KopStar: Issue 1: Lauri Dalla Valle
Lauri Dalla Valle is regarded as one of the best young talents to ever come out of Finland. Valle has made an amazing impact at Liverpool‘s academy since his arrival last January. With his exquisite touch and clinical finishing, the Finnish youngster already has an outstanding goalscoring record in the Academy. Only 16, the fact that the youngster has already featured for the U18’s this season shows how highly the Liverpool Academy coaches think of him. Kop Star reviews Lauri’s impressive first season at Liverpool.
Lauri was born in Joensuu, Finland on 14 September 1991. At the age of 14, Lauri caught the eye of Inter Milan’s youth scouts and was snapped up very quickly by Inter. Dalla Valle moved to Italy with the idea of learning his trade with the Italian giants. However, Lauri failed to settle in Italy and four months later, he returned to Finland to play in Joensuun Jippo.
In the Autumn of 2006 Liverpool invited Lauri to a training camp at Melwood. Dalla Valle played in a training match against Blackburn Rovers Youths. He scored one goal and assisted another in a match that ended 2-1 to Liverpool. Dalla Valle impressed Malcolm Elias, Gwyn James and Steve Heighway so much, Liverpool offered the Finnish youngster a 4 year contract.
Sami Hyypia commented on the youngster on a Finnish column on plaza.fi after witnessing the youngster at Melwood for his trial: “One of the names for the future is Lauri Dalla Valle. I had noticed his name in a article in Urheilulehti, where reporters had gone through the most promising Finnish talents. He doesn’t have a typical Finnish name, which might be one of the reason the name stuck in my mind. Now I definitely won’t forget it, because I had the pleasure to meet him last week in Liverpool. Dalla Valle was in Liverpool for a week to get to know the club. We had interesting conversations with him and his father Lorenzo. They both had a the right approach to things. They both understood what a big move this would be, especially at that age. It seemed clear to both of them what a big challenge it is to go from an academy player to a first team player in such a big club. And also the reality that this hasn’t really been done by any Finnish player.”
“If Lauri decides to come to Liverpool, will we one day see him playing in the red shirt? The signs are there. It seems that the young man has the talent, patience and commitment. Add to that an incredible amount of work and a little bit of luck, then why not? Based on the week he spent here, I think a good impression was made both ways.”
|Dalla Valle pictured with Kevin Keegan at the Academy earlier in the year.|
Malcolm Elias, the recruiting coach for the academy witnessed Dalla Valle in action when Finland travelled to Ireland in an U16 International fixture in October 2006. The Finn’s played the Irish twice within a space of the week. The first game ended 1-0 to Finland with Dalle Valle grabbing the only goal of the game. The second match saw Finland hand the Republic of Ireland U16’s their heaviest defeat of the season with the impressive Finnish skipper Lauri Dalle Valle grabbing all the headlines with two fantastic goals. Elias commented at the time “I was very convinced after seeing the game and it just confirmed the previous info I’d gotten on him. He is a special talent, there’s no doubt about that. He can utilise the space given him well, is smart, has good vision on the pitch, controls the game and can score goals”. Lauri Dalla Valle also commented about that International game: “When we played in Ireland, I scored 3 goals in 2 matches and set up a couple more. After that we started to get contacts from Italian and English clubs.”
Lauri returned to Finland playing in Joensuun Jippo’s senior team in the Finnish First Division. He was mainly used there as winger. He also played with their junior team and helped them gain promotion to Finnish Junior’s Premier Division.The gifted Lauri was becoming one of the most sought after talents in World Football. Inter wanted him, Ajax, AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea all wanted him, but he choose Liverpool. In November 2007 Dalla Valle announced that he had signed for Liverpool signing a 3 and a half year deal. On signing, he commented: “Earlier, I trained for 4 months with Inter Milan, but I was always tempted by Liverpool and I thought it through before I made my decision.”
Dalla Valle arrived in January 2008. At the beginning of January, Dalla Valle played his first Liverpool game in a specially arranged friendly match for the U17’s against the Liverpool U18’s. The game ended 3-3 with Lauri grabbing a hat-trick for the U17 side. Lauri got his Liverpool career off to a great start. His first game for the U16’s was against the Everton U16’s. Liverpool beat Everton 2-0. Lauri played the first 45 minutes scoring their 2nd goal.
In the following U16’s game against Manchester United, Liverpool won 4-3. Lauri Dalla Valle played 60 minutes scoring a goal and also assisting one. Liverpool academy scout Ian Barrigan commented “I would say he is the most natural finisher in the history of our academy.’ Liverpool U16’s then played another friendly game against the Liverpool U18s which ended 2-1 to the U18’s. Dalla Valle, played for the U16 side and scored the only goal for the U16’s. He then continued his goal scoring spree with a goal against Stoke U16’s and followed this up scoring a great header in their clash against Blackburn’s U16’s.
At the end of February, Dalla Valle was called up to the U18 Finnish team who were prepairing for the European Championship pre qualifers which are to be played mid October. Finlands new U18 manager Jyrki Heliskoski commented “In his age class, Dalla Valle and Pukki are international class players. We are trying to build an understanding, because Liverpool and the National’s team mutual goal is Lauri’s improvement. The day to day work at the club is important, but the International games develop the player.” Back in March, Dalla Valle had played 10 youth games for Finland in which he scored 9 goals.
On the 15th March, Liverpool U16’s beat Barnsley U16’s 2-1 with Lauri grabbing both goals. Lauri had now played 8 officials games for the U16 side scoring 8 goals along the way. His magnificent form was rewarded when he was included in the U18’s trip to the United Arab Emirates for the Zayed Tournament where they competed against Fluminese of Brazil and Atletico Madrid from Spain. At the beginning of April, Lauri continued his impressive goal scoring spree as the U16’s trashed Derby U16’s 5-0. Lauri scored the opening goal, assisted the second and scored the third goal for Liverpool.
On Wednesday April 9th 2008, Lauri Dalla Valle got his first taste of U18 football for Liverpool when the U18’s drew 1-1 with Manchester City‘s u18’s. Lauri came on as a sub with 20 minutes remaining playing in his preferred number 10 position.
Liverpool U16’s played their final game of the season against Leeds United. Again Dalla Valle was on the scoresheet when he grabbed a second half equaliser to make it 2-2, but Leeds went on to win the game 4-2. Lauri Dalla Valle finished the season with 11 goals from 10 matches for the U16 team, appeared once as a sub for the U18 team and also in the Dubai tournament and then joined the U18 team in the USA for a tournament. This goal record for a 16 year old is very impressive.
‘Kid Viravax’ wrote: His goal to game ratio is outstanding and the way he has adapted is seamless – coming from another country, into completley different footballing culture, aswell as adapting to the language and our way of life, he has done extremely well.
Liverpool‘s academy scout Ian Barrigan (speaking to a Norwegian supporters club magazine called ‘The Kopite’) commented “Everybody is talking about how many goals he has scored. Lauri has only once failed to score in U17 matches but apart from that it was his best game here. He must play as an out and out striker though his best position is behind the main striker.” John Owens also commented on Dalla Valle “Lauri has a great balance and skills as a striker, but first and foremost he is an excellent finisher and goal scorer. If he gets into the right positions, he has the ability to make the right decisions. He can also play in the support striker role, but he needs to work with his build up play and team play.”
‘Mooki3’ wrote: Lauri Dalla Valle is a well rounded player for a young lad, he is essentially a creative midfielder or a support striker, he can play in either of these positions as they allow him to be the main creative influence in the team, and he thrives off that.
There are a few players I could compare Lauri to, and I do so based on playing style, not ability. As a midfielder he is comparable to our own Stevie G, he is good technically, has a driven personality, and an excellent physical presence on the pitch. However, up top, he plays more like a Wayne Rooney, always dropping off to receive the ball, wanting to get involved and battling when not in possession. He is more clinical in front of goal than Wayne ever was however, having been described by one of our youth coaches Ian Barrigan as ‘œthe most natural finisher we have ever had at the academy’, high praise indeed when you consider Michael Owen and God himself are previous graduates.
As previously stated, for a sixteen year old kid, he has physical qualities beyond his years. He is clearly tall for his age, I could not be sure but he appears to me to be about six-foot, and not one of these skinny boys either. Although having said this he is no oafish midfielder, he complements his size by possessing a great turn of pace.
Technically is where he excels however, he is a great passer and dribbler of the ball, showing good balance and agility on the ball for a big fella. He is let down by often making the wrong decisions (thinking he can do everything by himself, or trying the audacious pass instead of taking the easy option). However, these are traits often shown by young players (look at how single minded Ronaldo was upon arriving at Old Trafford) and if / when they are ironed out of his game, I have no doubt he can have a very bright future here at Anfield.
Lauri Dalla Valle is among many Liverpool young players with a great future ahead of them. Only 16, Dalla Valle, with his exquisite touch and clinical finishing already looks like he’s on course to becoming a KopStar in the future after his outstanding goalscoring record in his first year in the Academy. It will be very interesting to see how he adapts to playing at a higher level for the U18’s or perhaps the Reserves next season.
Lauri Dalla Valle – A Future KopStar?
Don’t miss next week’s KopStar where Liverpool youngster Krisztian Nemeth will be discussed.