English Premier League: Five Players That Could Light up the 2009-2010 Season
With the departure of Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso, the Premiership looks in danger of lacking the Latin/Iberian flair and creativity. It is my opinion that English football needs entertainers while maintaining its physical and energetic characteristics. Players who can bring crowds and viewers to their feet with moments of magic.
Here are my list of five players (outside of Europe) that could set the 2009-2010 English Premier League alight, with combinations of flair, exuberance, and loads of technical ability. Some of them are even winners of their current leagues.
Playing at the club that gave the world Kaka, it is therefore inevitable that comparisons and similarities are made between the Morumbi club's latest prized asset, Hernanes and football's most famous Christian. However, Sao Paulo's Hernanes’ marking, positioning, passing, vision, and ability to drive forward from deep positions is more reminiscent of another Sao Paulo legend, Rai.
This 24-year-old is completely comfortable with both feet, able to play on the wings, as well as dictate play from the centre of the park. Sitting deep or surging forwards, he has been the leader for Sao Paulo in 2008. More importantly, Hernanes is a team player with a good work rate.
Unlike most Latin American players, he has displayed a willingness to stay on his feet. With the loss of Alonso and the injury to new signing Aquilani, the 2008 Brazilian footballer of the year makes a very elegant replacement to the wonderful playmaking skills of Xabi Alonso at Liverpool.
2. Stuart Holden
The spiky, blond-haired Stuart Holden is nicknamed "The Chameleon" by his Houston Dynamo teammates for his ability to easily adapt to his surroundings. Holden's ability to play virtually anywhere in midfield makes him a very useful utility player.
His most favoured position is as an attacking midfielder but has excellent work rate. He will track back, tackle, and win the ball back for the team.
After some sterling performances for Houston, Stuart Holden was rewarded with a national team call up for the Gold Cup. Finally breaking into world football, Holden was one of the stars in the U.S. Gold Cup team, finishing the tournament with two goals and two assists.
Perhaps his best performance came against Honduras in the semifinal. His efforts at the Gold Cup did not go unnoticed as he was voted into the Gold Cup All-Tournament Team.
He has some unfinished business in England. He was previously on Sunderland's books but a pub brawl curtailed his progress. It would seem now that Stuart Holden is ready for another shot at the Premiership. His all-action style could be suited to Aston Villa to replace the departed Gareth Barry. Clearly the future of American soccer.
3. Douglas Costa
Douglas is an 18-year-old teenage prodigy who has the major European clubs interested in his progress. With potential to become the next Ronaldinho, the expectation is high on this boy.
Gremio is cash-strapped and would be looking to sell, but does he have the mentality and attitude to succeed? Manchester United bought a similar raw 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon and turned him into the biggest star of this decade.
A two-footed dribbler who is also a fine free kick taker. Doesn't that sound frighteningly familiar? He should fit nicely into the Manchester United ranks, the Brazilian teenage brothers will be expected to welcome and introduce Douglas to the Manchester party scene.
4. Yasuhito Endo
Short and stocky, the versatile midfielder currently plays for the J. League team Gamba Osaka. His exceptional performances at the Club World Cup made the football world sit up and take notice. He is equally adept on both ends of the pitch, whether it is defending or attacking.
His attacking skills, dribbling, and marvelous passing are highly valued traits which would not look out of place in the best league in the world. Endo is also well known for being a free kick specialist and is also a cool penalty kick taker. He is the first J. League player to be named into J. League Best XI six times.
If Cesc Fabregas were to find playing for Barcelona much too enticing, Endo would be a perfect like-for-like replacement. Arsene Wenger's knowledge of Japanese players would be an advantage to unleashing the dangers of Yasuhito Endo into the English game. Now 29-years-old, Arsenal could get three productive years from him. He may just be the midfield general that a still young Arsenal team need.
5. Mohamed Aboutrika
This magical Egyptian was the reason for Egypt's good showing at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa. Mohamed Aboutrika contributed three assists in a tournament where Egypt stunned Italy 1-0.
Currently playing in his homeland for Al Ahly, he is the "Egyptian Zidane". Known for his playmaking skills and technical abilities, Aboutrika's contributions come not only in finding the net but also in creating chances for the front two. His sound awareness and reading of the game meant that he often chose the right moment to come forward for shots on goal. He is known as "The Smiling Assassin."
The successes of Mido and Zaki mean that the English game will not offer any worries to Aboutrika. Only his age may be a stumbling block. One of the best players in Africa and would be a seriously great buy for Everton who badly missed Mikel Arteta last season.
Five great players, but would any Premiership club sign them? Seems like a big wish list but maybe just maybe Christmas will come early for me this season.