The five best performing Australians at club level this season

These players have stepped up at club level this season

The European season along with the A-League campaign have come to an end as Australian players all over the world enjoy a brief holiday. 

Socceroos manager Graham Arnold will have kept a keen eye on performances domestically and abroad for a number of Aussies looking to cement their spot in the national team squad.

Shabab Hossain has crunched the numbers and here are five Australian players that have particularly stood out at club level this season...

  1. Awer Mabil

    Awer Mabil’s ascent for both his domestic side, FC Midtjylland in Denmark, and the Socceroos during the Asian Cup, is nothing short of remarkable.

    In the United Arab Emirates, Mabil answered plenty of questions to Australia’s recent goal-scoring woes with his dynamic movement and constant threat in and around the box.

    Unsurprisingly, he’s been much the same for Midtjylland too, helping the team lift the Danish Cup while also earning a respectable second-place spot in the league, behind the giants FC Kobenhavn.

    The winger’s threat comes from his ability to not only be a presence in the wings, where he can launch crosses in, but also because he manages to come into the box to get into goal scoring opportunities as well.

    At only 23, and after an outstanding season with Midtjylland, it would not be too much of a surprise if Mabil has caught the attention of some teams in the top five leagues in Europe. 

    Awer Mabil

  2. Tom Rogic

    Tom Rogic has arguably never been able to match his club form for the Socceroos, however his talent is still clear whenever he dons the Celtic jersey.

    In a season hampered through injury and the Asian Cup, Rogic still managed to prove he’s one of Celtic’s best players with numbers that blow most of the other midfielders in the league out of the water.

    In his advanced playmaker position, he helped Celtic to a treble of trebles as they won the league and the two domestic cups for three seasons consecutively.

    Just like Mabil, Rogic offers a two-pronged threat as he can be both a creative outlet as evidenced by his expected assists (xA) per 90 of 0.2, while still getting forward often enough to test the opposition goalkeeper with his expected goals (xG) per 90 of 0.25 per 90.

    As always, rumours will surely be swirling that Rogic’s move the Premier League is imminent, however with these stats, it might prove that the Australian is finally ready to take the big leap metaphorically but relatively small leap geographically, to England.

    Tom Rogic

  3. Jamie Maclaren

    Graham Arnold has struggled to find a striker for the national side that is capable of providing a regular goal scoring threat. Jamie Maclaren was thrown into the deep end during the Asian Cup but without regular game time he was always playing catch up in the tournament.

    Since moving to Melbourne City, his form has rocketed up and if he had a full season, he might even have been the league’s Golden Boot.

    Maclaren doesn’t offer much during the build-up play for City as evidenced by his miserable seven successful passes per 90 with a very low accuracy rate, but what he lacks in playmaking he more than makes up in shooting.

    In the roughly 500 minutes in which Maclaren was on the pitch, he was one of the league’s most prolific shooters, averaging 3.62 shots with an accuracy rate of 54.84 per cent. Not only that, but these strikes are clearly not pot shots, as evidenced by the xG per 90 of 0.75.

    Although former Brisbane Roar striker Adam Taggart has been called up to the Socceroos for the match against South Korea, Maclaren’s excellent form in the A-League suggests that he’s one that Arnold should persist with for a bit longer.

    Jamie Maclaren

  4. Rhyan Grant

    Rhyan Grant was another player that was unexpectedly given a starting spot for the Socceroos during the Asian Cup because of Josh Risdon's injury early on in the campaign.

    Unlike Maclaren, Grant thrived with his new responsibility as he provided a constant threat down the flanks and was one of the few bright spots in a lacklustre campaign.

    In the A-League, his mullet seemed to give him superpowers with him running up and down the right side of the pitch endlessly throughout the whole season

    The stats show that Grant has a little bit of everything even though his greatest skills come to the fore when he’s in the attacking third. He’s able to retain the ball well with his passing, is an adept defender and can provide threatening crosses.

    At 28, he’s now in his peak years as a footballer and if he doesn’t find a move abroad, he will at least be pivotal for the Socceroos World Cup qualifying campaign.

    Rhyan Grant

  5. Matt Millar

    He might still be someway off a Socceroos call-up considering Australia's defensive stocks but there’s definitely a case to be made that Millar was the A-League’s most surprising talent and the best full-back throughout the season.

    He signed for the Central Coast Mariners from the National Premier League (NPL) and despite their awful season still provided numbers that go far beyond anything that should be possible from the league's wooden spooners. 

    He wasn’t afraid to take on his man as he had one of the highest dribbling numbers, averaging 2.79 per match while also being a creative outlet with an xA of 0.19 per 90. He even earned eight assists for a team that only scored 31 goals in the season. It’s no surprise that he’s moving to Newcastle Jets where his attacking talent will be even clearer for all to see.

    If Arnold is thinking of experimenting with some new fresh blood for his Socceroos squad, Millar should definitely be in contention for a call-up in the near future. 

    Matt Millar