How about we run the rule over a seriously talented and exciting handful of players running around in this summer’s A-League, with a little reminder of what you’re missing out on if you’re not tuning in each week ...
The wildcard of this lot. He is still raw. Adept anywhere across the frontline, he has the makings of a menace; the type who is unplayable on his day. Markus Babbel has a job to elicit that talent on a consistent basis. After trying to make it in Germany, Yeboah came back home underdone last season, and injuries amidst a club in a state of flux held him back.
Clean slate now. Nearing the time that defines him as either a late bloomer who has finally found his calling, or one of those who didn’t quite live up to what he could have been.
The Wanderers' new home, Bankwest Stadium, is bringing the club back to life. A cult hero is required to help that process. Yeboah, with his acrobatic routine after scoring, could be that guy.
Seven years ago, an Italian named Alessandro came to Australia. Del Piero. The greatest signing in A-League history … if publicity is your thing. He made Sydney famous. He didn’t make it great. At the same time, and with little fanfare, Shinji Ono slipped into a new club, the Western Sydney Wanderers. He made them great. Then famous.
Seven years later, we have a hybrid of the two in Alessandro Diamanti. First name of Del Piero. Italian, too. But like Ono, there’s a boatload of ability to go with the complete lack of fanfare in a new club looking to establish itself. Western United can’t get it wrong early. Diamanti, capped 17 times by world football giants Italy, is the attacking playmaker with a dash of flamboyance to ensure success is immediate.
There’s a number of Australians who have the opportunity to be the main guy for their side; Stefan Mauk at Brisbane, Dimi Petratos at Newcastle and Jamie MacLaren at Melbourne City. The youngest of the lot is 20-year-old Riley McGree at Adelaide United. It feels like McGree is in his mid-20s; he plays like a veteran. Never overawed. A balance between mongrel and craft. He’s back at Adelaide after a whirlwind few seasons in Belgium, Newcastle and Melbourne City. He’s known for the moment that sent him viral … OH MY GOODNESS! … OH MY GOODNESS! The scorpion kick. But there is much more to him than that.
With the departure of Isaias, the Reds’ heartbeat and their player of the year for the last three seasons, Adelaide needs a leader; someone to make the team his, and the others will follow. A big chance in the young life of Riley.
The re-birth of Bruno! When we first got to know him four seasons ago, the Uruguayan tore up the league. Then Warren Joyce got to Melbourne City, Bruno got injured, Bruno fell out with the manager and Bruno didn’t play.
He missed two thirds of last season and the league as a whole was poorer for it. Now he’s lobbed at Perth. He looks new. He’s in shape, beating noted anti-carb activist Tony Popovic to the punch. Diego Castro will be his partner at the pointy end of the Glory’s formation. And while there are no guarantees in life, think of it this way – the last time Bruno had anyone near Castro’s ability around him was in his first season at City. Aaron Mooy was that player. Bruno scored 25 goals. Trouble lurks for the rest of the A-League …
The maligned Robbie Kruse. The scapegoat of Socceroos fans. Injury-prone, and what does he give, anyway? Fools’ thoughts. A player doesn’t perform 75 times for his country and spend nearly eight years in Europe if his talent equates to that of a blind wombat.
Kruse has returned to Melbourne Victory and the A-League in a move that feels right at this stage of his career. Yet to hit the park - due to, yep, injury - this season, he is what Victory needs. He’s an intelligent player. The combination between the guile of Ola Toivonen and the willingness of Andrew Nabbout will need a link. Kruse, at his top, is the perfect foil. And perish the thought, eggs of Twitter: he’s still eligible for Socceroos selection …