Luke Brattan could thrive in English football given his work rate in midfield
On Monday, Manchester City completed the signing of former Brisbane Roar midfielder Luke Brattan to a four-year deal. The 25-year-old, who is yet to be capped as a full international by Australia, will be loaned out to Championship side Bolton Wanderers until January.
Brattan was born in Hull but moved to Australia with his family when he was just six months old. His youth career was spent at Rochedale Rovers and Queensland Lions, and he moved on to A-League side Brisbane Roar in 2008. His debut came a year later, in December 2009, as a late substitute in a draw away to Perth Glory.
The young midfielder was part of the squad that won three A-League titles in four years between 2010 and 2014, but it wasn't until the third of those successes that he became an integral part of the side.
Shaking off the injuries that had previously hampered his ability to hold down a regular starting spot, Brattan earned himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year following a series of impressive performances.
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He continued that form into last season, and in doing so, Brattan bolstered his growing reputation as an assured distributor and tempo-setter from the base of midfield.
The range and quality of his passing have been highlighted by the likes of national team coach Ange Postecoglou and former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who singled Brattan out for praise following the Roar's 2-1 friendly defeat to the Reds in July.
"It's one of my main strengths, I've worked on it for a long time and now it's finally paying off," Brattan explained in an interview with SBS last year.
"The first thing I do is look forward for a penetrating pass or to get the forward players into a better position. The less time I have on the ball, the more time they have."
He models his game on former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes, and in a aside that may not go down well with supporters of his new club, he describes himself as a "big Man United fan."
His father -- a midfielder who played for both Hull and Cambridge before moving to Australia -- was a big influence on his early training and development, instilling the importance of good technique and the ability to use either foot in possession.
Brattan is far from a prolific scorer (four goals in 91 appearances for the Roar), but he is capable of the well-struck effort from range. His late, late winner against Melbourne Victory in 2014 remains the most memorable strike of his career to date. While the defensive element of his game is still largely centred upon his ability to read play, he has worked hard to improve his mobility and stamina.
Brattan has represented Australia at Under-20 level and recently ascended to the fringes of the senior national team squad. Postecoglou, who worked with Brattan during his early years in Brisbane, called him up to his 46-man preliminary squad for the Asian Cup last December and again chose him as a late replacement for the injured Mile Jedinak prior to September's World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Tajikistan.
On the latter occasion, Brattan stated his ambition to use the call-up as a springboard to a move to Europe. A year earlier, he had been linked to Brighton, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when it was Manchester City who emerged as his most likely suitors.
The midfielder came to the club's attention after performing well against their Melbourne City franchise back in March. He gained a release from his contract with the Roar in August after they failed to make required superannuation contributions on his behalf; shortly thereafter, he travelled to England to begin talks. He had been training at the club's facilities in recent weeks while the formalities of the deal were completed.
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Brattan's first chance to prove himself in English football will come on loan at Bolton, where he will be hoping to enjoy more success than compatriots Aaron Mooy, Chris Herd, Con Boutsianis and Scott Jamieson, who managed just two league appearances between them in the North West.
The move to the Championship's bottom club will provide him with an opportunity to acquaint himself with the pace and physicality of the English game.
It is difficult to know whether City view Brattan as a potential first-team player, someone to be shifted over to one of their other clubs or as an undervalued asset to be shined up and sold on. The more cynically minded would probably suggest one of the latter two, but there is enough quality in Brattan's passing game to suggest that the first does still remain a possibility if he is able to quickly adapt to the tempo of English football.
It is certainly not an opportunity that he will allow to pass him by without a fight.
"I never thought, say five years ago, that I'd be in the spot that I'm in now," he told Fox Sports News. "I'm grateful for it and I won't take anything for granted."
Nick Dorrington is a freelance football writer. Twitter: @chewingthecoca.