With the recession hitting the majority of Europe hard and football is having to face up to the fact it is not immune to suffering the consequences that this may bring. Obviously there are a few exceptions (PSG spring to mind) but previous major players in the transfer market such as Milan, Manchester United, Lyon and Internazionale are all continuing to look for ‘value for money’, to cite the Manchester United manager when questioned about his transfer policy.
Here we take a look at some young talent that plays out of sight of mainstream Europe and some targets the teams of the traditional big leagues of European football (English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A) may well be advisable to take a look at. Here are five players, in no particular order, who could make a strong impact in the aforementioned leagues. Also avoided are those who are continuously linked with big money moves in the press so rest assured this is not another article praising the talents of a certain Brazilian wonderkid.
1) Erick Torres
19 | Striker | Club Deportivo Guadalajara | Mexican
International Status: Capped at U17, U21 and U23 level
This is a young player that came through the same academy that spawned Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez who now plays at Manchester United. Torres is a young attacking player who has skill in abundance in combination with being quick footed. In addition to being quick and nimble, he also possesses a powerful shot whilst being equally adept at heading the ball and similarly to Chicarito he comes alive in the box with a natural predatory instinct. However what makes the young Mexican stand out is he ambition to be recognised as himself and not to be continually compared to his compatriot. So far it is reasonable to say he is achieving this such is the natural talent that this player possesses, having already established himself as a key player for club and almost earning himself a full international call-up to the national side, where he was unlucky to be omitted from the final squad for the Copa America in 2011 despite being included in the preliminary team.
2) Mateo Kovacic
18 | Attacking midfielder | Dinamo Zagreb | Croatian
International Status: Capped at U14, U15, U17, U19 and U21 level
Big things are expected of the latest product of the Dinamo Zagreb academy, which has previously seen Luka Modric and more recently Milan Badelj earn themselves big money moves to Europe. The mantle of the creative spark of the Croatian team has fallen on the shoulders following last seasons club captain and playmaker Badelj’s move to German outfit Hamburg. Even though Kovacic plays slightly further forward than his former teammate he would certainly be expected to dictate their play with his supreme technical skills, creative vision and his dribbling ability proving to be a thorn in unlocking opposing defences. Having suffered from a broken leg in 2009 the young midfielder returned last season to cement his place in the Dynamo starting XI, in the process he became the second youngest scorer in the Champions League after finding the net against Lyon.
3) Brek Shea
22 | Winger | FC Dallas | American
International Status: Capped at U17, U20 and U23 level, plus 12 caps for the full national side
This speed merchant from Texas in America is one of the young stars that are slowly establishing themselves in Jurgen Klinsmann’s new look national side. Shea however offers more than just lightning speed, he regularly contributes both goals and assists from his traditional left wing role. Shea’s approach is simple and direct, often he moves the ball just enough to get a yard of space then either runs to the byline to cross for a teammate or within shooting distance lets fly with his left foot. His consistent high levels of performances throughout the 2011 season has led to his inclusion in the MLS all-star team selection in the MLS best XI, and also resulted him picking up the, U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 2011 Young Male Athlete of the Year. The start of the 2012 season for Shea has seen him continue in the same vein of form with many observers of the American national team feeling that if he maintains his development then he could assist and take over from Landon Donovan as the teams chief creator.
18 | Right back | Esporte Clube Vitoria | Brazilian
Not to be confused his namesake who is the legendary yet controversial Brazilian striker from the 1990’s and early 2000’s this Romario is an energetic attacking right back. Such are his attacking qualities his club on occasions have utilised him as a right winger. However his path for international development seems to be blocked by Manchester United’s Rafael da Silva who seems to be one step ahead of him in terms of development. Romario though if he keeps performing as he has been doing surely a move to a more established Brazilian club would be on the cards giving him a stronger platform to perform his talents from. As a player the young full back offers pace and composure on the ball, typical of most Brazilian full backs areas of his defensive game do still need improving but he offers such a threat marauding forward from the deep position it’s like a young version of Maicon and Dani Alves.
5) Charalampos Mavrias
18 | Attacking midfielder | Panathinaikos | Greece
International Status: Capped at U17, U19 and U21 level
Following Greece’s performance at Euro 2012 where they surprised everyone in helping eliminate Russia, despite this though head coach Fernando Santos has decided to select a more youthful looking squad for the friendly with Norway and included within this squad is this talented attacking midfielder who has shone whilst playing for Greece’s youth teams. His playing style of being pacey, combined with great dribbling skills and good vision means when he plays takes on the mantle of the sides chief creator. His natural ability is leading him to become a growing influence within his club side, however if his rate of development continues at the rate he has to this period then he is soon going to outgrow playing in the Greek League, just ask Motherwell fans after the Greek side knocked them out in the qualifying rounds for the Champions League.