Valon Berisha 20 Midfielder Red Bull Salzburg Norway
2013 has been…
Exactly what we thought it would be.
We make no secret of the fact we like Valon Berisha, there is very little in his game not to admire in truth and this year has been one of progress and maturity. A tight title race saw Salzburg finish as runners-up to Austria Wien but he emerged with huge credit for his performance over last season. 6 goals in 30 games and a temperament that saw him pick up only one yellow card over the course of the season earned him praise and this season has continued in a similar fashion.
Salzburg are currently top of the Austrian Bundesliga by some way and look imperious, also impressing in the Europa League where they are making steady progress aided by 3 assists in 7 appearances from Berisha. As the club fights on three fronts he has spent some time on the bench this year as he’s playing a lot of football, but so far his injury record is good and he looks more than capable of coping with the demands of the modern game.
Internationally he has spent a lot of time with the various stages of youth football, still playing for the U21s despite also featuring as a full international in Norway’s unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign. He has a long future of international football ahead and hopefully a major tournament at some stage, at 20-years old he already has 11 full caps and we’re positive he will add to that many, many times over.
Flying under the radar is one thing, but not pushing yourself is another. There has been a tremendous amount of common sense about Berisha’s career so far. Going back in time to when he was an immensely promising teenager he turned down contracts at Chelsea and Manchester City so he could stay close to home, learn his trade and play for a team where he would be on the pitch every week developing his craft. A move from EIK to Viking was a sensible option again, as was the move to Salzburg to experience life in a different country and league where the spotlight wouldn’t be too bright. We love a bit of common sense in these parts and we can’t fault him so far, but is it time to go a bit crazy?
His talent is undeniable, we said in his profile last year there’s something of Paul Gascoigne about him and we stick by that. It’s in the hint of barrel chest and the strength within, the ability to shrug off a challenge as if it just isn’t there and gifted enough to carry the ball on either foot for as long as you want him to. He also plays with his head constantly up, another Gascoigne-esque trait, and you know the next pass is just seconds away. Not only is he a fine player in his own right but he’s a multiplier who often brings the best out of those ahead of him, Spanish striker Jonatan Soriano a particularly willing team mate who at the time of writing is going at a goal a game.
So a really exciting player and in a world of over-saturation, one that’s also succeeding in keeping things relatively low-key for the minute. That will change, he’s destined for a higher profile league in the not too distant future and sooner or later the secret will be out there. We were excited about Berisha last year and that excitement is yet to dim, we will never feel more hipster than when we can say we liked his first album at EIK…
“Great to watch, genuinely two-footed, really good change of pace and wonderful on the ball, without meaning to sound too whiny if he was Spanish or German we would all be purring constantly and lavishing praise on him on a weekly basis, destined for bigger things and personally, I can’t wait” – David Hartrick, IBWM
C+ Anyone fancy a brilliant two-footed creative midfielder who scores goals and won’t cost the earth? Thought so