Talent Scout: Xherdan Shaqiri, FC Basel

As the much maligned international break returned this week, Premier League managers up and down the country rue the unwelcome distraction it brings. Yet in the never ending search for talent, one game might make all the disruption worth while.

Look no further than tonight's Euro 2012 qualifier between Wales and Switzerland. An odd fixture to pick out? Perhaps, with both sides on the ropes in their battle to reach next summers tournament show piece, but gracing the Libery Stadium pitch will be a young prospect clubs all over Europe are enticed and intrigued by.

His name is Xherdan Shaqiri, a 19-year-old attacking midfielder from war-torn Kosovo, and the rising star of Swiss football. A product of the FC Basel academy, fans, agents, scouts and managers have known about this mercurial talent since he was 14. Now a regular in the Basel team, Shaqiri turns 20 next week, but surprisingly, nobody has taken a gamble on his undoubted talent.

Why? Well, it's certainly not down to a lack of ability. Diminutive, agile and pacy across the turf, Shaqiri boasts excellent technique and balance. He's left footed, but comfortable and equally effective on either wing or as a classic play-maker, boasting good vision and almost zero back lift in his passing and shooting.

Add to that a box of tricks and a direct running style and you've got a player who's dangerous in almost any attacking area. But what's most striking about Shaqiri is his composure in slowing fast paced situations down, allowing him to select the best option on the majority of occasions.

He's consistently improved at Basel and after shining at the Under-21 European Championships in the summer, scored a hat-trick for the full national team against Bulgaria last month. It's a CV that puts him in league with some of Europe's top starlets.

But the above doesn't tell the full story. The key reason why Shaqiri is still waiting for his big move is an under rated but integral part of any young players rise to the top - attitude. His often up front nature has put clubs off, with comments like calling himself 'a very special player' during the Under-21 Euros not helping his cause at a time when his stock was on the rise.

You need confidence and personality to reach the top end of the game, but sound bites like that have helped build Shaqiri a difficult to shake tag as an arrogant kid who would be easily distract by the big money and fame a transfer would bring. His Marmite-esque personality has also spilt over into games, with a sometimes non-existent work rate and negative body language giving an impression that he badly lacks maturity.

Shaqiri has started work on removing some of those question marks, but they can only be fully discounted by more big performances on the big stage. Tonight's clash with Wales at Swansea's Liberty City stadium may not exactly be one of those, but it's another opportunity for the rejuvenated attacker to leave a firm impression on the on-looking elite of talent hunting Premier League scouts and managers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn