The names are impressive, if not quite world class. Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Yann Sommer are all well within touching distance at least of top tier players. Going back a bit further, we find Alexander Frei, Hakan Yakin, etc. Expand our definition a bit, and we find Mohamed Salah, too. All of whom burst onto the scene with FC Basel, before going on to greater glory at bigger teams in bigger leagues. Or in Salah's case, sitting on the Chelsea bench for 12 months before conquering the Serie A.
The latest off the FC Basel production line is 18-year-old naturalized Swiss striker Breel Embolo. Born in Cameroon, Embolo has been in the Basel youth system since his early teens, steadily working his way up both the club ranks and the international ranks. He's been a starter since last season, scoring in head coach (now Fiorentina manager) Paulo Sousa's first match. He finished that campaign with 17 goals, adding 8 in 20 appearances so far this season. He even has seven caps for Switzerland already.
According to Tuttosport in Italy, Juventus were ready to table an €18m bid for him last summer, but now the bidding price might go as high as €30m even, which seems rather outrageous if not entirely surprising if the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, and the Italian champions are truly interested. Wolfsburg are keeping tabs as well.
I'd be lying to you if I claimed to know much of anything worthwhile — do sign him up in FM/FIFA! — about Embolo. He does seem blessed with a wonderful combination of power and pace (like, say, Romelu Lukaku, he sigh-whispered), with at least one scouting report name-dropping a young Didier Drogba as a valid comparison. Less impressively, Mario Balotelli's name comes up as well, though this scouting report assures that the work rate and attitude issues present in Balotelli's game do not apply to Embolo's. YouTube highlights obviously make him look like a world beater.
€30m for a young Didier Drogba? Sign us up! €30m for some random 18-year-old? You must be joking. Wonder which end of the spectrum lies closer to reality.