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Socceroos Squad Analysis, Mat Ryan Transfer Rumors, Ajdin Hrustic, Daniel Arzani, Tom Rogic, Qatar World Cup, Graham Arnold, Aaron Mooy, Latest, Updates, Opinion, Transfer Rumors

With less than five months to go until the 2022 World Cup, thankfully the Socceroos will be one of 32 nations battling it out for soccer’s greatest prize.

It gives Socceroos boss Graham Arnold plenty of time to take a look at the Australians, who play around the world and on home soil, and assess who will make up the 23-man squad destined for Qatar in November.

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However, some stars have big question marks hanging over their playing time.

It is paramount that Australian stars have as many minutes under their belt as possible ahead of the World Cup and for some they may need to use the summer transfer window to find a new home that will give them what they need.

With some of Australia’s key players not guaranteed starting spots, it could lead to some tough talks between coaches, agents and the players themselves.

Foxsports.com.au analyzes the key Socceroos who must make the crucial decision of staying where they are, going elsewhere, or choosing the right club as a free agent.

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Mat Ryan (Real Sociedad)

As the Socceroos captain, there’s no question that Mat Ryan is essentially a starting line-up shoe.

At Real Sociedad, however, Ryan has found it extremely difficult to get minutes and has only played nine games for the Spanish side in La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Europa League as he plays second fiddle to Alex Remiro.

Even without regular starts, Ryan rarely made a mistake for the Socceroos when called upon to do so.

Despite his move to Real Sociedad in last year’s summer transfer window, should Ryan consider a move elsewhere with the World Cup looming ahead of this season?

Of course, there’s every chance he’ll jump ahead of Remiro in the pecking order, but that’s no guarantee.

Ryan is the Socceroos skipper but struggles with his club for minutes.  (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)
Ryan is the Socceroos skipper but struggles with his club for minutes. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Ajdin Hrustic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Ajdin Hrustic’s importance to the Socceroos is unquestionable and it’s frightening to think about where the team would be without his influence in midfield.

But at Eintracht Frankfurt he’s not exactly the star of the show.

In fact, Hrustic started in just nine Bundesliga games last season in the heart of Frankfurt’s midfield.

According to that Daily mailHrustic’s playing time could be cut even further with German star Mario Götze joining Frankfurt from Dutch heavyweight PSV Eindhoven.

Götze, Germany’s 2014 World Cup final hero, plays a similar role to Hrustic and would push him even further down the midfield pecking order.

Götze, however, is likely to be a replacement for Japanese midfield maestro Daichi Kamada but Hrustic remains in exactly the same place he was before the German’s imminent arrival.

Hrustic will still get playing time for Frankfurt but maximizing his minutes ahead of a World Cup where he will be vital to Australia’s chances must be a thought bubbling in his mind.

Hrustic will be key to Australia’s chances in Qatar. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Tom Rogic (unbound)

The microscope is firmly fixed on the curious case of Tom Rogic.

He left Celtic at the end of the 2021/22 season and remains a free agent, although the 29-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Indonesian club Persija Jakarta.

Rogic also withdrew from the Socceroos squad for personal reasons ahead of the crucial playoffs.

When fit and shooting, Rogic is Australia’s most creative player and can thread the needle like no other.

If he has any hope of playing in Qatar, it’s a move to Indonesia Yes, really his best option to maintain his form ahead of the World Cup?

The money would be undeniably good and at his age it could be his last big payday before a final transfer or maybe even end his career.

But his last season with Celtic proved he still has plenty of talent to offer and could easily have enjoyed another season with the Hoops under Ange Postecoglou.

It remains a mystery where Rogic will move next, but one transfer he’s categorically ruling out, at least in the immediate future, is a return to the A-League Men’s.

Rogic is without a club after leaving Celtic. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Daniel Arzani (Manchester City)

Four years ago, Daniel Arzani’s name was on every Australian’s tongue when he burst onto the global stage at the 2018 World Cup as the tournament’s youngest player.

What has followed since then has been nothing short of catastrophic.

Arzani signed for Manchester City after the World Cup and was immediately loaned to Celtic for two years, but an ACL injury in his first game ruined his time at Parkhead and started a downward spiral for the quicksilver talent.

Several unfortunate loan spells followed, riddled with nagging injuries and a worrying lack of minutes for the 23-year-old, but he reminded Australia of his talent with his appearances for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics last year, albeit with fitness had to fight.

Now in his final year of his contract with City, Arzani will have to choose his next move wisely if he thinks he has even the slightest chance of forming Arnold’s 23-man squad.

A blistering spell between August and November could give the Socceroos boss a major selection headache, but with a possible move back to the A-League men, the season could start too late to make the needed impact.

Arzani’s career is at a crossroads. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Aaron Mooy (Port of Shanghai)

Eyebrows were raised when Aaron Mooy made the move from Brighton to Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG, now Shanghai Port.

But when life-changing money is on the table, it’s hard to say no.

However, Mooy has not been able to play exactly as much as he would have liked for his Chinese club due to factors beyond his control, namely how much Covid has gripped China of late.

Mooy made the bold call to refuse to show up for pre-season pre-season preparations in Shanghai due to the pandemic, instead working with Arnold and Socceroos high-performance boss Andrew Clark in Scotland to hone his fitness ahead of the crucial playoff build games.

Despite not having played a game since February, Mooy played 90 minutes against UAE and the full 120 minutes against Peru, even taking a penalty in the penalty shoot-out winner.

A similar scenario for Mooy and Clark cannot be repeated until Qatar.

Could Mooy’s Chinese escapade end less than two years after his deal in search of more playing time?

Mooy played 210 minutes of football in two Socceroos games, although he has not played a game since February. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Tyrese Francois (unbound)

Tyrese Francois is no guarantee of making it to the Socceroos and is yet to be capped, but as the Olyroos skipper and one of Australia’s brightest prospects, the 21-year-old deserves a mention.

Fulham manager Marco Silva was full of praise for the young Australian, saying last season Francois was the only young player to have impressed him more than Liverpool winger Fabio Carvalho.

Francois is currently out of contract but Fulham have offered him a new deal despite facing a massive battle to pick up minutes for the London side after they are back in the Premier League and well stocked in central midfield.

Of course, a new deal would likely see Francois loaned out to another club further down the EFL.

We’ve had a lot of Socceroos powerhouses at the last four World Cups: a 20-year-old Mark Milligan in 2006, Nikita Rukavytsya in 2010, Massimo Luongo in 2014 and most recently Daniel Arzani in 2018.

If Francois moves away from Craven Cottage and gets plenty of playing time elsewhere, who’s to say he won’t be the next man to join the bolter club?

Francois is one of Australia’s brightest prospects but has struggled for playing time at club level. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Trent Sainsbury (unbound)

Trent Sainsbury has been a mainstay at the heart of the Socceroos backline for several years and looks certain to be on a plane to Qatar.

However, a starting place at the World Cup is no guarantee.

Kye Rowles impressed many in the Socceroos’ playoff games against the United Arab Emirates and Peru and with Harry Souttar returning from his cruciate ligament injury, Sainsbury’s faces a battle to break into Graham Arnold’s XI.

Sainsbury started 28 Premier League games for Belgian club KV Kortrijk last season but left the club when his contract expired.

The 30-year-old undoubtedly has the ability to continue playing in Europe but where exactly that is remains to be seen.

Any wrong step could result in permanent loss of his starting spot if the next generation of Socceroos defenders make their claim.

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