Najjarine can be better than Arzani: Brattan

Melbourne City relied on one tricky teenage wideman to give their campaign a mid-season lift last year, and Daniel Arzani paid them off in style.

The wing wizard scored goals and created opportunities as City got to within one win of a grand final.

Ramy Najjarine of Melbourne City.Credit:AAP

Eventually he forced himself into Bert van Marwijk's World Cup squad, where he made an impact coming off the bench in every game.

Arzani is now a Manchester City player, on loan at Celtic, but he will miss this season as he recovers from surgery for an ACL injury.

But the City hierarchy are hopeful that in Ramy Najjarine, another teenager who began his career in Sydney, they have a ready-made Arzani replacement – a player who can take on defenders and beat them and provide the spark in forward areas that they currently lack as the impasse over Bruno Fornaroli's future continues.

Najjarine has not made a starting appearance for City, but played over an hour on Sunday in the 2-0 win over Adelaide. He came off the bench when coach Warren Joyce re-shuffled his pack following an injury to Ritchie De Laet, and acquitted himself with credit.

He certainly did not look out of place and impressed one of City's senior players, Luke Brattan, no end.

Despite the fact that Brattan scored his second goal in three games in Adelaide he was keener to talk up Najjarine – and suggest that he was as good, if not better, than Arzani.

Daniel Arzani.Credit:AAP

It's a big call given the latter has proved himself in a short while as capable of playing on the biggest stages, but Brattan is adamant that Najjarine can follow suit.

"Ramy is a fantastic player. He is very similar to Daniel Arzani, but he's a bit more of a complete player, he's exciting to watch," Brattan said on Tuesday.

"I can't wait to see more of him. When I first came here and saw the two of them (last season) Ramy was a more complete player. He had a couple of little injuries and that held him back."

Najjarine needed shoulder surgery during the season and with City chasing the championship there was little chance of him breaking into the team once he had recovered.

But Brattan is confident that he can play an Arzani-style role in the second half of this season.

"Arzani has done fantastic. He's a great talent, but Ramy is up there with Daniel, for sure, if he plays regular football and takes his opportunities like he did on the weekend. We haven't seen anything from him yet."

The knock last year on Arzani was that he didn't work hard enough – "to be be honest, everyone works harder than Daniel," Brattan joked.

But, he said, Najjarine was different.

"Ramy is a two-way player. He gets back and defends. We need that in our team, going forward that's where he is at his best, taking on players, and he can score a goal. But he does do a job defensively for the team as well," he said.

"Last year I carried Daniel a fair bit on that right side defensively and he gave us our rewards going forward so hopefully Ramy can step into that position and make it his own."

Brattan is one of the senior players in a squad that is seeing an increasing number of fringe young players given a chance: last week three of them, Lachlan Wales, Nathaniel Atkinson and Riley McGree were in Canberra with the Olyroos, while Najjarine and several of the youth team players have been called up by the junior national teams.

As such he knows he and his older teammates have to provide guidance in matches and in preparation.

Luke Brattan.Credit:AAP

"I have tried to be more of a leader the past few weeks, it's tough when we do have such a young team, but that's part of my job, not carrying them but helping them not just in games but in training," he said.

The midfielder was pleased with the professional way City did a job on Adelaide last Sunday at a ground that is never easy to visit and secure points, and he believes the team is ready to click ahead of the Melbourne derby on Saturday.

"Victory are in form, it's why they are where they are on the table. They are playing some great football and are champions for a reason. But we never lack confidence, especially in derbies. We won the first one," he said.

Brattan said the players had become used to Fornaroli's absence. He pointed out that Joyce had said if he trained well he could force his way back into the team, which "would be great".

But his unavailability was no excuse, Brattan added.

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