The A-League has been instrumental in developing the current Socceroos squad – with 19 of the 23 listed squad members having previously played in the A-League.

That number might be higher, too, if it weren’t for the injuries of Aaron Mooy and teen sensation Daniel Arzani, who rapidly became one of the key players in a star-studded Melbourne City squad last season.

Today, we look at some of the players in the A-League who are capable of replicating Arzani’s brilliance, with our top five prospects.

Top five criteria: must be a player 21 years-old or younger currently rostered to an A-League club.

  1. Trent Buhagiar (20 years old)

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This lad is quick. Really quick.

After being the first graduate from Kariong’s International Football and Tennis School to earn an A-League contract, the former Central Coast Mariner has visibly developed in his short time in the A-League.

During Sydney’s FFA Cup run and pre-season friendlies, Buhagiar looked like he would add a dynamic to Sydney’s frontline which had been missing in recent years – pace. His speed to get in behind defenders would add more danger to an attack boasting Adam le Fondre, Milos Ninkovic and Sydney FC lionheart Alex Brosque.

Following the news just before the season that Buhagiar had done is ACL in training and would be out for the majority of the season, many thought he would be replaced. But contrary to that, Sydney FC manager Steve Corica stood by the youngster, and are yet to make a signing to replace him.

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I would certainly expect Buhagiar to be fighting for a starting spot once he is fully fit. Beyond that, who knows?

  1. Daniel De Silva (21 years old)

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Similarly to Buhagiar, Danny De Silva made the move from the Central Coast to Sydney (albeit on loan) this season, and suffered an injury. Thankfully for Danny, his injury wasn’t as lengthy and is currently making his way back into the Sydney FC squad.

De Silva made his first A-League appearance back in 2013 as a 15-year-old for hometown club Perth Glory. He quickly dazzled and was offered a deal overseas which he couldn’t refuse.

After stints with AS Roma in Italy and Roda JC in the Netherlands, De Silva returned to Australia with the Central Coast Mariners where he was expected to impress and earn himself a spot in Ange Postecoglou’s 2018 World Cup squad. After a disappointing season, more from the Mariners than De Silva himself, he sought after a loan to Sydney FC – the first intra-club loan in the A-League.

After showing so much promise at an early age, and now training and playing with some quality players at Sydney FC, I am expecting Danny De Silva to push on and once again be in Socceroos World Cup squad conversations.

  1. Thomas Deng (21 years old)

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What a story this guy is.

Born into a family of South Sudanese refugees in Kenya, Deng and his family moved to Australia so he could pursue a career in football. I think it’s turned out OK for him.

Having risen through the ranks in the Victorian National Premier League as a 16-year-old, Deng is now a regular first-choice defender for Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory side.

Deng has been super impressive in his time in the A-League, and even earned himself a move to Jong PSV, the reserve team for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven. After being left frustrated and dealing with personal matters back home in Australia, Deng sought a move back to Australia and the Melbourne Victory, where he continues to impress.

Deng has been involved at national level for Australia in the U20’s, U23’s and the senior team, but narrowly missed selection for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup squad.

Deng has great talent and the work ethic to match, meaning he will certainly be one to look out for in the near future.

  1. Riley McGree (20 years-old)

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Mr. “oh my goodness” himself.

Despite being outright ROBBED of the Puskas award, Riley McGree has continued to show improvement this season with Melbourne City.

After debuting for Adelaide United in 2016 where he impressed greatly, McGree left our shores to join Belgian side Club Brugge – the former stomping-ground of current Socceroo shot-stopper Mat Ryan.

McGree was loaned to the Newcastle Jets in the December of 2017 as an injury replacement for Jake Adelson. McGree went back to Brugge after the heart-breaking Grand Final loss to the Melbourne Victory, but was shortly sent out on loan again, only this time to Melbourne City, where he continues to impress and develop.

It is at City where McGree should get the most out of his loan spell. He is playing regular first-team football with some quality players and has world-class training facilities to match.

  1. Sarpreet Singh (19 years old)

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The youngest player on this list and arguably, one with the brightest future.

Singh made his starting debut for the Wellington Phoenix in February 2018. That’s not even a year ago! Since then he has quickly become the focal part of the Wellington Phoenix attack. A large part of the Nix’s success this season can be put down to the development of Sarpreet Singh.

His dazzling dribbling and stunning finishing is making him one of the hottest prospects – with former Socceroo Mark Bosnich stating that Singh is the best player in the entire league on form last week.

 

Although this kid is a Kiwi, what’s to stop us Aussies taking him as our own as we have with everything else good out of New Zealand? As far as I’m concerned, he’s the next Russel Crowe.

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Football writer and radio presenter. Loves everything football (well, except Italian's diving since '06).