This piece features the Top 10 Best Young Players of the month of March, 2014. All the players in this list were 21 at the start of the season.
10. Serge Aurier | Toulouse, Ivory Coast, 21 | Wide Midfielder
Aurier’s inclusion in this list is a testament to how the Ivorian has evolved into his new role. After playing in defense at the start of the season, Aurier slowly transitioned into a wing back and now is positioned permanently on the right side of midfield. He scored twice in March, including the 3-2 comeback victory over Reims. He inspired their comeback with a goal 15 minutes from time, set-up one four minutes later and finally Toulouse got a third as well.
9. Simone Scuffet | Udinese, Italy, 17 | Goalkeeper
It’s remarkable that a 17-year-old is a top-flight keeper, it’s even more amazing that he’s doing a good job of it. Simone Scuffet has put in some fantastic performances, keeping 4 clean sheets in his 6 games in March. He was most impressive against the Milan clubs, keeping a clean-sheet at home to AC Milan while also keeping one at the San Siro against Inter Milan. His solid work in between the posts has seen Udinese steer clear of the relegation zone, primarily due to their March form.
8. Stefan de Vrij | Feyenoord, Netherlands, 22 | Centre-back
It’s strange that Stefan de Vrij is still included in ‘talent’ articles. He has already played nearly 150 first-team games and has served as captain for the Rotterdam club, but was 21 when this season started. The first thing you’ll noticed about de Vrij is his incredible reading of the game, he sees attacking moves develop before they do and is always on hand to make an interception. He helped keep 3 clean sheets in 5 games and even scored a goal this past month.
7. Jon Flanagan | Liverpool, England, 21 | Full-back
The young full-back seemed to have been out-of-favour under Brendan Rodgers but has been forced into the side due to injuries to the first-teamers. He’s taken full advantage of his chances. In March, his performances against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were particularly impressive, both emphatic wins and clean-sheets. His hard tackling approach has seen him become a formidable figure at Liverpool.
For a detailed Scout Report on Jon Flanagan, head this way.
6. Mattia Destro | Roma, Italy, 23* | Striker
Although Destro is past the TalentRadar limit, he has featured in pieces under the feature and has hence been included here. Roma lost just 1 of their 6 Serie A games in March, and Destro’s inclusion has been purely for his goal-scoring exploits. He’s been accused of lacking contribution elsewhere but 4 goals in 4 consecutive games is hard to ignore. One more criticism his way is that he tends to fade away as the match progresses, active in the first half but nearly invisible in the second.
For a more detailed report on Destro, read this Talent Radar feature on him.
5. Loris Karius | Mainz, Germany, 20 | Goalkeeper
An opportunist, taking advantage of injuries, the young keeper from Mainz has been a revelation this season bursting onto the scene from out of nowhere. He managed 2 clean sheets in the month of March but had some exceptional performances. The biggest of which was a 1-0 away victory to Leverkusen. He made some impressive saves to earn his side the victory. Defensively Mainz have leaked goals easily, with Karius facing over 20 shots in 3 of the 6 games. He wasn’t as assured in the 3-1 loss to Braunschweig but followed it up with a clean-sheet against Augsburg.
Loris Karius featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-Out for in 2014, coming in at #5 in the list of goalkeepers. View the entire list here.
4. Jordon Mutch | Cardiff, England, 22 | Central Midfielder
The young midfielder has been a rare shining light in Cardiff’s dismal debut Premier League season. In March, they won just 1 of their 6 games as they struggle to remain in the top-flight. But Mutch has scored 3 goals in the month, 2 of which came against Liverpool as he made runs into the box. That is the most striking feature of Mutch, he isn’t frightened of making those runs to support the attackers.
3. Shkodran Mustafi | Sampdoria, Germany, 21 | Centre-back
March saw Mustafi receive a call-up to the German national team for the first time; although he didn’t feature it was a remarkable achievement. He has been a solid rock at the heart of Sampdoria’s defence managing three cleansheets in the six games they’ve played. For a 21-year-old he shows immense experience in maintaining an organised defence. He averaged more than 5 successful tackles per game in the month.
2. Josip Drmic | Nurnberg, Switzerland, 21 | Striker
The Bundesliga always throws up young and talented footballers who are, more often than not, the most sought after players in the summer window. March marks the month of Josip Drmic, the Swiss International had an impressive record of 5 goals in 6 games in the month, developing into a proper centre-forward and playing off-shoulder of the last defender. His composure in front of goal is of particular note and his form could definitely take him to the World Cup.
1. Roberto Firmino | Hoffenheim, Brazil, 22 | Attacking Midfielder
The Brazilian was the star performer as Hoffenheim won 4 of their 6 games; Firmino either scored or set-up one goal in 5 of those games, attracting the attention of the rest of Europe. Firmino is always willing to take shots on goal. Gifted with immense technique, the month of March will be remembered for his incredible goal against Mainz, taking the ball down with a good touch and volleying from home.