21/02/2024
Nestory Irankunda soaking it all in with his family during the official contract signing. (Photo: Isuzu Ute A-League X)

Nestory Irankunda soaking it all in with his family during the official contract signing. (Photo: Isuzu Ute A-League X)

Last week, official confirmation revealed that Adelaide United youngster Nestory Irankunda had put pen to paper on a deal to join German powerhouses Bayern Munich.

The transfer fee that the South Australian club will receive is reported to be in the range of $6 million AUD according to journalist Fabrizio Romano, which would make it the highest transfer fee in A-Leagues history.

As Adelaide prepares to face off against Western United on Sunday evening, A-Leagues fans all around the country have only 23 chances left to watch Irankunda in the flesh.

Although touted as one of Australia’s brightest prospects, to think that Irankunda has only made three starting appearances for Adelaide and has now signed for one of the biggest clubs in the world is mind-blowing.

The Bavarians have done their scouting homework, identifying Irankunda as a winger with skill, pace, trickery, and a tonne of personality.

No doubt there are positives attached to the move, as the teenager will be given a priceless opportunity to work with some of the best players and coaches in world football.

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Speaking from a development point of view, this move makes perfect sense – or does it?

We know the likely scenario that is going to play out as soon as Irankunda walks through the doors of the German champions; loaned out to get experience at another European club for two seasons at the very least.

In the past, the question has been raised by many Australian fans and pundits as to when exactly is the right time to move abroad. Over the past decade, it’s been crystal clear that Irankunda’s route has backfired time and time again.

Viewed as an exciting young prospect at the Brisbane Roar, Tommy Oar made the jump to Holland’s Eredivisie to join FC Utrecht as an 18-year-old after only making 23 appearances in Australia’s top tier by the time he made the move at the end of the 2009/10 campaign.

In what was a career fuelled by so much promise and potential, unfortunately, did not reach the heights that many had first anticipated.

Since then, the examples continue to pile up:

The likes of Daniel Arzani (Celtic), Chris Ikonomidis (Lazio), Christian Theoharous (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Sebastian Pasquali (Ajax II), and Daniel De Silva (AS Roma) are just some of the list of Australian names who decided to transfer to Europe at a young age.

Guess what? All of them are now back in the A-Leagues aiming to manifest a ‘mini-revival’ to get back to playing in Europe.

Let’s not forget Garang Kuol who has somewhat escaped from the media spotlight since his loan moves to Scottish club Hearts and FC Volendam in the Eredivisie during his first 12 months after signing for Newcastle United.

To this day, every single one of those players mentioned are technically gifted footballers, why else would some of the top clubs in Europe be chasing after their signature?

For those clubs, in truth, the common goal they all share involves aspiring to help develop these young talents and in most cases hope to sell them for reasonable profit.

Could it be that Irankunda is a once-in-a-generation Australian talent?

There is every possibility that the Tanzanian-born sensation could light it up in Germany and get some valuable minutes under his belt.

That however, has been anything but reality for the past and current Aussie hopefuls who have put all their eggs in the European basket, only to come away with more negatives than positives.

The golden generation is always referred to as the benchmark, both in terms of development and playing consistently at the biggest clubs in Europe, something the Socceroos have been lacking for nearly two decades.

Aside from the proven success of the old Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) program, Socceroos players were making the right decisions regarding putting their development first ahead of early fame.

Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle United, Borussia Dortmund, and Lazio were a handful of clubs in which members of past Australian eras not only featured on the squad list but were playing consistent minutes.

A prime example is Mark Viduka. The former Socceroo captain spent two seasons at Melbourne Knights to mature and evolve before making the move to Dinamo Zagreb and Celtic to further learn his craft in environments that offered stability for growth.

At 25, Viduka was ready and built for Premier League football in England where he starred for Leeds United in a four-season span.

For three seasons, Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill stayed put in the National Soccer League (NSL) for their respective Australian clubs until they felt the time was right to pack their bags for England.

For Irankunda’s sake, the last thing Australian football fans want to see is an incredibly talented player fall by the wayside.

No longer can Australian football afford to lose out on players who fall short at the final hurdle when it comes to selecting the next destination at an early age.

We can only hope that Australia’s new megastar has the right people and advice behind him to propel him to the next stage of his career that seemingly has no limits.

Can Nestory Irankunda finally break the curse?

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