It’s half time in the Argentina-Australia game as I write this, and I’ve come to the computer to do it because I had to. That first half was not brilliant, but one player stood out as having barely put a foot wrong; our own Aaron Mooy.
At the very end of the half he took the ball just inside the Argentine half and lofted it with perfect precision into their penalty area for Leckie, the veteran Aussie striker. He did get the ball, but an Argentine defender was on hand to clear.
That moment, that brilliant piece of insight and the technical skill to exploit the opportunity, is what we’ve seen from big Mooy since this tournament began. Australia has a limited side which works hard and that makes it difficult to beat them. But they have one or two players of genuine quality, and our midfielder is one of them.
He plays a different role for Australia than I’ve ever seen him play at Celtic, where the pace of the game is quicker and he gets further up the pitch. He seems to play in the hole between midfield and defence, but he’s not a combative ball winner like Callum, or like O’Riley has been these past few months. His role is to spot the pass and make the pass; he’s a deep lying playmaker, and almost everything good that Australia do goes through him.
At Celtic he’s played in a more advanced role, as an attacking midfielder or as a creative playmaker in the middle of the pitch. He gets less time to do what he’s doing here, but I still think we’ve seen enough of him in our colours to know that he’s quality.
But in a role like this and in a team like the Aussies he stands out a mile for the vision and quality of his football. He would not look out of place on the other team and those long accurate passes would wreak havoc with a guy like Messi running onto them.
It’s time we acknowledged it. His style might not exactly suit our system, although he’s certainly not done much wrong when we’ve seen him lately, but this is a quality footballer with a high level of technical skill and a great awareness of the game.
Ange knew exactly what he was doing bringing this guy to Celtic. What a role model he would be for all of our young players as well. He could teach them a thing or two about how to play. He could teach anyone a thing or two.