The World Cup is a showcase in which some players can flaunt their talents to any interested club. That worked for Australia’s Daniel Arzani.
Scotland’s Stuart Armstrong didn’t have the luxury that the 19-year-old Australian had, as his nation failed to make the World Cup.
Nonetheless, both players were able to secure transfers to the Premier League, albeit to teams in completely different circumstances. Arzani joined a Man City side fresh from a record-breaking league triumph, whereas Armstrong joined a Southampton side that are still in the league by the skin of their teeth.
Both deals may have crept under the radar to some fans, so let’s compare these two transfers…
Man City signed Australian starlet Arzani from Melbourne City in the final days of the summer transfer window.
The 19-year-old had just starred for his country at the World Cup, being the youngest player at the tournament, and it was likely that the Premier League champions would swoop for a player as both clubs were part of the City Football Group.
However, he was swiftly loaned out to Celtic in a two-year deal, a deal that has been brokered between the two clubs before with other players.
So, as far as this transfer battle is concerned, we are focussing on Arzani’s potential at Man City, rather than performances, obviously because he has none.
But firstly, looking at how he has fared at Celtic thus far could be an indication of his ability and how he is viewed. The teenager is yet to make a start for the Scottish champions, as manager Brendan Rodgers has kept him in the dark. This has actually caused Australian manager Graham Arnold to set up a meeting with the Celtic boss to discuss the player’s future.
But just because Arzani (valued at £1.35m on Transfermarkt.co.uk) has come from City, doesn’t mean that he was guaranteed a starting spot at Celtic. After all, this is still a good team, and the player will have to work in order to be selected.
Likewise, from City’s perspective, Arzani may well struggle to make the first team at the end of his loan. City are a team that are ultimately challenging for the Champions League, and the Australian may just not be up to the pace.
This wouldn’t be the first time that the Cityzens have signed a player and loaned them out to Celtic, and more often than not it ends one way- they never return to Manchester. Belgians Jason Denayer and Dedryck Boyata have both made the move, one on loan and one permanent. The same move has been made by Olivier Ntcham, John Guidetti after failing to make an appearance for The Blues. Winger Patrick Roberts enjoyed a three year loan spell at Celtic Park, before being loaned again to Girona this year, after only making one appearance for City.
So Celtic can almost be seen as a graveyard for failed Man City players, which does not bode well for Arzani. The teenager will need to seriously impress in Scotland in order to make the move back to Manchester, otherwise, it’s so easy to see his career going that same way as so many players before him.
Similarly, fellow Australian Aaron Mooy made the same move as Arzani from Melbourne, only to be loaned to Huddersfield without playing in Manchester. The deal was eventually made permanent, and the very same thing could happen in this case too.
But with speed and skill, he is a dangerous winger, and has a huge amount of potential, so there is certainly nothing stopping from eventually breaking into the Man City team. But if history is anything to go by, and City’s ambition, it’s hard to see this transfer coming off.
TT Grade C+
From one player joining Celtic, to another one leaving, Armstrong joined Southampton from the Scottish champions in June this year.
The Scottish international had had a good spell at Celtic Park, consistently being named in the Scotland Team of the Year, and had another good spell at Dundee United before that, winning the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year in 2013.
So this was a good signing for Southampton, who were seeking to fill the hole left by Dušan Tadić’s departure. Armstrong (valued at £6.3m on Transfermarkt.co.uk) started Southampton’s first game of the season, before coming off the bench in the next two, and failing to feature in The Saints’ most recent match.
So it’s been a mixed bag for the Armstrong so far at St Mary’s. He hasn’t taken the league by storm, but that was expected. He wasn’t necessarily the most high profile signing of the summer, and probably wasn’t the club’s biggest signing.
But at the age of 26, this isn’t exactly a purchase for the future. Southampton will be expecting Armstrong to deliver straight away. Of course there will be a few games as the player acclimatises to the league and his team, but it will be The Saints’ expectation that the Scot will deliver soon.
Therefore, this isn’t necessarily a transfer that set the world alight; it was a decent move to bolster the Southampton squad, who are hoping to avoid the relegation battle that they endured last year. Overall solid, if unspectacular.
TT Grade B
This was a transfer battle between two players that haven’t necessarily proved their worth at their clubs so far this season.
On one hand, Arzani has youth over Armstrong, making him appear the better transfer.
However, the fact that he instantly moved to Celtic suggests that City do not hold him in the highest regard. The infamous City to Celtic move could spell the end of the Australian’s move to the Etihad, without ever playing there.
Whilst Armstrong has made just one start for Southampton this season, his immediate impact at the club means that he has to be regarded as the better signing. Although he is seven years the elder of Arzani, 26 means that he still has many more years to impress at St Mary’s.