Scouting Network – Lucas Moura

Goalden Times brings you the stars of tomorrow – 20 years or under, promising players from across the world

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Full Name: Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva

Date of Birth: August 13, 1992

Height: 1.73 m

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Nationality: Brazilian

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Market Value: £31 m

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Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva. The name indicates he is of Brazilian origin, and indeed he is. One can figure out from his play that this young kid is here to stay. He started in the youth teams of Juventus but returned to his homeland with the Corinthians before settling in at Sao Pãulo. Following the footsteps of another Brazilian star, Kaka he nurtured his skills at the youth level to make his senior club team debut in 2010. He had a prolific season in 2011 where he scored 13 goals and provided eight assists. This, along with his strong showing for Brazil in various age groups, earned him a senior team call-up for a friendly against Scotland on March 27, 2011.

At a very young age, he was able to secure a permanent first team place at the club level and his performances for the national team convinced the giants of European club football that he had it all to shine at the top level. In a tug of war for Lucas Moura, Paris Saint-Germain skipped past Manchester United to secure the services of this prodigious talent in the summer of 2012.

Like almost all Brazilians, he has a Samba flavour to his football. He has a strong physique for his age and his decision-making skills clubbed with superb technical abilities have made him a prominent figure in the national team across various age groups. His breakthrough came in the Under-20 South American Championship in 2011 where he scored a hat-trick to clinch the trophy for Brazil in the finals en route to thrashing Uruguay 6-0. He usually starts in the right side of midfield but drifts inside to take control of the game. He is a superb dribbler and does not need any invitation to run at defences. He is classy and a supremely confident young player who mesmerizes viewers with his vision as well as confidence level to take on any opponent. He is a diamond in the rough – he needs to learn to keep his temperament under control in order to achieve greater heights. And he has all the makings to do just that; provided his sky-high price tag and the ridiculous buy-out fee of £83 million do not get into his head!

Scouting Network – Jetro Willems

Goalden Times brings you the stars of tomorrow – 20 years or under, promising players from across the world

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Date of Birth:  March 30, 1994

Height: 1.70m

Position: Left-back

Nationality: Dutch

Club: PSV

Market Value: €1.5 mn

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This Scouting NetworkTM is based on Euro 2012 and no one deserves to be featured more than the boy-man – Jetro Willems, who broke a 28-year-old record to become the youngest ever player in the history of Euro Championships. It is an honour that was not just held by a random player but one of the national legends of Belgium – Vincenzo ‘Enzo’ Daniele Scifo. Scifo had audacious skills as a youngster and was compared to Pelé but he never rose to such heights. Scifo though, was capable enough to be only one of three Belgians to play in four FIFA World Cups. Willems would do well to emulate that record.

The rise of Willems is not sudden. He has been breaking the age group records all along his development. But his big break came in 2011 when he was part of the Dutch U-17 team that won the European U-17 tournament for the first time in its history. Even more sweet was the fact that Holland didn’t concede a single goal up until the final, where they thrashed the Germans 5-2. That was an amazing 368 minutes of goalless journey and Willems was one of two defenders, chosen along with the goalkeeper in the team of the tournament for that.

A transfer move was inevitable after that. Willems, who had begun his career at Spartaan ’20 and then moved to Sparta Rotterdam in 2010. The big clubs were already aware of him and Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to bring him to Manchester United. Arsene Wenger was interested in him too. But Willems ultimately remained in Eredivisie by moving to PSV for a sum of € 800,000.

The season with PSV was eventful. He started 20 matches in the league, scoring a goal and assisting two. That goal made him the youngest goal-scorer in the Eredivisie for the season. He made his European debut in a UEFA Cup match with Hapoel Tel Aviv and this made him the youngest Dutchman ever to appear in a European contest. Amidst transfer speculation in the winter window, PSV quickly extended his contract till 2016.

When Dutch national coach Bert van Martwijk included him in the 32-man list, it was a signal of great progress. When he was included in the 23-man squad, it was thought to give him some exposure with the team and nothing more. Vurnon Anita would have been the chosen left-back. But come the opening fixture, Martwijk kept faith in the young 18-year-old, who had only made his debut for Holland two weeks before the opening fixture in Euro. It was a baptism by fire. Holland in a Group of Death crashed out without a point. The defence didn’t hold on well. Willems though only missed 24 minutes of action, as he was substituted in the final group game for a desperate goal.

From the season he has had in the Euros, it is evident that Willems is more comfortable going forward than defending at the back. He made 5 tackles and four intercepts while fouling 5 times in those three matches. But he made many run ins down the left, crossing eight times. He also had a pass completion percentage of 90.8%. He needs to work on his positional skills and anticipation better. Defensively, he still requires tightening up and with age on his side that should not be a problem. His physicality and technique will hold him in good stead though. With the dearth of quality left-backs in the European game, Willems is a guy worth keeping your eyes on.

Scouting Network: Marco Verratti

Goalden Times brings you the stars of tomorrow – 20 years or under, promising players from across the world


       

        Date of Birth:  Nov 5, 1992

   Height: 1.65m

   Position: Midfielder

Nationality: Italian

Club: Pescara

Market Value: €12mn

With Italy being inspired to a third ever European final by a 33-year-old Andrea Pirlo, the talk focussed on how Italy will do once the midfield metronome retires. Riccardo Montolivo, once called the heir apparent to Pirlo, has not lived upto his potential but here comes a 19-year-old who possibly can get into those shoes. Growing up in the Pescara youth, Marco Verratti was a marked man. He had joined Pescara youth team in 2008, and later that year, Milan came scouting. His intelligent passing and decision-making as well as dead ball skills reminded them of Pirlo immediately. Milan had offered to co-own the boy – then all of 16, but Pescara wanted to keep him. Four years on, Pirlo has moved on from Milan to Juventus and Pescara, after a 19-year absence had been promoted to Serie A under maverick Czech manager Zdenek Zeman. At the forefront of this revival was a 19-year-old Verratti, whom Zeman played in the role that defines Pirlo – deep-lying playmaker.

Verratti was a great success as a deep-lying playmaker – assisting nine goals in 31 matches for Pescara, one of them being the great retrieve and assist against Sampdoria. Verratti’s strength is his great technique and passing abilities. With his frail frame, he didn’t quite succeed in the attacking midfield role that he initially played. But Zeman pushed him back in the field and helped make his defensive play tight enough to play as the regista. The other notable feature is his deadball skills. Verratti is the designated corner specialist for Pescara. In one aspect thought he would need to emulate his idol, Pirlo a bit more. For a man of his talent and skills, he has seen a few red cards. One hopes that he would be able to control his play and emotions better as he grows.

Verratti made his debut for the Italy U-21 team in a February 2012 friendly against France and did not look out of place in it in a central midfield spot. In his third match, in the U21 team, he was played as a deep-lying defensive midfield role and he scored his first goal for the national team. But in a subsequent U21 European qualifier against Ireland, Verratti saw red in a heated match that finished 2-2. His skills and position and nature of play, makes him a suitable candidate – especially in the Italian league. All the top clubs – Milan, Juventus, Inter and even foreign ones – PSG and Man City among them, were thought to be courting Verratti. That he was included in Italy manager Cesare Prandelli’s 32-man roster for the European Cup, must have also weighed in his favour. On June 23, Pescara officially took him off the market. The official communiqué read, “This morning the top management of Pescara met with Marco Verratti and his agent. The player has reiterated his desire to remain with the club. The player, among other things, renewed his contract last year and is tied to the club for another four years.”

Fresh from the Oven: It is no surprise that the prized Verratti is all set to bid adieu to the biancoazzurri colours of Pescara and close in on a deal with the French giants Paris Saint-Germain.