Linked with Borussia Dortmund—and said to be one of world football's rising stars with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, Manchester United's Javier Hernandez and Barca's Thiago Alcantara—Karim Ansarifard is the best young player you've never heard of.
The 21-year-old Iranian striker, who plays for Iran Pro League team Saipa, is considered the heir to Ali Daei, the former Bayern Munich striker who holds the record for the most goals scored in international football.
Besides Bundesliga champion Dortmund, who were said to have offered €5 million for his services, Ansarifard has also been linked with Premier League side Everton, as well as Rubin Kazan and Steaua Bucharest, who had a €200,000 half-season loan bid rejected.
Ansarifard is one special talent, and he is not in Europe at the moment only because of issues with conscription. Nonetheless, it won't be long before he is at a top European club, and the striker could receive special dispensation from the Iranian government.
So how good is this breakout Iranian talent?
While Ansarifard's record doesn't come across as the most prolific, 40 goals in 107 matches, the young striker has got it all in his locker.
He's possibly one of the most versatile goal-scorers in the game: movement reminiscent of Javier Hernandez, poacher's ability of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, heading ability of Henrik Larsson, and the pure striking technique of Wayne Rooney.
He also has huge experience at such a young age, lighting up Iran and making over 110 professional appearances in the process, akin to Eden Hazard in Ligue 1 and Romelu Lukaku in the Jupiler League.
And in terms of the x-factor, he also probably has the skills and trickery to match Neymar.
The potential is there for Ansarifard to become a real prolific European goalscorer, especially seen as the Iran Pro League is one of the toughest leagues in the world to score goals—the champion Sepahan scored the most goals, just 56 from 34 games—which makes his achievement all the more impressive.
Last season, Ansarifard scored 20 goals in 29 Pro League matches, scoring almost half the total goals his Saipa team scored that season.
He effectively carried the side as they struggled to an 11th-placed finish. It was huge psychological pressure, but he proved his mental toughness by upping his game to another level.
This season he's also carrying the team as the club's leading scorer with six goals.
Despite his age, the 21-year-old is also hugely experienced on the international stage, having scored seven goals in 25 caps for Iran since making his senior international debut just two seasons ago.
A scorer of goals more than anything else, Ansarifard has massive potential in football.
His true goalscoring ability is skewed seen as he plays in Iran and for one of the league's worst teams—having stayed loyal to Saipa despite interest from Iran's two powerhouses, Persepolis and Esteghlal—but, nonetheless, Ansarifard is a superstar in the making.
Karim Ansarifard the next Ali Daei? More like the next Ruud Van Nistelrooy.