Weekend Review: Wing wizards and a hat-trick hero
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. Reminiscent of a young Lionel Messi in its execution, Basacikoglu span his marker on the right wing, burst past two as he headed infield before opening up space on his favoured left foot to fire past helpless goalkeeper Dennis Gentenaar. The strike was a mirror image of what the youngster, of Turkish and Moroccan ancestry, had become accustomed to earlier in the season. With his regular starting berth on the left, Basacikoglu is normally seen attempting to move infield onto his stronger right foot. His left foot, though, is more than serviceable and his latest effort shows a growing confidence off either side, which will only be of long-term benefit to his overall game. Of late, he has been used from the right with increasing regularity, exploiting his ability to beat opponents on either side. One of the positive aspects of youth and inexperience is that players are often more impetuous in their play, and Basacikoglu is still passing through this stage in his development, with just 18 senior appearances to his name at the present time. The result is that he attempts things on the pitch that others would be loath to try, and often with successful outcomes. He can still work on his efficiency of return, in providing goals and assists for his side, but when he does contribute it has often been in a situation in which only he could have made such an impact. Indeed, despite having only three Eredivisie goals to his name thus far, Basacikoglu is already putting together quite a highlight reel. His first, against AZ Alkmaar in late December, was a similar individual cameo, showing pace and balance, as well as a fine finish off his right foot. His second, just a fortnight ago, was a far simpler effort, arriving late into the box to burst onto a pass and past the PEC Zwolle defence. The finish, though, showed wonderful composure that will have greatly pleased anyone monitoring his development. The rough edges mentioned last time around remain, with Basacikoglu prone to sloppiness in possession. Marco van Basten, though, believes in his talent and it is easy to see why he holds such high hopes for the youngster. Unfortunately for van Basten, he might not be able to call upon the youngster's services for too much longer should he continue to impress in such a manner over the months ahead. Valenciennes strike Ghanaian gold Another player featured in this column earlier in the season was Lorient giant Vincent Aboubakar, whose transfer from Valenciennes last summer had revived his career in Brittany. His former side, though, have struggled for goals this campaign. Veteran striker Gregory Pujol has soldiered away to little success, Anthony Le Tallec's goals have dried up as injuries hit, while Paris Saint-Germain loanee Jean-Christophe Bahebeck has troubled the scorers on just one occasion. While Aboubakar was far from prolific for the club last season, the failure to capture a reliable goal scorer and departure of defensive regulars Gil (January), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Gaetan Bong saw the club slide towards the relegation zone. Action was needed in January and, in Spartak Moscow loanee Majeed Waris, they may just have struck gold. Waris was the top scorer in the 2012 Allsvenskan as BK Hacken claimed an unlikely second-place finish, finding the net 23 times in 29 appearances. His Spartak career thus far, though, has amounted less than 250 minutes over the course of a year in Moscow and, with his World Cup ambitions on the line, Waris chose to move on in January to reinforce his claims for a place among Kwesi Appiah's Black Stars this summer. Eight goals in 11 appearances later and it would seem that the Right to Dream academy product's decision was entirely justified.
The Ghanaian links play well from the front, picking up three assists to add to his goal collection, and is also a direct runner with the ball at his feet. At just 5-foot-8 he has to make use of his pace and movement to unsettle defenders and it is in this regard that he excels, coming alive when pulling off the shoulder of the last man and looking to race in behind the opponents' defensive line. While Spartak were clearly unenthused by what they saw of the 22-year-old, his record in Sweden and now France is excellent. Valenciennes, despite closing the gap to safety, still need more. The north France side remain three points off 17th-place Evian and safety, with just eight league fixtures remaining this season. With Waris in goal-scoring form, they have a decent shot at survival, but will need to defend better than this weekend when the Ghana star twice put his side ahead only for rock-bottom Ajaccio to claim a 3-2 victory courtesy of a brace from 18-year-old Issa Baradji. Valenciennes cannot afford such blips in their current predicament. Romarinho finds form with Paulistao hat trick It's been a frustrating few weeks for Corinthians who, despite a straightforward 3-0 win over Atletico Sorocaba on Sunday, become the first of Sao Paulo's giants to exit the state championship at the Group Stage. Since the mid-February arrivals of Jadson and forward Luciano, Corinthians had seen their form pick up but it was not to be enough to rescue a disappointing campaign. Despite a run of four goals in three games a month ago, Romarinho had been one of those failing to perform to his potential. Just what level the former Bragantino player, now 23, can reach is open for debate. After a fine season in Serie B in 2011 and a blistering start to 2012, he earned a move to Corinthians -- by then en route to a Copa Libertadores title. Romarinho contributed to that success, scoring a memorable and important away goal to secure a draw against Boca Juniors in the first leg of the final before finishing the season strongly with six goals in the league championship. As Corinthians' on-pitch issues mounted in 2013, though, so did the young forward's, finishing the year with just one goal and two assists from his 37 appearances. Things were going badly for Romarinho for the first time in his senior career and were not helped when he was pictured partying during the worst of Corinthians' battle against relegation -- something that did little to endear him to the club's fans. He is yet to fully recover, but will hope his hat trick and the club's new-found attacking freedom will help him rediscover his former self ahead of the summer transfer window -- with a move to Europe no doubt having been on his mind for some time. The arrival of Jadson will help greatly and, indeed, the former Shakhtar man's presence helped secure his colleague's hat trick with a defence-splitting pass that simply left the forward with the task of beating the keeper. Romarinho, though, will know that his reputation has taken a battering over the past 12 months, and the European suitors that had once been queuing for first refusal have now backed off substantially. Corinthians now have the best part of a month to prepare for the start of the league season and must hope that they, and in particular the attacking unit, can carry through the improved form of recent weeks as they seek to regain a place in the Copa Libertadores next season. For further discussion on any of the players featured in The Scout's Notebook, Christopher can be found on Twitter @chris_elastico. More of his work profiling rising talents can be found at TheElastico.com.
8 - Majeed Waris has scored 8 league goals in 2014, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10) has scored more. Recruit.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 22, 2014