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Socceroos squad analysis, Mat Ryan transfer rumours, Ajdin Hrustic, Daniel Arzani, Tom Rogic, Qatar World Cup, Graham Arnold, Aaron Mooy, latest, updates, opinion, transfer rumors

There’s less than five months to go until the 2022 World Cup and thankfully the Socceroos will be one of the 32 nations competing for the grandest prize in football.

It leaves plenty of time for Socceroos boss Graham Arnold to cast his eye across the Aussies playing across the world as well as on home soil and assess who will make up the 23-man squad destined for Qatar in November.

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However, a number of stars have major question marks hanging over their heads in terms of playing time.

It’s paramount that Aussie stars get as many minutes under their belts as possible before the World Cup and for some, they might have to make use of the summer transfer window to find a new home that will give them what they need.

With some of Australia’s key players not guaranteed to receive starting berths, it could lead to some tough conversations being had between coaches, agents and the players themselves.

Foxsports.com.au analyzes the key Socceroos who must make the crucial call of whether to stay in their current situation, move elsewhere or pick the right club as a free agent.

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Matt Ryan (Royal Society)

As the captain of the Socceroos, there’s no disputing that Mat Ryan is essentially a shoe-in for the starting line-up.

However at Real Sociedad, Ryan has found minutes extremely difficult to come by and played just nine games for the Spanish side across La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Europa League as he plays second fiddle to Alex Remiro.

Even without regular starts, Ryan rarely put a foot wrong for the Socceroos when called upon.

Despite joining Real Sociedad in the summer transfer window last year, should Ryan think about a move elsewhere ahead of this season with the World Cup looming?

Of course, there’s every chance he jumps ahead of Remiro in the pecking order but it’s not a guarantee.

Ryan is the Socceroos skipper but struggles for minutes with his club. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Ajdin Hrustic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

There’s no questioning Ajdin Hrustic’s importance to the Socceroos and it’s frightening to think about where the team would be without his influence in the midfield.

But at Eintracht Frankfurt, he’s not exactly the star of the show.

In fact, Hrustic started just nine Bundesliga games last season in the heart of Frankfurt’s midfield.

According to the Daily MailHrustic’s game time could be slashed even more as German star Mario Gotze is set to arrive in Frankfurt from Dutch heavyweights PSV Eindhoven.

Gotze, Germany’s hero in the 2014 World Cup final, plays a similar role to Hrustic and would push him even further down the midfield pecking order.

However, Gotze is likely to be a replacement signing for Japanese midfield maestro Daichi Kamada, but it leaves Hrustic in exactly the same place he was before the German’s impending arrival.

Hrustic will still get game time for Frankfurt, but maximizing his minutes ahead of a World Cup in which he’ll be vital to Australia’s chances must be a thought bubbling away in his mind.

Hrustic will be key to Australia’s chances in Qatar. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Tom Rogic (unattached)

The microscope is firmly fixed on the curious case of Tom Rogic.

He left Celtic at the conclusion of the 2021/22 season and remains a free agent, although the 29-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Indonesian club Persija Jakarta.

Rogic also withdrew from the Socceroos squad ahead of the crucial play-offs due to personal reasons.

When fit and firing, Rogic is Australia’s most creative player and can thread the needle like no other.

If he has hopes of playing in Qatar, is a move to Indonesia really his best option to maintain his form ahead of the World Cup?

The money would be undeniably good and at his age, it could be his last big payday before one final transfer or perhaps even calling time on his career.

But his final season with Celtic proved he has plenty of talent left to give and could have easily enjoyed another season with the Hoops under Ange Postecoglou.

It remains a mystery as to where Rogic will move next, but one transfer he has categorically ruled out, at least for the immediate future, is a return to the A-League Men’s.

Rogic is without a club after leaving Celtic. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Daniel Arzani (Manchester City)

This time four years ago, Daniel Arzani’s name was on the tip of every Aussie’s tongue as he burst onto the global stage at the 2018 World Cup as the youngest player at the tournament.

What has followed since has been nothing short of disastrous.

Arzani signed for Manchester City after the World Cup and was immediately sent to Celtic on a two-year loan, but an ACL injury in his first game ruined his time at Parkhead and began a downward spiral for the mercurial talent.

Several ill-fated loan spells littered with niggling injuries and a worrying lack of minutes for the 23-year-old followed, but he reminded Australia of his talent with his displays for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics last year, even if he struggled with fitness .

Now into his last year of his deal with City, Arzani must choose his next move wisely if he feels he has even the slimmest of chances at making Arnold’s 23-man squad.

A blistering spell between August and November could leave the Socceroos boss with a major selection headache, but with a mooted move back to the A-League Men’s on the cards, the season could start too late for him to have the needed impact.

Arzani’s career is at a crossroad. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Aaron Mooy (Shanghai Port)

Eyebrows were raised when Aaron Mooy moved from Brighton to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG, now Shanghai Port.

But when life-changing money is on the table, it is hard to say no.

However, Mooy hasn’t exactly been able to play as much as he would’ve liked for his Chinese club due to factors out of his control, namely just how much Covid has gripped China lately.

Mooy made the brave call of refusing to turn up to Shanghai’s pre-season preparations due to the pandemic and instead worked with Arnold and Socceroos high performance chief Andrew Clark in Scotland to build up his fitness ahead of the crucial playoff matches.

Despite not playing a match since February, Mooy played 90 minutes against the UAE and the full 120 minutes against Peru and even took a penalty in the victorious shootout.

A similar scenario for Mooy and Clark cannot happen again between now and Qatar.

Could Mooy’s Chinese escape end less than two years into his deal in pursuit of more playing time?

Mooy played 210 minutes of football in two Socceroos games despite not playing a match since February. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Tyrese Francois (unattached)

Tyrese Francois is no guarantee to make the Socceroos and is yet to be capped, but as the Olyroos skipper and one of Australia’s brightest prospects, the 21-year-old deserves a mention.

Fulham boss Marco Silva had high praise for the young Aussie, declaring last season that Francois was the only young player who impressed him more than Liverpool-bound winger Fabio Carvalho.

Francois is currently out of contract but has been offered a new deal by Fulham, although he faces a massive fight to log minutes for the London outfit now that they are back in the Premier League and are well-stocked in central midfield.

Of course, inking a new deal would likely see Francois move out on loan to another club further down in the EFL.

We’ve had plenty of Socceroos bolters at the past four World Cups: a 20-year-old Mark Milligan in 2006, Nikita Rukavytsya in 2010, Massimo Luongo in 2014 and more recently Daniel Arzani in 2018.

If Francois gets a move away from Craven Cottage and gets plenty of playing time elsewhere, who’s to say he won’t be the next man to join the bolter club?

Francois is one of Australia’s brightest prospects but has struggled for game time at club level. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Trent Sainsbury (unattached)

Trent Sainsbury has been a mainstay at the heart of the Socceroos backline for several years and looks a certainty to be on the plane to Qatar.

However, a starting berth at the World Cup is no guarantee.

Kye Rowles impressed many in the Socceroos’ playoff matches against the UAE and Peru and with Harry Souttar a lock once he returns from his ACL injury, Sainsbury faces a fight to break into Graham Arnold’s XI.

Sainsbury started 28 of Belgian side KV Kortrijk’s top flight games last season but left the club at the expiration of his contract.

The 30-year-old undeniably has the ability to continue playing in Europe, but where exactly that is remains to be seen.

Any wrong step could result in the permanent loss of his starting place as the next generation of Socceroos defenders stake their claim.

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