Ajax winger-forward Tobias Sana is set to make his second appearance for Sweden in tonight's friendly against England, so Euroscout takes a look at what all the fuss is about.
At 23, Sana is not exactly a young prospect for the future but what marks the Ajax winger out is the rate at which he has progressed after moving up a level from the Swedish league.
Until this summer, Sana was a decent player in a struggling Gothenburg side. He had plied the teenage years of his trade in Sweden's lower, largely semi-professional divisions, and was doing just a bit better than all right at the top-flight side in his hometown, impressing with his speedy skilful runs down the right, but usually failing to deliver with his end product.
But as is often the way with (relatively) late developers, he took the opportunity to join Dutch giants Ajax with some relish.
Initially bought for a small fee to provide competition for places - mostly as a back-up to first-choice right winger Derk Boerrigter - Sana has flourished with the freer role that Ajax's system affords its attacking players.
He likes to roam inside from both wings, operating almost in Christian Eriksen's position at times as he switches with the likes of Boerrigter, Ryan Babel, Kolbein Sigporsson and Miralem Sulejmani in their fluid front line. He has been used as a central striker too, although the way Ajax play means he will pull wide and deep as Eriksen and co. bomb forward.
Other times he will operate as a more orthodox winger, using his pace and trickery to beat his man, although his crossing is suspect.
Indeed, he is better suited to cutting inside and shooting than playing the ball in from wide positions, leading Euroscout to suggest his career path is being aided by Ajax's tactics: expect him to ultimately develop into an attacking midfielder or second striker.
In height, build and style he is not dissimilar to Tottenham's Aaron Lennon, although with slightly less outright speed and a slightly better feel of the ball.
His main attributes are his pace, ability to beat his man, and a direct, enthusiastic attitude — when he gets kicked, he bounces up to chase down the loose ball and can put in a decent defensive shift when asked to.
Sana is a player who takes initiative, which is resulting in his rawness and lack of experience being quickly eroded. He gets a remarkable number of touches for a winger, and always wants the ball, showing for it so often he can get pulled out of position.
In a year's time he should be something close to the finished product, as his game intelligence is allowing him to improve his decision making somewhat rapidly.
His form — four goals in nine Eredivisie starts for Ajax — has not gone unnoticed. Eligible to play for both Sweden and his father's homeland Burkina Faso, he has elected to represent the country of his birth, making his debut in the 4-4 draw with Germany. He could do so for a second time when Sweden face England on Wednesday.
PLAYER RATINGS (/10)
Work rate: 8
Overall rating: 6/10
Potential rating: 8/10
Analysis of Tobias Sana's performance against Manchester City on October 24
NB — Sana only came on as late sub in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Manchester City at Eastlands, but played for most of the 3-1 in Amsterdam.
21' Eriksen with some skill in midfield to get the fans going. He then shoots just wide after a pass from Tobias Sana - great touch from Eriksen to set himself up.
55' Sana on the right flicks into the box for Ajax, but it is a wayward pass and runs out for a throw on the far side.
57' Sana wins a corner for the hosts, from which Moisander scores.
70' Sana plays a one-two with Schone and is through on the right... saved by Hart! Great stop - should have scored.
74' Sana is replaced by Eyong Enoh.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tobias Sana