The value in youth

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From the English Premier League to the Australian A-League, club football is where players young and old compete for the trophies and adoration of their fans week-in and week-out. For the younger players, it is also a chance to develop their craft and hone their skills in the hope to make that ”big move” and get a chance to represent their country at the highest level, the World Cup. In effect, every league is a development league.

A lot of controversy in Australia has been around whether or not the A-League is or isn’t a development league. In theory, it is. Purely by the fact that on the global football ladder, the A-League is quite a few rungs from the top. This means that to reach the A-League level for a younger player is a fantastic achievement but far from the end of the journey to reach the highest level.

Given the opportunity, players will almost always find their level. Taking the opportunity and performing well at their current level will almost certainly afford a player a chance of moving up the ranks. Progression could take the form of going from the A-League to the Dutch Eredivisie or a player going from VfL Bochum to Bayern Munich, an upwards step is a sign of development. It’s not a perfect measure and sometimes players can find themselves taking steps backwards to best fit their level.

We look at ten Australian players who have been given the opportunity in the A-League and see if they have taken that opportunity. Whether or not that means they’re ready for the next rung on the ladder is more of a decision for the individual player and his support team.

Danny de Silva (Sydney FC)

Age: 22

Position: RW/AM

Matches played: 15

VPM: +3.9

Attack: +3.1

Defence: +1.6

Passing: -0.6

Dylan Wenzel-Halls (Brisbane Roar)

Age: 21

Position: CF/AM

Matches played: 15

VPM: +5.6

Attack: +4.8

Defence: +2.3

Passing: -1.0

Nathaniel Atkinson (Melbourne City)

Age: 19

Position: RB

Matches played: 14

VPM: +4.4

Attack: +2.3

Defence: +3.4

Passing: -0.8

Riley McGree (Melbourne City)

Age: 20

Position: AM/Winger

Matches played: 21

VPM: +5.1

Attack: +3.2

Defence: +2.6

Passing: -0.4

Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory)

Age: 22

Position: CB

Matches played: 22

VPM: +5.3

Attack: +0.8

Defence: +4.2

Passing: +0.5

Aiden O’Neill (on loan to Central Coast Mariners)

Age: 20

Position: CM

Matches played: 19

VPM: +3.5

Attack: +1.6

Defence: +2.8

Passing: -0.1

Matthew Millar (Central Coast Mariners)

Age: 22

Position: RB/RWB

Matches played: 19

VPM: +5.3

Attack: +2.7

Defence: +3.3

Passing: -0.5

Ryan Strain (Adelaide United)

Age: 22

Position: RB

Matches played: 21

VPM: +4.6

Attack: +2.2

Defence: +3.1

Passing: -0.5

Keanu Baccus (Western Sydney Wanderers)

Age: 20

Position: DM/CM

Matches played: 19

VPM: +4.2

Attack: +1.8

Defence: +3.1

Passing: -0.03

Connor O’Toole (Brisbane Roar)

Age: 21

Position: LB

Matches played: 15

VPM: +3.7

Attack: +1.8

Defence: +2.5

Passing: -0.4

 

Adam Howard

Adam is one of the founders of Football Central and the creator of OSAussies.com.  He has followed the career paths of Australian footballers playing in leagues all over the world.  Born in Adelaide and currently residing in Hiroshima, Adam brings a unique perspective to Australian football.  He is an ardent supporter of Australia's domestic competition and national team.

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