Everton have made their first lunge into the transfer market this January by bringing in hot prospect Eric Dier from Sporting Lisbon – so who is the young defender that´s jetting in to Goodison?
It is unusual for a talented English prospect to slip under the radar of the usually eager British media; however, Dier has managed to do just that – by learning his trade in Portugal rather than England.
At age seven, Dier moved to Portugal with his family and quickly delved into football. Sporting Lisbon offered him a place in their infamous youth academy when he impressed after being introduced to the club by his PE teacher.
Sporting Lisbon have a rich heritage in developing talent, seeing the likes of Nani and Luis Figo emerge through their ranks, and Dier has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
He is bilingual (fluent in Engish and Portuguese), six feet two inches tall, imposing and technically sound.
He has earned rave reviews from talent scouts during his burgeoning career at Sporting Lisbon, and has captained his side at every youth level apart from the Under-19´s; a level he participated in successfully at just 16 years of age.
Despite being English, Dier is no traditional English centre-half. He is a ball-player – in fact, the youngster cannot remember ever hoofing a ball out of defence, a symptom of his excellent continental football education in Portugal. Many comparisons have been drawn between the youngster and Barcelona´s impressive centre-half Gerard Pique due to his skill in the air and on the floor.
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Whilst acknowledging a love of life in Portugal, he admits that his dream is to play in the Premier League.
His move to Everton has came sooner than many of the games insiders would have predicted, yet a move back to England by his family may have facilitated an early move back to his home country than expected.
There´s no mistaking Dier´s potential. He was the star of an Umbro "Next Generation" ad campaign highlighting future England stars, and the youngster has his sights set on representing the Three Lions in the future.
With Arsenal and Manchester United reportedly keeping a tab on Eric, this could represent a scoop for Everton. Whether his transfer becomes permanent or not is unclear; however, one thing is for certain. One of footballs hot properties will be plying his trade at Everton this year.