Who’ll have a breakout year in 2017? Here are some young Australians in the Hyundai A-League and overseas to watch in this calendar year.
10: Nick D’Agostino (Brisbane Roar FC)
With Roar’s attacking riches, it’s not easy to get a look-in. But if the 18-year-old gets a chance, expect the NPL and NYL goal-machine to shine.
And with a three-week stint with Belgian club KRC Genk in recent months, this added experience will only help the youngster.
9: Jonathon Aspropotamitis (Western Sydney Wanderers FC)
It’s no surprise this 20-year-old has developed into one of the best young defensive prospects in the Hyundai A-League, working under ex-Socceroo centre-back Tony Popovic.
Has matured greatly over the last 12 months and is now a regular in western Sydney. And don’t let his slender frame fool you, Aspro rarely gets muscled out of a challenge.
8: Brandon Wilson (Perth Glory)
The Botswana-born midfielder has been a regular in the Glory midfield this season, underlining his ability and how much faith coach Kenny Lowe has in the 19-year-old.
Spent time in England with Burnley and Stockport last year which helped his development but is now relishing consistent first-team football as one of a host of locally-produced players in Glory’s squad. Athletic, robust in the tackle and crisp passer, Wilson has all the attributes to be a star.
7: Trent Buhagiar (Central Coast Mariners)
Mariners boss Paul Okon loves working with younger players and we’re starting to see the best of Buhagiar on a consistent basis.
The 18-year-old has frightening speed and the ability to dribble past a defender one-on-one. Has featured in every game this season and with two goals in his last two appearances is in stunning form. Not bad for a kid who has just finished high school.
6: Seb Pasquali (Ajax Amsterdam)
The 17-year-old midfielder burst onto the scene with an eye-catching display for Melbourne Victory against Italian champions Juventus in last year’s International Champions Cup.
Two more cameo appearances in the Hyundai A-League were enough to convince Dutch powerhouse Ajax of his potential, signing the playmaker last month until mid-2018. Many wanted him to stay but he's at a club with excellent youth development, and in the Victorian they have a superb talent.
5: Jordan O’Doherty (Adelaide United)
In a Reds side that has struggled, the Mallorca-born attacker has been a shining light at Coopers Stadium. More comfortable in the number 10 role, the 19-year-old has shown his qualities as a winger in the Hyundai A-League with his technique and positivity on the ball.
And his performances aren’t going unnoticed, picking up the prestigious Private Thomas Dale medal in Adelaide’s Remembrance Day clash against Brisbane Roar.
4: Deni Juric (Hajduk Split)
The younger brother of Caltex Socceroos striker Tomi, 19-year-old Deni is proof football ability runs deep in the Juric family. Has been banging in the goals for the youth side of Croatian outfit Hajduk Split, with reports he is on the verge of making the step up to the first team in 2017.
Juric is excellent at holding up the ball and bringing others into the game, while his instinct in the box is excellent.
3: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City)
Tim Cahill is keeping a close eye on this talented young midfielder – not a bad mentor to have. And Arzani is rated by the legend who reckons with hard work and focus, could go far.
Arzani, who turned 18 this week, is the kind of player that can break open a game on his own. Expect to see plenty more of him over the next 12 months.
2: Ruon Tongyik (Melbourne City)
Dominant in one-on-one duels, composed on the ball and emerging into a real leader of City’s defence. Impressive stuff considering he’s played just a handful of games in the Hyundai A-League.
Has only just turned 20, the physically imposing central defender is turning heads every week, with even Caltex Socceroos star Cahill describing him as a “diamond”. High praise indeed.
1: Aiden O’Neill (Burnley)
Just 18, O’Neill has got a taste of Premier League action this season, making a handful of appearances off the bench for the Clarets, including games against Liverpool and Chelsea. A box-to-box midfielder, O’Neill is strong in the tackle and has a great eye for a pass and will only get better the more time he gets in the EPL.