NAB Young Footballer of the Year nominee – Lachlan Wales (Melbourne City)
An emerging talent who combines pace and industry with decisiveness in the final third is worth his weight in gold. That’s why Lachlan Wales has won plaudits and new admirers in his breakout campaign with Melbourne City.
The Terrigal-born speedster is one of six nominees for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year award, so let’s wind back the clock and look at Wales’ 2018/19 highlights.
NAB Young Footballer of the Year: Sarpreet Singh (Wellington Phoenix)
NAB Young Footballer of the Year: Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory)
NAB Young Footballer of the Year: Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory)
NAB Young Footballer of the Year: Keanu Baccus (Western Sydney Wanderers)
NAB Young Footballer of the Year: Riley McGree (Melbourne City)
Wales' campaign in Opta stats
Story of the Season
Despite the big names at his disposal, Warren Joyce made it clear early on that Wales would be a key part of his Bruno Fornaroli-less frontline.
Joyce has accommodated the former Central Coast Mariner on both flanks and centrally this season, in which he has been used in all but two fixtures, yielding a return of three goals and five assists.
A seemingly modest contribution, but one that is made more impressive by the fact City are the fourth-lowest scorers in the competition with 39.
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Wales displayed a clean set of heels and a ruthless finish with goals against Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City, while his glancing header against former employers Mariners in January was straight out of the textbook.
The 21-year-old saved his best performance of the campaign for the final day, when City tore Mariners apart 5-0 and Wales gave makeshift fullback Tom Hiariej one of 2018/19’s more painful afternoons.
Why he is a good shout to be NAB Young Footballer of the Year
Although still a rookie forward, Wales has shown he’s capable of striking genuine fear into the hearts of his more senior opponents.
He shone in Kuala Lumpur for Graham Arnold’s Australia U-23 team in the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualification matches, and all signs from the domestic stage indicate Wales has what it takes to make a name for himself in senior football.