Winter breaks are good, actually: SCOUT NOTES, January 16th
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It’s been a pretty quiet transfer season so far. We have nothing to qualify that beyond *vibes* and the Interesting Transfer spreadsheet that Llew updates twice daily, but this January window has definitely felt more muted than the usual - beyond a handful of big-ticket buys and lots of loans.
Anyway, if you want to catch up on some of the transfers that have tickled the SCOUTED fancy, you should listen to our podcast from last week which rattled through a lot of them. Stevie and Llew had good fun recording that, and there’s more to come.
Speaking of transfers, a subject from a previous newsletter has made a good little move this month - or next month, technically. Swedish side IF Elfsborg have nabbed Eggert Aron Guðmundsson from Icelandic football, where he was ripping it up for Stjarnan in the second half of 2023.
We wrote about the Exciting Egg, who you can tell idolises Eden Hazard, back in the October 19th issue of SCOUT NOTES. It’s always cool to see players you like make moves you like. Anyway, on with the show…
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Winter breaks are good, actually
People despise winter breaks. We understand it, you want to watch football, but they serve multiple purposes.
Firstly, they save players’ joints and muscles from turning into a lumpy gloop. Secondly, they protect pitches from turning into cabbage patches in adverse weather. Thirdly, they act as a second pre-season for teams to recalibrate and youngsters to impress again.
That’s been no more obvious than at FC Bayern München this mid-season off-season. A core of emerging talent have trained with the first team for a couple of weeks, including the excellent Adam Aznou - deservedly so after excelling in this season’s UEFA Youth League - as well as Lovro Zvonarek and Noel Aséko, who both made the matchday squad for the return of the Bundesliga last week.
Arsenal have jetted off to Dubai for a Warm Weather Training Camp™ with a group that includes Ethan Nwaneri, Myles Lewis-Skelly, Reuell Walters, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Charles Sagoe Jr, Jack Henry-Francis and Mauro Bandeira. Most, if not all, of those will make at least one matchday squad in the second half of the season. Mikel Artetat won’t pl— *shots ring round*
But seriously, winter breaks are good. It kills the shite well-we-haven’t-had-a-chance-to-look-at-him excuse that coaches often trot out this time of year when they’re scrambling to sign a sub-par stopgap on an expensive six-month loan instead of giving that opportunity to an academy player their club has spent 10 years developing. Trust in your own, we won’t say it again.
Speaking of trusting in your own, Oscar Bobb. Technically he’s not Manchester City’s own because they nabbed him from Vålerenga in 2019 when he was 16 years old for (probably) a pretty substantial fee, but still, they’re trusting in a player that’s spent the last three-and-a-half years playing for their academy teams.
That third of a decade has really refined him as a City-style attacking midfielder. His athletic profile affords him that eye-catching nimbleness which is elevated to another level by the way he manipulates the ball with both feet, needles through tight spaces, combines and creates around the box, all the usual stuff you’d expect from an attacking eight in a City side.
You could see aspects of that in the way he took the winning added-time goal away at Newcastle on Saturday, especially the nimble-footedness. Darting off the left, taking the ball on the run past Tripper, then croqueta-ing it past the goalkeeper. Lots of quality, lots of composure.
Pep Guardiola has predominantly used him in one of those balancing wide attacker roles - where it’s easier to give players minutes - and that’s where he’ll likely stay for the foreseeable. He’ll probably go on to be a Cole Palmer-like flip once he outgrows this subbing role, but Bobb will prove to be a handy option for Pep in the coming months.
Lamine Camara makes his mark
The AFCON is underway, and there’s plenty of top-level young talent to keep an eye on. One of them - Lamine Camara - made an immediate impact, scoring twice as Senegal kicked off their tournament with a 3-0 win against Gambia. And they were great goals.
The first saw him break from deep, running off Gambia’s midfield, picking up a little lay-off, then driving a shot across goal into the bottom-left corner. It was assertive. The second was a first-time finish from about 20 yards, stroking an Iliman Ndiaye pullback into the top-right corner. It was brilliant.
This doesn’t come as a surprise at all. Camara has plenty of pedigree powering him: he was named Player of the Tournament at last year’s U-20 AFCON, which Senegal won without conceding a goal in six games, as well as the CAF Young Player of the Year for 2023.
What also isn't a surprise is that the 20-year-old is a graduate of the Génération Foot academy and beneficiary of their fruitful partnership with FC Metz, just like Pape Matar Sarr. He spent three years at the prestigious Dakar club and made the move to France a year ago, before being bumped up to a starter this season and doing the typical box-to-box things that catch the eye in Ligue 1.
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Carney Chukwuemeka is back!
You’ve probably forgotten about Carney Chukwuemeka. We don’t blame you. It’s also easy to forget that he started the first two games of the Premier League season for Chelsea, the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge then the 3-1 loss away at West Ham.
He even scored in that game before coming off at half time with a fairly innocuous knee injury that turned into a four-month absence, excluding the briefest of comebacks before a setback in early October.
That’s the thing with Chelsea; they have so many players, yet all the talk is that they’re still looking for “reinforcements” in January. We’d say they should probably focus on the ones they already have in the building, like Carney.
We should probably change the title of his section to something like ‘Football Manager Corner’, or something trendy like that, but we’re sticking with “Football Manageeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!” for now.
Who are we recommending this week? Right to Dream graduate and FC Nordsjælland wide forward, Ibrahim Osman.
Osman has had a breakout season in real life, stepping in to fill the void left by Ernest Nuamah, and his FM24 profile offers plenty of upside and value. If you want a dribble, movy, scory wide attacker, then the Ghanaian teenager is a project worth investing in. He won’t cost too much to get out of Denmark.
We’ve seen him linked with West Ham in real life. That would be interesting.
SCOUTED Reading List
The best things we consumed this week, and think you should too.
We’re biased here, granted, but Bence Bocsák’s The Mali Story is excellent, providing a tremendous insight into the work of Jean-Marc Guillou and his academies in developing a generation of exciting young talent in the country. It’s free to read, so read it.
“If you love football, you love Tomáš Rosický” - that’s what Arsène Wenger said. This is a good interview with him, by James McNicholas, which focuses on his frustrations as an Arsenal player and influence in his current role as Sparta Praha’s sporting director.
This is watching, rather than reading, but the tremendous Mohamed Mohamed - aka MoeSquare on Twitter, currently X - has branched into YouTube. This is a really good breakdown of Matías Soulé which you should definitely watch. Subscribe for more, because Moe is among the very best at what he does.
And finally… the latest profile in our SCOUTED50 series: Stephen Ganavas analyses the showtime PSV Eindhoven winger, Johan Bakayoko.
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