Name: Mat Ryan
Earlier this month Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan signed a six-year deal with Spanish club Valencia, a move that capped two outstanding years in the goalkeeper’s blossoming career.
After winning an A-League title with the Central Coast Mariners in 2013 – the first in the club’s history – Ryan signed for Club Brugge and proved an instant hit in Belgium.
Winning the Belgian Cup and named Belgium Pro League Goalkeeper of the Year in successive seasons, Ryan’s performances were enough to convince Valencia manager Nuno Espirito Santo to spend €7 million on the Socceroo.
“We want to eventually win the La Liga and win the Champions League, and I’ll be doing my best to help the team achieve this,” Ryan said after making the move to Spain.
A confident, mobile and technically gifted goalkeeper, Ryan has an idiosyncratic style that should be well suited to La Liga.
The player described himself as a “sweeper keeper” who is “athletic [and] quick along the ground”. A diminutive figure, Ryan compensates for his lack of size with agility and an uncanny ability to read play and act almost as a spare defender at times.
At the age of 23, he has been anointed as the successor to legendary Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, beating far more experienced challengers to the No.1 jersey.
Ryan played in all three of his country’s games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, conceding nine goals as the Socceroos promptly exited the tournament.
But while his individual performance was slightly disappointing, the experience should prove invaluable for a player who has enjoyed rapid and promising development.
The future looks brighter still for the young shot-stopper, with regular Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves set for a lengthy absence through injury.
With his natural aggressiveness and tenacity tempered by his comfort on the ball and distribution skills, Ryan seems an excellent fit for a La Liga club and will be hoping for an immediate chance to showcase his skills and adapt to life at the Mestalla.
Written by Chris Paraskevas
Follow Chris on Twitter @Cparaskevas
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