25th July 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
It was encouraging to see Aaron Mooy look so comfortable playing against the intensity and quality of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. The Australian, who's just been loaned out to Huddersfield Town, having recently joined Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, appeared unfazed by the step up in class throughout his 45 minutes of action.
Mooy, formerly of A-League side Melbourne City, rightfully received rave reviews for his excellent performance. The local newspaper certainly didn't waste anytime in voicing their satisfaction with the new signing. "On a night when a sell out crowd came to the John Smith's Stadium, there was one man wearing blue and white stripes who stood out above the rest," wrote Alexandra Porter of the Huddersfield Examiner.
"Aaron Mooy continues to win the hearts and minds of supporters with a string of accomplished pre-season displays to kick off his loan from Manchester City."
From his midfield station, the 25-year-old hardly put a foot wrong, oozing calmness, composure and authority in everything he did. As ever, Mooy used the ball thoughtfully and with precision, in a match where he linked play beautifully, especially in close quarters, to orchestrate so many enterprising attacking passages. In addition, his quick feet, vision and terrific awareness saw him show a high level of resistance to Liverpool's pressing. The Reds just couldn't dispossess him due to his innate ability to always find a way out of trouble via a sharp turn or by picking out a teammate with a slick pass.
Defensively, he showed great tenacity in his work, particularly in his pressing, which his manager, David Wagner, would've loved witnessing. Wagner, having previously worked with Klopp, plays a similarly dynamic brand of football as his Liverpool counterpart, so Mooy's exertions in this regard would've pleased his boss tremendously.
The set piece specialist also whipped in some wicked deliveries from dead ball situations and displayed his calculated movement inside the attacking third, which provided some additional excitement to the Huddersfield faithful.
Having previously moved abroad as a youngster to join Bolton Wanderers' youth academy and later to Scotland to play for St Mirren, it must feel like the perfect reward for all his perseverance and hard work that he's earned another chance to test himself in the UK.
Bravely deciding to move home to Australia back in 2012 is a choice that Mooy would feel a real sense of vindication about now, for it's allowed him to mature and develop into the wonderful player he is today.
While the Sydneysider performed solidly with the club he left St Mirren to join, the Western Sydney Wanderers, it was at Melbourne City where he really began to shine and fulfill his potential.
In his two seasons at the club, he won back to back player of the year awards, and has also become a regular for the Socceroos at international level courtesy of his outstanding form at club level.
Mooy's numbers over those two campaigns in Melbourne speak for themselves. In the 2014/15 crusade, he was the team's top scorer, with seven goals, and his eight assists saw him lead the way in this regard too. The creative midfielder then remarkably bettered those numbers in the 2015/16 term, bagging 11 goals and breaking the A-League assist record by setting up a magnificent 21 goals.
Midfielders that can both create, and score, goals are indeed a rare commodity in the modern game. And Mooy certainly falls into this category, which he's importantly managed to transfer to international level, already finding the back of the net five times in his 16 caps.
Although Melbourne City manager, John van't Schip, will be sad to see him leave, the Dutchman was delighted that Mooy's been rewarded for all his tireless work. "Aaron was a fantastic contributor to Melbourne City and we must first and foremost thank him for his involvement and impact during his time at the club," van't Schip said.
"He is deserving of his new opportunity and we wish him all the best for the future."
It'll be fascinating to see how he adapts to life in the Championship with Huddersfield, but it's a challenge that Mooy can't wait to embark on. "I'm delighted to join Huddersfield Town Football Club, ahead of what I'm sure will be a really exciting season and I can't wait to get started," Mooy explained.
"The Championship is a really tough competition and provides me with a good challenge for the next stage of my career."
"I'm looking forward to meeting my new teammates and to working with the boss David Wagner. Huddersfield are a progressive club and are an ideal fit for me to achieve my goals for the coming year."
All things considered, working under the expert tutelage of Wagner at Huddersfield really does appear to be the ideal destination for him to continue his progression as a footballer.
However unlikely it may seem at present, who knows, maybe one day we might even see Mooy running out in the bright lights of the Premier League's for Pep Guardiola's Man City.
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Aaron Mooy: The Most Exciting Australian Football Player
25th July 2016. By Edward Stratmann.