One thing and one man shone out for me on Thursday night's goalless draw with Maritimo, and that was Gael Bigirimana.
Now this lad is 18. He already has the canny knack of reading the game and stealing in for a tackle to break up possession for the opposition and start it for us. This is gold dust. What he also shows is pure coolness on the ball. He never panics. He always chooses the right pass and isn't afraid to get his head up and look for it. Again, for a holding midfielder, absolute gold dust.
I'm trying not to get too excited over this lad just yet as he is yet to play a full game vs one of the big boys but it is looking like we may have a quality central midfield player for years to come on our hands. The next Tiote you could say. In fact, I could say he looks like he has the potential to be even better than the immovable object. Not in sheer physical dominance but in technical ability and reading of the game.
When we signed this lad in the summer I just assumed we had signed a young player who will mostly play in the reserves and we will hardly see him in the first team. How wrong I was. Signing this lad for a million quid looks an absolute bargain. If this lad is in our first team in a couple of months or so week in week out, than I wouldn't be surprised. Hopefully Alan Pardew has come to his senses by then and we have instilled the 4-3-3 formation we all crave as our immovable plan of action, then this lad could happily sit next to Cheik in the middle of the park allowing Cabaye to get forward. Tasty.
It's still early days but I have to question whether he may get an England call up sometime soon. Let's face it, if Raheem Sterling can get a call up after a few average performances then why can't Bigi? He is more impressive and more importantly plays in a position that England are lacking. A strong centre midfielder who can not only tackle but play a bit too. Bigi makes Scott Parker look like the useless sack of brown stuff we all know he is. He even proves you don't need to throw yourself into tackles, taking yourself out of the game, to win the ball back. Read it, win it. Simples. Plus tying him down to England can only be a good thing before one of the other nations he qualifies for, his native Burundi being one of them, snap him up.
I may be 'bigging' him up too much too early but I can't help get excited about this kid.
Cheik Tiote has an apprentice. May God have mercy on your souls.
(Comments welcome. Follow me on Twitter @ToonBano)