After a Summer of dreary friendlies, football normalcy has finally returned to Europe. If you enjoy keeping an eye on the Australians plying their trade overseas, make sure you don’t forget about the following five young guns that are looking to break-out this season.
1. Mustafa Amini – Randers (Denmark)
Although Amini’s much touted move to Borussia Dortmund in 2011 failed to result in a competitive first team appearance, his early appearances for new club Randers ought to recapture the imagination of Australia’s football faithful. Amini is a very intelligent and versatile midfielder, with an excellent ability to sniff out great passes and through balls, whilst keeping things tight defensively. He has already opened his account with solid Europa League qualification performances (including a goal and an assist) at his new club, who play in the Danish top division. If he keeps it up, it should be enough to see him receive his first Socceroos cap.
2. Kerem Bulut – Iraklis (Greece)
Bulut impressed at national u21 level but until a recent move home to Western Sydney Wanderers the intimidating striker had struggled to find the net during club stints in Turkey and the Czech Republic. However, a move to Iraklis Thessaloniki in Greece for the controversial 23 year old could see him finally deliver on his potential. Bulut has already impressed his new club, scoring in a pre-season friendly win against Superleague rivals PAS Giannina – demonstrating that he can compete at the top level. The move away from Sydney should also allay some of the off-field distractions which have held the striker back.
3. Chris Ikonomidis – Lazio (Italy)
Ikonomidis’ debut for the Socceroos earlier this year shows how highly the 20 year old is rated. Although yet to make his first team debut at Lazio, the dangerous striker was crucial in netting two goals during Lazio’s victory over local rivals Roma in the final of the Italian Youth cup in May. He was called up to the first teams bench regularly at the tail end of last season, on the strength of how much promise the young Australian is showing in training. He looks set to make his Series A breakthrough this year, either at Lazio or on loan.
4. Jackson Irvine – Ross County (Scotland)
When Rogic signed with Celtic in 2013, another young Australian was already working his way through the club’s renowned youth system. While Irvine featured sparsely for the Scottish giants, his loan at Ross County was a revelation for both the player and the struggling club last season. The deal was made permanent in May, and the 22 year old has played 90 minutes in all four of his club’s premiership games to date. Irvine was played predominantly as a holding midfielder last season, but his versatility means he’s no stranger to setting up goals further up the park. A potential replacement for aging Mark Milligan, expect him to receive a second Socceroos cap this year.
5. Taylor Tombides – Hull (England)
The younger brother of the late Dylan Tombides, 19 year old Taylor made the switch from West Ham’s youth system for recently relegated Hull over summer. Breaking through to the first team is Taylor’s aim this year, which will be assisted by the buckets of technical and creative ability the young striker possesses (have a look at his goal for Canvey Island last season for proof). He’s already netted one in the Hull U21’s first competitive game of the year, and is likely to score plenty more in his pursuit of first team action.