#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!
Alphonse Aréola | Bastia (on loan from PSG)
Who is he? Part of France’s successful U-20 World Cup winning squad, Areola is seen as one of the brightest individuals in his position and his age group in the country. Although currently on loan at Bastia, his parent club are the defending Ligue 1 champions, Paris-Saint Germain
Why him? To simply put, there is a lack of credit given to goalkeepers in football, especially the younger ones. We always look to promote younger keepers and are always attracted by a club that employs one. Areola is ofcourse the best in his age group in Ligue 1, and one that certainly could go on to bigger things once he has some experience under him. Despite that, one may fear that PSG’s insistence on stars will keep them from giving Areola a fair shot, even when Sirigu has to be moved on.
What can we expect? It’s hard to make a prediction on a goalkeeper’s performance. We hope he manages to show his ability, at a side like Bastia, one can’t expect a solid defence ahead of you. Areola will certainly have an active Ligue 1.
Divock Origi | Lille (on loan from Liverpool)
Who is he? Still in his teens but already living the dream. After an impressive World Cup on the back of a shock call-up, Divock Origi secured a move to English side Liverpool, but is back at Lille on loan for the season.
Why him? Origi’s football will surprise you at first sight. Though he doesn’t look it, he is the overall attacking package. Not the quickest but one who has a burst of pace, Origi is rather comfortable across the attacking third. His ability to take on opponents pits him as an option wide, but both his national team and parent club will be looking to mould him into the perfect central player. His footwork is up to it, his strength can improve and he already has decent height to ensure he is that aforementioned overall package in attack.
What can we expect? Origi didn’t play a prominent role last season, but with experience, a World Cup and that confidence boosting transfer move, there is every reason to believe Origi will be a stand-out performer. Don’t expect him to be anywhere near the top scorers, but certainly among the best youngsters.
Florian Thauvin | Marseille
Who is he? Another one of those from what can be called France’s golden (next) generation, Thauvin was a key player in the successful U-20 side at the 2013 World Cup. He is also notoriously famous in France for having signed for Lille, not played a single game and forcing a move to Marseille some six months later.
Why him? Having watched him at the U-20 World Cup, Thauvin, along with Pogba, were the two players that stood out above the rest in that French squad. Now into his second season at the club, one can expect Thauvin to truly showcase his ability at senior level, something which he is yet to do. Though doing well in his first season, having settled in at Marseille one can expect Thauvin to be regarded among the best young midfielders in the World (something he isn’t quite perceived to be yet). The guidance of Marcelo Bielsa can prove to be incredible for his development.
What can we expect? Marcelo Bielsa changes his systems often, but we can expect to see Thauvin given a prominent role, possibly right in the centre of the attacking phase, positioned behind the striker. His energetic displays and control of attack will be a joy to watch.
Layvin Kurzawa | AS Monaco
Who is he? Among the rich investments at AS Monaco, is young Layvin Kurzawa who has established himself in his role at left-back at the club. An impressive Ligue 1 was marred only by an injury late into the campaign last season.
Why him? Last season saw impressive showings from left-backs in all major leagues. From Alaba, Rodriguez & Kolasinac in Germany to Luke Shaw in England and Juan Bernat in Spain. Layvin Kurzawa was the best in that role from the French Ligue 1, which prompted him to be included in our Talent Radar Ligue 1 Team of the Season. Typical of full-backs these days, Kurzawa too is excellent bursting forward and often finds himself in good goal-scoring positions, positions you just wouldn’t expect a full-back to be in. He is all about attack and averagely manages in defence as well. While not the strongest in that regard, his defensive intelligence more than makes up for it.
MORE READING | Talent Radar Ligue 1 Team of the Season
What can we expect? Having built up expectations with his performances last season, Kurzawa has the Ligue 1’s attention. We can certainly expect more attacking displays, but would personally like to see him as a stronger defender, getting into tackles and tight on markers.
Lucas Moura | Paris Saint-Germain
Who is he? After being left-out of the World Cup squad, Lucas Moura has a point to prove to new boss Dunga and his performance with PSG will be crucial. Finding chances in PSG’s star-filled squad is difficult, but certainly Moura should make a decent case for himself.
Why him? The Brazilian is full of pace and one capable of playing on either wing, preferably on the right. Though last season will be remembered for him nearly scoring an incredible solo effort, on the whole he had quite a stunning season as he too made our Talent Radar Ligue 1 Team of the Season. Moura’s statistics meant he was either scoring or creating a goal every other game. The 21-year-old is not only adept but also remarkably good at taking on opponents one on one, and he prefers driving the ball forward rather than picking out pin-point passes. Though expected in a wide role again, i’d personally love to see him more centrally, allowing him to develop his overall game.
What can we expect? With that added factor of convincing the new national team coach, Lucas Moura should have his best season yet. Though one can’t question his performances, his importance is dampened by the plethora of stars at the Parisian club. It’s up to him to stand-out, or risk being further over-shadowed by bigger names than himself.
Written by Sami Faizullah. He is the Chief Editor of this website. Follow him on Twitter @SamiFaizullah