#TalentRadar | As part of our Talent Radar feature, Sami Faizullah lists the Top 10 Young Players of each month across Europe’s Top 6 leagues purely on the basis of their performances. For details on Talent Radar and who is eligible under it, read this.
The domestic football season in Europe got off to a flying start in August. The Eredivisie & Ligue 1 seasons were up and running in the first week while the Premier League started a week later. The Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A were the last to start with only a handful of games thus far (Serie A has seen just 1 round of fixtures). As a result, the Top 10 Young Players of August 2014 are represented by only players from the English Premier League, the French Ligue 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie. There have been impressive performances in the other three leagues as well, but it would be unfair to list any of those players in a Top 10 piece owing to the fact that they have played lesser games.
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The following list contains four players from Ligue 1, four from the Eredivisie and two from the Premier League. There are three Dutch players, two French, two English, and one each from Uruguay, Brazil & Sweden.
10. LAYVIN KURZAWA
AS Monaco | France | 22 | Left-Back
It’s easy in the talk of expensive stars, to forget the young talents that Monaco still possess. The likes of Carrasco, Ocampos & Kondogbia are arguably among the most talented individuals in the French league, and beyond. Layvin Kurzawa is one such youngster, who is playing a crucial part in Monaco’s first-team.
Though Monaco had a poor start against Lorient, losing 2-1 at home, Kurzawa stood out, keeping things together at the back with the most tackles (4) and created an incredible 5 scoring chances as well. He was dropped for the next game against Bordeaux, replaced by Elderson, a gamble that saw Monaco lose 4-1 with that left-back position seeming awfully weak and a target for the opponents.
He returned against Nantes, and showed his class, again being effective in defence but more so in attack, creating 4 chances, one of which was quite possibly the most perfect cross you’ll see from a left-back this season, setting up Radamel Falcao for the winner in what would be his last game for the club. Kurzawa struggled in the next game against Lille, in a 1-1 draw, unable to truly make his mark in a rather dull affair, the focus of which was on Falcao in the stands and his imminent future.
9. MUAMER TANKOVIC
AZ Alkmaar | Sweden | 19 | Forward
After failing to impress with Fulham, Tankovic got off to a flying start with his new life in the Netherlands, fully equipped with a goal and a Ronaldo celebration in AZ Alkmaar’s game against Heracles. He looked confident, being credited with the assist for the second and scoring the third after reacting quickest to an initial saved shot, the game ending 3-0 to the away side.
He followed that up with an assist in AZ Alkmaar’s 3-1 loss at home to Ajax, Steven Berghuis scored the goal after quick work by Tankovic playing a neat pass through onto his path. That loss was followed by another disappointing 3-0 against Willem II, Tankovic’s poorest game of the month.
AZ were back to winning ways in the last game of August, 3-1 away to Dordrecht with Muamer Tankovic scoring the second after attempting to chip the keeper but instead helped by a deflection that looped the ball over. He assisted Berhuis again with good work on the left taking on the defender and playing a perfect pass to the striker as he finished from close range.
Paris Saint-Germain | Brazil | 20 | Centre-Back
One among the stars, Marquinhos is the eight player in August’s Top 10 Young Players list. The defender went through another transfer window filled with rumours about his future, Barcelona being the regularly mentioned side, but he remains at the Paris club, and has somehow been blessed with a window of regular first-team opportunities.
Alex’ sale to Milan seemingly opened the door for a regular starting berth, before it was close by the astonishing signing of David Luiz (astonishing for the fee involved), but Marquinhos started the season alongside his countrymen, Thiago Silva, in an exciting 2-2 draw against Reims where the youngster was kept busy. He impressed though, making a staggering 7 successful interceptions, seemingly having learnt his trade from his captain and playing a similar role to him.
This was important as Thiago Silva’s injury in the pointless friendly against Napoli mid-way through the season has kept him out for the foreseeable future, Marquinhos now partnering David Luiz in defence (and doing a better job of it) as the champions have since won 2 and had another disappointing draw against Evian, a match where they were reduced to 10 men. // Scout Report on Marquinhos
7. ANWAR EL GHAZI
Ajax | Netherlands | 19 | Winger
Anwar El Ghazi came off the bench in Ajax’ first game of the season, setting up Lasse Schone for the 4th goal with the perfect low cross from the right flank in the 4-1 win over Vitesse. He came off the bench again in the next game against AZ Alkmaar with the score at 2-1 and immediately made an impact on proceedings, the most telling of which came in stoppage time as he shifted the ball to his right, did a step over or two and smashed it from outside the box into the top corner past a hapless Esteban.
His impressive showing was rewarded the following week with his first start at senior level, in the crunch match against the main threat to Ajax retaining their title, PSV Eindhoven. It was all going perfectly to plan with El Ghazi scoring after just 16 minutes following a beautiful through ball from Davy Klaassen, but that’s as good as it got with PSV coming back and winning 3-1.
That loss was followed by another disappointing 2-0 defeat away to Gronigen. Ajax attempted an incredible 22 shots, 8 of them coming from El Ghazi in just his second start, but there was no breakthrough.
6. HAKIM ZIYECH
Twente (previously Heerenveen) | Netherlands | 21 | Central Midfielder
Ziyech started off the season with Heerenveen with whom he impressed especially in the back-end of last season. The first game saw his side at home to Dordrecht in what should have been an easy win; but with a poor performance they slumped to a 2-1 defeat. Ziyech however was a small bright spark, opening the scoring from a simple header within the first 15 minutes. He also created 5 scoring opportunities that game, being the main creative player of the side.
The next game saw Ziyech face an exciting Feyernoord team, and if things weren’t difficult enough, they had Joey van den Berg sent-off at the hour mark. Just 7 minutes later though, Ziyech pulled off an incredible left-footed free-kick, placing the ball with power past the keeper. The game finished 1-1 and it was the last we’d see of Hakim Ziyech at Heerenveen, after he agreed a move to Twente.
His first game for his new club saw him face NAC Breda, a 1-1 draw (again disappointing) but Ziyech had his say, announcing himself with a neat assist for Luc Castaignos. His first game in his new home was against Feyernoord, he once again impressed against them, taking an incredible 8 shots (3 of note) but the game finished goalless. Ziyech is yet to win a game, but in four matches, teams he has played for have scored 3 goals, with Ziyech involved in all three either scoring or setting them up.
5. RAHEEM STERLING
Liverpool | England | 19 | Attacking Midfielder
The Englishman is the fifth player in the Top 10 Young Players of August 2014 list. With added pressure this season, young Raheem Sterling has welcomed the attention with open arms after an explosive start to the campaign. The first game saw him open the scoring with Liverpool’s first goal of the season, set-up by Jordan Henderson. He followed that up with an assist to Daniel Sturridge in the second half, the tiny 19-year-old somehow winning a header in the box that led to the winner against Southampton.
The next game was rather disappointing all round, while Liverpool impressed in the opening half, they ended up losing 3-1 to the champions with Sterling struggling to stamp his authority on the game.
But he was back to his best against Tottenham Hotspur, getting on the end of a swift Liverpool move, once again set-up by Henderson as he scored the first of three in an emphatic 3-0 win. He thrived in his central attacking role taking full advantage as he played at the tip of the diamond, even making a wonderful dash towards goal, skipping past three-four Spurs players with complete ease before landing up with a disappointing finish. // Scout Report on Raheem Sterling
4. ERIC DIER
Tottenham Hotspur | England | 20 | Right-Back/Centre-Back
Eric Dier got off to a memorable start to life in the Premier League, becoming the first defender in England’s top division to score in his first two games in the competition, all this at just 20 years of age.
The first game saw him up against West Ham in a London derby, one which they seemed they would struggle with after going down to 10 men. But Eric Dier (who was then playing at centre back), had to keep it organized at the back as they prevented the Hammers from scoring, and in stoppage time, the ex-Sporting CP man ran forward, took a touch round the keeper and finishing with good composure for a 1-0 win. You’d almost mistake him for a striker.
His next game was far more comfortable as Spurs overcame QPR 4-0, Eric Dier among the scorers from a powerful header at the near-post. He played at right-back in this London derby, being as defensively sound as a central defender, but with Spurs being more advanced in general, he managed to make 7 successful tackles higher up the pitch. The last game of August saw him with a rather disappointing performance, losing 3-0 to Liverpool at home with Dier giving away a needless penalty after a rookie mistake.
3. DIEGO ROLAN
Bordeaux | Uruguay | 21 | Winger
After coming to the Ligue 1 with a lot of expectations, the youngster disappointed in his first season, scoring just twice in 25 games. He’s already surpassed that record this season, though still not playing in the role justifying the #9 on his back.
Having said that, all of his goals have been proper poacher ones, though he has been deployed on the right wing, occasionally moving to the centre. His movement into the box however, suggests he’s itching to play a more central role. After starting the season with a 1-0 win against Montpellier, Rolan made his mark in the second gameweek as Bordeaux humiliated Monaco 4-1, the Uruguayan scoring a brace. Both goals being scored from within the six-yard box, though the second was well offside. He continued his form next week, running from his own half at the Nice defence before setting up Sertic for the third in a 3-1 away win.
Bordeaux’s 100% record ended at home to Bastia with a 1-1 draw, Rolan chesting the ball and shooting on the turn, again from close range, with 12 minutes to go for the equaliser.
2. MARCO VERRATTI
Paris Saint-Germain | France | 21 | Central Midfielder
Second in the list of Top 10 Young Players for the month of August is Itaian, Marco Verratti. In the opening four games of PSG’s Ligue 1 season, Verratti has managed to complete at least 110 passes each game at a rate of 90% or more in all (according to Who Scored). It’s his ability to connect play and balance the system that makes him a crucial part of Laurent Blanc’s side, arguably the most crucial, but don’t tell the Zlatan lovers that!
Yes it’s unlikely that he’ll score too many, but in a star studded XI, young Verratti is what is keeping it together. The opening game was quite possibly the one where his influence was the least but he did manager a 97% pass completion in the 2-2 draw with Reims. The next game saw Verratti successfully make 5 tackles, complete an incredible 140 passes and also set-up Cavani with a clever quick free kick, his first (of possibly many) assist of the season. Another disappointing game saw them draw Evian 0-0, but again the numbers showed Verratti impressing, 123 passes completed.
The final game of the month is when PSG finally clicked, defeating St. Etienne 5-0, Ibrahimovic scoring three as Verratti set up the hat-trick goal with a quite beautiful through ball. // Scout Report on Marco Verratti
1. MEMPHIS DEPAY
PSV Eindhoven | Netherlands | 20 | Forward
Memphis Depay is August’s Talent Radar Young Player of the Month. He has been consistently impressive with his performances, being the focal point in creating and finishing off chances. In the opening game against Willem II, he ran at the defence with a trademark solo effort, taking on the oncoming defenders, then went on to set one up for himself. A neat through ball to Wijnaldum from deep won his side a penalty and opposition keeper Lamprou a red, with Depay getting his brace from the spot kick.
The next game saw PSV up against NAC Breda at home, 6-1 the final scoreline with Depay in top form. He first set-up Georginio Wijnaldum (again) with a beautiful through ball in the first half, opening up the defence. He added a third to PSV’s tally with a sweet long range free-kick before adding the 6th in almost identical fashion. Next was the toughest test yet, against champions Ajax in Amsterdam; though he wasn’t given the freedom as he would have liked, nor was his performance as solid as the previous games, he was still PSV’s focal attacking point, even getting on the end of a good move to score his 5th in 3 games; unlikely the others, this was a simple tap-in.
His performance against Vitesse wasn’t up to the mark, and it also meant that he failed to make it 4 Talent Radar Team of the Week appearances out of 4, though he still managed to take four shots and create four chances. // Scout Report on Memphis Depay
- Depay & Tankovic featured in the first Talent Radar Team of the Week
- Depay, Dier, Rolan, Sterling & Verratti featured in the second Talent Radar Team of the Week
- Depay, Dier, El Ghazi, Kurzawa & Marquinhos featured in the third Talent Radar Team of the Week
- Verratti featured in the fourth Talent Radar Team of the Week
- Sterling & Verratti featured in our 2013/14 Talent Radar Young Player Awards
Written by Sami Faizullah. Chief Editor of this website.