Injuries, a change of manager and more Celtic options have left the Australian on the outside looking in.
Daniel Arzani arrived at Celtic in 2018 with a fair amount of fanfare.
The young winger was fresh from making an impact the 2018 World Cup and made a big switch to Manchester City before immediately being farmed out to the Hoops.
Brendan Rodgers, who was manager at the time, declared he was ‘very pleased’ with the player’s progress and, in the midst of fans clamouring to see the prospect in action, eventually gave him a debut in late October.
Just minutes into that appearance though the player would suffer an injury that has kept him out of action ever since. He’s yet to play for club or country.
He’s been left on the outside looking in at Celtic, with no real word on what his status is.
What we know is that Neil Lennon failed to include him in the club’s UEFA Europa League squad last and that the player is further away from first-team action than ever after major moves in the transfer market.
Mohamed Elyounoussi primed to shine
The left wing area at Celtic was already crowded enough for Arzani towards the end of the transfer window, even if it lacked a bit of quality in depth.
The arrival of the Southampton man on loan, who is said by Spotrac to be earning £60,000-a-week on his current Saints deal, has only further pushed the young Australian further down the pecking order.
With experience of scoring and assisting for Basel and Molde, both domestically and in European competition, the 25-year-old is primed to make a significant impact at the Hoops.
His last season with the Swiss side resulted in 13 goals and 17 assists, which included two of each in the UEFA Champions League.
He has the kind of quality that puts him right in contention to make starts in Lennon’s side.
The Johnston factor
With Elyounoussi looking like a prime pick, there is room for an apprentice of sorts to help support him and provide relief in lesser matches. However, Arzani surely falls short there too.
The emergence of Mikey Johnston means that Lennon is far more likely to invest playing time into the homegrown youngster, rather than one who is set to return to Manchester City next summer.
Johnston has started the season in electric form, scoring three goals and assisting four times already.
Even if the Australian returns to full fitness, he doesn’t have much chance of convincing anyone he’s a more worthwhile project.
A series of unfortunate events
Events at Celtic over the last year appear to have provided an insurmountable challenge for Arzani.
The likelihood at this stage would appear to be him heading back to Man City without having really had a proper run in the Hoops team.
It’s not a reflection on his ability, which is still largely untested in professional football, but simply a harsh and unavoidable early lesson for the player.
He may go on to have a stellar career, but Celtic have clear priorities and must focus on the here and now, with legacy trophy wins at stake.
Unfortunately for Arzani, those plans don’t appear to include him.
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