Phoenix midfielder Sarpreet Singh is in no rush to seek greener pastures, saying the next move in his football career will happen "in its own time".
The Manukau-raised, Onehunga Sports product is one of the A-League's hottest properties after a breakout season.
The 20-year-old has been linked with Australian clubs and is often tipped as one of the current crop of A-League youngsters who could move to Europe. But Singh, who will play his 22nd match of this campaign tonight in Adelaide, takes a pragmatic approach.
"When the time's right — it will happen in its own time," Singh told the Herald on Sunday. "I think for now, I'm happy where I am. I'm contracted, the team is doing well and I am improving every day. I'm in a good place at the moment."
Spend some time talking to Singh and one thing stands out — he's extremely grounded, especially given his progress in the past 12 months or so. As recently as January last year, he was still turning out for the Phoenix reserves, with occasional first-team game time off the bench.
He then turned heads on his first A-League start (February 17, 2018) with a thumping goal against Perth Glory and was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise dismal 2017-18 campaign.
Singh has gone to a new level this season — excelling alongside Roy Krishna and David Williams, and thriving under coach Mark Rudan — and is the most exciting home-grown prospect in the A-League since Marco Rojas in 2010.
But Singh knows nothing has been achieved yet and his week-to-week consistency needs improvement.
"It's been okay," said Singh. "I've had my ups and downs. It's my first full season as a professional and I've been learning a lot. I feel like I am finding some good form and I want to continue."
He's received some high praise this season, including former Manchester United and Chelsea keeper Mark Bosnich describing him as "the best player in the A-League right now", after a virtuoso display against Brisbane in December.
"I always want to get better and push on to bigger things," said Singh. "Hearing that [kind of comment] is obviously very nice but it doesn't make me sit back and take it easy. If anything, it makes me push harder to try and improve my game every single day."
Singh has had a direct hand in almost a third of the Phoenix's goals this year, highlighted by that 4-1 win over the Roar in Wellington (where everything he touched turned to gold) and the recent 8-2 victory over the Mariners, where the All White became just the fourth A-League player since 2012 to record two goals and two assists in a single match. There's been some heady stuff but Singh is just as focused on bouncing back from his less productive periods.
"You need to learn from it, why it didn't go so well," said Singh. "And what you could have done better. I always analyse my game and watch it back. Once I have done all that, I put it behind me and go into training with a fresh mindset."
Like most young players, coping with the mental side of being a professional has been a significant adjustment.
"It is huge ... learning to deal with it," said Singh. "Obviously players will target me more now but it's how I cope with it. It's been a good learning curve. I'm on the up, so I'm happy with how I am going."
Singh's mentality was boosted by the Phoenix's rigorous pre-season stint across the Tasman, including the now infamous boot camp with the Army, where they were awake for 24 hours and deprived of food.
"Honestly, the toughest thing I have done ... ever," said Singh. "At the time, I was like 'why I am doing this?' but looking back, I am very grateful to have been put through that and come out on top. It's put me in a positive mindset."
Singh also credits Rudan's unrelenting approach as a major factor in his development.
"He's pushed me real hard to try and get the best out of me," said Singh. "He knows what I am capable of. It hasn't always been easy but he knows in the long-term, it will benefit me."
With four regular-season matches to play, the Phoenix are all but assured of a finals place but are chasing a top-four spot and a home playoff.
"We're in a good place as a team," said Singh. "Everybody is pushing each other, which lifts the intensity at training. We'd like to give the whole league a shake-up."