of his life”.

Eager to put nearly two years of “frustration” at Celtic behind him, the intuitive Socceroos attacker appears resigned to moving on in search of game time elsewhere.

The 21-year-old - who tore his ACL on debut for the Hoops 18 months ago - has been back home in Sydney during the coronavirus shutdown, honing his fitness and pondering his next career step as his two season loan from Manchester City to Celtic nears its end.

Of the potential destinations in a post-Celtic life, Arzani views the Netherlands as an attractive possibility.

“Holland comes up because it’s a selling league and they develop a lot of really good talent there,” he told The World Game

“But they’re not the only league to have done that.”

He’s made just two senior appearances for the Bhoys saying: “It’s been a really tough last two seasons for me.

“Celtic’s been tough, there are a lot of good people there and it’s a good club, but the most important thing for me is game time and I wasn’t getting that.

“I was getting frustrated with injuries and things like that and the most important thing now is to look forward and go somewhere I think I’ll get game time.”

He has no qualms over the treatment his received from Bhoys boss Neil Lennon, with Celtic chasing a 10th successive league crown and blessed with abundant talent.

“It’s tough for Lenny - he came back for his second gig as Celtic manager with a lot of weight on his shoulders in going for 10 in a row,” Arzani said.

“I’ve been coming back from injury and he’s never seen me play before, so there’s no way I can blame him.

“He’s a really good guy and a really good coach. It was just unfortunate circumstances.”

Whatever the future holds, Arzani claims a rigorous fitness regime in Sydney with a personal physio - and overseen by Socceroos strength and conditioning chief Andrew Clark - has him in prime condition.

“I think I’m in some of the best shape of my career so far,” he added. “Andrew Clark has been impressed with the work we’ve been doing and said he’d never seen me in such good shape, so I’m buzzing.

“There’s no point in looking into the past and the negative things that have happened.

“It’s about looking forward, taking things in your stride and trying to make the best out of an unfortunate situation with injuries.

“This happens to everyone - I’m not the first player and I won’t be the last.”'

Addressing the specifics of where he might find himself next season, Arzani is understandably vague.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure and it’s so hard to talk about now with this whole coronavirus situation,” he explained.

“Clubs don’t know if this season will even be finished, or they’ll have to cut their losses, give their players a break and start afresh with a new season.

“I don’t know if I’ll be going back to Celtic to finish the season - we’ll just have to wait and see what the different leagues announce and go from there.

“It’s a crazy time right now. I may have to get on a plane and go back to Glasgow next week. Or I might be going back in a month’s time and my contract will have run out by then.

“The (ultimate) aim is to stay in Europe and give it a proper shot.

“I don’t think I gave myself a fair chance this time around because I wasn’t fit the whole time.”

Parent club Manchester City, who brought Arzani to England from City Football Group satellite Melbourne City and immediately loaned him to Celtic, will have a pivotal say on his next move.

Australia’s youngest ever FIFA World Cup player has conferred with Socceroos coach Graham Arnold during his time in Sydney, having been given a leave pass by Celtic in mid March along with compatriot Tom Rogic.

“The chats we’ve had have been him talking about going somewhere where I’ll get game time and be looked after,” he added.

“It’s a tough thing because every club will promise you game time but you have to go with your gut, do a bit of research, and see whether that’s actually a viable thing.”

Arzani said his experience in Glasgow, whilst testing his fortitude, has made him more mentally robust.

“I feel like I’ve emotionally matured so much through this process and in some ways it could be good for me later down the track,” he added.

“I just want to bounce back now and get back to playing. To do my ACL in my first game was a tough one - and I’ve literally been out since then, until maybe a couple of months ago.

“It is what it is, but hopefully it will never happen again, touch wood.”

Arzani said the support and friendship of Socceroos teammate Rogic at Celtic had given him a huge boost.

“Tommy’s been an absolute legend and we still talk about once a week, just checking with what’s going on at the club,” he said.

“He’s such a good guy and has helped me so much. Even at the beginning he helped a lot but also towards the end when I was getting really frustrated with getting injured again he gave me that emotional support.

“Football is a roller-coaster and he was there for me during those tough times.”