Eastern Promise

Eastern Europe has been such fertile breeding ground for football, producing so many great players over the last 40 years and continues to do so to this day. As someone who watches a lot of players from all over the world I always keep a keen eye on emerging eastern European players, so many clubs have fantastic academies that continue to produce players year on year that you can’t afford not to watch them.

I often use the phrase “buying from source”, in that teams looking for quality should buy players on their way up rather than after they have moved and proved themselves in a top 5 league. So buying players from Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia etc. rather than waiting for a Italian, French or German sides to pick them up and develop them is much smarter business to which Premier League clubs should do more of.

A prime example of this is Krzysztof Piątek, who Genoa purchased from Cracovia for 4.5 million euros in the summer of 2018 and then sold him to Milan for 35 million euros in January 2019. So buying from source can save you a lot of money, I am going to go through eastern European countries and look at some players I think will be on bigger clubs radars over the next 12 months. All the players will be under 22 and will be a native of their respective country. Some you will know, some you won’t!




Who: Domagoj Bradaric

Position: Left Back

Club: Hadjuk Split

League: 1.HNL

Key Stats: 2.31 Progressive Runs per 90, 8.26 Progressive Passes per 90 and Wins 25.66% of his Defensive Duels.

The 19 year old Left Back has really caught the eye in his debut seasons for Split, quick with an excellent short burst of acceleration Bradaric is tough to handle for most opposing full backs and wingers. Bradaric is a good passer and crosser of the ball and I expect as he develops more he will start racking up the assists. Linked with a move away already I would be surprised if he stayed in Croatia beyond this summer.


Who: Nikola Moro

Position: Defensive Midfield/Centre Midfield

Club: Dinamo Zagreb

League: 1.HNL

Key Stats: 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 7.97 Progressive Passes per 90 and 67% completion on Long Passes

Moro is my type of midfielder because he can do a bit of everything and is only going to get better! What stands out is his intelligence and speed of thought whether drifting into space or knowing when and where to play a pass as soon as he receives it Moro makes a lot of good decisions. He isn’t  a complete player yet but at 21 his potential really excites me so his next move will be interesting, I expect German and Italian clubs will have definitely taken notice.



Who: Svetozar Markovic

Position: Centre Back

Club: FK Partizan Belgrade

League: Super Liga

Key Stats: Wins 29.2% of his Defensive Duels, 4.37 Interceptions per 90 and 9.59 Progressive Passes per 90

Markovic is a long time favourite of mine for a few obvious reasons I love intelligent ball playing centre backs, especially ones who can win the ball back and then start swift counter attacks with pinpoint passing which is what the 19 Year old Serb is capable of doing. At 6ft and sleight he isn’t the biggest of defenders but his intelligence and reading of the game enables him to be a very good defender which added to his excellent right foot makes him a enticing package.

Who: Igor Zlatanavic

Position: Centre Forward

Club: Radnik Surdulica

League: Super Liga

Key Stats: 13 Goals, 3 Assists 41% Shot accuracy and 0.35 xG per 90

Zlatanavic is a proper striker, he isn’t the biggest or the fastest or the most skilful but he has the instincts, intelligence and the composure that sets strikers apart. The 21 year old always seems to be able to buy himself a half yard to get a shot off or always seems to be just in front of the defender when the ball comes in. His importance to his side is evident in the fact he scored over a third of their goals in the league this season, he could be a bargain for the right side and with better players around him he will have more chances to score.



Who: Robert Bozenik

Position: Centre Forward

Club: Zilina

League: Super Liga

Key Stats: 12 Goals, 2 Assists and 0.46 xG per 90

Big, Strong and with decent pace Bozenik has burst on to the scene this year and has already made his debut for the Slovakian national side. A natural centre forward that leads the line, holds the ball up and takes up intelligent positions in the box the 19 year old Slovakian is ready to make his move to a better league. I envisage him going to Italy or Germany and doing very well for a smaller side before earning a move to a bigger side once his develops and reaches his full potential.


Who: Patrik Myslovic

Position: Centre Midfield

Club: Zilina

League: Super Liga

Key Stats: 6.3 Progressive Passes per 90, 83% Dribble Success Rate and 1 Assist

At only 18 and having played only 10 senior games it’s not easy to judge to young Slovakian however he really catches the eye. Athletic, intelligent and skilful, Myslovic has impressed me whenever I have watched him, whether breaking the lines with his dribbling or his passing he is always causing the opposition problems. I expect him to still be plying his trade for Zilina when the new season starts but the left footed box to box midfielder will be on Top 5 league team’s radars before long.



Who: Dusan Stojinovič

Position: Centre Back

Club: Ceije

League: SNL

Key Stats: Wins 35.64% of his Defensive Duels, 6.09 Interceptions per 90 and Wins 59% of his Aerial Duels

Another relatively inexperienced player but one who has a lot of potential, Stojinovic has played a little over a 1000 minutes for the first team but has really caught my eye. Tall, Intelligent and Good on the ball he is what you want in a modern centre back. He is a good all round defender with good instincts and still developing and he is also a good progressive passer who starts attacking moves. I expect him to start the season in Slovenia but be on clubs radars ready for next summer’s transfer window.

Who: Zan Kolmanic

Position: Left Back

Club: Maribor

League: SNL

Key Stats: 11.7 Progressive Passes per 90, 1.68 Progressive Runs per 90 and 4.06 Interceptions per 90

Often in the past you wanted your full back to be up and down the wing putting crosses in the box now teams want more from their full backs in terms of passing, dribbling and creativity which is what Kolmanic provides. The 19 year old is still developing his all round game but has potential to play in a Top 5 European league with his ability to break the lines with dribbling or passing coupled with being a decent defender.



Who: Dennis Man

Position: Winger

Club: FCS Bucuresti

League: Liga I

Key Stats: 9 Goals, 5 Assists and 2 Progressive Runs per 90

Skilful and fast with a lovely left foot, Man is on his way to becoming a very good winger! Inconsistency is still an issue but at 20 it’s to be expected. Man has excellent vision and technique to go along with his trickery making him tough to defend. I would expect to see him move in the next 12 months as he continues to develop and will do well in a top 5 league.


Who: Denis Dragus

Position: Centre Forward

Club: FC Viitorul Constanța

League: Liga I

Key Stats: 7 Goals, 2 Assists and 2 Progressive Runs per 90

Dragus is a Centre Forward in the mould of Marco Arnautovic in that he likes to drop on receive the ball in space and run at defenders to create his chances rather than getting in the box and peeling off a defender. Dragus has lovely balance, skill and speed on the ball enabling him to turn away from defenders and create space at will. His game isn’t yet complete but at 19 there is a lot of potential to grow into and it will be interesting to watch him over the next 12 months.



Who: Robert Gumny

Position: Right Back

Club: Lech Poznan

League: Ekstraklasa

Key Stats: 1 Goal, 1 Assist and 8.26 Progressive Passes per 90

Gumny was close to moving to Germany last summer according to reports but the deal collapsed so I would be very very surprised if he remained in Poland for the 2019/2020 season. A modern full back, Gumny can so everything you require in terms of dribbling, passing, crossing and defending to a high level. The key with Gumny is he isn’t yet the player he will become so would be a good investment for any top 5 league side.


 Who: Radoslaw Majecki

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Legia Warsaw

League: Ekstraklasa

Key Stats: 0.79 Goals Conceded per 90 and 1.78 Saves Per 90

From the goalkeeping factory that is Poland comes another fantastic young Goalkeeper, Majecki is big, imposing with good agility and uses his feet well. He is capable of making world class saves or doing the simple things well, that is not to say he is fully developed but he is well on his way to becoming a very good goalkeeper.


Best from Other Nations


Who: Adam Hlozek

Country: Czech Republic

Position: Winger/Centre Forward

Club: Sparta Prague

League: Czech Liga

Key Stats: 3 Goals, 2 Assists and 2.16 Progressive Runs per 90

Hlozek is a 16 year old wonderkid who has burst on to the scene for Sparta Prague this season! Despite being so young physically he already up to the task of playing against men, combine that with his speed, vision, composure and technique he is a very exciting prospect. Probably best for him to stay in the Czech Republic for a further season and get more experience but after that a Top 5 League awaits.


Who: Nikola Krstovic

Country: Montenegro

Position: Centre Forward

Club: Zeta

League: First League

Key Stats: 10 Goals, 3 Assists and 0.62 xG per 90

The man who will replace fellow wonderkid Dejan Joveljic at Red Star Belgrade is by no means a step down from the talented Serbian. Krstovic is a smart and instinctive striker who can find way to get shot on target from all angles. Even at 19, he knows all the little tricks to create space and angles to get of a clean strike, which added to his technique and composure makes him a fearsome young striker. I doubt he spends more than a year in Serbia as much like the man he is replacing bigger sides will come calling.


Ibrahim Sangare: Scouting Report


Name: Ibrahim Sangare

Age: 21

Club: Toulouse

Position: Defensive Midfielder/ Centre Midfielder

Scouting Notes

What immediately jumps out about Ibrahim Sangare is his size! He is 6’3 with long legs and a well built frame that stands out amongst other midfielders. Sangare is quick once he gets into his full running with his long strides he can go away from chasing players easily, he also has a good short burst which can get him out of tight areas. Sangare is a strong player who uses his physical attributes well whether winning the ball back or out muscling a defender to go past them.

On the ball Sangare is a good dribbler, he loves to pick the ball up off the Centre Backs and drive 20 or 30 yards forward to turn defence into attack. Sangare is quite a skilful player with good feet who can get himself out of tight situations with his dribbling. Sangare has an excellent range of passing with good touch on his passes whether short or long with the vision to pick team mates out in the box or in space or switch play if need be. Playing with better players would aid his passing as currently Toulouse possess a weak attack and cannot take advantage of his ability on the ball.

Without the ball Ibrahim Sangare is really good, his awareness and intelligence enable him to win the ball back almost at will from opponents, add that to his physical attributes and you have a machine of a defensive midfielder. He can win the ball back through physical force using his strength and height to created separation or through finesse. Sangare can play in a double pivot or potentially as a 6 he has the discipline to do it although you may limit his on ball abilities by playing him there.

While Sangare is a good player he is still developing his decision making still needs some work in terms of when to dribble and when to pass. With him being so comfortable on the ball he sometimes over dribbles it into tight areas and loses it but that can be ironed out very quickly. Same with passing sometimes he tried to thread the needle when an easier pass would sustain the attack. A good coach will fix any rawness to his game and tap into the immense potential the players possesses.

Statistical Breakdown

Statistically there are a few things that stand out for Sangare. His dribbling numbers for a defensive midfielder are excellent successfully completing 50 out of 71 dribbles (12th most of any midfielder in top 5 European leagues with minimum 20 appearances) which is a success rate of 70.4%! Per 90 he has the same number of successful dribbles of Everton’s own Andre Gomes at 1.9 and better than Paul Pogba at 1.8.

In terms of passing Sangare again looks good, 20 key passes in open play (Gueye 18 and Gomes 6), he also is good at passing the ball into the penalty area averaging 2.23 per 90 at a 50% success rate (Gueye 1.56 at 61% and Gomes 1.62 at 53%). In terms of playing long balls he averages 7.61 per game at a success rate of 56% which shows his ability to switch play and get the ball up the pitch quickly for counter attacks. He plays an average of 20 passes forward per 90 and plays 1.37 passes that break the lines per 90 as well, compared to Everton’s best passing midfielder Andre Gomes who averages 14.5 forward passes per 90 and 0.55 pass that break the lines per 90.

Defensively Sangare again is excellent, he averages the 5th most successful tackles in Europe per 90 for central midfielders with 3.8, with Everton’s own Idrissa Gueye leading the way at 4.5 tackles per 90. Gueye was dribbled past more this season than Sangare but allowing for level of league each plays in its pretty close. Sangare averages 1.1 interceptions per 90 and also wins 28% of his defensive duels which is exactly the same as Idrissa Gueye. Gueye and Sangare profile very similarly defensively posting similar numbers with allowances for Gueye being in his prime and Sangare being a developing player.

Does he fit the Brands/Everton Profile?

Yes! Ibrahim Sangare is 21 years old with lots of potential, at the rumoured price of around £22 million that’s a great investment if he reaches his full potential that price would triple within a few years. Brands has been scouting France a lot this season so is probably well aware of the league’s similarity to the Premier League in terms of physicality which is why players coming from that league generally adapt well.

System Fit?

Toulouse have for the majority of this season played a 4-2-3-1 much like Everton have done this season with Sangare playing in the double pivot in midfield. Sangare has switched between 2 roles in this system depending on who his midfielder partner is. He either played the box to box role breaking up play and getting further up the pitch to add to the attack or in a more defensive role. The key with Sangare as he could play with Gomes or Gueye or with Gomes and Gueye in a 3, he can do the box to box role or he even has the ability and discipline to play as a 6. He would provide Everton an all round midfielder who can be groomed to replace Gueye and also be involved in the rotation in midfield depending on the opponent and the tactical needs.

Chances of Signing?

Good! In terms of a logical targets there aren’t many as logical to fill the need for another centre midfielder as Ibrahim Sangare, defensively he can almost give us what Gana does, offensively he adds forward creative passing and dribbling. He would also provide Marco Silva with a big physical midfielder like he had in Abdoulaye Doucoure at Watford and potentially enable him to go to a 4-3-3. The fee is very fair at around £22 million pound for a player of his potential! Goal.com did a piece on Sangare last winter where they compared him to a young Yaya Toure so there is a lot of people in the game including myself who this lad has top level potential. Buying him would be a smart and wise investment, one which the club should be making!

Malcom: Scouting Report



Name: Malcom

Age: 22

Club: Barcelona

Position: Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Scouting Notes

Malcom is 5’8 with excellent pace and explosiveness whether running with or without the ball he can go away from defenders with ease. Malcom is deceptively strong and can hold the ball well with a defender at his back. He is a very intelligent player in both his movement and decision making always looking up to survey where his teammates are or making a snap decision as he receives the ball. Malcom like most left footed players is extremely one footed however he does use his right foot to control the ball, also due to his intelligence, pace and athleticism it isn’t easy to mark him out of games, he always seems to find an angle to pass, cross or shoot.

Malcom is a creator, when he receives the ball unlike a Robben, he is always looking to cut inside and feed a teammate rather than cut in and shoot. Malcom presses quite well using his intelligence to cut down passing lanes and angles trying to force defenders into mistakes. Malcom is an excellent passer short or long displaying excellent touch and vision in picking out teammates.

Statistical Breakdown

Due to lack of minutes it wouldn’t give you the full picture of Malcom’s abilities if I solely focused on his statistical output at Barcelona so I will also look at his last season at Bordeaux. This season Malcom has played 1147 minutes for Barcelona scoring 4 goals and getting 2 Assists. The issue this season for Malcom is that his best position happens to also be the Best Player Ever’s position, so he hasn’t been able to play the role in which he shined for Bordeaux. Contrast to the previous season when Malcom played 3057 minutes for Bordeaux scoring 12 goals and getting 7 assists, playing 2767 minutes in his favoured position on the right hand side.

Malcom is an excellent open play creator as shown at Bordeaux where he had 61 key passes from open play which is high considering Everton’s best open play creators this season had around 40 key passes from open play. Malcom is also an excellent dribbler averaging 4.4 dribbles per 90 at Bordeaux and 2.4 dribbles per 90 for Barcelona who are more of a possession based team rather than asking their players to consistently take a man on. Malcom’s success rate for dribbling over the 2 seasons is 66.5% which is right in line with the top dribblers in world football. Everton lack a top level dribbler to break the lines consistently so an addition of a Malcom type is definitely needed.

Malcom is excellent at passing the ball into the penalty area posting very good numbers in that regard. He averages 4 Passes into the box per 90 being successful 64% of the time, this season for Everton, Bernard and Sigurdsson have averages 3 passes in the penalty area per 90 at a 60% success rate. Adding another player of this ability would make Everton much more potent creatively and make it easier to break down poorer teams which has been an issue.

Does he fit the Brands/Everton Profile?

Yes!!!! Malcom is the right age range being only 22, he has a lot of potential to grow into whilst already being a very good player. Like Richarlison if Malcom was to hit his potential to the fullest you’re talking about a £70 million plus footballer which makes him a fantastic investment.

System Fit?

Malcom has played in a 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 for both Barcelona and Bordeaux over the last 2 seasons so shouldn’t find it hard fit into Everton’s current system of 4-2-3-1 comfortably. Malcom is best when played off the right so it would be to the players and the clubs benefit to play him in his best position. Malcom has been asked to press when playing for Barcelona so asking him to do that won’t be an issue. Malcom loves to cut inside on his Left Foot which opens up a lot of space for the Right Full Back to gallop into whether that Coleman or a new player, they would benefit from the space he creates.

Chances of Signing?

The only realistic option in which to sign Malcom would be on a permanent deal, which could be north of £35 million which makes it quite expensive for Everton who haven’t got hundreds of millions to spend due to FFP constraints. I imagine based on the above he would be someone on Marcel Brands radar!

For me this is a signing Everton should look to make he would add creativity, goals and skill to a side that needs more of it.

Bertrand Traore: Scouting Report


Name: Bertrand Traore

Age: 23

Club: Lyon

Position: Winger/Centre Forward

Scouting Notes

Traore is 5’11 but due to his frame seems to play taller, he has good pace and a really nice burst over 5 yards to go past or away from players. Traore is very left footed he rarely uses his right foot unless it is to control the ball. Traore is a reasonably intelligent player but his decision making at time is lacking, he sometimes make the wrong decision trying to dribble into traffic or dribbling when a simple pass would open up the space. Traore is a good dribbler with good close control and speed whilst carrying the ball.

Traore is a good passer with decent vision but again sometimes his decision making causes him to make errant passes often which has drew the ire of Lyon fans this season. Traore is quite a strong player who can use his body to hold the ball up and to roll defenders to escape their clutches. Traore’s main issue is consistency! He tends to float through games barely making a dent on them whilst in others he can be unplayable. He doesn’t have a wide variation of tricks to create angles or space to get passes, crosses and shots off so can sometimes be closed down easily.

Something else to take note of is Traore provides inconsistent defensive effort which would need to change in Everton’ system.

Statistical Breakdown

Over the last 2 seasons for Lyon, Bertrand Traore has score 20 league goals which is a good output for a winger. This season he wasn’t at his best with 7 goals and 2 assists in 34 games (24 starts) but last season he was excellent with 13 goals and 4 assists in 31 games (27 starts). Was last year an outlier? He over performed his XG (expected goals) by 3.5 which isn’t too bad, this seasons his XG was 6.37 which is about right as he scored 7 goals. He took 19 less shot this season but was 9% more accurate overall (48% shot accuracy). He had roughly the same number of touches in the box in both seasons (92/93).

Traore is an accurate passer generally (83% success rate) and into the box (61%) but his crossing (30% this season and 20% last season) isn’t great compared to Bernard (50% accurate) but better than Richarlison (23% accurate) so overall isn’t too bad. Traore averages 2.6 dribbles per 90 this season with a 57% success rate which is good. This season Traore had 25 Key passes from open play which isn’t great and only 4 of them came from crosses which would need to be improved but again is an improvement on Richarlison (20 Key Passes from open play, 1 from a cross).

Traore has been accused by Lyon fans of losing the ball too much but his 100 losses of possession through bad touches or being dispossessed is less than Bernard’s (114) and a lot less than Richarlison’s (201). Playing in a better league against better defenders may amplify this issue however, so it’s something to take note of.

Does he fit the Brands/Everton Profile?

Yes! Traore is in the right age range, he is good but has still not reached his full potential. If he was to improve he would only increase his value and being the age he is, his value is unlikely to decrease much from its current level. He has played in England before as well, although in limited appearances so is used to the pace of the Premier League which should make the transition easier.

System Fit?

Lyon over the last 2 seasons have operated in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 so Traore will have no problems integrating with how Marco Silva’s Everton play. Traore is a capable presser but will have to do more than he did at Lyon if he is to gain Marco Silva’s trust. Traore is very left footed so is always looking to cut inside this means there is space for the right back to exploit on a consistent basis.

Chances of Signing?

Very good! Lyon are looking to sell one of their Wingers, Traore wouldn’t break the bank as I can’t see the fee being much over £25 million. Traore has played in England before so I am sure he would be open to the move. Traore would qualify for a Work Permit so that would not be an issue in getting the deal done. Traore would fill a need for Everton that lack a left footed winger, he could also add extra goals to take the pressure of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Traore would not be my choice to fill this role however from a Brands perspective it makes perfect sense in terms of profile, fit and the fact he has played in the Premier League previously means he won’t have much of an adaptation period. Whether he a starter or a rotation player he adds the ability to get goals which any team with Top 6 aspirations needs in their side.

Santiago Sosa: Scouting Report


Name: Santiago Sosa

Age: 20

Club: River Plate

Height: 5ft 10

Position: Centre Midfield/Defensive Midfield

Scouting Notes

Sosa is a modern central midfielder in that he is both good in possession and out of possession. His passing range is excellent, Sosa plays a lot of long balls into space for his teammates. Always looking to pass forward rather than backwards. He gets around the pitch well, I wouldn’t call him fast but he isn’t slow or a stiff in terms of athleticism. His reading of the game is excellent as he positions himself to intercept the ball at a high rate. Wins a good proportion of his tackles, Sosa has excellent timing and awareness in that regard.

Statistical Breakdown

Sosa is a tough one to grade statistically because it’s only a small sample size in both league football and international u20 football. If you look at the larger sample size which is the u20 Sudamericano, he profiles very well. He produced 10.86 Progressive Passes per 90, 46.79 Passes per 90, 7.51 Interceptions per 90 and won 30.31% of his defensive duels. All these ranked in the Top 10 for Midfielders in the tournament which is made him standout when I reviewed the tournament. With River Plate he has only played 257 minutes in the Superliga and Copa Libertadores in 2018/2019 his numbers over 90 minutes are very similar to what he produced in the u20’s with some allowances for the fact he doesn’t play full games.

Does he fit the Brands/Everton Profile?

Yes! He is 20 years old, has a rumoured $15 Million release clause and has a lot of potential top grow into. In 2/3 years that £15 million could be trebled if he was to leave, so it would be an excellent investment for the club and one it should look to make more regularly with players.

System Fit?

Everton have played 4-2-3-1 for the majority of this season which would suit Sosa, for the Argentina u20 team he played in a 2 and in his appearances with River Plate he has played in a 2. With Argentina he has played the more defensive role in the double pivot with Anibal Moreno playing the box to box role. With River Plate he has played the more box to box role with Ponzio sitting and with him playing more advanced. Sosa also has the skillset to play as a 6 in a midfield 3, he has the discipline and positional awareness to sit and protect the back 4 whilst having the passing range to start attacking moves.

Chances of Signing?

A $15 Million release clause should be well within Everton’s budget and the player fits the profile of both what Brands and Silva want in a midfielder. The potential issues would be a Work Permit, which may be tough to obtain due to the player playing very little first team club football however he is an u20 international and will be going to u20 World cup later this month. The other potential issue is readiness, Sosa for me wouldn’t be ready to come and start in the Premier League and contribute at a high level straight away he would need time to adapt and acclimate to a new country and a new league. He would represent an excellent investment that with patience could be an absolute bargain.

Everton FC: Forming Foundations after failure

This season was always going be a transition year for Everton, with the previous summer of bloated spending set to have repercussions for the next few years. In the summer of 2018, Everton started a brand new “project” by bringing Marcel Brands on board as Director of Football, and Marco Silva as manager. The project is still very much in its infancy, experiencing a lot of growing pains this season, with Everton currently lying 11th in the table after a 3-2 defeat at Newcastle United – an indication of how much needs to change.

Read more at: https://www.scoutedhub.com/features/everton-fc-forming-foundations-after-failure