MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN | MONCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY, 22:
Many of us are fortunate to live in an age of so many fantastic young keepers. Along with the likes of Courtois, Ter Stegen is also a keeper who is emerging as one of the very best in the world. The young German has been a fine keeper at Gladbach, and looks set to move this summer, with Barcelona looking like the likely destination.
Gladbach have had a very good season in Bundesliga, and one of the reasons for their good finish was Ter Stegen. The solid base and foundation that he provided were vital for the side. They say a defence is the key to a good finish in the league, and 9 clean sheets out of 34 Bundesliga games certainly did Gladbach a world of good. If he does make the move to Barca like his his coach Lucien Favre predicts, then he will have a good platform to showcase his talents and abilities, and be a part of a side that regularly competes for titles.
OMAR ELABDELLAOUI | BRAUNSCHWEIG, NORWAY, 22:
Elabdellaoui is a player who is much traveled despite the fact that he’s only 22 years old. The Norwegian has played for Man City in his youth days and Feyenoord in the past, but his talents have really come to the fore at Eintracht Braunschweig this season.
The player is very good physically, and versatile too. Though he is employed primarily as a right back, Elabdellaoui can also do a job higher up the pitch on the right, and in the middle of the park as a box to box midfielder. The young Norwegian played 29 times this season, with 27 of them being starts, and even got on the scoresheet once in the draw against Nurnberg. Despite the relegation, there were bright spots for him this season, his international debut against Sweden being one.
STEFAN BELL | MAINZ, GERMANY, 22:
The Bundesliga this season has seen a number of good young players emerging, and one of the most promising defenders to come out this season is Mainz’s Stefan Bell. The youngster wasn’t initially first choice, but rose to make the starting spot in the team his own.
The defender offered a sense of versatility to his coach, filling in as a right back as well when he was needed to. Impressively, of his 29 appearances, 25 were starts, and he was subbed off only on 1 occasion. Going forward, he did a good job for his team, making three assists despite the fact that he didn’t get on the scoresheet. His discipline was a bit of a problem though, as he faced a yellow card suspension on one occasion due to the fact that he picked up 5 yellows.
JOEL MATIP | SCHALKE, CAMEROON, 22:
Schalke have had a good season, finishing third in the Bundesliga, and one of the rocks on which they built the season was the strong and powerful defending of Joel Matip. To top it off, the youngster has received a call up to the Cameroon national squad for the World Cup.
Matip has been impressive this season, both defensively and going forward. The Cameroon international, who made his debut for the side in March, has made 31 appearances in the Bundesliga this season. All 31 of these appearances have been starts, with Matip cementing his place in the line up due to solid performances. Matip featured in the Champions League 6 times as well, scoring once in a win against Basel. In Bundesliga, the defender has 3 goals and 2 assists. Matip will, no doubt, be looking to further his reputation with some good performances this summer in Brazil.
RICARDO RODRIGUEZ | WOLFSBURG, SWITZERLAND, 21:
Rodriguez is one of a growing wave of Swiss players who are starting to make an impact across the major European leagues. Rodriguez has had a terrific season at Wolfsburg, with his performances seeing him linked to sides like Manchester United. The left back is also going to Brazil, having been selected as part of the Swiss squad.
Rodriguez has impressed one and all with his brilliant play from full back, getting forward and doing so dangerously. Rodriguez has an incredible tally of 5 goals and 9 assists this season, including a memorable free kick scored in the comeback victory against Borussia Dortmund. He had a memorable quarter final in the cup as well, scoring twice before receiving his second yellow card against Hoffenheim, as Wolfsburg won a thrilling encounter 3-2. Wolfsburg are sure to receive some offers for the services of Rodriguez, especially if he puts on a good show at the World Cup. This summer should be interesting for the Swiss international.
LEON GORETZKA | SCHALKE, GERMANY, 19:
This youngster’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of phenomenal. Goretzka has always been one of the best players of his generation, receiving the Fritz-Walter U17 gold in 2012, and captaining the national side at that age level, but this season has seen him break through the ranks to become a regular player at Schalke.
Gotezka has made 25 league appearances, and importantly, has played in many different positions, including the centre of midfield, attacking midfield, right and left midfield. The different positions he’s played in will do him good in the long run, as he learns to adapt and improve his game. Importantly, the youngster has also got exposure in the UEFA Champions League, making 4 appearances in the competition this season. The cherry on the cake has been his selection in Low’s preliminary squad for the World Cup. Though he is unlikely to make the cut this time, Goretzka will take great encouragement from this, and work hard towards fulfilling his obvious potential.
JOHANNES GEIS | MAINZ, GERMANY, 20:
Yet another Mainz player on this list, Johannes Geis has been one of the better young midfielders in Bundesliga this season. What’s more impressive is the fact that this has been Geis’ first season at the top, the midfielder made his debut last August. This season has also seen Geis make his debut for the German U21 side, in a friendly against France.
Despite the fact that he’s a greenhorn, Geis has held his own in Mainz’s side impressively. The youngster has made 33 appearances, with 31 of them being starts. Geis has not been restricted by his defensive positioning, and has contributed in attack as well, making 7 assists this season. He put in a memorable performance against Augsburg, as he scored one and set up another goal in a 3-0 win.
HAKAN CALHANOGLU | HAMBURG, TURKEY, 20:
Calhanoglu is the latest in a long line of good young Turkish talent. The midfielder has been one of the top performers for Hamburg this season, and one of the few bright spots in what was an otherwise miserable campaign for Hamburg. If they do end up losing the relegation playoffs, Calhanoglu will not be short of suitors.
The man with Turkish roots has had a solid season with Hamburg, making 28 starts for the team. The experience of playing alongside someone like van der Vaart will also have done him a world of good, and is something that he will carry forward with him. The midfielder has managed to score 11 goals and make 4 assists. These 11 goals included an absolute gem of a goal scored against Dortmund in the 3-0 win for HSV. Calhanoglu’s immediate focus will be on the relegation playoff, and helping Hamburg keep their record of being the only team that have never spent a season outside the German top flight. Hakan Calhanoglu featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-Out for in 2014, coming in at #16 in the list of midfielders. View the entire list here. Here is a detailed Scout Report onHakan Calhanoglu.
ROBERTO FIRMINO | HOFFENHEIM, BRAZIL, 22:
Firmino is a player who has burst onto the scene and made an amazing impact this season for Hoffenheim. His performances have highlighted him as one to watch out for, and the Brazilian attacking midfielder has a lot to look forward to in the summer, and next season.
Firmino initially struggled at Hoffenheim, as he was punished for being late to training, but the time he has taken to adapt has been well worth the reward. Some of his records this season border on the ridiculous, and it will be surprising if Hoffenheim manage to hold on to him. In the league, his 33 starts have seen 16 goals and 12 assists. Even more astoundingly, his record in the cups reads 6 goals and 4 assists in just 4 games. He almost managed to drag Hoffenheim to the semi’s single handedly, but his brace was in vain as Wolfsburg won out 3-2. His performance against HSV will be remembered with joy, as the Brazilian scored twice and provided 3 assists in a 5-1 win.
MAXIMILIAN ARNOLD | WOLFSBURG, GERMANY, 19:
Wolfsburg have had a pretty successful campaign, finishing just short of the Champions League spots. But they have a lot of positives to take from this campaign, especially with the quality of players at their disposal. You’ve seen Rodriguez, Arnold is another key young player in the side.
Playing primarily behind the striker, Arnold hasn’t been shy of shifting wide or even dropping deep. He’s been instrumental this campaign, living up to the expectations he derived at the age of 18 when he made his Bundesliga debut last season. He’s contributed to 10 goals of Wolfsburg, divided into 7 goals and 3 assists. His form has dipped after an explosive start, but the youngster can only go from strength to strength.
JOSIP DRMIC | NURNBERG, SWITZERLAND, 21:
Nurnberg ended up getting relegated this season, but that certainly wasn’t a reflection on the performance of Josip Drmic, who ended the season has the 3rd highest scorer in the Bundesliga. He has, deservedly, secured a move to Leverkusen, and can expect to play Champions League football in 2014-15.
Drmic is also part of the Swiss squad for the World Cup, and may just be part of a side that is capable of springing a few surprises. Drmic made 33 appearances over the season for Nurnberg, and scored at a good rate, finishing with 17 goals. The player of Croatian origin, proved his credentials, and was pretty sought after before the eventual announcement of his transfer. He’s the perfect example of a how a forward comes alive in and around the box.