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.
Juan Bernat shows his defensive side in Pizzi’s first game in charge
Ever since Jordi Alba left the Mestalla and joined the Catalan giants, Valencia have been on the look out for a replacement. As it happens with most Spanish clubs, they didn’t have to look any further than their own youth academy, where a certain Juan Bernat was quietly progressing into the first team.
Ex-player, Juan Antonio Pizzi took charge of his first game as Valencia boss after Miroslav Dukic was sacked during the Winter break. Valencia were struggling in mid-table but Pizzi got off to a good with a 2-0 victory over Levante. Although Sofiane Feghouli took the plaudits for the game, Juan Bernat put an impressive shift in Valencia’s defence.
Juan Bernat was in our Talent Radar list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2014 he was at #8 in our list of defenders
Bernat has developed a reputation of being an attacking minded full-back, much like Jordi Alba. But like his predecessor, Bernat can only get better defensively with experience at the top level. The game against Levante was a testament to this.
Juan Bernat made an incredible 8 tackles in Sunday’s game, more than any other player on the pitch. 5 of these came in his defensive zone, down Levante’s right flank as they tried to stretch their narrow play to no avail. But the remaining 3 tackles were around Levante’s box, showing just how much Bernat likes to press the opposition. This is Bernat’s natural game but Pizzi instructed the youngster to be more cautious in his runs forward. Although he continued to dart down the flank, he was quickly back into position, suggesting the improvement in the maturity of his game.
The general attacking style of Bernat was evident as well, he was willing to take on his opponent in crucial areas of the pitch. His crosses failed to find any of his targets, so Bernat favoured penetrating the box himself, something which he did exceptionally well, owing to his past as a winger. He successfully took on his opponent thrice, all in and around the Levante box. He tried to take on his opponent in his own half as well, but cheaply conceded possession. A clear sign of a lack of experience. His defensive game definitely needs to improve but expect Bernat to be a more complete player at the end of the season.
Boyata has a horror show against Blackburn
23-year-old Dedryck Boyata will not get too many chances at Manchester City, and if he plays like he did in the one chance that he did get (vs Blackburn on Saturday), then we may well see him searching for a new club in the summer.
The youngster put in a horror performance, and looked completely clueless in large parts of the game. His reading of the game was unbelievably poor, and Blackburn players found it incredibly easy to make runs in behind him.
But the worst of Boyata was the constant needless fouls he conceded throughout the game, two of which earned him yellow cards and an early bath. The second yellow was for a completely unwanted tackle on DJ Campbell. We say tackle, but it could well be described as a kick-out or a swipe. With Campbell well past him, Boyata made a lazy challenge to stop his run. A poor effort when already on a yellow card.
The FA Cup was the only bit of game time Boyata could expect. City still have some of it to look forward to it as Blackburn forced a replay at the Etihad, but with a performance like this, Boyata may have thrown away his one chance at first-team football this season.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen on the move
It is quite rare for a goalkeeper to be established at his respective club in his early 20s, while Mattia Perin has been the best keeper in the Serie A, and also 4th in our Top 10 Serie A Talents list, Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been establishing himself in the Bundesliga at the young age of 21. The German keeper has been heavily linked to Europe’s top sides, especially Spanish giants Barcelona.
Interested suitors got some good news on Monday when Borussia Monchengladbach revealed via their twitter account that Marc-Andre ter Stegen will leave the German club.
The account, @borussia, quoted the club’s Sporting Director Max Eberl “Marc [Andre ter Stegen] informed us that he won’t accept our renewal offer. Seems like we’ll be looking for a new keeper.”
ter Stegen’s refusal to sign a new contract is no coincidence. Interested parties will now seriously consider making a move for the talented goalkeeper, who up till now has refused to comment on his future or potentially leaving the Bundesliga club.
We will soon be publishing a list of the Best Young Players to Watch-Out for in 2014. The list will include Under-20 players from all across the World. Read this FAQ piece to understand how we decided the list, it’s criteria and any other questions that may arise.