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|A-League Special: Young talent at Gold Coast United set for long careers|
Soccer Anchor's Kieran Francis analyses the talent at Gold Coast United that still doesn't have a club for next season.
Lets face it, Gold Coast United are extremely unlikely to be in the A-League next season. The market that they have been trying to woo is either badly damaged or doesn't exist. It's pretty clear that the FFA are set on investigating other franchises for as early as next season.
I'm a big believer that while Gold Coast will cease to exist, their legacy will long-live on in the youth players that the club developed and produced. Some of these players have already moved on to other A-League clubs; James Brown (Newcastle), Chris Harold (Perth), Daniel Bowles (Adelaide) and Adama Traore (Melbourne Victory).
However, there are still six quality youngsters that haven't been signed by A-League clubs for next season. These players are all effectively free agents and will be in huge demand over the next few weeks. Let's have a look at the talent available:
Age: 19 Position:
Halloran is arguably the most exciting prospect from Gold Coast's squad this season. Highly touted before the season began, Halloran made 21 appearances and scored four goals. The highlight of his season was his mazy, dribbling run through the Central Coast defence when he scored a goal of the season contender in February. He is arguably the quickest player in the A-League and a slight improvement in passing and finishing could mean a Socceroo cap in the not-too-distant future. Halloran is an exception amongst his team-mates as he actually had a contract for next season. As the FFA is effectively the owners of GCU, then a contract release would have to be negotiated with them. Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC are reportedly interested in Halloran with Ange Postecoglou's men the frontrunners.
Tyson, sporting a crazy mohawk, quickly established himself as the number one goalkeeper at Gold Coast after stepping in for the injured Kiwi goalkeeper Glen Moss. Whilst looking awkward and eccentric, Tyson's goalkeeping developed considerably over the season. Toward the end of the season, he put in some quality performances; particularly when his goal was under siege. For any clubs needing a starting goalkeeper, signing Tyson on a free transfer, with wages that wouldn't be that high, would be an astute piece of business. Despite the fact that no one has been reportedly interested in Tyson, I'd be very surprised if he wasn't picked up in the off-season. Clubs such as Sydney and Wellington could do with a consistent goalkeeper.
Mebrahtu is an extremely athletic and talented footballer. Capable of playing breathtaking football, the Eritrean born attacker is prone to inconsistent performances. He is a raw player that needs some serious time put in to his development. Any club willing to do this could have quite a player on their hands. Mebrahtu had plenty of opportunities to open his Gold Coast scoring account but lacked that clinical edge needed to score goals. A few months ago Wellington Phoenix were said to be interested in the enigmatic forward and there has been whispers of Melbourne Victory interest in the past few days.
Position: Central Defender
The strongly-built Anderson is in high demand after a quality second-half of the season. He is a strong defender, who competes well and is comfortable on the ball. After a poor start to the season, which included a game where he got sent off and gave away a needless penalty, Anderson got another chance later on in the season. He impressed so much in defence that Aurelio Vidmar called him up to the Olyroos squad and he made his debut. Anderson has been strongly rumoured to sign for premiers Central Coast after his agent admitted interest from the Gosford-based club.
Barker-Daish is a Melbourne-born midfielder who made his debut toward the latter part of the season. The tricky midfielder, who can take a quality free kick, impressed in the first-team despite his tender years. His youth didn't stop him from having significant effect on games and this would have been noted by other A-League clubs. Because of his birthplace, it's rumoured that Melbourne clubs' Heart and Victory are vying for Barker-Daish's signature. He is definitely one to watch in the future.
Cooper became infamous when former Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer named him as captain for his first ever A-League game. While he was relatively anonymous during his captaincy debut, Cooper settled over the remainder of the season. Despite not being old enough to drive, Cooper drove Gold Coast forward from central midfield in his six appearances and scored with a clever, opportunist finish against Central Coast in a 3-3 draw. Theworldgame.com.au reported that Melbourne Victory was favourite to sign the prodigious midfielder.
It is certain that it's going to be a long time until the legacy of this Gold Coast United side has disappeared. These kids are all extremely bright prospects and are certain to get picked up A-League clubs in the off-season at the very least.
It will be interesting to see which clubs can woo these highly-promising youngsters. According to the media, Melbourne Victory seems to be trying to sign every player remaining from the Gold Coast United squad.. It's a significant possibility that media outlets are just using the “Victory” name to generate headlines in mentioning their interest in these players.
I look forward to seeing these kids plying their trades elsewhere next season but we must not forget the legacy that Gold Coast United has left us. Some of these youngsters will turn out so good that we will be reminded about it consistently for the next ten years.
You can follow me on Twitter at @kieran_francis