#TalentRadar | Part of our Talent Radar feature involves looking ahead to the new season and informing readers of just who they should watch. Our lists across Europe’s Top 6 leagues of the Best Young Players (under 21) serves this purpose.
Before we jump into it, there are some important FAQs that will clarify readers on this feature.
What is Talent Radar? And who is ‘eligible’ under it? You can read this for details on what is Talent Radar and what we have planned in it for the 2014-15 season. Players that are eligible under this feature are those that were 21 years old and below on June 1st 2014. We’ve used this date to refer to ‘start of the season’ as it’s ideally when the previous season comes to an end.
On what basis has this list been made? This list is a combination of our opinion and prediction on who we think will be the best young players in the league in the 2014/15 season. So we have combined what we have seen, and what we expect to see, taking into account various factors such as ability, potential, playing time etc.
In what order is this list? Is it a countdown? No, this isn’t a Top 10 countdown, but instead just the 10 best young players in the league based on what we stated above. Players are listed in alphabetical order, and NOT a ranking basis.
What if a player transfers from the club? Or gets injured? If a player does transfer to another league after the list is published and before the transfer window closes, he will be removed and replaced by another. If he gets a long-term injury during the course of the season, then no update will take place.
How many players from one club are featured? We have tried to maintain maximum diversity in terms of clubs, so each club has a maximum of 2-3 representatives, no more.
How many leagues are being covered and how many parts does each league have? We will be covering the Top 6 European League (Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 & Eredivisie). Articles will be divided into two parts for each league, making information easier to take in.
Here we go!
Davy Klaassen | Ajax Amsterdam
Who is he? Davy Klaassen is another top young attacking midfielder, who at 21, is set to play a crucial part in Frank De Boer’s side. Ravaged by injuries earlier he got his opportunity last season to impress, and didn’t disappoint. He has already received a call-up to the Dutch national team and could be vital for their 2016 Euro campaign.
Why him? The Ajax academy is well known for producing attacking midfielders (above other positions), and after the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart, Christian Eriksen etc before him, Davy Klaassen is just another one in a long line. Technically superb and gifted on his feet, Klaassen is the ideal option to play behind the striker but can so easily step-up and play as a centre-forward (though not an ideal position, given his immaculate ability in attacking midfield).
What can we expect? Having lost key man Siem De Jong in the window, expectations on Klasssen would have only grown. Frank de Boer’s system doesn’t focus on individual skill, but rather the ability of the entire unit. Expect a lively season (and the transfer rumours that go with it).
Hakim Ziyech | Heerenveen
Who is he? Heerenveen’s Hakim Ziyech had a breakthrough campaign last season in the Eredivisie. Although the focus was on Alfred Finnbogason among the media at Heerenveen, Ziyech was as active in Marco Van Basten’s attack impressing pundits with his performances. (UPDATE: Hakim Ziyech has joined FC Twente)
Why him? As the season progressed for Heerenveen, Finnbogason’s goals definitely did pull the side through but it was Ziyech who they looked to for their attacking moves. Deployed right behind the now Real Sociedad man, the youngster of Moroccan descent created or scored 20 goals, in 31 games. An incredible return, and one that you’d expect from the man running the attacking third.
What can we expect? Dwight Lodeweges has replaced Marco Van Basten, but the popular Ziyech will retain his role in the side. Seen as the ‘go-to-man’ in attack, the pressure on Ziyech to perform in attack has only increased with Finnbogason’s sale. It will be interesting to see how he handles the added responsibility.
Jean-Paul Boëtius | Feyernoord
Who is he? Another one to come through from Feyernoord’s famed academy (which had the most representatives at the 2014 World Cup), Jean-Paul Boëtius is your typical pacy Dutch winger who already has a good two years of experience with him at senior level. // Detailed Scout Report on Jean-Paul Boëtius // He also featured in our 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2014 list.
Why him? Part of one of the youngest squads in Europe, hope are firmly on Boëtius as he takes up his position down Feyernoord’s left hand side. More than capable of taking on his man, Boëtius can be found playing on either flank favouring ofcourse that left-hand side. Having lost Graziona Pelle, and lacking with options up-front, Boëtius could be called upon to play in a more advanced role than usual. He gave the Rotteram club an impressive return of 10 goals & 10 assists, serving as an example to his capabilities.
What can we expect? He made his senior debut three years back, has played fairly regularly now for two seasons, but if there ever was a ‘breakthough’ year for Boëtius, expect it to be this one. We have a certain Memphis Depay challenging a regular spot at the Dutch national team, Boëtius will go toe to toe with him for Euro 2016.
Luc Castaignos | Twente
Who is he? We often hear of young players rising beyond what they’re actually capable of before falling apart quickly, Luc Castaignos is partly that sort of individual. Impressed with Feyernoord before securing a shock move to giants Inter Milan that came far too early, which ofcourse failed, before returning to the Eredivisie. With Twente now he certainly hasn’t fallen apart but continues from where he left off in the Dutch league.
Why him? He turned 21 in the summer and has already well surpassed 100 senior appearances and is just shy of half-a-century of goals. He’s the ideal/typical striker you’d want in your side. Incredibly calm and composed in front of goal with that in-born striker’s instinct in him, Castaignos is a fluid striker full of movement but one who’d ideally take up the role of a #9 himself. Averaging almost a goal every other game last season, Castaignos is Twente’s main man again.
What can we expect? Still believe that there is more in other European leagues from Castaignos, but one must fear that the possibility he can only perform in the Eredivisie is real. Nevertheless, with more games in him and a much more mature player, expect him to improve on his tally.
Memphis Depay | PSV Eindhoven
Who is he? Arguably the next big thing from the Dutch Eredivisie, and that’s something given the plethora of talent present in the league. After becoming the youngest ever Dutch scorer at a World Cup, the sky truly is the limit for Memphis Depay and a start of something special is well on-course. // Detailed Scout Report on Memphis Depay // He also featured in our 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2014 list // Report of Memphis Depay’s World Cup performance.
Why him? Quick, smart, powerful, Memphis Depay has all the ingredients of a quality professional footballer. Able to slot in across any position in the attack, Depay has been deployed as a winger prominently but taken his chances from a striker’s role as well. Some might say the latter is his preference but one look at his game and you’ll see that always being involved and making an impact is Depay’s primary objective. Even at 20, he’s holding the weight of PSV hopes on his younger (yet strong) shoulders. He thrives on influencing play as much as possible.
What can we expect? Given the 2013/14 season he had and the World Cup that followed, it’s surprising to see Memphis Depay still at PSV Eindhoven. Lots of suitors will constantly be attracted by the performances, but the focused Depay should keep his toes grounded. Goals, assists, and overall impact, Memphis Depay could arguably be on everyone’s lips by the end of the season.
Written by Sami Faizullah. He is the Chief Editor of this website. Follow him on Twitter @SamiFaizullah