The class of 1992 are beginning to make their breakthrough around Europe but while the likes of Jack Wilshere, Iker Munian and David Alaba are grabbing headlines and international caps, outside the confines of Varese very few will be familiar with the name of Acharaf Lazaar.
In fact, every few probably know where Varese is – head some 50kms north-west of Milan and you will find it – although it probably gets more traffic heading to AC Milan’s Milanello training complex, nearby.
However, the Serie B club are a world away from the current Serie A champions but it has been where the 20-year-old Lazaar has been developing his talent away from the spotlight.
If the reports are to be believed that Arsenal are tracking a unknown in the Italian game then that tranquility is about to change for the Casablanca-born, Italian-raised player who has yet to make his first-team debut – and is in fact still officially in the youth team which in Italy is really a glorified reserve pool of youngsters on the cusp of adulthood.
Generally, for these young hopefuls their next stop will be some backwater on loan, not one of Europe’s leading lights and although Lazaar’s displays at youth level have stood out, making the great leap forward is another matter.
Certainly the tag of the ‘new Garth Bale’ does not help but the source of these glowing comparisons comes from Varese sporting director Mauro Milanese and the player’s agent who of course have a vested interest in promoting their young prospect.
However, he does possess a similar build to the Welsh wiz, standing at around 6ft, coupled with blistering pace and more than that a left foot to match his exceptional work-rate.
He may have started out as a left-back, but as with most young players in Italy he has honed his technique playing in numerous roles in his short career, and last season was employed as a support-striker in the team’s run to the Youth Cup final where he scored in the 3-2 defeat to AS Roma.
Former youth team coach Devis Mangia, who was in charge at Palermo for the first four months of this season, understood that his pace would be an asset further forward and selected him on the left side of midfield, but his reasoning was also part of a learning curve to identify with what he will have to face when he eventually settles into his career at full-back.
An excellent disciplinary record is not only a product of his natural ability to out-accelerate opponents which has ensured he rarely mistimes a challenge, but also possessing a level-headed attitude to his profession.
At present the foundations are there but Varese are well aware that they can only take the player so far in his development and if a window of opportunity opens then he will not take much encouragement to jump through it.
More stories you might like
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook