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Thiago Alcantara - Barcelona via IBWM

Everyone wants to talk about “the next big thing.” IBWM is taking a stab at projecting the top 100 young (aged 23 and under) players on the planet, complete with A-F grades. Unfortunately no U.S. players made the list, but here’s betting that Claudio Reyna, Klinsmann, and the powers that be will whip the U.S. youth stars into shape to compete for a spot on this list next year. Here are a few notables on the international side (age in parenthesis):

  • Thiago, Midfielder, Barcelona (20) – “Arguably the most exciting – if not the best – player on this list” B
  • Javier Pastore, Midfielder, PSG (22) – “A thoroughly modern footballer with the complete box of tricks at his disposal, as with the Brazilian striker, it’s also fair to say the sky is the limit.” B
  • Neymar, Striker, Santos (19) – “The next Brazilian superstar striker.” B
  • Mario Balotelli, Striker, Manchester City (21) – “Possesses a natural talent that, when focussed, few can deal with.” C
  • Eden Hazard, Winger, Lille (20) – “Along with Mario Gotze, the star pupil on the list.” A

 

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Basa to Lille

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via Soccer365.

French champions Lille have signed Montenegro international Marko Basa on a three-year contract. The 28-year-old’s arrival will see him reunited with coach Rudi Garcia after the pair worked together at Le Mans.

“Rudi Garcia was a coach I was very close to when I was playing at Le Mans,” said Basa, who has spent the past three seasons with Lokomotiv Moscow before his return back to Ligue 1. I have knowledge of his working methods and his type of management. For his part, he knows what I’m capable of and knows my qualities. I am very pleased to have the opportunity work with him again.”

Lille claimed the league and cup double last season to end more than a half-century wait for major honours. Basa is hopeful he can help ensure the club maintain their winning ways, after the likes of Yohan Cabaye left the club to join Newcastle.

“Like any professional footballer, I want to win titles,” he added. From this point of view, I think I’m at the right club. I have a lot of ambition myself, and top of the list now is to win trophies in France.”

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Gervinho to Arsenal?

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via ESPNSoccernet.

Arsenal are expected to clinch the signing of highly-coveted striker Gervinho from Lille for £10.5 million in the coming days.

Manager Arsene Wenger is set to spend this summer after a sixth-straight season without a trophy, and widespread reports claim the Gunners are on the verge of agreeing a four-year deal with Ivory Coast international Gervinho in their first major move of the transfer window.

Lille general manager Frederic Paquet had confirmed earlier this month that Gervinho wanted a move to England and that talks about a switch to the Emirates Stadium had been planned.

“He wants to go and has developed contacts with Arsenal,” Paquet told L’Equipe. “We will soon have talks with them and see what they offer. He has expressed a desire to go to England and we will see what happens.”

Gervinho scored 15 goals for Lille last season, leading Les Dogues to the French league and cup double, and now appears set to take his talents to North London. Manchester City, Tottenham and Newcastle had also been linked.

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