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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game