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The Swiss Super League is certainly not the strongest in the world but it’s a fairly safe bet to say that it beats the German fourth division. So why has 18-year-old Nassim Ben Khalifa, one of Switzerland’s most exciting prospects, swapped the former for the latter?
Last year, Ben Khalifa hit the headlines when he led the attack in the Swiss team which surprised everyone by winning the world under-17 championship in Nigeria.
He was runner-up in the vote for the best player of the tournament and also scored four goals. Back home, he was a regular first-team player in his debut professional season for Grasshoppers, scoring eight goals as he helped them finish third in the table.
In the midst of all this, German Bundesliga outfit VfL Wolfsburg stepped him and snapped him up for the 2010-2011 season. Yet they appear to have little intention of fielding him any time soon. Ben Khalifa told Swiss media this week that he is fifth or sixth in the strikers’ pecking order and would have to fight for his place with Edin Dzeko and Grafite, the two players who have topped the Bundesliga scoring charts in the last two seasons.
The coaches of the three biggest Serie A clubs recently indulged in what has always been one of the favourite pastimes of the older and wiser — picking fault with today’s youngsters.
Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho kicked things off when he criticised 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli’s approach in training and suggested that footballers of his age were more interested in Ferraris and Bentleys than getting on with the job.
Serie A clubs are understandably upset about English sides scooping up youngsters such as Federico Macheda from their academies.
Lazio President Claudio Lotito cried foul after the 17-year-old, a product of the Rome club’s youth system, scored a stunning winner for Manchester United against Aston Villa in his Premier League debut on Sunday.
Most Manchester United fans had no idea who Federico Macheda was before the Italian netted a stunning stoppage-time winner against Aston Villa on Sunday.
The 17-year-old’s goal could ultimately be the one that sealed the Premier League title for United.