Arsenal face fight for Ligue 1 standout Serge Aurier

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Serge AurierGettyImagesSerge Aurier has been tracked by some of Europe's elite.

Name: Serge Aurier
Age: 21
Club: Toulouse
Position: Right-back
Nationality: Ivorian (also holds French citizenship)

Anyone who has watched French football in recent years will be aware of the potential of Toulouse right-back Serge Aurier. Now 21, the Ivory Coast international already seems to have been around for an eternity, having broken through in the same Lens side as Raphael Varane in the 2010-11 Ligue 1 season.

Unfortunately for both, it was the same year in which Lens encountered relegation to Ligue 2. Continue Reading...

Barca win UEFA Youth League but patience is required

Posted by Christopher Atkins

La MasiaGettyImagesBarcelona's renowned La Masia academy has produced many stars, but caution must be exercised with the current crop.

FC Barcelona secured success in the inaugural UEFA Youth League on Monday, winning the competition introduced to build upon (to put it politely) the successes of the NextGen Series courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Benfica. The tournament could still be better organised and promoted than it has been, but for most involved it has been a fine learning experience, pitting 32 of Europe’s best Under-19 sides in direct competition in a format based upon the Champions League proper.

The Catalan side’s academy is lauded for its successes over the past 20 years, with a large proportion of the club’s first-team having emerged from within their own youth system. Continue Reading...

Weekend Review: World Cup places, academy stars

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Michy Batshuayi celebGettyImagesMichy Batshuayi currently plies his trade at Standard Liege.

This week, The Scout’s Notebook takes a look toward the World Cup and two strikers whose form has pushed them into late contention for a call-up. As squad lists become increasingly settled in the minds of the 32 head coaches, each passing week of action is now crucial.

Besides that, we also look at three burgeoning stars of academy football in England who enjoyed significant weekends on their path to first-team football. With the FA Youth Cup final fast approaching, it is the time of year when academy players are able to elevate themselves to the level of rising stars. Continue Reading...

Weekend Review: Bundesliga standouts, a Moroccan hotshot

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Boris Streubel/Getty ImagesWolfsburg's Ricardo Rodriguez, right, is fast becoming one of the top left backs in the Bundesliga, if not Europe.

The Scout's Notebook this week takes a look towards Germany and two of the emerging stars of the Bundesliga as we conduct our latest review of the weekend's action. Lesser-known talents are also a focus this week as we look to bring new prospects to the fore on a regular basis.

Mainz, Wolfsburg and even Guangzhou R&F feature in this weeks' column, as we highlight three players making their "debut" appearance in this column. But, who are our standout performers worthy of note this week? Continue Reading...

Luciano and the state championship dilemma

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Mano Menezes has had few positives at Corinthians but Luciano could be one.APMano Menezes has had few positives at Corinthians, but Luciano could be one.

Name: Luciano da Rocha Neves (Luciano)
Age: 20
Club: Corinthians
Position: Attacking midfield/forward
Nationality: Brazilian

Corinthians' start to the 2014 season has been dire, to the point that the world champions of 2012 have exited the Sao Paulo state championship in the first round, despite a tournament redesign that was intended to prevent such scenarios. Coach Mano Menezes had arrived back at the Parque Sao Jorge a hero following his previous exploits with the club and was expected to rejuvenate a side that encountered major difficulties in 2013. Continue Reading...

Weekend Review: Wing wizards and a hat-trick hero

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Bilal Basacikoglu celebGettyImagesBilal Basacikoglu is currently contracted to Dutch club Heerenveen.

Another enthralling weekend of footballing action from around the globe comes to an end and, as ever, The Scout's Notebook has been keeping a close eye on developments to bring news of the best young talents in the game.

This week we have a young Dutch flyer who made headlines for an outstanding piece of individual skill, a Ghanaian striker who is setting Ligue 1 alight and a return to form for a Brazilian whose promise has waned somewhat over the past year.

Here, then, are our featured youth stars of the past weekend:

Bilal Basacikoglu scores outrageous solo goal

The Scout's Notebook made note of the rise of Dutch youth international Basacikoglu at the start of February and, just a few weeks later, he has ensured that he will remain relatively anonymous little longer with a sensational individual goal that has been replayed across the Internet this weekend. Continue Reading...

How to solve a problem like Ravel Morrison?

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Ravel Morrison GettyImagesDespite his obvious talent, Ravel Morrison never took his chance at Man Utd.

Name: Ravel Morrison
Age: 21
Club: Queens Park Rangers (on loan from West Ham)
Position: Attacking midfield
Nationality: English

It is fair to say the brief footballing career of Manchester United academy product Ravel Morrison has thus far been eventful. From the Red Devils to West Ham, with loan spells at Birmingham City and now QPR, his off-pitch issues and incredible talent have been extensively covered in the British media from an early age. While the 21-year-old would appear to have made considerable strides to improve matters away from football and has impressed for both West Ham and QPR this season, he currently finds himself on loan in the second tier of English football. Continue Reading...

Angel Correa: Argentina's next big hope?

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Angel Correa San LorenzoAPAngel Correa has been linked with a transfer to a European club.

Name: Angel Correa
Age: 18
Club: San Lorenzo
Position: Attacking Midfield
Nationality: Argentine

Since a glorious few years from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, during which Argentina produced a number of sensational footballing talents, the production line from the South American nation has dried up somewhat -- at least in terms of elite-level players. There has been talent developed, but the country's youth sides have not continued to enjoy the same level of excellent results, while the likes of Diego Buonanotte, Pablo Piatti and Alejandro Gomez are among those to have failed to step up from teenage hope to senior star. Continue Reading...

William Carvalho making late bid for World Cup inclusion

Posted by Christopher Atkins

William Carvalho Portugal GettyImagesWilliam Carvalho impressed in Portugal's 5-1 friendly victory over Cameroon.

Name: William Carvalho
Age: 21
Club: Sporting CP
Position: Defensive Midfield
Nationality: Portuguese

Each year, the top European football clubs scout hundreds of players worldwide in the hope of ensuring success in the transfer market. Speculation and reports that a certain club has scouted a particular player circulate on almost a daily basis. For the most part, they will come to nothing, however truthful the original story may have been.

When similar reports emerge week after week over a considerable period of time, though, you can start to believe that interest in that particular player is real. Continue Reading...

Man United linked with Alex Sandro: A risk worth taking?

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Alex SandroGettyImagesAlex Sandro: A very attacking left-back with many suitors in Europe.

When Santos parted with a young left-back for a reported fee of 9.6 million euros in the summer of 2011, the move raised barely a whimper in the wider football world. Despite moving to a prestigious club, in FC Porto, then 20-year-old Alex Sandro’s move was somewhat overshadowed by Santos’ capture of the Copa Libertadores, the rise of a global superstar in Neymar and the concurrent 13 million euros move of right-back Danilo to the same club. Having played a largely backup role to 35-year-old Leo, Alex Sandro's signing was seen by many as the lesser of the two full-back captures and, indeed, a substantial risk at the quoted price. Continue Reading...

Bamford draws a blank vs. QPR but leaves impression

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Patrick Bamford England under-21sGettyImagesPatrick Bamford showed himself to be capable of handling physical battles during Derby's victory over QPR.

Name: Patrick Bamford
Age: 20
Club: Chelsea (on loan at Derby)
Position: Inside Forward/Striker
Nationality: English

In truth, Monday night's clash between Derby County and Queens Park Rangers was far from the most free-flowing of football matches. However, what it did offer was the chance to view two Premier League promotion prospects in direct competition, as well as several talented young players.

The Championship has become somewhat of a proving ground for young English talent, and there was plenty on show in this clash. Continue Reading...

Zaha inspires Cardiff, as Basacikoglu and Moura shine

Posted by Christopher Atkins

Lucas Moura GettyImagesLucas Moura joined PSG from Sao Paulo in January 2013.

Zaha the game-changer for Cardiff

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have gone a little over the top in his postmatch analysis that young winger Wilfried Zaha can be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, but the 21-year-old's first-half introduction in Cardiff's 2-1 victory over Norwich on Saturday proved to be a major turning point.

For the opening 30 minutes, Cardiff had been comfortably second-best, and Norwich were well-deserving of their early lead. Solskjaer, though, was bold and rearranged his midfield to introduce Zaha after just 38 minutes, and the England international did not disappoint. Continue Reading...