If you’ve read Skills from Brazil, then you know that Jamie’s friend Rafael Da Cruz is quite simply a master when it comes to spotting football talent. So we thought we’d put him to the test and ask him to do a regular feature where he predicts which young players will ultimately go on to become the world’s greatest so this is the place where we peer into football’s future.
My seventh Tip for the Top is…
Club and League: Zenit St Petersburg, Russian Super League
Strengths: Pace, jumping, anticipation
Overall Assessment: Argentinian Mammana is my next Tip for the Top, and believe me, this guy could be a world beater. It pains me to see the Argentines sprouting young talent, but in what seems to be a fragile defence for them at present, Mammana can be seen as a bright spark. Although not the tallest for a central defender, the 22-year old more than makes up for this with his jumping reach to tower over even the tallest of strikers. Not half quick either, even the quickest striker would have a challenging time outpacing Mammana.
Prediction for future: He broke through into the European game after moving to Lyon from River Plate, but he never quite had the maturity to adapt to the French game. Now, he finds himself in Zenit blue, where he has flourished and toughened himself up in a more physical league. It’d be interesting to see Mammana test himself in the Premier League and see if he can properly adapt and marshal the world’s best forwards.
Rafa’s view: I think the Argentines have a fabulous centre-half on their hands, and, to be frank, Mammana reminds me a little of my fellow Brazilian Thiago Silva… In all seriousness, I love the confidence he has in spades when playing out from the back, his fearlessness in the challenge (unusual for an Argentinian!) and the fact that he can dominate the best strikers in the world aerially and when grounded. A real prospect.