Iran national football team coach Carlos Queiroz is monitoring Melbourne City starlet Daniel Arzani, who is eligible to play for Team Melli.
Queiroz has admitted 19-year-old Australian Arzani is a player he and his staff are following “very closely” as the international tug-of-war for the Melbourne City star continues.
The international future of Arzani, who is eligible to play for both Australia and Iran, where he was born before moving to Australia as a young child, has been the subject of much speculation over the last few months since he burst onto the scene with Melbourne City with a series of eye-catching performances.
Arzani, who has represented Australia at Under-17, U-20 and U-23 level, is yet to make any firm commitment either way regarding his senior international future, although he told reporters in Australia in February that he is leaning towards a future in green and gold.
“I think for me I am leaning a bit more towards Australia,” Arzani said. “I grew up here, I played all my football here and went to the AIS [Australian Institute of Sports]. I have a lot of memories here.”
It remains to be seen, however, whether Bert van Marwijk will heed the calls from experts and former Socceroos alike, and select Iranian-born Arzani – who says he still speaks Persian at home with his parents – in his 23-man squad for 2018 FIFA World Cup when he names his squad next month.
Until then, or until Arzani makes public his final decision, Iran remain in the hunt and Queiroz told FOX Sports Asia in an exclusive interview that he is a player that is very much on their radar.
“We follow with all the details all national team players,” Queiroz said. “And with the player you mentioned [Arzani] we’ve been following him very closely, with full details of every single game.
“We have direct observations and analysis, and video analysis, of every single game of all national team players and he is part of our system. We’ve been watching very closely, we’ve been analyzing all the games he’s been playing. We have deep research and analysis on him, and all the other players.
“In the end the decision will be made on the capabilities and skills and character of each player to be part of the national team.”
Queiroz added, however, that he wouldn’t select Arzani simply to “lock him in” to playing for Iran, saying he’s seen that happen with other players in the past and it’s not something he as a coach is comfortable with.
“In my long experience with international football players, especially the players that have the possibility to choose which national team they can play, I never challenge one player to play with the national team that I’m working for if I’m not sure that he has the real possibility to have an impact on the success of the team,” he said.
“It has happened with other Portuguese players that they call them to other national teams to stop them playing for Portugal, and I’ve always thought that was not a good move, not a correct and honest move.
“So I will never do that with other players, because I’ll feel bad personally if I challenge a player to play for Iran, and after me or any coach stops coaching the team.
“This decision is very complex and it’s a big decision and we can only take this decision if we are absolutely sure that this player will have a huge impact with the national team of Iran.”
While the 65-year-old, now in his seventh year in charge of Iran, didn’t want to be drawn into talking specifically about what he liked about Arzani, he still let it be known he saw him as someone with that potential.
“I don’t want to go into full details because I don’t do that for any other player,” he said. “But of course, it’s obvious that if we are following him game after game it’s because we recognize he’s a player with good potential.”
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