#TalentRadar Team of the Week includes the Best Young Players of the week across Europe’s top 6 leagues (i.e Premier Legaue, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 & Eredivisie). All players in the lists were 21 and below at the start of the season. For more information on what is #TalentRadar, read this.
Bernd Leno | Leverkusen, Germany, 22: Leverkusen got an important 4-1 win over Nurnberg to maintain their European push which seemed to be fading away. It was also their first back-to-back league wins since early February. Leno was called upon a couple of times. His most telling contribution was a double save early in the second half, Drmic’s shot was saved with his feet and he blocked the rebound from Kiyotake as well. No more major saves, besides a tame free-kick on goal.
Steven Caulker | Cardiff, England, 22: The ex-Spurs man has been thriving in his role as stand-in Cardiff City captain, with his performances taking a boost as well. Against Stoke he displayed the same level of performance, competing with their physical and aerial prowess and getting a point. He won the most aerial duels (3) against the likes of Crouch and Walters, even making 4 tackles. His header on goal was saved well, and the rebound turned in but it was called offside. This was Caulker’s second appearance in our Talent Radar Team of the Week; he appeared in it after his Fulham performance as well.
John Stones | Everton, England, 19: This is the young Scousers’ third consecutive appearance in our Team of the Week, after doing so with his performances against Arsenal & Sunderland too. This was arguably a more ‘easier’ performance as United barely threatened and had no shots on target in the first half. Stones partnered well with Distin & then Alcaraz to maintain an organised defence which never looked a threat of being penetrated.
Hugo Mallo | Celta Vigo, Spain, 22: It’s remarkable that Mallo is still only a youngster; the 4-2 win over Almeria was Hugo Mallo’s 150th senior club appearance for Celta Vigo. The win was crucial in Celta’s fight for mid-table; Mallo put in a solid performance at right back making the most tackles (4) and the most interceptions (4) as he dealt with the pace of Aleix Vidal & Fernando Soriano.
Ricardo Rodriguez | Wolfsburg, Switzerland, 21: The Swiss left-back has been impressive this season, displaying a good balance of defence and attack. He was his usual self against Hamburg as his side ran away comfortable 3-1 winners. He continued to provide the attacking threat down the flanks but more importantly, was always looking to receive the ball and rotate movement. Rodriguez attempted the most passes among any player on the pitch (50), unsual for a full-back.
Paul Pogba | Juventus, France, 21: This was the French U-20 captain’s first appearance in our Talent Radar Team of the Week (we only started the feature in February). The ex-United youngster had a superb game, as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Bologna. He received the ball at the edge of the box, one touch and smashed it in from long range. Impressively he managed an incredible 7 shots, getting 3 on target while also being ever-ready to take on his man with 4 successful dribbles in the game.
Ruben Pardo | Real Sociedad, Spain, 21: Real Sociedad always seem to have a quality midfielder in their ranks, after losing Ilarramendi, Ruben Pardo seems to have taken his place; the man who wears Xabi Alonso’s shirt number at the club. He put in his usual decent shift in midfield sitting alongside Markel Bergara. While Bergara kept it defensively tidy in midfield, Pardo was allowed to thread through balls and be creative, creating 4 goal-scoring chances and playing the short pass to Canales’ neat goal.
Raheem Sterling | Liverpool, England, 19: The performances of this teenager has forced many to tout him as England’s best wide man for the World Cup and possibly one of the best young players in the current crop. He propelled Liverpool 5 points clear with his performance against Norwich. Two goals, the first a smasher from outside the box and the second a driving run from midfield. He even set-up Suarez with a clever pass. This was Sterling’s 3rd Talent Radar Team of the Week appearance, previously doing so for performance against Man City and Arsenal.
Bruno Fernandes | Udinese, Portugal, 19: The Portuguese youngster had arguably one of his best games for Udinese, playing in attacking midfield as they got a commendable draw at home to Napoli. Fernandes benefited from a Reina error which allowed the youngster into a neat finish. He managed to get 5 shots on goal, 3 of which were on target. The highest on the pitch of any player. There was a good tempo to the game and Fernandes kept up, making 4 tackles in attacking areas with his pressing ability.
Connor Wickham | Sunderland, England, 21: The boyhood Liverpool fan this week helped his side, Sunderland, in the relegation battle, while also helping Liverpool by taking points of their rivals. He scored twice in a shocking draw away at the City of Manchester, which they nearly won. And three days later he scored at Stamford Bridge as Poyet’s men stopped Jose’s unbeated home record. Wickham had only scored once in the Premier League before this week’s games.
Ryan Thomas | PEC Zwolle, New Zealand, 19: PEC Zwolle got their first ever piece of silverware (besides winning the second division) as they beat Ajax 5-1 in the KNVB Cup Final. The match was abandoned twice as Ajax fans threw flares on the pitch to prevent Zwolle from attacking. Zwolle took advantage from the restart, led by Ryan Thomas. First he equalised after receiving the ball out wide, he cut inside and took a shot which deflected of Moisander and into the net. 5 minutes later a Zwolle free-kick was saved by Vermeer before being turned in by Ryan Thomas.
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