Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

Coming from the same Dinamo Zagreb youth academy that has produced Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Niko Krancjar and the midfielder he seems to be twinned in every news report with, fellow 17 year old graduate Alen Halilovic, Jedjav is a big central-defender who is son of former Yugoslavian footballer Zdenko Jedjav. Heard of him? No we haven't either.

We have.... he was a solid defender.....

I know you're making that up, but if he was, the old adage "like father, like son" would ring true as that is exactly what his son Tin is like. Jedjav junior is quick, boasting a fine turn of pace when defending a high-line and he is especially impressive in the air, armed with a great leap. Furthermore, like the players we have mentioned who Jedjav follows out of the Zagreb youth academy, the defender is also cultured on the ball, comfortable in carrying the ball out with his feet and building from the back, he is also assured and versatile enough to play at right-back or even in central-midfield.

He's been learning well then?

He's been at the club since he was a wee nipper in 2002, when the club was known as NK Zagreb, and has risen through the ranks to make his debut for Dinamo over the past year, making 13 appearances in which he has already won the PRVA HNL, the Croatian first division. Not only that, but he is also growing through the national team set-up, earning one cap for the under-19s after appearing 8 times for the under-17s.

Could he be going to Tottenham?

So you've been reading our report on Halilovic then have you? But yeah, about that, the media lot have said he was on his way to Spurs, or even Arsenal, leading you all down the garden path as the Croatian youngster has decided to join Roma in Italy, even though Dinamo are reluctant to do business. With Rudi Garcia looking to overhaul his squad at the Giallorossi, he can do a lot worse than invest in the future with the very talented Jedjav.

Here's a short introductory video....


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is the youngest ever player to appear in the Croatian First Division, as known as the PRVA HNL, he is the youngest ever scorer in that league and he is the youngest ever debutant for the Croatian national team. While he has been breaking records, he has been playing as a central-attacking midfielder for Dinamo Zagreb.

Very talented then?

Yes, and he's only 17 years of age. But that hasn't stopped him being rated as one of the highest-rated players in Europe and neither has it stopped him being linked to the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid or Tottenham. Standing at just 5ft 7 inches, able to make use of great balance to turn away from markers to dictate play and blessed with a fine touch and close control, there is no surprise to see the young Croatian labelled as the "new Luka Modric", he even looks like the Real Madrid schemer.

"The new..." labels are rather tedious though?

Yeah they certainly are, but when you look the same, have the same stature and even play the same, it is very hard to avoid the comparisons. The differences come in the fact that Haliliovic is more likely to move forward to join the attack and, unlike Modric, possesses a deadly left foot that can spread long passes or even find the net from range. His eye for a pass is notable, but his main asset is his quick feet which allows him to leave defenders for dead as he glides past them.

Is he just a central-midfielder?

He is growing into one and his preferred position is out on the left-wing where he can use his skills to beat players and send crosses over, but it has been suggested that he is being coached on the periphery of the play where there is more time to think, instead of being set free in the hustle and bustle of the middle. His ability, burgeoning into a complete midfielder, indicates he is set for a Modric-like attacking midfield future, however.

Is he heading to Spurs?

Put simply, he could be, after the club were reported to be in talks with the young midfielder,  though it has all gone a little cold since those reports broke. He definitely hasn't agreed a deal with the club as some websites have jumped the gun to say and some have even said the deal is off because of the player's family's diva-like personal demands, so it's all up in the air. Keep an eye on him anyways, he's the next Luka Modric, you see........

You can watch him in this video or even this one.... while you wait for a deal to be done

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is a 23 year old Dutch midfielder playing for PSV Eindhoven after starting his career at Sparta Rotterdam before moving to FC Utrecht. He is known, and we're not sure if this is a good or bad thing, as the "Dutch Roy Keane" and he is usually found in the centre of midfield mixing it up like an over-enthusiastic dog.

A good thing, I think. Does that means he'll be playing at Man Utd?

It's no secret that the good folk at Old Trafford have been reportedly interested in the young midfielder, in fact it's been pretty damn boring as he's been linked with a move to Salford nearly everyday for the past year. Slightly inevitably, it doesn't look like Strootman will be joining the champions as he pictures his future elsewhere.

So he's leaving PSV then?

The Dutch club have told him they want him to stay, but Strootman has courted interest from clubs, saying "there are several clubs interested but only when they reach an agreement with PSV do I come into the picture". It looks however, like AS Roma are close to signing the tough-tackling midfielder, aiming to negotiate PSV down to a reported 11 million euros.

Ah!? To partner him with Danielle De Rossi?

De Rossi is involved in some transfer confusion of his own at the moment but yeah, what a midfield that would be. The combative, Mark Van Bommel-esque style of Strootman in tandem with De Rossi's poise and guile? Rudi Garcia will definitely have a fine midfield at his disposal in Rome, though Strootman's role is definitely that of a deep-lying midfielder, patrolling the area in front of his defence cautiously with terrific man-marking skills and a fine physique that allows him to shrug opposition players off the ball. 

An heir to the Cocu, Van Bommel job then?

Pretty much. Even before them, the Netherlands have always had gifted defensive midfielders in the form of Rijkaard, Gullit and co. and Strootman, with his fondness for a tackle and sublime positional sense, is set to be the next generation. He already has 18 caps for the senior Dutch side after breaking through in 2011 and has made over 187 appearances in the EreDivisie, so if he does leave it will be with bags of experience. 

You can see what he's all about here 

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is a Dutch midfielder currently playing in the EreDivisie with Vitesse Arnhem. He is a box-to-box central midfielder with great energy and he bears an uncanny resemblance to the much-hated teen-pop sensation Justin Bieber.

He's more popular than Bieber though?

He is, already a regular in Vitesse's side at the age of 20 having played 41 times over the past year, scoring 12 goals thanks to his Frank Lampard-esque ability to time runs into the box to perfection. He was integral to the Netherlands under-21 side that went to this summer's European Championship in Israel and has 1 cap in Louis Van Gaal's senior team. If that isn't enough, he was also named the 2012-2013 Dutch Football Talent of the Year.

Ah! Pretty good then?

Yes he is, but those smart souls at Vitesse knew that 3 years before us as he was handed his debut in the side aged 17 in April 2010. 3 years later he has clocked over 100 appearances in the engine room for the Vitas and is ready to move on. His ambition is justified too, he boasts an armory of long range and short range passing which allows him to spread raking diagonal balls to stretch play, or even thread clinical through balls to the striker, such is his remarkable vision. 

His brilliant control and deft touch means he can spread a pass immediately too, vital for when he is pressed hard by the opposition. His passing ability is indicated by his 1223 completed passes over the course of last season, he very rarely wastes a ball or gives it away.

You make a very good sale... 

He's not half bad off the ball either, able to mix it up (to borrow Sunday League terminology) in the midfield with a good tackle, he doesn't back away from the fight. Winning the ball back to distribute it with intelligent vision and reading of the game is his style, though he can just as easily spring into a run forward to move the ball into the attack, he is best deployed in a double pivot system with somebody who can minimise his defensive contribution.

If he's that good, won't he be moving to a major club?

Well.... it's funny you should ask that because, with all due respect to Vitesse, he is on the shopping list of that handsome old ragamuffin Jose Mourinho who has seemingly convinced multi-quasi-ultra-huge billionaire Roman Abramovich to reach behind his sofa to find that spare £8 million to agree a deal with Vitesse.  The player will join subject to a medical and will be signed, in all probability, to become a long-term replacement for Frank Lampard. A deep midfielder who can easily move forward, Van Ginkel will add a fresher, younger dimension to Chelsea's aging midfield. He will have to work on his strength though, as this literature points out.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is another off the Barcelona production line, the immensely gifted midfield graduate of the famed La Masia academy in Catalonia and potential heir to the aging Xavi. He is 22, has 3 caps for Spain despite being born in Italy and is hogging all the newspaper gossip column space as he seems on the verge of heading to Manchester United.

Leaving the sunny, success-laden Barcelona for Salford?!?

Yes, he may be mad but he also seems to be hugely ambitious, aiming to move to Manchester United in the search for more first team football after being limited to just 15 starts last season under Tito Vilanova. That has dropped his release clause from 90 million euros to 18 million euros as he appeared for less than 30 minutes in 60% of Barcelona's games last season. All work and no play makes Thiago a dull boy, clamoring for an apparent move to the Premier League champions.

What's Vilanova playing at?

He did have Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Busquets and co. at his disposal after all, Thiago faces a massive competition for places at Barcelona but he did manage 41 appearances under Pep Guardiola the year before, the year after winning the Under-21 European Championship with Spain and signing a new four year deal at the Nou Camp worth £30k a week. There is no doubting his potential or talent, just his misfortune at having to compete with a generation of phenomenally gifted players as he wants to break into Vincent Del Bosque's permanent plans ahead of next year's World Cup, he currently has 3 caps.

So Manchester United are giving him a way out?

Reportedly set to offer him an eye-watering £6.2 million a year, it certainly looks like David Moyes wants to make him his first significant import as Old Trafford boss. He will undoubtedly fill the troublesome central-midfield slot at the club in which Michael Carrick is the only established talent. Alcantara's genius in carrying the ball from deep, beating players or even dictating the tempo with smart, measured passes ahead of the defence will be a massive asset to Moyes's United, as it was to Spain's under-21s as they triumphed in this summer's European Championships in Israel.

What will they get for their money?

For a reported £17 million, they will get fine balance which allows his diminutive 5ft 7 inch frame to spin away from the more imposing players in the centre of the field. He can create chances with nimble footwork just as he can take them, as his hat-trick against Italy under-21s out in Israel showed. If Thiago does decide to move to Manchester, Barcelona will lose a hugely talented member of their squad and that is testament enough to his promise.


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is a big strapping striker who plays for FC Copenhagen in Denmark, or at least he did do until Premier League newboys Cardiff City swooped in, to borrow newspaper parlance, with huge mechanical eagle arms and took the 20 year old to Wales.

Big striker? In what sense?

Vertically of course, he stands at an imposing 6ft 4 inches and is inevitably brilliant in the air, in last season's Europa League only 4 strikers, from 56 teams, won more aerial duels than Cornelius, how's that for a niche stat? For a more prevalent statistic, how about the 18 goals he scored in the Danish Superliga last time out, which made him the league's top scorer.

All from headers we guess?

Apart from operating with his head virtually in the clouds, Cornelius is actually rather good on the ground, nimble and technical with his back to goal in linking the play, the Danish forward isn't afraid to dribble at defenders. He also has a powerful left foot shot, making him a prime target to become Malky Mackay's first signing as he prepares for life in the Premier League with Cardiff.

A good move all round then?

For Cornelius yes, after he expressed his delight in completing a move just days after graduating from university over the weekend. The 20 year old effusively said "There were opportunities for me this summer and I had to think about what was the right thing to do, the correct step for me to take in terms of my career,"

 "I was impressed by what the club is trying to do, the fact it has reached the Premier League and that it has a passionate fan base supporting it."

Cornelius will also get a prime chance to stake his claim for a spot for Denmark after breaking into their national side last year, so far he has 7 caps and 1 goal for Morten Olsen's side.

What are the finances involved?

£8 million!! Significant when you consider that is the biggest transfer fee received for a single player by a Danish Superliga club, so Cardiff and Mackay must have seen something good in him. It's a five year deal, so expect to see some big, physical, potent striking from the Scandinavian over the next half-decade in the Premier League.

Here's what he can do................