Scouting Spotlight: Dennis Praet, Kerem Demirbay, Leonardo Bittencourt

Scouting spotlight looks at Sampdoria's eye-catching No.10, a midfielder attracting Premier League interest and a star winger available for £7m.

Dennis Praet -- Sampdoria

Praet was tipped for big things when he made his Belgium debut four years ago, but his progress has been more gradual than expected after leaving Anderlecht for Sampdoria in 2016.

Playing style A tireless midfield all-rounder, Praet forms part of a balanced unit for Sampdoria alongside the combative Lucas Torreira.

He is strong on the ball, eagerly jostling for possession, and has the vision to open up the opposition in the final third.

Although comfortable receiving the ball under pressure, the 23-year-old can occasionally hold on to it for too long instead of looking for an early pass.

He displays an assiduous work ethic, however, tracking back to thwart counter-attacks and showcasing his impressive stamina at both ends of the pitch.


Playing the No.10 role in Sampdoria's 4-3-1-2 system at the weekend, Praet claimed his first goal of the season when he opened the scoring in a 4-1 win over Cagliari.

It was a fine strike to demonstrate the midfielder's technical ability, as he collected Fabio Quagliarella's flick-on, pirouetted on the edge of the box, and fired low into the corner.

A return of just one goal and three assists fails to tell the full story of Praet's contribution this term, with the Belgium international playing a key role in Marco Giampaolo's side climbing to eighth place in Serie A.

Where would he fit in?

Both Newcastle and Everton were linked with Praet last summer, but reports in Italy suggest Juventus are now in pole position to secure his signature.

The 23-year-old confirmed Juve's interest in January, with the champions backed to activate his €25 million release clause at the end of the season.

Kerem Demirbay -- Hoffenheim

Despite being hampered by injuries, Demirbay has played his part in Hoffenheim chasing another top-four Bundesliga finish. He has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs over the past year, but will need to prove his fitness before a move materialises.

Playing style

A left-footed attacking midfielder, Demirbay displays impressive technical quality in the final third. Often looking to exchange short, sharp passes with teammates, he is adept at finding pockets of space and opening up his body to receive the ball.

The 24-year-old is composed in possession, unlocking opposition defences with precision through-balls and dangerous set-piece deliveries.

Demirbay is also a confident dribbler, twisting his way out of tight situations and driving towards the box to unleash powerful shots at goal.


Demirbay has been eased back in by Julian Nagelsmann after missing two months with an ankle problem, but he is now set to miss the rest of the season owing to a recurrence of the injury against Hannover.

Before his substitution in the second half, the Germany international demonstrated his quality on the ball, creating several chances and setting up Andrej Kramaric's second strike from a corner.

He has been a key player for Hoffenheim since joining in 2016, contributing six goals and eight assists last season as Nagelsmann's side remained unbeaten until the end of January and reached the Champions League qualifying rounds for the first time.

Where would he fit in?

Tottenham have been credited with an interest in Demirbay, and it's easy to see how he would slot into Mauricio Pochettino's midfield.

His set-piece quality would be a significant asset, with Arsenal and Liverpool also tracking the £28m-rated midfielder.

Leonardo Bittencourt -- Cologne

A former Germany under-21 international, Bittencourt is one of few Cologne players to come out of a miserable season with their reputation intact. With the club's relegation now confirmed, a summer move seems inevitable.

Playing style

Bittencourt's versatility has seen him play in a number of different positions for Cologne, but he is deployed most frequently on the left wing, cutting inside on his favoured right foot.

Although he isn't blessed with pace, the 24-year-old likes to dribble forward, looking to beat defenders with his close control and deceptive movement.

He is calm in front of goal, drifting free of his marker to find space around the box, and creates numerous chances for teammates with his inswinging crosses from the flank.

Bittencourt is also diligent in his defensive duties, but can occasionally commit clumsy fouls through his exuberance.


Cologne must wonder where they would be had Bittencourt not been ruled out for a third of the campaign through injury.

With five strikes and three assists in the Bundesliga, the winger has been directly involved in a quarter of his team's 33 goals, despite starting only 17 matches.

If Bittencourt hopes to earn a move at the end of the season, he is going the right way about it. He scored a brace in a 3-2 defeat to Freiburg at the weekend, to follow up two goals and three assists in his previous five matches.

Where would he fit in?

Tottenham and Monaco are thought to be leading the race for Bittencourt, whose £7m relegation release clause is bound to attract attention.

Unlike some of his Cologne teammates, he has thus far neglected to waive his option, instead preferring to see what offers he receives in the summer.