Riley McGree (Adelaide United, Australia)
Position: Attacking midfielder / Central midfielder / Left winger
2016/17 stats: 16 games (1013 minutes) – 1 goals – 0 assists – 4 yellow card – 0 red cards
Asian Champions League: 5 games (450 minutes) – 1 goals – 0 assists – 2 yellow cards – 0 red cards
In a season that was very difficult for the Australia’s defending champions Adelaide United they still had something to celebrate with the 18-year-old wonderkid Riley McGree bursting onto the senior stage. Due to poor results and injuries to midfielders come December 2016 McGree was starting regularly in the middle of the park for the Reds and very quickly his vibrant solo runs with the ball at feet and ability to stretch defences made him a regular starter.
McGree ended up playing in 16 of his team’s 27 games during the campaign and despite the fact that he scored just one goal in these matches and failed to register an assist the skills that he displayed earned him two calls for Australia’s senior national squad in the spring, making McGree one of the youngest players in history to be part of the Socceroos.
This was possible only because McGree showed exemplary workload in the heart of the midfield where he never shied away from a tackle, but mostly because his dribbling skills allowed him to be very effective and damaging when moving forward with purpose. McGree started playing in the heart of the midfield, but he was also used at the number ten role with great effect, although the few appearances as a winger probably brought the best out of him.
Even at the age of 18 McGree is showing great ability to use both his feet and despite the fact that he still needs to work on his crosses and long pass accuracy he is without a doubt a player that in the right team and under the right management can reach his true potential.
On top of his regular league appearances McGree took part in five of his team’s six group matches in the Asian Champions League this spring and he even scored one goal in this competition to show that his character and desire to give it his all on the pitch every time he steps on it guarantee that he will be working hard for his team at all times.
Reducing the aggression of his tackles is an area that needs working on, although it is very likely that in future years and with more practice he will improve the timing of his interventions. This will only add a new spectrum to his possible use on the pitch as the combination of his undisputable attacking threat and the likely improvement defensively could make him an extremely desired box-to-box player.