Manchester United Target Kevin Strootman & 4 Euro 2012 Wonderkids...
International tournaments are the highlight of our footballing calendars. Days of seemingly endless football, shock results and the chance to see the best that the rest of the world has to offer. This is not just a great time for fans however; it is also a great chance for managers to try and sniff out a bargain and agents will be out in force looking for lucrative moves for their clients. Some of these names will be familiar to football fans worldwide but some may not be so familiar, so here’s a rundown of all you need to know about Euro 2012's hidden gems.
Kevin Strootman (Holland)
The 22-year-old Dutch international may not be regarded as a hidden gem anymore, having been linked with moves to the likes of AC Milan and Manchester United, but he still looks set to impress in Poland and Ukraine. The central midfielder has been influential for PSV Eindhoven since moving from FC Utrecht, providing five goals and eleven assists in his first campaign with the club. He has featured at every youth team level for the ‘Oranje’ and recently Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk praised the youngster's vision. During the 2010 World Cup the Dutch preferred to play with two holding defensive midfielders - leaving them somewhat stiff at times - but Strootman can offer something completely different, as deep lying playmaker who has a wide range of passing. While he’s up against tough competition in the centre of the park, should he be given the opportunity he looks sure to impress.
Perfect for: Having been linked with United in the past and Ferguson looking for a new deep lying play maker Strootman could suit a move to Old Trafford.
Nélson Oliveira (Portugal)
While not everyone is a fan of the enigmatic Swedish frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, when people compare 20-year-old Portugese and Benfica forward Nelson Oliveria to the Milan forward, it’s a compliment. Standing at 6ft 1 these comparisons are easy to make, but Oliveria also shares Ibrahimovics’ eye for the sublime, scoring the goal that clinched Benfica's progress into the quarter finals of the Champions League for the first time in six years. Although he’s not yet a prolific goalscorer, he’s good with his head and has a rapid turn of pace. If that’s not good enough for you, it’s been said that Barcelona and Chelsea are keeping an eye on the Portuguese youngster. He doesn’t start for Portugal, behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo in the pecking order, but he does represent something they don’t have in the first team, a genuine striker. If he can make the same impact from the bench that he has for Benfica then there’s a chance that he’ll be leaving Estadio da Luz this summer.
Perfect for: Spurs seem to be incessantly linked with every striker going but Nelson Oliveira seems to have all the necessary abilities to make it at the North London club.
Rasmus Elm (Sweden)
The Dutch Eredivisie is a league that is known to have a patchy record when it comes to exports; for every Robin van Persie there’s an Alfonso Alves. However in the Swede Rasmus Elm, Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar seem to have found themselves a player that looks sure to succeed wherever he goes. For AZ he is played as an attack minded central midfielder, but for Sweden he is usually deployed on either flank, showing versatility which could attract attention from the Premier League. The 24-year-old has excellent technique and a fantastic right foot which has earned him plaudits for his passing range as well as his free kick ability. Having netted 29 times from 82 appearances in the Dutch league he also represents a real goal threat from the centre of the park. Although he may seem a tad older than the others in this list he still looks to be improving.
Perfect for: Jordan Henderson’s move to Liverpool has not quite gone to plan yet and Charlie Adam doesn’t seem to fit with Brendan Rogers playing style. Available for relatively little, Elm would be a great signing for Liverpool.
Ivan Perišić (Croatia)
Ivan Perišić is a name that will be familiar to Arsenal fans, with the Croatian having scored a brilliant 20-yard 88th-minute equalising volley against the London club in the Champions League this season. On that evidence alone he should be of interest to some Premier League clubs, but there is much more to his game. Having suffered the same positional congestion for club and country, Perišić has shown flexibility in being able to play as both an attacking midfielder in the centre of the park as well as a winger, where he most often plays for Croatia. He possess all the attributes to become a great player, he’s quick, an able passer, a good header of the ball and he takes up good positions. Perišić's opportunities at Dortmund may be limited however, considering the glut of attacking talent at the German double winners. Perhaps a move away may be the best thing for the talented 23-year-old.
Perfect for: Seems a perfect fit for Arsenal. Would not cost the earth, seems sure to improve and would relieve some of the pressure on Arteta to create opportunities high up the pitch.
Fabio Borini (Italy)
Familiar to supporters of Chelsea and Swansea alike, Fabio Borini has proved that he can make it at the top level. After helping secure promotion for the Swans with an outstanding record of six goals in nine games, Borini has earned himself a place in the Italian squad after a successful season for Roma. What Borini gives to the Azzuri is the ability to change their game plan, as he is deployed as a wide forward where he has shown his ability to beat a man and contribute goals and assists. He is a tricky forward who at 21 is young enough to improve greatly, and that Cesare Prandelli has shown enough faith to include him in the squad after only 25 appearances in Serie A shows how highly rated he is by those in his native country.
Perfect for: While it seems unlikely he will move this summer he could be good option for Newcastle to help balance the width of the team.
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