Socceroos stars used to regularly feature in the English top flight, but nowadays only a handful see regular Premier League action.
Next term could result in only one Aussie starting an English Premier League (EPL) match should Leicester City be relegated and giant defender Harry Souttar stay with the club to tackle the Championship.
Buzzing Brighton & Hove Albion boast up-and-coming Sydney-born Cameron Peupion. The 20-year-old midfielder has just started to feature for the first team, and if he’s regularly involved in EPL matches then surely Aussie head coach Graham Arnold will reach out.
Peupion, still part of the Brighton U23 side, was recently given a chance to show his silky skills by Roberto De Zerbi. He played 14 minutes as a late substitute against Newcastle United and was on the bench against Manchester City.
With the south coast side earning their first foray into European football next term, Peupion is poised to earn his chance to compete regularly in the top flight. He’s worked his way up from junior football, turning out for Manly United before joining Sydney FC’s Sky Blue Academy.
Peupion was spotted by Brighton scouts during the 2019 U17 World Cup finals in Brazil, and joined the Seagulls in August 2020. However, he never met his Australian team-mates, goalkeeper Mat Ryan and midfielder Aaron Mooy, due to COVID-19 segregation.
Although Peupion and January transfer deadline signing Souttar have played in the EPL this term, midfielders Tyrese Francois (Fulham) and Alex Robertson (Manchester City) were the only Aussies to kick-off the top tier 2022-23 season in England.
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Neither Francois nor Robertson, as fringe players for both club and country, look likely to force themselves into first-team contention for next season’s EPL but are considered to be future stars.
Francois, whose father is Mauritius and mother is English, played junior football in New South Wales for Camden Tigers before moving with his family to join — with his brother Marlee — the Fulham Academy in 2017.
Yet last September things dramatically altered for him. He was sent on a season-long loan to Croatia outfit HNK Gorica, and a few weeks later was called up to the Australian squad for a pair of friendlies against New Zealand.
Scottish-born, Maroubra-raised Robertson played rugby league for Mascot Jets rather than football. Yet he spent time with Maroubra United run by his father Mark, who made a single appearance for the Socceroos in 2001.
He joined the Hakoah Sydney East Academy before moving to England with Manchester United in 2015. After a two-year stint he switched allegiance to bitter rivals Manchester City, where he’s considered to be a hot prospect.
It will be intriguing to follow the latest soccer news to see if Robertson becomes the next Aussie to next win an EPL title. He would follow in the footsteps of champion compatriots Robbie Slater (Blackburn Rovers 1994-95) and goalkeeping legend Mark Bosnich (Manchester United 1999-2000).
Souttar, who smashed the record to become Australia’s most expensive soccer transfer in a £15 million deal from Championship club Stoke City, will be contemplating his future. With Leicester City’s EPL status in the balance until the final match of the season, then he could be tempted by a move to another club rather than drop back a division.
Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves all showed a keen interest in Souttar before he penned a five-and-a-half-year contract with strugglers Leicester.
The Scottish-born 24-year-old returned from being out of favour for interim head coach Dean Smith by scooping the Man of the Match award in Leicester’s scoreless stalemate at Newcastle United in mid-May. That was their first clean sheet in 22 matches, in his only start in a month, and proved how valuable he is for club and country.
Playing in the EPL is a dream for a plethora of footballers all across the globe. Only a handful appear to be lined up to set the English top flight alight for the 2023-24 campaign, with all eyes on Peupion’s potential.