Wednesday, July 1, 2009

UEFA u21: Scouting Report

Over 100 scouts registered to attend the UEFA u21 Championship which has just finished in Sweden. Previous participants have included Raul, Michael Ballack, Luis Figo, Frank Lampard, Henrik Larsson, Eric Cantona and Zinedine Zidane.

Here are the rising stars who caught my eye -

#1 - MARCUS BERG
, 22, Groningen & Sweden The hottest shot of the toScouting report.urnament began with a hat-trick and ended with seven goals in four games. A class apart from his rivals with two deadly feet and immaculate off the ball running. What are the big clubs waiting for?

#2 - ZORAN TOSI
Ć, 22, Man Utd & Serbia. Signed by Sir Alex in January, he has only made two cup appearances for the Red Devils so far but with his high-speed dribbling, free kicks and ability to play on both wings, expect to see more of this Serbian starlet in the EPL soon.

#3 - MESUT ÖZIL, 20, Werder Bremen & Germany. Germany's ace in the pack destroyed England in the final and with his speed and pinpoint vision has the potential to be his country's greatest attacking midfielder since Lothar Matthaus.

#4 - MARIO BALOTELLI
, 18, Inter & Italy. Astonishingly good for his age, he will likely be one of Europe's most feared forwards across the next decade. Balotelli is fast, strong, difficult to mark and shoots with abandon. Looks dangerous whenever he is on the ball.

#5 - ANDREW DRIVER
, 19, Hearts & England. Driver by name and by nature, the Hearts teen made his u21 debut against Germany in the group stage, but what a debut. A revelation on the right wing, unlike his first-choice colleagues, he caused no end of problems to the eventual winners with his penetrative surges.

And the best of the rest:


Sebastiano Giovinco 22, Juventus & Italy. Blessed with speed, strength and skill, the young Juventino has that knack of being the protagonista in the middle, dominating proceedings and threatening to score with his deft shooting.

Nikola Petković, 23, Eintracht Frankfurt & Serbia. A wise head on young shoulders, Petkovic looks the finished article at left-back: Strong, quick feet & thinking and top-drawer distribution.

Jack Rodwell
, 18, Everton & England. A classy midfielder with an silky touch, direct running and a range of passing; broke into Everton's team last year; expect to see him in feature in full England squads in years to come.

Ola Toivonen
, 23, PSV & Sweden -a dangerous and intelligent deep-lying support striker who notched three goals in four games in the finals.

Teemu Pukki
, 19, Sevilla & Finland. Looks like a young Jonathan Spector, the wiry, mulleted striker plays with fearlessness and shoots on sight. With a bit more game-savvy and some time with the weights, he could follow in the footsteps of Mikael Forssell and Jari Litmanen.

Gojko Ka
čar, 23, Hertha Berlin & Serbia. A tough-as-nails midfield anchor who breaks up and kick-starts attacks with consummate ease.

Sergei Kryvets
, 23, BATE Borisov & Belarus - An elegant playmaker the like of which the modern game should find a place for. Like the best orchestrators, Kryvets creates space and time on the field and neutralises quicker and more muscular opponents.

Rasmus Elm
21, Kalmar & Sweden - A clever passer with vision from left midfield.

Javi Martinez
21, Atheltic Bilbao & Spain - A skilful attacking midfielder who would not look out of place in the European Champions' 16.

Gustav Svensson
, 22, Gothenburg & Sweden - a solid holding midfielder assured in every way and with sound distribution.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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