By David HorrocksMSc Football Coaching & Analysis Programme Leader at Etihad Campus, Mike Phelan and UCFB Alumni James Radclffe

David has recently submitted a PhD thesis on elite performance completed with players and staff from Manchester United Football Club. The thesis has two published papers to date: Manchester United and Serial Winning, and Gary Neville – A Case Study. David also has a first class degree in Sport Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.


Each time the world cup comes around, new stars are born, the transfer market goes crazy and the world is an open mic stage to stardom for every footballer involved. Who will be this year’s previously unidentified flying object and earn a big money transfer to one of Europe’s football powerhouses just like Colombia’s James Rodriguez did in Brazil 2012.

The Sensible Soccer World Cup blog will bring scouting know how direct from the battlefield of English Premier League recruitment directors and chief scouts. The blog will be opening the lid on just who is being watched ahead of Russia’s six-week footballing bonanza.

Sardar Azmoun

Quite possibly an unknown as we enter this world cup and under the generic scouting radar Sardar Azmoun has an astonishing 23 goals in 33 international appearances for Iran and an even more astonishing 30 goals in 29 appearances in the Iranian age group teams up to under 21 level. Domestically he has plied his trade in Russia featuring for Ruben Kazan and Rostov and boasts a less prolific record at these levels with 29 goals to his name in just over 100 appearances.

Arsenal are reported to have tabled a speculative £2m bid for his services earlier this season and additional interest has been sparked with Liverpool, Juventus, Barcelona and Tottenham all reportedly tracking his progress. Now 23 years of age and with considerable experience and games under his belt for someone so young this tournament could well be a springboard for his career.

Azmoun is best described as a direct centre forward. He scores with both feet and his head and tends to bear down on and in towards goal very quickly once he has sight of a chance. He also follows up clinically sniffing out any danger in and around the opponents goal areas and finishes his chances quickly and often with a simple one touch and shot.

Game one against Morocco will arguably be his most realistic goal scoring opportunity although it must be noted Morocco did not concede any goals at all in their qualifying campaign. However, what is certain is that the second two matches will test Amoun and whether he can handle European football in the higher echelons as Portugal and Spain are blessed with an abundance of talent and experience at these levels. So come what may, any watching eyes should be pretty certain whether or not Azmoun is a fit for one of the big European leagues in around 10 days time.

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This article was first published by SensibleSoccer.co.uk