Scouting Network – Stephan El Shaarawy

Scouting Network identifies young players under the age of 21 who have exceptional talent and could be one of the leading players of the future. This month GoaldenTimes profiles Stephan El Shaarawy

Il Faraone

Date of Birth: 27.10.1992

Place of Birth: Savona, Italy

Club: AC Milan

Height: 1.78 m

Weight: 72kg

Position: Forward

Nationality: Italy, Egypt

Market Value: €7m

There is a sense of destiny about Stephan El Shaarawy.

A particular numerology site actually lists him with having #9 associated to him and says “He is the righter of wrongs“. For those who do not believe in the occult and would like to have much more concrete proof, check out these facts.El Shaarawy, nicknamed Il Faraone (The Pharaoh), given his Egyptian heritage (his father is Egyptian while his mother is Italian), is the fourth youngest player ever to play in Serie A. Starting in the Genoa youth system, he led the Primavera team to Primavera Cup, Primavera Super Cup in 2008-09 season and Primavera Scudetto in 2009-10. Realizing that he is destined for bigger things, Enrico Preziosi, the Genoa president loaned him out to Padova in Serie B. As an 18-year-old, he led Padova to the Serie A promotion play-offs against Novara. In that match, an unfortunate red card to Padova defender Cesar, led to El Shaarawy being sacrificed as the substitute for a new defender. Ultimately Padova would lose that play-off but El Shaarawy’s performance over the 2010-11 season with Padova (9 goals and 2 assists in 30 matches) won him the year-end best player in Serie B award in the annual Calcio Oscars. At the age of 19, he has played for every Italian team he has been eligible for – U16, U17, U18, U19, and now has debuted for the U-21. At every stage, he has scored at least one goal barring the U-21.

Tales of his talent were well known in the peninsula and Milan was especially aware of it, being the team that Genoa Primavera beat in the Super Coppa. Adriano Galliani, Milan’s #2 man after President Silvio Berlusconi, had already made an attempt to sign him in 2010 but Preziosi rebuffed him. Finally in 2011, on the back of his show for Padova, Milan coerced Preziosi to co-own Shaarawy. It was expected that he would be loaned out to gain first team experience. But somehow it didn’t materialise. Milan had a debilitating injury crisis at the start of the season and The Pharaoh made his debut as a substitute, in a losing cause at Napoli. He would come on as a substitute 3 days later when Alex Pato was injured in the 29th minute against Udinese at home and Milan losing 1-0. That day, El Shaarawy would save the Milan blushes with his first ever Serie A goal. However, with the stars returning for Milan, the opportunities would dry up and further talks of move away from Milan in January transfer window would arise. But opportunity in a friendly match against Paris Saint-Germain in January showed once again what he offers. Further injuries to strikers would force Massimiliano Allegri to start El Shaarawi against his old nemesis Novara. Twice in a week, in a cup pre-quarter final and Serie A he would be instrumental in Milan’s win against Novara. The defeat with Padova would be avenged. There would be further evidence of his growing reputation in the Cup quarter final win from behind against Lazio, especially his assist to Clarence Seedorf. Each subsequent match that he would play for Milan would only reinforce that reputation.

Padova’s director of sport Rino Foschi is not surprised. “El Shaarawy is a phenomenon, a special player. When Galliani called me before taking him, I said he is the strongest in his age group in all European leagues. He could be much more important in a few years than what Carlos Tevez (Milan’s #1 transfer target in January) is“.

Given how the Pharaoh is progressing, it wouldn’t be long before Foschi’s forecast turns out to be true.

Scouting Network – Manolo Gabbiadini

Scouting Network identifies young players under the age of 21 who have exceptional talent and could be one of the leading players of the future. This month GoaldenTimes profiles Manolo Gabbiadini


Manolo Gabbiadini is an up and coming Italian striker who plays for Atalanta. Manolo is the younger brother of Melanie Gabbiadini who is an Italian international and has won 3 Scudetti, 3 Italian Super Cups, and 2 Italian Cups. When asked to comment on her brother’s potential, she said, “He’s a very good striker. He’s tall, he’s quick and he has a great left foot.” If you were transported 15 years back and somebody said the same thing about a striker who plays for Atalanta, you would immediately utter the name of Christian Vieri. The resemblance becomes clearer when you note that Vieri did come to play a season with Atalanta in 2008-09 and young Manolo may have come in close contact with him as he was in the Atalanta youth system at the time.

He made his Serie A debut at the age of 18 for Atalanta in 2010. That season though Atalanta would be relegated to Serie B and Manolo would move to Cittadella on loan. The 2010-11 season would be one of apprenticeship in Serie B and Manolo would play 29 times for Cittadella, notching up 5 goals and 4 assists. His exposure would hold him good as Atalanta, who had gained promotion to the top division, would recall Manolo to the team.

In the 2011-12 season though, Manolo has struggled to hold on to a regular spot in the Atalanta first XI. He has played 9 times in the league and once in the Coppa with his sole goal coming in the Coppa. German Denis is the joint top scorer of the league and he has been ably supported by Maxi Moralez and Guido Marilungo, leaving Manolo to bit-part roles.

But his real progress has been evident in Ciro Ferrara’s Azzurrini (Italy U21) team. In 4 matches of the U21 European qualification, Manolo has scored 6 times with 2 assists to boot. This included a hat-trick against Liechtenstein and 2 goals against Hungary. He also provided both the assists in the top of the table clash with Turkey. Powered by his performances, the Azzurrini have a 100% record. Overall in 13 matches for the Azzurrini, Manolo has scored 10 times – a very handsome ratio by any standards and he became only the 9th Italian ever to reach double figures while playing for the Azzurrini and some of those names have gone on to become legends of Italian football – Andrea Pirlo, Christian Vieri (that man again), Gianluca Vialli among them. Manolo though has his head about him. There have been transfer rumours of reported interest from Juventus but seeing how he is struggling to hold on a place in Atalanta, he would rather fight it out at Bergamo than look for a move to Turin. If Denis continues his scoring spree for Atalanta, Manolo might  be well served to have a loan season tucked in to keep his good form for the Azzurrini reflected in the league too. A move down to Serie B would not harm either.

In effect, Manolo is one of the archetypical Italian bombers who have the feet and the head to engage the defence on his own and score goals. A bit more tactical awareness and off-the-ball movement along with some much needed playing time would boost him up to realising some of the potential that he has shown and get him towards matching his sister’s medals tally.

Scouting Network – Emmanuel Mbola

Scouting Network identifies young players under the age of 21 who have exceptional talent and could be one of the leading players of the future. This month GoaldenTimes profiles Emmanuel Mbola

Frankly, only a few who venture outside European football would have heard this fellow’s name but at Goalden Times, we envisage to bring you the names before they become stars. Emmanuel Mbola is set to rule the left side of a top European club for a long time to come.

Born in Kabwe, which is an important transportation and mining centre in Zambia, Mbola began his career as a 14 year old for the Zambian club, Mining Rangers. At an age when the European prodigies would probably be only playing age-group football and at best the reserve leagues, Mbola would go on to make his national debut for Zambia at the tender age of 15. In that match, Zambia would hold Egypt away at Egypt to a 1-1 draw in a qualification match for World Cup 2010. Mbola would go on to play each of the group league matches in the qualification campaign and even though Zambia would miss out  qualifying from the group to Algeria and Egypt, Mbola’s marauding runs on the left and his assured tackling would be noticed.

He was snapped up by top Zambian club, Zanaco in 2008 and soon he was onto even bigger things when Armenian club, FC Pyunik came calling. He joined Pyunic in 2009, aged just 16, a fact that would become important later, and later that season became the first Zambian to play in the UEFA Champions League in 2009. Again his team was eliminated but he was noticed and scouts in England took note. A story of Tottenham having signed him emerged, but that turned out to be a media fiction. His stint with Pyunik saw him winning the double of Armenian Premier League and Armenian Cup in 2009. Meanwhile FIFA took action against Pyunik, saying Mbola was underage and could not have signed the professional contract. Mbola moved back to the reigning African Champions – TP Mazembe of Congo in 2010. With Mazembe, he would win his first African Champions Cup in 2010.

At just over 18 years old, Mbola is already a veteran of 23 first team appearances for the Zambian national team. That implies he has become the second youngest to appear in the African Cup of Nations in 2010. Hisgameplay is based on a robust physique and pace with or off the ball, which allows him to get those runs down the left. Unlike others though, he can defend and tackle but like all defenders, can only improve with age. The one area he does need to work upon is his distribution and passing but at 18, there is still time for a top European club to put their faith in him and see him develop.

His future is obviously in Europe and unlike the last time, he is over 18 and now eligible to sign a professional contract as per FIFA guidelines. A left back, who has won a domestic double in a European league, has been an African club champion, has put in 23 appearances for his nation and thus qualifies for a European work permit and is only 18 – the ingredients for an impending move to Europe, are all there. The coveted transfer though would have to be postponed at least till the next summer, as FIFA has banned Mbola from playing till February 2012, and one will have to wait a bit more to see him in full flight in Europe.

Scout’s Corner: Sebastian Coates

Scouting Network identifies young players under the age of 21 who have exceptional talent and could be one of the leading players of the future. This month GoaldenTimes profiles Sebastian Coates

Born: 07 October, 1990
Height: 1.98m (6 ft 6in)
Weight: 75kg
Position: Central Defender
Worth: 2.5m €
Transfer fee (possibly): 6-7m€
Current Club: Nacional (Uruguay)
The 20 year old Sebastian Coates made his international debut for Uruguay in the Copa America and has proved to be amongst the most promising Uruguayan defenders in his first chance at international football. That says a lot when one of his fellow central defenders was Captain Diego Lugano.
Coates first came to limelight when in August 2010, a news article claimed that he had been signed by AC Milan and would join the club in January 2011. Ultimately that deal did not come through but the fact that this 19 year old (at that time) is special was evident.
His performances in his debut international tournament, the Copa America, have already earned him “Best Young Player” of the tournament. And one can allude that it was primarily due to his performance that Uruguay never sweated on the defense except for the match against Argentina in the quarter final, incidentally a match that Coates missed due to a suspension. Assured as a sweeper in a 3 man defense or part of an orthodox 4 man backline, Coates impressed everyone. His marking and tackling skills are superb. He is comfortable on crosses and aerial balls, his height being a
Milan would have liked what they saw in Coates in the 2009 South American Youth Championships in Venezuela, where Uruguay finished 3rd but managed to top their qualifying group over the likes of Brazil, Paraguay and Chile. In the final group (top 3 teams from initial group went into final group to decide champions), Uruguay defeated the likes of Argentina and Colombia too. In the domestic front, Coates was part of the Nacional team, that finished 2nd behind Penarol in 2009-10 (his debut season) and won the Uruguayan Primera Division in 2010-11. Coates played outstandingly for his age. definite advantage but more importantly, Coates has a keen positional sense. All these factors together are responsible for him only committing 3 fouls in 5 matches in the Copa. In a nutshell, he has evidenced all the qualities to being a top central defender.
The 20 year old is expected to move to Europe very soon and at this moment, clubs interested in him include Liverpool, Manchester City, reigning Copa Libertadores champion Sao Paolo and a top Italian side (expected to be Juventus or Udinese). One can only say that Milan may have missed out on a top talent last year.