Tottenham have taken DC United winger Andy Najar on a two week trial, and Liverpool, Manchester United, and a host of other clubs have followed suit...
As the 2011 MLS season has come to a close, it’s now open season for European club to farm the hottest prospects from America’s budding league.
The latest Premier League team to join the hunt is Tottenham, who this week welcomed 18-year-old Andy Najar as a trialist. The Honduras and DC United winger is set to train with Spurs until December 10th.
So who is this so-called ‘wonderkid’? Spurs fans might be weary of labeling another Latino as such after the failures of Giovani Dos Santos, but Najar is certainly worth the test.
Voted the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year at 17 (the youngest to ever receive the award), Najar wowed the league with his quickness and speed when he broke onto the scene last season. In his first year as a professional, he scored five goals and notched one assist in 26 games. This year, he matched his goal tally but added five more assists in 31 games. DC United compiled this great reel of the highlights of his rookie season:
Najar’s clever footwork and unpredictability with the ball has made him one of the most exhilarating talents in the States. His energy and flair have drawn comparisons to Barcelona’s Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez and Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung. For a 5ft. 7in. teenager, his confidence and toughness are way beyond his years. He’s certainly not afraid to throw his body around. But right now, in England, he may get broken in two. He’s obviously in need of a pork roast or three.
But at his age, Najar is as close as to a complete player as you’ll find. He loves to keep the ball at his feet and create on offense and track back on defense. In his second season in MLS, Najar’s growth was obvious. His runs off the ball kept defenses off balance. And, somehow, he seems to have gotten faster. Best of all, hombre is not afraid to have a go from distance. Exhibit A:
Earlier this year, Najar, who moved to the US when he was 13 and holds a green card, made a much-anticipated announcement about his international commitment. Predictably, and to the chagrin of many Americans, he chose his home country. Chalk another one up in the Giuseppe Rossi Book of One’s That Got Away.
Is Andy Najar a player best suited for Tottenham, or any English side for that matter? Probably not. Not yet, at least. As much as ‘Arry would like to find the next Wilson Palacios, a player of Najar’s type seems made for Spain. Nonetheless, England is a great place for an MLS youngster to gain experience, stay fit, and get a taste of a more physical game.
For this reason, Najar is not alone in his temporary journey from the US to England. And United States manager Jürgen Klinsmann is the man responsible . The German has been outspoken about the short MLS season hindering player development and causing national team players to fall out of form and fitness during the long offseason. As a result, he has personally set up training stints for his hottest prospects at European clubs. Here’s a few Americans EPL clubs will be getting a closer look at this month:
Juan Agudelo (Liverpool)
A lively forward many have already dubbed a superstar in the making. The New York Red Bulls 19-year-old is a regular call-up to the US National Team. After Klinsmann hooked him up with a training stint at Stuttgart last week, he’s off to Liverpool today to work with Kenny’s youngsters. He really is one to keep your eye on.
Brek Shea (Arsenal)
The most hyped of the bunch so far. The 6ft 3in left-winger has acquired legitimate interest from Premier League clubs. The talented 21-year-old is the most primed for the Prem of the bunch.
Tim Ream (West Brom & Bolton)
A young, raw defender from the New York Red Bulls, Ream is known for his distribution from the back. But his toughness and decision-making need some work. Back-to-back stints with the Baggies and Bolton will be great for him. Both clubs and Arsenal are rumoured to be interested. If he impresses, a permanent move for the 24-year-old doesn’t seem that farfetched.
Bill Hamid (West Brom)
Klinsmann seems to have already anointed the DC United keeper as Tim Howard’s successor. Hamid, who spent 10 days in November with Hodgson’s troops, still has a few more seasons in MLS before headed to Europe, in my opinion.
Sean Johnson (Manchester United)
The 6ft 4in Chicago Fire keeper reportedly impressed Sir Alex Ferguson when Man United visited for a friendly in July. As a result, they’ve handed the 22 year old a December trial.
Omar Salgado (Fulham)
This 18-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps forward spent the last week training with Martin Jol’s reserve side. His training stint runs until Dec. 4th . Salgado was the first overall pick in the 2011 SuperDraft. Pending a breakout season next year, the 6ft 4in youngster will refine his skills in MLS for the next couple seasons.
All of these player mentioned (except Ream) are eligible to play for the United States U-23 Olympic squad next summer in London.
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