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A dip in the market

Who’s hot and who’s not in this year’s transfer merry-go-round: Tony Cascarino

Tony Cascarino, 29 Jul 2004

Inter Milan will be doing everything they can to hold on to him, but if there are any rich Premiership clubs looking for a striker they should get straight on to Adriano’s agent.

Devalued as a competition or not, to go to the Copa America with Brazil and better Pele’s record by scoring seven goals is an amazing achievement for a 22-year-old.

Along with the two qualities that typify modern-day strikers – pace and power – he’s got a great temperament and workrate. Add in the fact that he’s a fair old leap on him as well, and Ronaldo finally has some competition for the Brazil number nine shirt.

Talking of Ronaldo, I’m not surprised that Alex Ferguson is spitting nails because his one, Cristiano, has announced that he’s spending August in Greece with the Portuguese Olympic team. Fergie will feel personally let down that having put so much faith in him last season, Ronaldo has opted to participate in a third-rate World Cup rather than help his club side regain the title. As young and as fit as he is, he’s going to arrive back at Old Trafford at the end of August knackered because he’s spent the whole summer playing international football. To add insult to injury, Fergie’s also going to lose his new defender, Gabriel Heinze who, having never figured for Argentina prior to the Copa, is now going with them to Athens as well. Ferguson is paying him forty grand a week to play for Man U, not win a gold medal.

The player who’ll benefit most from those two places in the team being freed up is Alan Smith. He hasn’t always been the most disciplined of players, but now that he’s a bit older I’m expecting great things of him this season.

The same goes for Spurs’ Jermaine Defoe who did more than enough to get into England’s Euro 2004 squad, but missed out because of Sven’s mystifying decision to take Emile Heskey. Playing alongside an in-form Robbie Keane, he could be as big a deal in 12 months as Wayne Rooney who must be looking at what’s going on in the Everton boardroom and going, “Get me out of here!” The one good thing that’s happened during the summer at Goodison is them bringing in Tim Cahill from Millwall. Outside of the promoted teams, he was the best midfielder in the Nationwide last season and is more than capable of unlocking defences.

From an Irish point of view, it’s a shame that Andy Reid is still at Nottingham although that could change at very short notice. A season in the Premiership and I really think he could be pivotal for Ireland. Ditto Liam Miller who may rue leaving Celtic as rapidly as he did if he doesn’t force his way into the Manchester United first-team. A lot there will depend on how robust Roy Keane proves to be.

I haven’t seen him much myself, but I’m told the 18-year-old Irish lad at Celtic, Aidan McGeady, looks a quality player who could go some way to filling Henrik Larsson’s boots. Brian Kerr will be delighted that he’s got somebody of Martin O’Neill’s calibre bringing him on and won’t be shy of fast-tracking him into his starting XI if he’s doing the business in the SPL.

Of all the foreign players making their debut next month in the Premiership, the one I’m tipping to make the biggest impact is Dijbril Cisse. He’s a similar type of player to Adriano and, if Baros reproduces his Euro 2004 form for the Czech Republic, could present Michael Owen with his biggest Anfield challenge yet. Local hero or not, Michael will have to be at his best to keep his place.

Didier Drogba would have represented good business for Chelsea if they’d got him from Marseilles for £12 million, but at double that they’ve paid way over the odds. Personally I’m more excited about Mateja Kezman whose scoring record in Dutch football is second to none. He’s a Van Nistelrooy-type who, even if he’s not on song, will keep battling away and make things happen. Put him alongside Damien Duff and you’re going to see fireworks!b

See the next issue of hotpress for Tony Cascarino’s comprehensive preview of the new Premiership season.

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