JUNE 16 2017 – 6:49PM
Who would have thought it. A man who could rival Humphrey B Bear as a man of few words suddenly becoming the biggest noise in Australian soccer.
Well, maybe not the biggest noise, but the most expensive Australian player ever sold, anyway – and that is surely a special kind of buzz all of its own.
Of course inflation comes into play, but the famously shy and self-contained Aaron Mooy will have a £10 million ($16.8 million) price tag hanging over his head the next time he kicks a ball in a league match for Huddersfield Town, the club for whom he played such a prominent role last season as the Terriers confounded expectations and won promotion to the Premier League.
Mooy, of course, went to Britain last year as a Manchester City player, a transaction facilitated by what was essentially an inter-club asset transfer from their Australian subsidiary, Melbourne City. He was then lent to Huddersfield, having barely set foot at the Etihad before being sent across the Yorkshire-Lancashire border.
It was the second time City had taken an Australian player from the A-League and then lent him out. The Premier League giants had acquired Luke Brattan on a free transfer when his contract at Brisbane Roar had ended a year earlier. Brattan failed to fire in England and ended up back at Melbourne City at the start of the current A-League season where, after a strong start to the campaign, he rather fizzled out.
But the Mooy deal has been a much greater success – in financial terms and playing outcomes. A rare example of a win-win for all parties. Mooy has had a hugely successful season where he proved he could play at the pace and in the hustle and bustle of a very tough league in The Championship.
So well did he do that he was voted into the starting line-up of the notional team of the season for the division for playing such an important part in Huddersfield’s unlikely run to promotion via the play-off final at Wembley. Manchester City picked up a talented player for a song, one whose value they knew could only increase.
At worst they knew they could sell him along at a big profit, at best they might have had a player good enough to force his way into Pep Guardiola’s Premier League squad. But arguably the biggest winners of all have been Melbourne City.
Essentially City’s costs in buying the club formerly known as Melbourne Heart for around $11.5 million and then taking over an existing property and turning it into a top-level training facility for its men’s team and its W-League and youth league winning teams have now been covered. With just the sale of one player.
And the Australian game has also been a winner, although there are some who will argue that City’s cherry picking of the best A-League talent has weakened the competition. The reality is a player as good as Mooy had to leave the A-League when he did (at 25) to stretch his talents and develop his game. If he had not gone to City he might have gone elsewhere in The Championship, or somewhere else in Europe.
The worst case scenario for the Australian game would have been that he just chased a big money deal in the Middle East or Asia when his time in Melbourne was up, improved his bank balance but not his game.
With the City connection Mooy had a ready made path. If he was good enough, the sky was the limit. He hasn’t quite got to the pinnacle at the Etihad, but it was in City’s interest to nurture and develop their investment. As a result he went to a club (Huddersfield) where he was going to play under a progressive manager, David Wagner, who was going to bring out the best in him.
The Socceroos, as they bid to qualify for the World Cup and contest the Confederations Cup, are also big winners. Mooy’s steady improvement at City (he was very unlucky not to be included in the Asian Cup-winning squad in 2015) has continued to the point where he has not only forced himself into the national team squad but he has become an essential part of the starting line-up.
Mooy is not likely to be concerned by any of the fresh challenges that might come his way, and not in the least by the fact that he is set to become Australia’s most expensive player.
During interviews last weekend Mooy joked he would rather go and sit in his room and be silent than do any more talking, such was his love of privacy and solitude. But he opened up sufficiently to give an insight into what is a steely mind and a phlegmatic temperament that has allowed him to hit the heights as his career (he turns 27 in September) reaches what should be the high point.
“I don’t show a lot of emotion, but it is exciting,” he said when talking about the upcoming challenges in Russia and beyond. But you can’t think too much about all that because you have to concentrate on what you have got to do, and what the team is doing.”
This has been by far the biggest 12 months of Mooy’s life. He has left Melbourne City, played in World Cup qualifiers, moved to the other side of the world, had a child, helped Huddersfield to the Premier League and is now preparing for the Confederations Cup. No wonder, when prompted, he says: “Lying on a beach would be nice. It’s been a long season.
“You need to rest, mentally and physically, it’s very tough, but you have to take advantage of it when the games are there. I don’t like to miss games for any team. I would regret it. There’s always an element that someone else can come in and take your spot. Going up the levels, you have to realise it’s not all nice and happy. It’s character building, it tests your mentality.
“You have to have the willpower and mental strength to get through it all. You have to keep going and not give up. I stick to my mindset, keep at my goals, and all the benefits will come with the rest of it.”
Source : The Canberra Times