By Liam Scahill
The My Old Man Said scouting department maybe working from home during the current lockdown, but our all-seeing eye currently can still give Mr Suso (aka Jesus Garcia Pitarch) a run for his money.
With the transfer gods being in benevolent mood seemingly linking our players with moves away lets reverse the tide and look at some more Eurostars. Last time out June 2019 we identified Téji Savanier, Wout Weghorst, Miha Zajc and Mr André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who are very much still on the table.
With Villa scouts having now lost weeks of potential time to watch players, below we enlist our Irish scouting oracle to cast his eye across Europe once again to provide us with the kind of players that would benefit Villa, no matter what league they’re in next season.
Fredrik Midtsjø – Deep Lying Playmaker/Box-to-box Midfield
Fredrik Midtsjø, or ‘Freddy’, as he could be known around the parts of B6 is a Norwegian midfield dynamo currently tearing up the Eredivisie for AZ Alkmaar. Energetic and in the box-to-box midfielder mould, Midtsjø is beginning to catch the eye after joining Alkmaar’s ranks from Rosenborg BK in 2017.
In supporters’ eyes, he was outshone only by Netherlands hotshot Myron Boadu, coming second in the Player of the Year award as AZ matched Ajax stride for stride in the race for the title finishing joint top.
What the Norwegian lacks in physical prowess he more than makes up for in effort, gliding around the pitch from a deep midfield position often reminiscent to our own John McGinn. Prior to the season ending, Midtsjø began to show some real signs of evolution, displaying tantalisingly compulsive tendencies for the sublime and often firing ballistic-like through balls from a deep midfield position.
At 26 the combative defensive-midfield-playmaker is coming into his prime and should be on the radar of clubs around Europe and hopefully Villa’s.
Teun Koopmeiners – Defensive Midfield
During our Dutch spying mission, MOMS’ gaze was also drawn to a teammate of Midtsjø’s and in fact AZ’s captain 22-year-old Teun Koopmeiners. Unlike Freddy, AZ’s captain extraordinaire is capturing the attention of clubs’ radars around Europe, with murmurings of interest from Everton, West Ham and Italian giants AC Milan.
Koopmeiners embodies the old maxim a ‘wise head on young shoulders’, hence he has captained a team to Champions League qualification at such a young age. The fact that he steps up for penalty taking duty, further indicates Koopmeiners is a natural leader.
What makes the Dutchman’s CV even more impressive is the fact he is a defensive midfielder boasting 11 goals in the Eredivisie this season. The young upstart seems destined for the bigtime having being a regular fixture of Netherlands U-21 teams in recent times.
Showing ability well beyond his years, it could only be a matter of time before Koopmeiners becomes a foil to Frenkie De Jong in the Dutch senior midfield engine room.
Amine Gouiri – Striker
Is the latest in a long line of talent from the Lyon academy conveyor belt, his rise to prominence has been somewhat hindered due to injury, despite this the club value him highly.
Speaking recently on club channels, Lyon’s president Jean-Michel Aulas reiterated the club’s desire to keep him in an effort ward off inevitable suitors.
Gouiri would not come cheap, in fact the word on the French beat is, he would demand a €30m price tag. In recent weeks the 20-year-old striker is said to be a subject of interest for Glasgow giants Celtic, the Scottish side are no strangers to the French market having plucked Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard from Ligue 1.
A €30m fee remains unrealistic at this juncture for the Lyon starlet, given his lack of first team experience to date. Still, since the striker has been a regular feature internationally for France at youth level, interested clubs should prepared to pay for his obvious potential.
Gouiri possesses something Villa currently lack in the final third, a simple ingredient that has served our countering game so well in the past….pace.
Yacine Adli – Attacking Midfielder
Staying in Paddy Riley’s former stomping ground of Ligue 1, one cannot resist the temptation to mention an enterprising figurehead from a sleeping giant in the form of Yacine Adli.
The formidable France youth international surprisingly and admirably chose to escape the glitz and glamour of the Paris Saint-Germain revolution, finding a new home at Matmut Atlantique, the home of Bordeaux.
Basking in the sunshine of first team football at the tender age of 19, Adli is evolving into something quite spectacular, at first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking the attacking midfielder was a Marouane Fellaini professional lookalike.
But make no mistake, the gangly Adli injects a welcome sense of unknown & abandon into phases of attacking play coupled with an eye for the long range spectacular. Adli epitomises a type of player which is becoming rarer and rarer in the modern era, he screams ‘I’m a street footballer’. He unhinges defences by quite simply running straight at them predominately from central positions.
As Adli grows and his physical attributes evolve there is no doubt he is one to watch, finding space in the pockets of the pitch only a high level of game intelligence permits his future is one to monitor.
Jeremie Boga – Winger
Sticking with the theme of dribblers, there is a young man in Serie A slowly but surely making a name for himself. Following the now well-trodden footsteps of being deemed ‘not good enough for Chelsea’ and then undergoing a metamorphosis in the footballing world of Italy, Boga is catching the eye.
He’s a player whom would remind you of Shaun Wright-Philips in his heyday, often leaving defenders on their backside and fans on the edge of their seats. Boga is quite simply fun to watch, he has bestowed Sassuolo with some eye catching displays since his arrival, so much so that some sections of the Chelsea fan base want him back (Mo Salah I hear you scream)!
Wait, it gets even more eerie, Boga is said to be subject of interest from none other than Roma. And they say lightning doesn’t strike twice, eh, Boga though may not have escaped Frank Lampard’s clutches just yet, as his current contract is adorned with a buy-back-clause.
Boga has enjoyed a rise to stardom since gracing Italy following a transfer from Stamford Bridge for a miniscule fee of £3.5 million back in 2018, not to be totally burnt Chelsea wisely inserted a £13 million buy-back option but with Hakim Ziyech & Christian Pulisicin in the Chelsea ranks, it is unlikely young Boga would wish to return and potentially play second fiddle, and delay his development any further.
Follow Liam on Twitter – @LiamScahill