15. LUKE BRATTAN
Luke Brattan is living proof that Australian football
players are being taken seriously by even the biggest of clubs.
The Brisbane Roar central midfielder was scouted by English
giants Manchester City in 2015 after stellar performances against A-League
sister club Melbourne City. A standout performance against Liverpool FC also
raised the eyebrows of Manchester City’s scouts, who were also in Australia at
Brattan played just under 100 games for Brisbane Roar, where
he won two premierships and three championships.
The central midfielder possesses unbelievable talent in
tight spaces, hitting the target under pressure from long or short distances. Brattan
made 24 appearances for the Roar in the 2014-15 season finishing second for
passes (1597) with an 83 percent accuracy rate, 68 tackles, 29 clearances and
The 25 year old has been called back from his loan spell
with Bolton, where he failed to make an appearance. His return before the
transfer window could see him loaned out to another club, or perhaps feature in
the FA or League cup.
14. CARL VALERI
Carl Valeri has had one of the more unique stories in our
Turf 20 this year.
Valeri’s career looked on the up during his 20’s, after his team
Sassulo were promoted from Serie B to Serie A. The jump to Italy’s top flight in
football meant he was ready to take the next step of his career. The midfielder
suffered a serious ankle injury during international duty which left him out of
Sassulo’s future plans in the Serie A.
Valeri’s transfer to Melbourne Victory undoubtedly saved his
career. After playing an influential role in Victory’s midfield in their
2014-15 Hyundai A-League Grand Final win against Sydney FC, Valeri was selected
as captain following Mark Milligan’s departure.
The presence from the Melbourne Victory captain is significant
on the entire squad. Valeri provides a tireless defensive supremacy in the
midfield, governing the play through his killer passes and solid tackles. The
30 year old works tirelessly on the park and was rewarded by his players as the
players’ player of the year last season.
Despite the topsy-turvy roller-coaster journey Valeri has been
through, he is still being tested.
Earlier this month, Valeri was diagnosed with inflammation on
the brain, which has affected his sense of balance. The midfielder has been
ruled out indefinitely until recovery.
The former Socceroo’s absence from the side has been earth shattering
for the Victory. The boys in blue are currently on a five game winless streak,
which all began when Valeri took leave.
Valeri is a player of determination and persistence, and has
shown that throughout his whole career to bounce back from the bottom.
13. TRENT SAINSBURY
Young defender Trent Sainsbury keeps getting better and
better. At only 23 years of age Sainsbury has won an A-League premiership and
championship, and named man of the match in the Socceroos win against South
Korea in the Asian Cup Final.
Sainsbury is a strong, agile centre back who plays out of
PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Eredivisie. The young Socceroo has started to rack
up consistent game for Zwolle, also scoring his first goal for the club this
Sainsbury is known for his strong defensive presence,
providing voice, organization and protection for his defenders. His partnership
with Matthew Spiranovic has become a stronghold in Ange Postecoglou’s defensive
structure. Sainsbury’s versatility allows him to play next to anyone in defence,
which is rare to say for such a young player.
Injuries have prolonged the defenders personal success in
Europe, but time is on the youngster’s side.
There is no doubt Trent Sainsbury is well experienced beyond
his youth. Now in his final year of contract, Sainsbury could take a step to
the next level if he stays injury free.
12. BAILEY WRIGHT
2015 has been an amazing year for Australian defender Bailey
The centre back has played 150 games for Preston North End,
and was a major part in their playoff promotion into the Championship last
season. Wright was awarded the Young player of the year for the season 2012/13
and signed an additional two year contract this year.
Bailey Wright’s success story could have been so different.
The 23 year old Preston midfielder struggled to find a club who were interested
in him, and was close to quitting the game. A last ditch effort from his
father, who sent a letter to Preston North End was the difference between him working
as a tradesman and being a professional footballer for the Socceroos.
Bailey Wright made his 150th appearance for
Preston last night, defeating Hull City 1-0. Due to injuries, Wright played
with a virus, illustrating his willpower and ticker to play.
Wright fits right into Ange Postecoglou’s play book, which
is why he was selected for the 2014 World Cup squad in Brazil. Wright is a
solid builded tough defender. His aerial ability in the air and composure with
the ball on the turf, puts him in good stead for his international future.
11. JAMES TROISI
This year has been revolutionizing for James Troisi. The
former Melbourne Victory attacker made his mark in 2014-15, possessing a striker’s
instinct in front of goals. Troisi will forever be known as the hero who scored
the goal to win the Socceroos their first Asian Cup and first major tournament
in the country’s history.
Despite being on top of the world, Troisi’s controversial
decision to move to Saudi Arabian club Ittihad FC didn’t sit well with the fans.
Many believed Troisi chased the dollars rather than the
European dream. Regardless of the critics, Troisi has managed to remain as a regular
starter for the Socceroos.
A change of ownership has effected the relationship between
Troisi and his club, which could result in a potential move back to the
Adelaide United, Melbourne City and former side Melbourne
Victory are all interested in signing the Socceroo.
Troisi has a powerful engine, and is technically gifted when
distributing the ball. The 27 year old is a quick witted thinker, who knows how
to play smart football. The benefit of signing Troisi is that he can play as a
wide or attacking midfielder, and even as the target man up front.
The January transfer window will play an extremely crucial
part in Troisi’s future.
By Ari Charilaou (He’s also on twitter here) –
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