Scouting Spotlight: Cengiz Under, Maxi Gomez and Patrick Cutrone
Scouting Spotlight profiles players across Europe who have caught the eye. This week, Cengiz Under is Roma's answer to Paulo Dybala, Celta Vigo have Uruguay's next star striker, and have Milan found their new Filippo Inzaghi?
Cengiz Under -- Roma
Signed from Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir to much fanfare on social media, Under has burst into Roma's starting XI in 2018 after being eased in during the first half of the season. The 20-year-old is already an established Turkey international, scoring three goals for the national side since making his debut at the end of 2016.
A skilful, left-footed winger who can play off either flank or through the centre, Under has featured mainly on the right for Roma under Eusebio Di Francesco. He is a speedy dribbler, aiding quick transitions from defence to attack, and likes to muscle his way across the full-back to drive towards goal or force free kicks in dangerous positions.
With exceptional close control, Under looks to exchange short, sharp passes in the final third, or weave balls into the box to find target man Edin Dzeko. He possesses a powerful shot, cutting inside on his left foot and lashing the ball at goal from distance.
"Cengiz has come on in leaps and bounds recently, but his development isn't done yet," said Di Francesco at the start of February. Since then, the youngster has started the last two matches against Verona and Benevento, scoring three goals and claiming an assist to send Roma above local rivals Lazio in the Serie A standings.
Under got off the mark for his new club inside the first minute at Verona, seizing on a loose ball to fire a fierce, low drive into the bottom corner and settle a 1-0 victory.
It was his performance against Benevento on Sunday that really caught the eye, however, as he teed up Dzeko with a clipped cross to give Roma the lead, and then stole the show with two fine finishes to seal a 5-2 win.
Where would he fit in?
Dubbed the "Turkish Paulo Dybala" during his breakthrough campaign at Basaksehir, Under was scouted by a host of elite clubs -- including Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea -- before joining Roma in a €13.4 million deal last summer.
"Every player wants to play in a team like Manchester United or Chelsea," he told Turkish outlet Milliyet last season. "I believe that one day I will play for one of those teams. Among the leagues I want to play in are La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League, but I want to play in the Premier League the most."
Patrick Cutrone -- AC Milan
In another difficult season for AC Milan, the emergence of 20-year-old striker Cutrone from the club's academy has been a rare silver lining to offer hope for the future.
A poacher who has already been compared to Rossoneri legend Filippo Inzaghi by manager Gennaro Gattuso, Cutrone likes to play off the shoulder of the last defender. Sir Alex Ferguson once famously claimed that Inzaghi was "born offside" and it is within these fine margins that Cutrone operates, lacking the pace to burst beyond the back line.
The striker's greatest strengths are his finishing and sense of positioning. He demonstrated his natural instinct in the box with his first goal in Serie A, making a darting near-post run to meet Suso's cross with a well-placed header in a 3-0 win over Crotone back in August.
While Cutrone can shield the ball with his back to goal and looks to bring teammates into the game in the final third, Gattuso has commented that "sometimes he loses too many balls."
"We want to play with our striker, he needs to improve on this. The rest he already has," added the Milan boss.
After winning a penalty for Franck Kessie, scoring himself, setting up another and receiving a booking in an action-packed opening 23 minutes against Crotone, Cutrone instantly became a fan favourite at Milan.
He cemented that status with the winning goal against Inter at the end of December to line up a Coppa Italia semifinal meeting with Lazio.
With 12 goals in all competitions, it has been a remarkable breakthrough season for the 20-year-old, who has flourished in Italy's youth teams and is expected to make his first senior appearance in the near future.
Cutrone netted a brace in Milan's 4-0 win at SPAL last weekend, with both strikes typically coming inside the six-yard box.
Where would he fit in?
Despite splashing out €200m in the transfer market and receiving numerous offers to take Cutrone on loan last summer, former Milan manager Vincenzo Montella decided to give the youngster a chance at the San Siro. That faith has been repaid -- even if it didn't save Montella -- and the Serie A giants will now be desperate to hold on to their top prospect.
That will likely depend on the long-term vision of the club's Chinese owners. Juventus will be primed to capitalise on any uncertainty from the Milan hierarchy, having poached Andrea Pirlo to great reward in 2011, while Cutrone also possesses the physicality to thrive against Premier League defences.
Maxi Gomez -- Celta Vigo
A summer signing from Uruguayan club Defensor Sporting, Gomez paved the way for an impressive first season at Celta Vigo when he scored a brace on his debut against Real Sociedad and has taken La Liga by storm.
With his imposing frame, Gomez has wasted little time in using his power to bully La Liga defences. Half of his 12 goals have been headers; the striker demonstrating his aerial ability with a stunning finish against Sevilla in November.
After honing his predator's instinct at Defensor, the 21-year-old has exhibited a big-game mentality in Spain, where he acts as the perfect foil for Iago Aspas in Celta's starting XI.
Likened to his idol Luis Suarez, although not quite as mobile as his Uruguay teammate, Gomez scored an equaliser against Barcelona at Camp Nou in December and rescued another 2-2 draw against Real Madrid in January.
With four goals in his last four matches, Gomez has helped Celta to seven points as Juan Carlos Unzue's side look to challenge for a European place.
The forward's return of 12 goals and two assists in his debut campaign highlights how quickly he has adapted to his new environment.
Where would he fit in?
Following a fine first half of the season, Gomez was the subject of a reported €20m bid from Chinese Super League side Beijing Gouan. But, after deliberating over the transfer, he decided to stay in Spain.
The Uruguay international will no doubt receive more offers after the 2018 World Cup, with Tottenham also linked with a move for the striker.
Matthew Stanger covers European football for ESPN and is the editor of The Set Pieces. Twitter: @MatthewStanger