Connect with us

Talent Radar

Talent Radar: Koke’s exceptional performance and Watford’s incredible transfer coup

Talent Radar is our latest feature, you can know more about it here. Updates and Performance Report on young talents is one of it’s features as we track the progress of their early careers.


Koke’s performance helps Atletico keep pace at the top

Koke has been attracting attention of the top clubs from across Europe, week in and week out he shows exactly why. He was also this week named as the La Liga’s best youngster in this list published by Inside Spanish Football.

Atletico Madrid were away at Malaga on the weekend in a game that would always prove to be difficult to call. A close game was expected between the two sides, and it proved to be just that, a solitary goal separating the two sides. The result saw Atletico, albeit temporarily, move to the top of La Liga with Koke proving to be the winner with a goal, 20 minutes from time.

His performance against Malaga is an epitome of his overall ability, he’s a complete midfielder. Besides scoring the goal, Koke was exceptional throughout the game contributing in both defensive and attacking areas.

His goal itself came from a late run that he made into the box. After some good work from David Villa down the left which resulted in a neat through ball to Adrian, Koke found himself running onto the path of a lose ball after Willy Caballero saved from Adrian’s initial shot. A well placed shot from the centre of the area.

Koke was positioned in the center of midfield, beside Tiago, both of whom are generally more defensive minded. Playing alongside a similar player automatically requires one to develop a more attacking mentality and Koke took the initiative against Malaga. He made runs into the box, and further applied Atletico’s pressing strategy. Koke was seen joining in attacks whenever possible as well, one of which led to a goal.

He took 2 shots, both of which were on target. Interestingly, his 2 shots on target was the highest on the pitch among all the players (the game never really got going). The midfielder even created 2 goal scoring opportunities, which again, was more than the other players on the field. But as is with Koke, his best comes out in the defensive part of the game.

The youngster made an impressive 6 tackles, most of which were down Malaga’s left flank as Atletico looked to put an end to Samuel Garcia’s threat down the flank. Besides making the most tackles, Koke even played the most amount of passes (62) at a decent 82% completion rate. A good solid midfielders’ performance from the youngster who’s going to be 22 in two days time.

For a more detailed report on the midfielder, read this Scout Report on Koke.

Watford pull off an incredible coup

Watford’s smart working of the loan system has been well documented. Ever since the Pozzo’s took over the English side, they have taken advantage of the system and have seen some top talents come in on loan from the other Pozzo owned clubs, Udinese and Granada. You can read more about the Pozzo’s at Watford in this piece.

But this past week, Watford pulled off arguably their best transfer coup of recent times. Two new players will be available for new manager, Giuseppe Sannino. With Watford struggling in mid-table in the Championship, recreating their run last season into the play-offs seems unlikely. But Sannino will have the help of a Sweden International striker and a young German U-21 player who has experience in the Champions League with an Italian giant. Pretty amazing huh?

The young German in question is one Alexander Merkel. The Kazakhstan born central midfielder is still only 21 years old, but has made a fair amount of appearances in the Serie A and the Champions League.

He made a couple of substitute appearances while at Milan, both domestically in Italy and in Europe’s grandest stage. It was here that he earned his first experience of football in England, coming on as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur.

He was later transferred to Genoa and put in some impressive performances in the few chances he got at the Italian club. He made 3 assists during his first season there, including setting-up back-to-back goals in games against Juventus (which earned them a draw) and Roma (a 2-0 victory). In fact against Roma, he set up an 89th minute winner for Kucka. The following season he scored his first goal on the opening day of the season; Genoa’s first goal of the season. But despite appearances, he failed to establish himself at the club and moved to Udinese in January 2013.

The Italian clubs are now looking for a larger emphasis on young talents, Inter & Roma being the prime examples, thus having proven youth players is the new strategy for many of Serie A’s clubs. Chelsea have done well with their partnership with Eredivisie side Vitesse, and Udinese are the leaders for a similar strategy it Italy.

Now at Udinese, Merkel is yet to make a big impact having not made a single appearance this season. A move for regular first-team football seems apt for the talented young midfielder. One can expect him to be thrown right into the first-team. Despite his young age, Merkel will be bringing a lot of experience to Vicarage Road. Football League, beware!

We will soon be publishing a list of the Best Young Players to Watch-Out for int 2014 (Under-20). We recommend reading this to better understand how we created the list, criteria used etc.

Sami Faizullah

Sami Faizullah

Co-founder and Chief Editor here. Obsessed with tactics. Keen follower of young players. Creator of #TalentRadar. Appeared in A Football Report's list of "Best in Football Writing 2012".
Sami Faizullah

100 to Watch


Talent Radar14 hours ago

Talent Radar: Superliga Argentina’s 10 Young Players to Watch in 2017-18

Tom Robinson lists out the 10 young players to watch in the 2017-18 Superliga Argentina season The Argentinian Primera, in...

Scout Report14 hours ago

Scout Report: Riccardo Orsolini | Atalanta’s deft winger

Charles Onwuakpa writes about 2017 U-20 World Cup Italian star and Atalanta talent, Riccardo Orsolini

Talent Radar1 day ago

Talent Radar 2017-18 Young Players’ Team of the Week #1: Christian Pulisic & Kurt Zouma feature

Sami Faizullah compiles the Talent Radar Young Players' Team of the Week across Europe's top seven leagues.

Talent Radar3 days ago

La Liga’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Tom Canton lists out the 10 young players to watch in the 2017-18 La Liga season, who could have a...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-3 Lazio | Simone Inzaghi exposes Juventus’ 4-2-3-1 weaknesses

Cheuk Hei Ho writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Italian Super Cup final that finished Juventus 2-3 Lazio

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City | Attacking Patterns & Transitions

Kaushik Goswami writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Premier League opener that finished Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City

Talent Radar6 days ago

Premier League’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

William Sinsky brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Premier League this season. It’s back. The...

Tactical Analysis6 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona | Real’s Pressing Excellence

Om Arvind writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Spanish Super Cup second leg that finished Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona...

Talent Radar7 days ago

Serie A’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Simone Torricini brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Serie A this season. The Under-20 World...

Tactical Analysis7 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 4-0 West Ham | Fluidity and exploitation

Ryan Quinn writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Premier League game that finished Manchester United 4-0 West Ham Following the signings...

Talent Radar2 weeks ago

Eredivisie’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Mosope Ominiyi brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Eredivisie this season. Justin Kluivert // Ajax...

Talent Radar2 weeks ago

Primeira Liga’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Jose Miguel Saraiva brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Primeira Liga this season.

Scout Report2 weeks ago

Scout Report: Ainsley Maitland-Niles | Arsenal’s Versatile Prospect

Mosope Ominiyi provides a detailed scout report on Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Arsenal’s versatile prospect. Arsene Wenger announced that along with 17-year-old winger...

Specials3 weeks ago

Lazio’s Golden Age: The Sergio Cragnotti Era

Football News 24/7  Sam McKeever has a look back at Lazio’s golden era in the 90’s under the ownership of Sergio...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Analysis: Why Nemanja Matic could be Manchester United’s most important signing

Kaushik Goswami has a look at why Nemanja Matic could be Manchester United’s most important signing. Having already lured Romelu...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Monaco’s Moves: Why the Football World should pay attention

While the football world is focused on the players being sold by Monaco, Alex Lynch has a look at how...

Scout Report3 weeks ago

Scout Report: Joel Pereira | Manchester United’s Agile Goalkeeper

Mateus Carvalho provides a comprehensive scout report on Joel Pereira, Manchester United’s agile goalkeeper. At the end of the last season, José...

Talent Radar4 weeks ago

Talent Radar: CONCACAF Gold Cup 2017 | U-23 Team of the Tournament

Football News 24/7  Jose Miguel Saraiva gives us his U-23 Team of the recently concluded CONCACAF Gold Cup featuring the...

Opinions4 weeks ago

Blindside Movements And Mental Overloads: Breaking Down Maurizio Sarri’s Tactics

Cheuk Hei Ho breaks down Maurizio Sarri’s tactics at Napoli looking at how the Italian giants use passing, blindside movements,...

Opinions4 weeks ago

Bayern Munich: What’s their game plan?

Alankrith Shankar writes a detailed article of how we can expect Bayern Munich to set up in the 2017-18 season....

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 16-17

More on Outside of the Boot