Football

Creative genius

Guess the identity of this player and stand to win COURTS prizes

Guess correctly the identity of any of the players featured and stand a chance of winning a Samsung DVD Player (DVDE350) worth $49 and a $200 COURTS TV voucher.

E-mail the name of any of the six players featured with your full name, NRIC IC number  (last four digits without the last letter) and contact details to tnpcontest@sph.com.sg by 6pm on May 13 Terms and conditions apply.

HIS EARLY YEARS

His rise to the top wasn't always that clear-cut.

After winning the Belgian Pro League, the English Premier League beckoned.

In England, he found out first-hand the Premiership culture of sending young players out on loan.

He stayed at his parent club in Belgium for half a season after being snapped up during the January transfer window, then spent the following term on loan again in Germany.

When he finally thought he would be given a chance to prove himself in England, things would take a shocking twist.

His manager, bizarrely at a press conference, said that he didn't like the way the player was training.

It triggered an inevitable exit.

He left for Germany, where he rediscovered the joy of playing football. There, he certainly proved his former manager wrong as he emerged as one of the most exciting and creative attacking midfielders in the Bundesliga.

He scored 16 goals and was widely regarded as the league's best player as he helped his team qualify for the Champions League and win the German Cup.

He returned to the EPL at the start of this season, at £36 million ($69m) more than what his previous club purchased him for, and has proved to be worth every penny.

HIS STRENGTHS

There is an edge to his game that makes him such a key player.

He's quick and decisive, and has the range of passing and long-range shooting skills that make him a wonderful asset for any manager.

Capable of filling any attacking midfield position, he has a knack of lurking in the shadows of bigger names, then springing into the spotlight when it matters.

He isn't just a prolific goal-scorer, but also an excellent creator by virtue of his eye for a killer pass and his crossing ability.

HIS WEAKNESSES

There hasn't been too many complaints about the player generally.

Which is perhaps why, to uncover anything negative about the player, one has to go back to the Premiership manager who sold him to the Bundesliga two years ago.

Apparently, the problem was in the head.

"He told me it was not in his personality to be competing for a position in the team.

"He needed a team where he knows he can play every game," said the manager, who interpreted that as a sign of psychological weakness.

WHY HE'S FAMOUS

His breakthrough season in Germany during the 2014/15 season saw him provide 21 assists, almost twice that of his nearest rival that season.

His trophy collection of one Belgian league, one Belgian Cup, one German Cup and one English League Cup titles may look modest, but it looks set to expand significantly in the coming years.

He is widely seen by his countrymen as their most important player at Euro 2016.

Everyone knew that he was a great talent, but he is a more complete player than (Eden) Hazard. He has a better understanding of the game. He can play on the left or right, wide or inside. He can dribble, play the ball inside or shoot from distance. He can even play left, right or in the hole or as a second midfielder alongside a holding player.

— His former manager in Belgium

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