For the past few years, I have been predicting a few (relatively unknown) players who I thought would do well at a big club.
Obviously, my scouting skills do not match those of Piet de Visser (yet), but I did predict players like Benayoun (during his Racing Santander time), Dean Ashton (Crewe), Rooney (who didn’t) and Leighton Baines (kinda obvious too) to do well in a bigger club, and they are not doing all too bad.
But, honestly, I also failed with many players, too, like the Brazilian Washington (now playing in the Japanese A-League), Italian Aimo Diana (never played for a "big club" anyway), Derby County’s James McEvely (what was I thinking?), Rafael Sobis (no verdict on him yet) and worst of the lot, the Swiss Johann Vogel (actually Milan never gave him a chance, but he also seems to be struggling at Blackburn!)
So this time, after consulting with a few other "scouters," I have come up with a new list (countdown style) of “RELATIVELY UNKNOWN PLAYERS WHO WOULD DO WELL FOR A BIGGER CLUB.”
5) Stéphane Sessegnon (Benin, PSG, defensive midfielder)
Sessegnon is a central or a defensive midfielder who plays for the French club Paris St-Germain. His name came to prominence twice; when he scored a brace against Lyon during his successful time at Le Mans and his display during the latest African Cup of Nations tournament.
He is not known to score goals, but it’s his great "game reading" ability that is his main strength. Sessegnon is only 5-foot-7, but he is a tough-tackling midfielder.
He is superb on the ball which makes him a a good "ball player," even though he is usually a defensive midfielder. His passing range is excellent, and he is considered to be one of the best midfielders in the Ligue 1.
During his time at Le Mans, he was tracked by clubs like Arsenal and Newcastle but opted to sign for PSG, instead.
Arsene Wenger tracked him for an immediate replacement for the outgoing Flamini, and Newcastle wanted to have a reliable defensive midfielder.
Pundits say his playing style resembles that of Makelele, but if you watch his games you would realize that he is better than Makelele in one aspect: his talent on the ball...not just winning the ball like a normal defensive midfielder would do, but his ability to find his team mate with precision.
Only 24, this player's future looks wonderfully bright (to me at least).
Predicted clubs: Newcastle, Arsenal, Hamburger FC, Schalke 04
4) Alessandro Rosina (Italy, Torino, playmaker)
This player first caught my eyes during the U21 England vs. Italy match at the Wembley. His sensational play-making skills were dazzling; and instantly I know that I am witnessing a star in the making.
Even though he was a star of the U21 Italy, he only has one cap to speak of for the full national team.
He is still only 24 and his type of playing style seems to not suit the present Azzuri playing style currently. His previous clubs include Parma and Verona; now he's playing for Torino, where he is their main play-maker.
Rosina is good on either foot and can play at both flank, but his most effective position is the "hole;" just behind the strikers. He scores a decent amount of goals, but it his creativity that is his main strength.
He is well-built, not the tallest (5-foot-6), but certainly not a player you could bully around. His technique of running straight toward the goal strike fears to even to the best defenders in Seria A.
He has great passing abilities, tends to score the odd goals, wonderful dribbling skills, great vision and a lot of determination.
He previously rejected offers from both the Milan teams and also signed a new contract with Torino, but if Rosina continues to play in this form, he is sure to be lured away.
Predicted future club: Deportivo La Coruna, Fiorentina, Juventus, and Tottenham.
3) Antonio Leonel Vilar Nogueira Sousa, aka Tonel (Portugal, Sporting Lisbon; central defender)
Tonel was first recommended by my friend to be put on this list; and I almost rejected it. The reason I did not want to have his name on the list is because of his age; he is 28.
After some persuasion by my friend to watch his games (which I did and was totally mesmerized) is then that I realized that I would have made a great mistake to not have his name up on this list.
It was actually Anderson Polga (Tonel’s defend partner at Sporting Lisbon) that was to be on this list but (as I watched his games) I was more attracted to Tonel’s game-play rather than the Brazilian’s.
Tonel is a composed, well-built, experienced, very reliable and a solid defender. Tonel scores a fairly amount of goal for a defender and he also tends to score acrobatic goals as well.
He is strong in the air, tackles really well, is great with the ball, and is also very good in reading the game.
He has previously played for Porto and more modest clubs like Maritimo and Academica, but with very little success. He then got his chance to join Sporting Lisbon after some impressive display for Maritimo, and he never looked back since.
To many people's surprise, he rarely gets a call up for the national team, even though he is one of the most consistent players in the Portuguese football league (actually only one cap to speak of).
His partnership with Polga has been one of the success stories for Sporting Lisbon. Even though the pundits say he is a late developer, I just think he was never given the chance to shine or to play on a more competitive team.
He is currently being tracked by Rangers and a few other clubs, but I would really like to see him in a more competitive league to show his true abilities. He is truly the one of the rare breed of defenders where you can depend on when the whole team is down.
Predicted club: Villarreal, Rangers, Newcastle, AS Roma and Werder Bremen
2) Deivson Rogério da Silva aka Bobo (Brazil, Besiktas, striker)
I was really considering not having strikers on this list; as to possibility of failure is very high, but Bobo has continued to impress me that gave me the courage to have his name on this list.
Bobo is good on the air, a very composed player, a good finisher and is very skillful with the ball too (typical Brazilian). But what amazes me the most with him is his aerial strength (strangely, not very typical Brazilian).
This makes him a good target man and this ability has made him to adapt to European style of play easily.
His goalscoring prowess is certainly not going unnoticed, as Tottenham FC has been linked heavily with him for the replacement of Berbatov. He has currently scored 53 goals in 97 games for Besiktas and has one cap for his national team.
Bobo should certainly consider playing in another league to prove to current Brazil coach Dunga that he is the real deal after all.
Predicted future clubs: Tottenham, Sevilla, and Valencia
And the No. 1 spot goes to….
1)Taye Taiwo (Nigeria, Olimpique de Marseille, left back)
Okay, I know he is NOT "relatively unknown" but still he is not as famous with the media and fans alike as he should be. Taiwo gained international recognition when he was nominated as the third-best player in the FIFA Youth World Cup; only behind Messi and Obi Mikel.
He plays at the left back position for Marseille and although regarded as one of their best players, he is often overshadowed by the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa and Mamadou Niang.
Even though only at the tender age of 23, he has played almost 130 games for Marseille and has experience playing in the Champions League.
He is also a first-team member for the Nigeria national team. In 2006, he won the African Young Player award.
For a left back, he scores quite frequently and has thunderous shoots and along with his determined runs, great physical attributes, sweet left foot, great defending abilities, tons of pace to burn, and wonderful dribbling skills, this player should be the top of every manager's transfer list.
Predicted future club: Tottenham, Valencia (probably even better clubs in the future)
These players were chosen after my friends and I watched a few of their games but for some other players, I could only manage to watch the highlights, as I could not find the right "resources" to watch their games. (None of the players that I watched through highlights are on the list anyway).
In this list, there were many other players that were "nominated" such as De La Pena, Mark Noble, Luisao, Naldo, Heiko Westermann, John Mensah and many more, but I thought that these top 5 players that I would rather put my money on.
So if you think that I missed a few other better players, or some of the players above not worth mentioning, please do leave a comment.