Bert van Marwijk says he sees “something special” in boom Melbourne City teenager Daniel Arzani, rewarding him with a spot in the Caltex Socceroos’ preliminary 2018 FIFA World Cup squad.
The 19-year-old capped a breakout season in the Hyundai A-League with a berth in van Marwijk’s 32-man squad named on Monday.
Arzani is one of two uncapped players in the extended squad, along with Croatia-based defender Fran Karacic.
On the back of his eye-catching form with City, the Caltex Socceroos boss felt the time was right to call Arzani into his squad.
“I heard a lot about Arzani, everybody is talking about him,” van Marwijk told www.socceroos.com.au.
“In February and March he didn’t play a lot and he’s very young but I heard he had something special.
“I had a few conversations with coaches that work with him and with people in Australia who watch players for us, we see matches on television and the last months and weeks he plays every week and he does very well.
“He’s a player that has something special, I like players who have something special and can decide games.
“He’s very young, he has to learn a lot but at this moment he earns his spot in the 32.”
Widely regarded as one of the most exciting young prospects in Australian football, Arzani lived up to the hype with a superb end to the Hyundai A-League campaign.
After breaking into City’s first XI mid-season, he went on to start 15 games, scoring two goals and contributing three assists as Warren Joyce’s men went within one game of the Grand Final.
But the stats don’t tell the whole story.
Arzani – who was also named the NAB Young Footballer of the Year - showed great technical skill and ability to beat his defender one-on-one which really impressed van Marwijk.
He was one of five Hyundai A-League-based players – along with Josh Risdon, James Troisi, Dimitri Petratos and Josh Brillante - to make the 32-man squad.