Review: Football Who's Who

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by comme, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    When Alan Shearer said of Hatem Ben Arfa, “we don’t really know much about him”, he demonstrated not only his own startling lack of professionalism (providing insight is, after all, meant to be his job), he also spoke for many who’d like to know a little bit about a lot of players. That’s what Football Who’s Who is for. It aims to provide brief biographies of the game’s leading and lesser known players, sufficient to give an oversight of a footballer in double quick time.

    It doesn’t, initially at least, claim to be exhaustive. Nor do the profiles claim to be comprehensive. They are intended to give a (very) potted history of the player’s career, but more than that to give a flavour of their style of play. If your club is linked with a player you’ve never heard of, or you’ve drawn a team in Europe from a lesser known league, Football Who’s Who should provide a succinct profile that gives you the essential information. As time goes on we hope to build up the initial list of players covered, so that it is the first port of call for anyone looking to find out more about a particular footballer.

    The home of the project is http://footballwhoswho.tumblr.com/ which includes photos of all players, but I'll try to replicate much of it here on BigSoccer.

    This project has the support of lots of BigSoccer members, but we're always after more to help us out. If anyone has any thoughts, comments or suggestions, please could you post them in ... If you'd like to get involved please do let me know. It would be great to have your insight.
    Vasu, Lucas Gomes, Neuwerld and 3 others repped this.


  2. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Ignazio Abate

    Club: AC Milan

    Nation: Italy

    Buccaneering right-back who took time to establish himself as player of true quality. A product of the Milan youth system he was allowed to go on a series of loan moves, before joining Empoli and finally Torino. His performances in Turin persuaded the powers at Milan that he might be worthy of a place in the squad and since returning to the San Siro he hasn’t looked back. Known primarily for his attacking forays, he is blessed with the pace and stamina to patrol the right flank. For Italy he has been chosen on occasion ahead of Christian Maggio in recognition of his better defensive capabilities, though both players prefer to be going forward. Increasingly polished in his defending he is likely to be a fixture for both Milan and Italy for a number of years.
  3. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Christian Abbiati

    Club: AC Milan

    Nation: Italy

    Now a veteran at Milan, Abbiati shows no obvious signs of decline. Having first joined the club in 1998, he has spent much of his time vying for a place in the first team, but has been assured of his spot in recent years. Height is naturally once of the Italian’s greatest assets and has allowed him to pull off saves literally beyond the reach of shorter keepers. A strong shot-stopper, concentration has occasionally been an issue in preventing him stepping up to the next level. He has now though added much needed consistency to his game and appears to be far more secure between the posts. Discovered the form of his life in 2010-11 when his surety in goal was integral in Milan’s title success. A member of a number of Italy squads his path was barred by Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Toldo.
  4. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Mohammed Abdellaoue

    Club: Hannover 96

    Nation: Norway

    Signed from Valerenga in his native Norway Abdellaoue has been a big hit in the Bundesliga. Excellent movement and a knack of getting in front of his marker at the crucial moment are the route of most his goals, with his strengths lying unquestionably within the penalty area. In many games the striker appears anonymous and it can be easy to forget he’s even playing, yet the complacency that engenders in defenders that can work to his advantage and he’s always prepared when the opportunity arises. Strongly left-footed, he’s a confident penalty taker and an adept finisher in and around the box, but he really must improve his all-round contribution if he is to have a greater impact. Hannover’s counter-attacking style is well suited to the Norwegian’s style but if he could work on his hold up play and make greater use of his height even greater things may lie ahead.


  5. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Mohamed Aboutrika

    Club: Al-Ahly

    Nation: Egypt

    The biggest star, bar-none, of African domestic football. Twice a winner of the African Cup of Nations, his contributions in 2006 and 2008 saw him gain international prominence. Despite that he has never made the move to Europe that has elevated so many other great African talents to even greater fame. With Al-Ahly Aboutrika has won the African Champions League on three occasions in addition to seven Egyptian league titles. Likes to burst from deep and play in teammates or go himself, his trickery often makes him impossible to defend against and he has a penchant for the spectacular which is, at times, reminiscent of Ronaldinho. An excellent dribbler with fabulous close control and a skilful taker of set-pieces, it’s a great shame that the wider world never had the opportunity to see his skills on the biggest stage of all.
  6. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Charlie Adam

    Club: Stoke City

    Nation: Scotland

    A firey playmaker, Adam struggled to establish himself fully at Rangers, and was sent out on loan to multiple teams in an attempt to gain experience. A successful spell at Blackpool resulted in a permanent transfer, and it was with the Tangerines that he really made his name. Instrumental in their Championship promotion in 2009-10, he then began superbly in the Premier League before Blackpool tailed off and suffered relegation. A noted set-piece specialist (Sir Alex Ferguson claimed his corners alone were worth £10m), Adam ended the 2010-11 campaign with 12 Premier League goals (seven coming from the penalty spot) to earn a move to Anfield. A fine passer of the ball, Adam is at his best when he is at the centre of the team’s play, though he does have a tendency to try impossible passes and he is occasionally over-exuberant in the tackle. While he failed to replicate his Blackpool form in his first season at Liverpool, prompting a transfer to Stoke, his left-foot remains as cultured as ever.
  7. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Emmanuel Adebayor

    Club: Tottenham Hotspur

    Nation: Togo

    The much travelled striker has largely proven a success wherever he has been. Tall and rangy, he is excellent with his back to goal as his ball control is pivotal in bringing others into play. Powerful in the air, he has the physique and stature expected of a classic target man. Yet he also possesses a delicate touch and is capable of moments of inspiration normally beyond players of his height, combined with a turn of pace which often surprises defenders. A revelation when joining Arsenal from Monaco, he led the line following Thierry Henry’s departure before a £25m move to Manchester City. However, he did little to endear himself to his former fans when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them in the 2009-10 season. Loan moves to Real Madrid and particularly Tottenham (where he scored 17 league goals in 2011-12) have demonstrated that Adebayor still poses a significant threat.
  8. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Adrian

    Club: Atletico Madrid

    Nation: Spain

    Long regarded as one of Spain’s hottest prospects, Adrian is now flourishing into a key player for Atletico. An extremely well rounded forward, he’s capable of playing across the front line, either as a target man or, more commonly, as a wing forward on either the right or left flank. Despite not being the most physically imposing of forwards he is excellent in the air, able to generate his own power for headers and thoughtful in his placement. Quick and more than willing to take players on, he’s strongly right-footed and is a fine finisher in front of goal. Last season he showed his goalscoring abilities in the Europa League, but could not always replicate that form in domestic competitions. Having made his debut for the Spanish national side he may struggle to secure a starting berth, given the calibre of competition he faces.
  9. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Ibrahim Afellay

    Club: Schalke 04

    Nation: Netherlands

    The livewire attacking midfielder made his debut for PSV Eindhoven at just 17 and immediately looked destined for stardom. Capable of playing on either flank or in a more central role, Afellay is predominantly right footed but is as happy cutting in as he is on the wing. Blessed with an exceptional turn of pace he is able to use his speed to beat most opponents but has the trickery and dribbling skills to escape though who can keep up with him. Proficient in front of goal, he is at his best when creating chances and prefers to look for teammates than go himself. His move to Barcelona came as something of a surprise, given the wealth of attacking options available at the Camp Nou. When fit he has proven a dynamic option in attack and was heavily involved in the successful 2010-11 campaign, though he missed almost the whole of last season through a serious knee injury.
  10. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Daniel Agger

    Club: Liverpool

    Nation: Denmark

    Elegant centre-back who drew comparisons with Franz Beckenbauer early in his career for his composure on the ball and his ability to read the game. Willing to carry the ball out of defence and prompt attacks Agger is far from the typical centre-back. He is though more than competent in the air and is a capable tackler when required. Frequently injured, when he has managed to fit fitness he has shown himself to be a player of high quality, forming a strong partnership with Martin Skrtel in the heart of Liverpool’s defence. Although not a regular scorer he is unafraid to take a shot from distance , with a long range effort against West Ham showing why. As captain of Denmark (in the absence of the injured Christian Poulsen) he enjoyed an excellent Euro 2012 where Denmark impressed despite finding themselves in a tough group.
  11. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Sergio Aguero

    Club: Manchester City

    Nation: Argentina

    Nicknamed “Kun” after a cartoon character, the Argentine striker burst on to the international scene with outstanding displays at the 2005 and 2007 World Youth Cups. Along with his excellent form for Independiente his youth performances were enough to lead Atletico Madrid to spend almost £20m on an 18 year old. A prolific goalscorer in Madrid his move to Manchester City for over £35m has so far been a resounding success, as he scored a title winning goal against QPR to take him to 23 for the season. Frequently dropping deep to collect the ball and a fine dribbler with excellent close control combined with a low centre of gravity, Aguero is widely considered similar in style to the legendary Romario. The diminutive Brazilian shared the Argentine’s lethal finishing with both men requiring little back-lift to generate power in their shots and often catching keepers unaware. The son in law of Diego Maradona.
  12. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Pablo Aimar

    Club: Benfica

    Nation: Argentina

    One of a raft of players once branded the “new Maradona”, Aimar looked set for superstardom when he joined Valencia from River Plate as a 22 year old. Injuries hampered his contribution at the Mestalla, but he did shine when the club won two titles, in 2001-2 and 2003-4. A move to Real Zaragoza didn’t work out as expected with the club relegated in Aimar’s second season, despite possessing a strong squad. Since joining Benfica the Argentine has prospered in the less hurried Portuguese league, demonstrating the playmaking abilities which marked him out in his youth. Physically slight, he has a low centre of gravity which makes him harder to knock off the ball than might be expected and possesses an ability to drift into gaps between midfield and defence. Blessed with rare vision, he’s also a fine dribbler and a master of the perfectly weighted through-ball. His ability to link-up with Oscar Cardozo and compatriot Javier Saviola have proved crucial in the success of the Eagles in recent seasons.
  13. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Igor Akinfeev

    Club: CSKA Moscow

    Nation: Russia

    Simply phenomenal as a youngster, making his debut for CSKA Moscow at 17 and Russia at 18, Akinfeev has long been regarded as one of Europe’s most promising goalkeepers. At a club level his most notable achievement was victory in the 2005 UEFA Cup, though his three Russian titles run it close. On the international stage he was pivotal in Russia’s surge to the 2008 European Championship semi-finals, though Vyachelsav Malafeev was preferred at Euro 2012. Not especially tall by modern standards, he is nonetheless an imposing presence and his speed off the line is one of the reasons he is so good when one on one. A superb shot-stopper his progress has been hampered by ill-timed injuries. Still highly rated he needs to develop further if he is to justify the early comparisons with Lev Yashin and Renat Dasaev.
  14. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Jordi Alba

    Club: Barcelona

    Nation: Spain

    A former La Masia graduate, Alba had to move first to Cornella and then Valencia in order to complete his development. With Los Che he dovetailed excellently with Jeremy Mathieu down the left-flank, frequently swapping positions to great effect and excelling both domestically and in the Champions League. Alba is extremely quick, a good crosser and is more than willing to venture forward to support his team’s attacks. His Barcelona education means that he is confident in possession and rarely looks flustered with the ball at his feet. That ability to retain the ball and fit into the established “tiki-taka” style of play meant his elevation to the Spanish national team proved rapid and he is now assured of his place in the team, succeeding Joan Capdevila in Vicente Del Bosque’s plans. A star at Euro 2012 his £15m return to Barcelona appears to solve one of the few remaining issues left for incoming coach Tito Villanova.
  15. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Raul Albiol

    Club: Real Madrid

    Nation: Spain

    Largely sidelined at Real Madrid due to the presence of Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, and Sergio Ramos, Albiol is still among the best defenders in Spain when he has the chance to prove it. As good in the air as you might expect for a man of his height, he’s an unfussy centre-back who relishes defending. Quick across the ground, he times his tackles well and is assured in possession. Albiol excelled at Valencia and established himself in the Spain squad prior to making a £15m move to the Bernabeu. While he performed well in Madrid, the arrival of Carvalho saw him dropped to the bench and the switch of Ramos into a central position has further hindered his chances. For many other clubs Albiol would be the focal point of the defence, but at Real he is just another squad member.
  16. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Thiago Alcantara

    Club: Barcelona

    Nation: Spain

    Prodigiously talented, Thiago now looks ready to make the step up to stardom. Sadly for him he needs first to overtake Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas in the Barcelona pecking order. His playing style is a hybrid of his Barca teammates with much of the metronomic passing ability of Xavi combined with the ability to dribble and beat a player that Iniesta demonstrates. Full of imagination and trickery, the youngster is unfazed by the big occasion and never looks short of confidence in his own ability. If Thiago has a fault it’s that his decision making is not always at the level of some more experienced players and he can give possession away cheaply when easier passes were available. His footballing pedigree is beyond reproach though given that his father is Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho.
  17. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Toby Alderweireld

    Club: Ajax

    Nation: Belgium

    Having started out at Beerschot as a child, Alderweireld moved to Ajax as a 15 year old. Learning his trade at one of football’s great finishing schools certainly appears to have worked out well for the young Belgian whose positioning demonstrates the maturity of a far older player. Excellent on the ball and capable of launching raking cross field passes the youngster is principally a centre-back but has shown the versatility required to adapt to the right-back position when asked. Adventurous in nature, he’s not afraid to shoot from distance and with a right foot as sweet as Alderweireld’s it is no great surprise. For the time being he seems well settled in Amsterdam, but following the departure of his compatriot Jan Vertonghen it may only be a matter of time before Ajax are fielding offers for the youngster.
  18. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Alex de Souza

    Club: Fenerbahce

    Nation: Brazil

    One of the few classic playmakers still remaining, Alex has never fully gained the recognition he deserves thanks to the relative anonymity of the Turkish league. Despite that he remains an idol at Fenerbache where he has continually demonstrated his class. Predominantly left-footed, he is a superb dribbler and set-piece expert, who contributes heavily with goals from midfield. As with many of the great Brazilian midfielders though it is in creating for others that Alex really excels, providing threaded through balls that few other players could see. That imagination is combined with an ability to find space in which to operate as he flits between attack and midfield eluding markers. Continually overlooked at international level since his move to Turkey in favour of more workmanlike players, the Selecao could often have done with a player of his imagination and talents, in a previous era he’d have won far more than his 48 caps.
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  19. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Alex Dias

    Club: Paris Saint-Germain

    Nation: Brazil

    A rugged central defender, known as “the Tank” for his significant stature, Alex never fully established himself at Chelsea, despite some impressive performances. His displays at Santos prompted the West London club to snap him up at just 20, but they allowed him to go on loan at PSV Eindhoven for three years to develop. In Holland he didn’t disappoint as a mainstay of a team that reached the Champions League semi-finals, but on returning to England he continued to miss out, first to Ricardo Carvalho and then David Luiz, in the race to partner John Terry. Now reunited with former manager Carlo Ancelotti at PSG, he should form a dazzling partnership with Thiago Silva. Quick (once he gets going), Alex certainly isn’t afraid of a physical confrontation and is outstanding in the air. Possesses a thunderous strike and is extremely capable at long range free-kicks.
  20. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Oleksandr Aliyev

    Club: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk

    Nation: Ukraine

    Renowned for his thunderous shot, Aliyev is yet to fully capitalise on his undeniable potential. Strong on the ball, he’s nimble on his feet and is capable of moments of tremendous invention. Mostly known for the venom in his free-kicks, he’s a capable playmaker, but his temper has got him into trouble in the past. So far he has never fully established himself as an automatic first choice for either Ukraine or parent-club Dynamo Kiev. Aliyev was arguably at his best during his brief spell at Lokomotiv Moscow, but he quickly chose to return to Kiev. If he is to step up to the next level he needs to improve his discipline as well as focus on working harder defensively. A successful loan spell with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk could catapult him back into the international reckoning.
  21. comme

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    Joe Allen

    Club: Liverpool

    Nation: Wales

    Metronomic Welsh central midfielder who se performances for Swansea led manager Brendan Rodgers to make him his top summer signing a new club Liverpool. Exceptionally accurate passer who excels in rotating possession, he’s a real rarity among British footballers in that he is also constantly aware of how he may look to receive possession. That positional awareness may just be the most important facet of Allen’s game, because both in and out of possession he has an innate perception of where he should be. Being in the right place at the right time is one of the main reasons that Allen, at just 5ft 6in, provides his fair share of defensive cover, though his tackling is noteworthy too. Mature beyond his years, he looks poised to form an excellent partnership with the like minded Nuri Sahin in the Liverpool midfield.
    Twenty26Six and RoyOfTheRovers repped this.
  22. comme

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    Xabi Alonso

    Club: Real Madrid

    Nation: Spain

    Broke through at Real Socieded (the club his father Miguel represented with distinction for five years) as an attacking box-to-box midfielder, but was deployed in a deeper role on joining Liverpool. A fabulous long range passer he excelled at Anfield, winning the Champions League in 2005, but was unsettled over efforts to replace him with Gareth Barry. That prompted a £30m move to Real Madrid which brought with it an elevation to the starting XI for the Spanish national team. In Madrid he has improved again and is one of few players certain to start every important game. Unhurried in possession, Alonso rarely makes the wrong decision and is ideally suited to Spain’s passing style. Used primarily in a double-pivot system for both club and country he is tenacious in the tackle but relies primarily on pressing of opponents to unsettle their rhythm. Winner of two European Championships as well as the World Cup he specialises in goals from distance and has over 100 caps for his country.
  23. comme

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    Ricardo Alvarez

    Club: Internazionale

    Nation: Argentina

    A strongly left footed attacking midfielder who is capable of playing across the line, Alvarez excelled at Velez Sarsfield, leading in time to a big money move to Inter. Taller than most wingers, he has an upright running style and plays with his head up, facilitating his awareness of the options around him. In contrast to many youngsters used in wide areas his vision is excellent and his decision making is a key strength, with the variety of his passing and unpredictability making him extremely hard to defend against. Confident whether going inside or out, crossing or shooting and adept at slipping perfectly weighted through balls to enterprising runners, Alvarez is willing to mix his approach accordingly. With Inter now relying more on sensible acquisitions than their previous all-star approach, Alvarez fits well in a team peppered with fellow South Americans. For Argentina the calibre of his rivals may prevent an immediate ascension to the first team.
  24. comme

    comme Moderator Staff Member

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    Bruno Alves

    Club: Zenit St Petersburg

    Nation: Portugal

    Uncompromising Portuguese centre-back who is now a mainstay of the national side. Enjoyed a decade at Porto, fully establishing himself after the departure of Jose Mourinho and developing into the league’s finest central defender. Known primarily for his resolute defending and prodigious ability in the air, he has formed an excellent defensive partnership with the similarly minded Pepe at international level. In regard to his occasionally brutal defending he’s something of a throw-back to a prior age where such challenges were commonplace. That hard exterior masks a player who is capable of brilliant long range passing, while his attacking prowess at set-pieces is not to be underestimated. A big money move to Zenit St Petersburg has resulted in mixed fortunes with Alves winning two domestic titles, but not always showing his best Porto form. Remains a target for many of Europe’s more ambitious clubs.
  25. comme

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    Daniel Alves

    Club: Barcelona

    Nation: Brazil

    Marauding right-back who is widely recognised as the best in the world, due to his phenomenal attacking contributions. Following a brief spell with Bahia he moved to Spain and became an immense success with Sevilla, winning two UEFA Cups in a superb spell in Andalusia. His form in Seville prompted Barcelona to pay £25m for the full-back and in his first season he repaid that faith with a Champions League title. Under Pep Guardiola he continued to develop and was granted the freedom to attack at will, providing rare width in a Barca team often content to play through the middle. Extremely quick, his greatest attribute is his stamina which allows him to patrol the right flank from box to box. A source of so many goals for the Catalans, diagonal balls inside the opposing left-back so often find Alves ready to tee up Messi et al. For Brazil he has often played second fiddle to the more disciplined Maicon or been deployed in midfield to compensate for his defensive shortcomings.

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