Top 10 Aussies Abroad For 2019

by Ben Somerford on Jan 03, 2020

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We all tend to reflect on the year gone as the earth completes another orbit of the sun and GGArmy is no different, wrapping up our weekly Socceroos Central updates with our exclusive top 10 list of Aussies playing abroad for 2019.

GGArmy’s Ben Somerford has taken on the unforgiving task to assemble the list, having scouted the players week-in week-out with his comprehensive features every Monday morning.

He’s taken into account numerous criteria including quality of league, while longevity isn’t essential but valued – as you’ll see with some players impacted by injury. Please note, performances only during 2019 at club level overseas are taken into account.

10. Milos Degenek (Al Hilal – Saudi Arabia/Crvena Zvezda - Serbia)
Centre-back Degenek is the only Australian to compete in the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League, coming up against the likes of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski with Crvena Zvezda. He started all of their six group games. He managed this after emotionally returning to Crvena in mid-year after six months in Saudi Arabia with Al Hilal.

9. Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland - Denmark)
The 24-year-old Kenya-born winger has had a massive 12 months with both club and country. Mabil scored six goals last term as Midtjylland fell away late to miss out on the Danish Superliga title, but he’s been in the thick of the action on their road to redemption. Still prone to inconsistency, Mabil has netted five times this season, with Midtjylland top of the table at the halfway mark.

8. Ajdin Hrustic (FC Groningen – Netherlands)
Arguably Australia’s most under-the-radar talent, Melbourne-born Hrustic has enjoyed a breakout 2019 in the Netherlands with Groningen becoming a more consistent package after previous glimpses of his promise. After 10 appearances in 2018-19, the midfielder has solidified his spot as a starter with the midtable Eredivisie side, delivering set-pieces and scoring three goals.

7. Jackson Irvine (Hull City – England)
The long-haired midfielder had another strong year with Hull City, barely missing a beat during the 2018-19 campaign when they shook off a relegation scare to finish midtable. His roles in midfield varied, from defensive to attacking, chipping in with six goals. He’s been an ever-present this term and marked his 100th appearance for the club last week with the winning goal.

6. Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa – Israel)
Ukraine-born Rukavytsya often gets forgotten about plying his trade in the lesser known Israeli top flight, but he deserves recognition as the league’s top scorer with 10 strikes in the 2019-20 campaign so far. The ex-Perth Glory forward’s goals have helped Maccabi Haifa into second spot at the halfway mark. The 32-year-old also netted six goals earlier in the calendar year to help Maccabi qualify for Europe.

5. James Holland (LASK Linz – Austria)
The ex-Newcastle and Central Coast midfielder is another Aussie who goes under the radar, given he’s no longer in the Socceroos frame but he’s had a huge 12 months. Holland has been a key plank with plucky Austrian club LASK Linz who punched out of their weight division to finish runners-up behind Red Bull Salzburg in 2018-19. They’ve shown they’re no flash in the pan, with a strong 2019-20 campaign, currently sitting second, while they’ve beaten the likes of PSV and Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, with Holland almost always in the starting XI.

4. Danny Vukovic (Genk – Belgium)
Vukovic reveled in a stunning second season in Belgium with Genk, where they lifted the league championship, their first in eight years. The 34-year-old goalkeeper would arguably be close to top of this list if not for a long-term Achilles tendon injury suffered in July, which denied him a dream shot at playing UEFA Champions League football. But in 2018-19, Vukovic enjoyed career-best form and kept the most clean sheets in the Belgian top flight, with 14 overall.

3. Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield/Brighton & Hove Albion – England)
After enduring a campaign of few highs and suffering relegation from the English Premier League with Huddersfield, 29-year-old Mooy has slowly settled into life at Brighton & Hove Albion whom he joined on loan in August. The midfielder worked his way into the starting XI and has sparked into top form in recent times, arguably being the Seagulls’ Player of the Month for December, including a Man of the Match display which included a goal against Bournemouth last Saturday.

2. Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings – Korea Republic)
The 26-year-old enjoyed a remarkable debut season in Korea’s K-League, netting 20 goals in 32 appearances to finish as the competition’s Golden Boot. He also earned selection in the K-League Team of the Year and lifted the Korean FA Cup with Suwon Bluewings. He was prolific in July, netting seven goals in the month, earning a Socceroos recall with strikes against Chinese Taipei and Jordan revitalizing his stalled international career.

1. Mat Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion – England)
The Brighton & Hove Albion shot-stopper is in a class of his own for 2019, producing outstanding consistency at an elite level. Ryan has played every Seagulls’ league game this Premier League season, keeping five clean sheets, while he was a key reason they avoided relegation last term. The only games he missed were while away at the Asian Cup. One of the highlights of his year was a masterful display in November against league leaders Liverpool.

Honourable Mentions
Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders – USA), Tom Rogic (Celtic – Scotland), Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus – Japan), Massimo Luongo (QPR/Sheffield Wednesday – England), Lyndon Dykes (Livingston/Queen of the South – Scotland)