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Baros, Milan

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MILAN BAROS PROFILE

 

by Dave Usher

 

Date of Birth - 28/10/81

Nationality - Czech

Position - Forward

Games - 108

Goals - 27

Cost - £3.5m

Club Hons (Lpool) - 2003 League Cup, 2005 Champions League

Club Hons (Other) - None

Intnl Hons - Czech RepublicCaps

Other Clubs - Banik Ostrava

 

Czech Republic star Milan Baros was widely regarded as one of the hottest properties in Europe when he arrived at Anfield. Described as having lightning speed, an eye for goal as well as being physically strong, he first came to Gerard Houllier's attention whilst playing for the Czechs in the European Under 21 Championships in 2000.

 

The Czechs had an outstanding tournament, and apparently Houllier wanted to sign up half of the team, but was foiled due to the work permit restrictions put on English sides. Baros hit the net 9 times in 14 games for the Czech under 21's, and was swiftly called up to the Czech senior side. His performances for his country and his club, Banik Ostrava, attracted the attention of scouts from all over Europe. Borrussia Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer went on several spying missions to watch Baros in action, and was reportedly desperate to add the talented young frontman to his squad.

 

Juventus and Inter Milan were also keen on the youngster, who was dubbed "The Ostravan Maradona" due to his dribbling skills and exciting style. Baros represented the Czechs in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and his debut for the full side came against Belgiumin 2002, and not surprisingly he marked the occasion with a goal. He followed that up with a goal on his second appearance too, scoring in the 90th minute against Northern Ireland after coming on as a substitute.

 

Shortly after that game he appeared on Czech TV stating his desire to join international team-mates Patrik Berger and Vladimir Smicer at Liverpool. He revealed that the reds had been showing an interest in him for a while and said: "It's just great. Patrik and Vlada said that Liverpool were a wonderful club to play for." Just over a month later and he got his wish, as Gerard Houllier finally got his man. Baros' arrival was overshadowed slightly by the fact that Nicolas Anelka also joined at that time, arriving on loan from Paris St Germain.

 

Despite his outstanding pedigree, Baros made a less than impressive start to his career on Merseyside, struggling to hit top form and looking overweight and showing a distinct lack of fitness during his appearances for the reserves. As the season wore on, his sharpness seemed to be returning and his performances improved, but he was still way short of the levels expected of him. His only first team appearance came as a late substitute in the Nou Camp against Barcelona, and it was widely rumoured that Houllier was prepared to offload the youngster the following summer.

 

Lens claimed that Baros was offered to them as part of a deal for El Hadji Diouf, whilst it was also suggested that the young Czech had been offered to Sporting Lisbon along with Igor Biscan for Portuguese starlet Hugo Vianna. But Baros was keen to stay and prove himself, and shed over a stone in the close season, returning to Liverpool a totally different player.

 

He tormented AC Milan in a pre-season friendly, even drawing high praise frm the legendary Paolo Maldini, and when hi full debut arrived at Bolton's Reebok stadium, Baros struck two great goals to make himself a hero with the Liverpool fans. He enjoyed a fine season, even though he was often left on the bench in favour of Emile Heskey. Despite that, he finished as the side's joint second top scorer with Danny Murphy after having hit 12 goals.

 

At the start of the 2003/04 season, Milan was really pushing for a starting place, and looked to have finally become the first choice partner for Michael Owen when he broke his ankle against Blackburn. He missed five months of the season, but returned to the side as a substitute in the FA Cup loss at Portsmouth in February. A couple of weeks later his first goal of the season came when he danced around a couple of defenders and lashed home a powerful shot from 18 yards at Elland Road against Leeds.

 

Another goal followed in the UEFA Cup tie with Marseille, and he was back in business for his country too, scoring in a 2-1 defeat against the Irish at Lansdowne Road. It wasn't long before he found himself back on the bench though, as Houllier's preference for the ineffective left Baros frustrated and the fans bewildered. It looked like the popular Czech was headed out of Anfield when he joined up with his national side for the European Championships, but whilst he was in Portugal Houllier was replaced by Rafa Benitez, and a fresh start beckoned for Milan.

 

He was a revelation in Euro 2004, firing the Czech's to the semi finals and ending the competition as the leading scorer. On his return to Liverpool, he picked up where he had left off for the Czech's, and began the 2004/05 season in dazzling form before being derailed by a persistent hamstring injury.

 

His form after that was never quite as explosive, and he struggled for goals in the second part of the season. He continued to work tirelessly for the team however, and ended the campaign with a Champions League winners medal before joining Aston Villa for £7m that summer.

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