Saturday, August 20, 2022

Middlesbrough And Man City Starlets Make The List Of The Best Under-21s Signed By Premier League Clubs

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Jon Depp (JD)
Eccentric writer, effervescent blagger. What he lacks in cheekbones, he makes up by being cheeky. The footballing Jack Sparrow pompously navigating the high-waves of journalism. 2015 International Football Blogging Award Finalist, the pin-up boy of The 4th Official.

The Premier League holds a premier advantage over every other league, when it comes to dangling the carrot over a young upstart’s head. Exorbitant wages, promises of the glitz, clamour and the glamour, turns more head that yoga clinics dealing with patients with cervical spondylitis (the writer is one of those, and had asked the website to add a donate button at the end of this article, but was flatly refused). The agents too, play a telling part, and why not since it’s been documented, that the emissaries who broker the deals on behalf of players moving to the English league, stand to gain more than any of their counterparts wasting their time in selling a Brazilian to a Finnish club (that happens more often than you’d imagine, just read Alex Bellos’ Futebol).

Therefore, it’s no surprise when the who’s who of under-21 are practising their best English pick up lines to ply in pubs across England, picking up easy birds. While there are more failures in this matter, than successes, thanks to badly advised players represented by itchy-palmed, money grabbing agents, there are still enough who make the mark.

Here’s T4O looking into the crystal ball, and informing you, of all the under-21 transfers this season, the select few of young lads who are bound to make a name for themselves.

#1 Marko Grujic
From: Red Star Belgrade
To: Liverpool
Age: 20
Position: Box-to-Box, central defensive midfielder, central midfielder.

Standing at 6’4”, the Serbian is Liverpool’s hope for midfield balance. Bustling with the ball at his feet, and hustling without it – potentially, the Merseyside club, have with them a player that could somehow muster the multi-faceted all-round technical, positional, and physical attributes of club legend, Stevie Gerrard. Maybe, not match the full extent of the hard tacks of the Huyton-born, but the promise is there to be seen. Juergen Klopp and his coaching teams have high hopes for this golem.

#2 Adama Traore
From: Aston Villa
To: Middlesbrough
Age: 20
Position: Right-wing Forward

Signed on a four-year-contract, Boro’s Aitor Karanka would know all about the former Barcelona forward, during his time as an assistant manager for Real Madrid. Nicknamed ‘the Arrow’, Adama was widely considered one of the purest wingers to come out of La Masia in recent times, with Liverpool, Everton, Southampton and all courting his services. Tormentor of wing-backs, he’ll use his explosive pace and balance to good effect vs teams who defend with a high line.

#3 Adnan Januzaj
From: Manchester United (Loan)
To: Sunderland
Age: 21
Position: Right Wing, Central Attacking Midfielder, Left Wing

This is the chance for the Manchester United golden-boy to redeem himself after his stutters at Borussia Dortmund. Not too long ago, the Belgian had the Football Association of England and his host country in a tug of war over his services. He has represented Belgium for a sum total of 6 times since. Can he turn it around? If your manager is David Moyes, your work will be cut out for you.

#4 Georges-Kevin N’Koudou
From: Marseille
To: Tottenham Hotspur
Age: 21
Role: Left-wing Forward, Right-wing Forward

Costing Spurs 11 million Euros, N’Koudou comes with bundles of pace, spirit and unpredictability – that is to say, we are not quite sure how he’ll adapt. Equally capable of playing on either wing, the France under-21 regular, may take a while to settle into the rigours of the English game, with many experts saying that a move may have come too early for him. If all goes well, however, his talents would see him replace Erik Lamela on the wings purely on the basis of his more frequent end product, nevermind his drive on the ball and off it.

#5 Kenedy
From: Chelsea (Loan)
To: Watford
Age: 20
Role: Left-back, Left Midfield, Left Forward

Compared to Hulk, the fat-bottomed Brazilian, his compatriot, the 20-year-old will be setting the left side of Vicarge Road alive with his pompous trespassing with the ball. Formerly of Fluminense, strikes the ball as cleanly as the former Zenit powerhouse, with his howitzer of a left-foot. However, much like Hulk, he can be guilty of backing himself with the ball too often on the dribble, when there are better options around.

#6 Leroy Sane
From: Schalke
To: Manchester City
Role: Left-wing Forward, Centre Forward, Right-wing Forward

When Pep Guardiola throws fats wads of cash, amounting to 50 million Euros, you have got to be special. The boy slaloms with the ball, much like Liverpool’s Fernando Torres used to do, and potentially, may grow to have the same fear factor and standing the effervescent Spaniard had, during his peak years. Almost two-footed, with an eye for goal, the German international works the channels effectively, backed by his acceleration off the mark, and tightness of the dribble, and positioning, most impressively that would Pep want to make him his pet project. There are question marks, however, over his ability to contend for the ball, but trust the baldy-headed man to work that out.

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