Adding A Bit Of Paloschi To Italy.

4 05 2011

At the last World Cup in South Africa, the Italian national side was humiliated. Not only did the four-time World Cup winners go out at the first round, they finished bottom of a group involving Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand. With debates over an ageing side and a tendency not to pick players on form but upon reputation, Italy faltered on a stage where they regularly have thrived. So now, where do Italy go from here? How do they build towards a positive European campaign to restore their pride? I will look at one player, who may provide the answer.

Alberto Paloschi

Alberto may not have established himself yet, but this 21-year-old is certainly the future of Italian football. Currently co-owned by AC Milan and Genoa, Genoa being the team he currently plays for, Paloschi is slowly establishing himself as an exciting striking prospect. After previously spending 2 seasons on loan at Parma, scoring 12 goals to help them regain their Serie A status, Genoa payed around €7 million for Parma’s half of the contract. Since then, he has been a regular in the Genoa line-up, only scoring 2 goals but they were vital in their 4-3 victory over AS Roma. Quick, skillful and an eye for goal, Paloschi is your typical poacher finisher. When he finds a moment of space, he can punish teams with ease, case and point in one of his first appearances for AC Milan, scoring within 18 seconds of coming on. Whilst not having a full senior cap, he has represented the U-21’s 13 times, scoring 5 goals, and has been involved with all the youth sides.

Here is his first goal against AS Roma:

I think that Paloschi is the type of player that could be great for the Premier League, but also could end up as a disaster. Whilst the Italian game is one of the best in the world, it has a much slower pace than the Premier League, and can ruin some players who expect a little more time and space. Since he is co-owned with Milan, he probably will stay in Italy, like most Italian players, and slowly grow into the National side as well. I feel, for him, it would be best to stay in Serie A, and become a new force in AC Milan, if he can get the game time with Pato and Ibrahimovic there, and show exactly what a talent he is. But to be fair, he is Italian, so he has all the time in the world.


And He Sticks The Alan-ding.

3 05 2011

Russia is slowly becoming one of the new powerhouses in European football. With the national side reaching the semi-finals of the last European Championship and their club sides regularly featuring in the knockout stages of the European competitions, Russia has built not only a good national but a good international outlook. And with the World Cup coming to their shores in 2018, with better connections between towns and new stadiums in this massive landscape, the future certainly looks bright for the former USSR. And with that, I shall look at their new brightest star.

Alan Dzagoev

This 20-year-old Russian maybe be a name you have heard of before, but he most certainly will be in the forefront of minds in years to come. Starring for his club CSKA Moscow since the tender age of 18, Dzagoev has been a fundamental part of a squad that has won 2 Russian cups, came 2nd twice in the league, and the quater-finals of the Champions League. Having made 84 appearances, 29 goals and 24 assissts in 3 years, Dzagoev has quickly established himself as an important cog in the CSKA Moscow machine.  A clever attacking midfielder, Dzagoev can find space and time anywhere on the field, can easily play killer balls into team-mates, or has the ability to go for goal himself, he can literally win games off his own back. With his international career beginning to take off with 12 caps, he has garnered interest from Real Madrid and Chelsea, but is keen to continue his football education in Russia, for the time being.

Here is a clip of exactly all of Alan Dzagoev’s qualities:

Clearly, Alan Dzagoev is an intelligent player, both on and off the field. Whilst he knows he has the talent to succeed abroad, he knows that his early career may best be spent on home soil while learning the tricks of the trade. When he feels ready, he will move to a big western club, but when that happens, they may have to reach deeper into their pockets to afford this Eastern European gem.

Well Have A Gea Old Time.

21 04 2011

In recent times, Spain has been the most dominant team both in Europe and across the world. With an abundance of talent in every position, and the majority of players in the same Barcelona side, they have run riot, winning both the European Championships in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010, and promising to bring back the honours again in 2012. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to look at one youth product in Spain, that not only has the mould to become a world beater, but for once is a young promising Goalkeeper.

David De Gea

The 20-year-old from Madrid has so far had a glittering start to his young career. A product of the Atletico Madrid youth system, De Gea has been under the gaze of all the top clubs in the world, mindful of his progress into a world class goalkeeper. He first came to the forefront after numerous mistakes from former Atletico number one Sergio Asenjo, and was placed straight into the first team. In his first senior La Liga match, he gave away a penalty in the 18th minute, only to get up and save Marko Babic’s attempt from the spot. From then on, he made 18 more appearances in the Atletico first team, including the Europa League Final victory against Fulham. During the course of the 2010/2011 season, De Gea has so far made 39 appearances for the club, with 12 clean sheets to boot. With great shot stopping ability and selection of what appendages to use to block a shot, he has created massive interest in the player, mainly from the Premier League in the form of Manchester United and Arsenal. Whilst his senior international career hasn’t taken off just yet, due to a certain Iker Casillas holding the reigns, he  has started for every youth national side Spain has, and it will only be a matter of time until he will play regularly for his home country.

Here is just a short video to show just how good he is:

If this guy can’t cut it in the Premier League, I will be astounded. He is simply an outstanding prospect, with all the right tools to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He would be a great asset to Arsenal, a terrific replacement for Van Der Sar at Manchester United, he could even kick out Cech at Chelsea, he is really that talented. Simply put, you better get used to his name, because you will be hearing it for a very, very long time.

Ayew With The Fancy Feet.

18 04 2011

The surprise package of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was the West African side Ghana. With grit and great heart, they managed to get to the quarter-final, further than any african team has before, and even then they were unlucky against Uruguay. With them now being in the spotlight, Ghana have to look at their young prospects and mould themselves into a future world footballing powerhouse. Which links into my next future star in this blog, Andre Ayew.

Andre Ayew

The son of former three-time African Footballer of the Year, Abdei Pele, Ayew could be one to follow in his father’s very large footsteps. The 21-year-old has grown into a first team regular this season with French champions Marseille, playing 21 games and scoring 6 goals, and becoming an integral part of their skilled midfield. With quick feet and surprising heading ability, Ayew is a very modern winger, able to beat the defender but also be in the box when the ball is on the opposing flank. He also has started extremely well in his international career also, where he is growing in maturity in a youthful team. During the World Cup, he was chosen ahead of vastly experienced Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari, which was vinticated by his lofted ball to Asamoah Gyan in the Round-of-16 match against USA, from which Gyan scored the winning goal. At the end of the game, he was also named as Man of the Match by FIFA, showing that even at a young age that he can dictate a match.

Here is footage of his goals during the 2010/2011 campaign.

When thinking about where he could go in the Premier League, the possibilities are endless. He is exactly what a lot of teams admire, a quick, skillful winger, and he can also get the extra goal. The only worry is his temprement, because he missed the quater-final of the World Cup because of yellow cards, and that could hinder his progress. But all in all, he is a very good player, who could easily fit into the Premier League at any club.

A Kick To The Shinji’s.

14 04 2011

After the recent catastrophe in Japan, I thought I would highlight something good to happen to the country in recent times, and that is their football team. Japan managed to not only almost surprise England before the World Cup, but also make their way out of a difficult group involving Denmark, only to go out on penalties to Paraguay. They were exciting, free-flowing and not afraid of any opponent, ever finalists Holland didn’t get an easy game. And so, as you may have guessed, I’m going to look at one of the new Asian starlets, and one who is particularly gaining international interest.

Shinji Kagawa

At 22 years old, Shinji Kagawa already has the world at his feet. An attacking midfielder, Kagawa has not only incredible close ball control, he has pace and also can place his shot where he desires. Since his move from Cerezo Osaka to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2010, Kagawa has gained many admirers for his performances over the season, scoring 8 goals in 17 games. He has also become a cult hero at the Dortmund club, having promised to score twice against rivals Schalke 04, and doing so within the game that ended 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund. Whilst not being involved in the Japan national sides World Cup adventure, Kagawa has made 22 appearances, scoring 5 times, including two against Qatar in the Asia Cup, which Japan went on to win. Unfortunately, Kagawa’s season was cut short during the Asia Cup, as he broke his metatarsal bone and not only missed the Asia Cup final, he has missed the rest of  the season. But, from his early season form, he has shown great promise.

Here is a clip of how good he is, not only at Dortmund but back in Japan for Osaka.

I think it’s clear to see Kagawa’s qualities. He is very skillful on the ball, almost Messi-like, and when in position to shoot he will get it on target. The only worry for him if he decides to join the Premier League is his size, as he may be bullied off the ball by stronger players. Although, Modric is a prime example of a small player who has shown he can make it without brute strength, so maybe Kagawa can follow in his footsteps. An ideal place for Kagawa to go personally would be Manchester United, where he can become the creative focal point in a side where there primary playmakers are close to retirement. All in all, Kagawa would make an outstanding addition to any Premier League side.

English Hopefuls, They Better Have Broad Shoulders.

1 04 2011

Difficult for any kind of pun this week, so I went for something a little more blatant about English expectancy at major tournaments.

Anyway, on topic, it’s internationals week and with this break from regular club football I thought it would be nice to look at some of our hopeful young starlets either within the current squad or excelling currently at club level. To make this a bit broader, I will be looking at a Goalkeeper, a Defender, a Midfielder and a Striker, all that are at least under 23. Will these players be main-stays within the England setup by Brazil 2014? Will any make the European Championships in 2012? It’s time to have a look at what talent we may have under our wings, only for them to eventually be crushed under the weight of our expectations.

Goalkeeper – Joe Hart

I feel this one is quite obvious, but with any other hopeful playing in the Championship, I have to put Joe in. Our current number 1, Hart has been in great form this season, keeping Shay Given out of the Manchester City side, who are currently sitting nicely in a Champions League spot. A good commander of the defence and a great shot stopper, masses of plaudits have come in for Hart over the past couple of seasons, having had a terrific spell on loan at Birmingham City last season. With his first venture into European football this season in City’s Europa League and with them being ideally placed to play in the most prestigious club football competition next season, Joe is gaining the ideal experience to become one of the best keeper’s in the world.

Here is the highlights of Joe Hart’s Man of the Match performance in the first game of the 2010/2011 Premier League season, against Tottenham Hotspur.

He is guaranteed to be one of the first names on the team sheet if England qualify for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, and unless he suffers the calamitous fate of other England number 1’s such as Robert Green and Paul Robinson, he will also be in the squad for the World Cup in 2014. And as shown this season with Edwin Van Der Sar, the very best of goalkeeper’s can still be world beaters well into their 40’s, so at the age of 23, the world is at his feet. Or hands, in this case.

Defender – Chris Smalling

The 21-year-old has had a meteoric rise within the last 3 years. Starting at non-league Maidstone United, he signed first with Fulham in 2008 for a nominal fee, due to his non-contract status, and then in January 2010 he signed for Manchester United, staying on loan for the rest of the season at Fulham. This season, due to the injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Johnny Evans, Smalling has stepped into giant’s shoes and has fitted in perfectly into the title chasing side’s defence. With good positioning and composure beyond his years, Smalling has shown his quality in games against Manchester City, Arsenal, and Marseille. There are now murmurs that when Rio returns that he may find it difficult to regain his starting place, which is a credit to how much Smalling has grown over the past couple of months.

Now here is some footage from the Man City game, a game where he was expected to be the weak point that Man City would exploit.

Personally, even though there has been criticism in the fact he is next to arguably the best centre back in the world, I have been incredibly impressed by Chris Smalling’s performances this season. As a Manchester United fan, you may feel that I have some bias, but I didn’t agree with the signing of him in the summer, and have been really shown the quality he possesses. I would like to see him at least taken to Euro 2012, even if he doesn’t play, to keep his experience up and to get him more used to the environment. When the Brazil 2014 World Cup comes round, I fully expect him to be in the side as long as his form continues, or at least pushing for a starting place.

Midfield – Jack Wilshere

This season, Jack Wilshere has been a sensation. After a very good loan spell at Bolton at the end of last season, he has been ever-present in the Arsenal side that is currently sitting in second in the Premier League. He has also featured in the two games against Barcelona, winning the Man of the Match award in the first game, with the three best players in the world in the opposition, and looking like the only Arsenal player wanting to go for the win in the second match. With a good eye for a pass and masses of courage, Wilshere can be headstrong, but regularly with the right frame of mind. To put his talent under the spotlight, in the first Barcelona game, he completed 93.5% of his overall passes, and 91% of passes in the third half of the pitch. That shows what kind of player we have, and he is only just 19.

These are the highlights of his performance against the “best team in the world”.

There is no doubt that Wilshere will be going not only to the European Championships, but the next World Cup, and most likely all these international competitions for the next 15 years. He pretty much opitimises the great English footballer, not only being technically gifted but having great heart and tenacity to win at all costs. As for England captain, I think it may be too soon for him to be given the armband yet, but when the next opportunity comes around, when he will be around 22-23, he will be the front-runner.

Forward – Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll became the most expensive English player in history this January, with his transfer from Newcastle to Liverpool costing the scousers £35 million pounds, which has come under much scrutiny. But sweeping that under the rug for the sake of looking at his potential, he has scored 11 goals in 19 games for Newcastle. He is a commanding presence upfront, with great heading ability and great footwork, he has menaced Premier League defences so far this season. And his move to a bigger club can only help his development, with his one game in the Europa League giving him that vital experiences of playing against different teams in more foreign environments. He also scored his first England goal against Ghana this week, with a great left footed strike, showing that he can score at the highest of levels.

Here is a video of all his goals so far this season.

It’s clear that Andy Carroll has talent, there is no denying that. His high price tag hopefully will not hold him back, but something that may be is his temperament. If he can keep his antics off the field in check, and start scoring goals for his new club, he will become a great number 9 forward. He would partner Rooney well upfront, holding the ball up as Rooney runs around for him, potentially creating a forward partnership England has been looking for. He will be on the plane for the European Championships, assuming we qualify, but may not be a starter, that he may deserve to be. And if he recaptures his form he had at Newcastle before his injury, he could be our new goalscoring threat.


Looking away from the four shown above, we have numerous talents that are likely to break into the first team. Jack Rodwell, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Kieran Gibbs are all players that likely to be in or around the squad coming major tournaments in the future. There are also talents that may have not been in public view yet, and could break in when they gain regular club football, such as Ravel Morrison, simply from my Manchester United knowledge. We can look positively into the future, hoping for success, but I feel that if we do not bleed these players in at the same time and build a team rather than a group of individuals, I’m afraid that our trophy drought may continue for years to come.

I’m A Gini In A Bottle

7 03 2011

Aside from the final of the competition, The Netherlands had a very good World Cup 2010. They played attractive football, with creative outlets such as Wesley Snejder and Arjen Robben, they created plenty of opportunities. With age on their side, they have a great chance to succeed in the European Championships in 2012. There is also some emerging talent we had a sneak peek of at the World Cup, such as rapid left winger Eljero Elia, but there is one new major talent they managed to keep under wraps until now.

Georginio Wijnaldum

Georginio Wijnaldum, or “Gini” for short, is a right winger for Dutch Eredivisie side Feyenoord. Although his side has struggled this season, Gini has regularly popped up with goals this season, 8 in total. This 20-year-old Dutchman has really been a problem for left backs this season, with his determination to get down the right flank and to put balls into the box. Quick, strong and with a trick up his sleeve, Gini has all the attributes that a modern winger needs to get around the opponent. Unlike some wingers, Gini has a final product to all his dazzling runs, but unfortunately this season there has been no forward to connect with them. Therefore at times he has come inside and used his blistering shot to get Feyenoord a goal, some of which are even too hot for the goalkeeper to handle. Here is a short montage of his impressive performances this season.

Is he cut out for the Premier League? I personally think so. He is constantly linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and Milan, and he himself has stated his intention to leave the Eredivisie when he reaches his full potential and feels he would have the greatest impact. I think Liverpool is an ideal club for him, they really need skill and pace out wide and an oppourtunity for him to join his her0 Dirk Kuyt will not only help his intergration into English football, but incourage him more to join the Premier League.