Celtic and Australia could be set for another confrontation over an international player this summer, after comments from one of the national team’s coaches.
Last year, the Hoops were at loggerheads with the Socceroos over Tom Rogic. Australia wanted the playmaker to join up with their Asian Cup squad nice and early, but that meant missing the final game of 2018 with Celtic. The fact that game was at Ibrox against Rangers meant that Celtic were very reluctant to let that happen.
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers shared his frustrations at the time over the club versus country battle.
“That’s not something we’re overly happy about because we want to work in a relationship with the federations,” he told the BBC. “I spoke with Graham Arnold, the manager, here and I had two really good days of trying to ensure relations are good between international teams and club teams.
“But you do that through working together and what is the best for each player. And we feel Tom can play and be available for the 29th and fly out after the game and meet up in Dubai on the 30th and still be there virtually a week before he’s due to play his first game.
“Tom wants to play in the game but he also wants to play for Australia. It’s a position the player doesn’t need to be in.”
As is invariably the case, the Aussies won the battle over custody and Rogic missed the defeat at Ibrox.
Celtic and Australia don’t have the best of relationships
Now it seems that a similar situation may arise this season – this time with Daniel Arzani. The 20-year-old has only played once for Celtic, away back in late October, but he is still in the frame to participate in January’s Asian under-23 Championship.
Speaking to The World Game, Aussie under-23s coach Gary van Egmond says that Arzani is very much in their plans, assuming he is fit.
“It depends where he’s at in terms of his fitness but if he’s good to go then in this age group he’s very important in terms of where he’s playing and the level he’s at.
“He could have a big bearing on the team and how it progresses from here.
“We’ll obviously be guided by the medicos in terms of where he’s up to to ensure the best outcome for him.
“All the overseas boys have expressed just how much they want to be involved in the Olympics.”
January’s tournament acts as a qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics so Arzani is likely to be keen to participate. It starts on 8th January, a similar date to Rogic’s event earlier this year, however there are likely to be warm-up matches. Such fixtures could mean that Arzani misses some Celtic games.
The youngster wouldn’t be a great miss to Neil Lennon’s side right now. But football is a funny old game and you’re not quite sure where he’ll be in the pecking order in a few months.