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The men who could be king one day

While the Barclays Premier League (BPL) will undoubtedly struggle to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo, this season's opening exchanges have unearthed a quartet of newcomers who look set to widen the league's appeal, writes John Dykes.

sports Updated: Aug 21, 2009 14:07 IST
John Dykes

While the Barclays Premier League (BPL) will undoubtedly struggle to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo, this season's opening exchanges have unearthed a quartet of newcomers who look set to widen the league's appeal.

One is a former refugee from Kosovo who has battled his way to a career in football; another is likely to become a pin-up boy to rival Ronaldo and Torres. One looks set to become a Balkan football legend at next year's World Cup and the last could turn out to be the catalyst for long-overdue success at Tottenham Hotspurs.

Let's begin with the Spurs player. Sebastien Bassong's all-round performance against Liverpool last weekend was impressive. The 23-year-old is expected to star in Spurs' pursuit of Champions League football.

Little was made of Serbia's Nenad Milijas's arrival at Wolverhampton Wolves this summer, but the new boy has already earned Mick McCarthy's side a win at Wigan on Tuesday night.

Another player who has caught the eye is Wigan's Jordi Gómez, who will also be a favourite with the ladies. Blessed with Robert Pires-esque good looks, he is developing a following among those who follow footballers on holiday and after work as much as they do during games.

A product of Barcelona and Espanyol's youth programmes, Gomez played only briefly in La Liga before Roberto Martinez took him on loan at Swansea City. Gomez finished with 14 goals and was signed by Wigan.

Our last newcomer is Albanian midfielder Lorik Cana who signed for Sunderland. Cana (pronounced 'Sanna') dreamed as a youngster of following in the footsteps of his father, Agim, a former Yugoslav international. However war came to Kosovo and Cana found himself fleeing to Switzerland, a refugee. Once there, he decided football was his best chance of success and he battled his way up, till, in 2006, he moved to Marseille. So there we are: four new names, four players who have made an immediate mark on the BPL. They are proof of the quality and variety that exists in the league if one takes the trouble to look beyond the traditional 'Big Four'.

Catch John Dykes on ESPN's Football Focus every Tuesday (8pm) and First Edition on Friday (9pm).