Our Talent Radar Player Rankings, along-with our Talent Radar Team of the Week documents the progress of youngsters across Europe’s top six leagues, with those featuring in these regular pieces, eventually being recognised in our end of season Talent Radar Young Player Awards and 100 Best Young Players to Watch list. Read this document for all your queries on Talent Radar and explanation of the features under it.
10. RAHEEM STERLING // 19 // Liverpool // England // 4 ↓
After a breath-taking season, it was always going to be difficult for both the club and it’s players to maintain that same level of performance. To suggest that Raheem Sterling has arguably been Liverpool’s best player says a lot, as he’s pretty much been average since the previous issue of the rankings.
Having been as high as 4th, Sterling drops nearly out of the top 10 after a period of poor performances all-round Liverpool, and added pressure for the teenager to step-up. Failing to create chances and easily being handled by defensive opponents, Sterling has thus far found it hard to adjust as the main man. Here’s a detailed Scout Report on Raheem Sterling.
9. LUCAS MOURA // 22 // Paris Saint-Germain // Brazil // new entrant
The first of three new entrants into the latest rankings, Lucas Moura is experiencing his best period in a PSG shirt, and form most reminiscent of his displays in Brazil before his Ligue 1 move. The Brazilian has gone on to score 4 goals (6 for the season) since the previous issue of these rankings including his first brace in French football, against Bordeaux.
Though he has failed to make a single Talent Radar Team of the Week appearance (some might say unfairly), his consistency has been key in earning a spot in the Top 10 Young Midfielders rankings, and can only go further with form of this sort.
8. HAKIM ZIYECH // 21 // FC Twente // Netherlands // 7 ↓
It’s unfortunate that Hakim Ziyech’s brilliant start to the season that saw him involved in nearly every goal for both Heerenveen & Twente hasn’t been maintained, but he still seems to be among the best young emerging midfielders in the Eredivisie.
Dropping down a spot, Ziyech has been inconsistent with his form despite starting every game for his new club since his summer move. Two goal & assist doubles since the previous issue have been over-shadowed by mediocre performance but his influence on Alfred Schreuder’s side can keep him in the Top 10.
7. NABIL FEKIR // 21 // Lyon // France // new entrant
Talented young French midfielder; bit of a cliché isn’t it? But the league that keeps giving in terms of talent, has produced one more this season with the emergence of Nabil Fekir. After a slow start to the season, Lyon have picked things up and Fekir has been at the centre of the action.
Playing primarily in the attacking third and constantly making runs into the box, Fekir has seen himself grow into a quality goal-scoring option for the French club, notching up his 5th & 6th goals vs Guingamp recently that earned him a spot in the Talent Radar Team of the Week for the first time.
6. DAVY KLAASSEN // 21 // Ajax // Netherlands // new entrant
The final new entrant into the Top 10 Young Midfielders is the man long-touted as the next big midfielder to come through from Ajax; Davy Klaassen has begun living up the expectations with a series of good performances this season.
The 21-year-old has been pulling the strings in Ajax’ midfield, notching up an impressive 7 assists this season and managing to make three Talent Radar Team of the Week appearances, the only midfielder to do so. Unfortunately a few sub-par performances have prevented him from being pushed further, but barring injuries, you can expect him to hang there or thereabout in the rankings for majority of the season.
5. MATEO KOVACIC // 20 // Inter Milan // Croatia // 6 ↑
Though the Croat has risen one spot into 5th place, his performances have been far from terrific. Having made a solid start which saw him score his first Serie A goal of his career, his progress seems to have stagnated, not helped by under-performing team-mates.
With Walter Mazzarri sacked and Roberto Mancini in, Kovacic has to further ensure his performances stay up to the mark. There was a period last season as well where some good showings were followed by plenty of disappointing games, and Kovacic seems to be trotting the same path again. Here’s a detailed Scout Report on Mateo Kovacic.
4. HAKAN CALHANOGLU // 20 // Bayer Leverkusen // Turkey // 8 ↑
The only good thing to come out of Hamburg last season has continued his form with Bayer Leverkusen. Playing in his favourable advanced role in midfield, Calhanoglu is thriving under Roger Schmidt’s set-up that has seen Leverkusen keeping with the clubs in the Champions League spots and a point away from going successfully through to the next round of Europe’s premier competition this season.
Known for his perfect free-kicks, Calhanoglu has again been among the goals (5) while also delivering in terms of assists (6). Having been the focal point of Hamburg’s attacks last season, and continuing on the same with his new club has certainly helped the Turk in his development, but one fears the possibility of burn-out (especially under Schmidt’s intense approach) is always looming large. Here’s a detailed Scout Report on Hakan Calhanoglu.
3. GIANELLI IMBULA // 22 // Marseille // France // —
As Marseille reap the benefits of an experienced coach in Marcelo Bielsa, the youngsters in the squad have certainly made grounds for progressing and establishing themselves in the sport. None have benefited more than 22-year-old Frenchman, Gianelli Imbula.
With Bielsa being known for his tactical preciseness, Imbula has been given the duty of the ‘lynchpin’ for the entire side. The midfielder keeps the balance in the side, ensuring cover for defence and as an outlet for attacking plays from deep. Those same level of performances have been consistently maintained which sees Imbula retain his spot, a series of games overshadowed by a red card in Le Classique. His true importance will be felt now by Marseille as they try to deal with his loss to suspension. Here’s a detailed Scout Report on Gianelli Imbula.
2. MARIO GOTZE // 22 // Bayern Munich // Germany // 9 ↑
Yes, the man who scored the World Cup winning goal and wrote his name in history books is STILL eligible for our Talent Radar feature. Gotze’s experience in the summer has seen his Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, trust him with more regular performances this season as he has primarily played in an interchanging front three (or 1-2/2-1) with Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.
The ex-Borussia Dortmund man is currently on 9 goals and 4 assists in all competitions thus contributing to a goal in nearly every game he has played thus far, on average. Bayern’s dominance in the league has been accepted, and with the title a foregone conclusion, it’ll be great to see arguably tomorrow’s biggest star, shine in the limelight.
1. MARCO VERRATTI // 22 // Paris Saint-Germain // France // —
The more you see this young Italian, the more you wonder how a 22-year-old can be that intelligent with the ball and in terms of his positional sense, at the highest level of the sport. Like Imbula, Verratti has developed into a midfield lynchpin and a crucial component in PSG’s set-up under Laurent Blanc.
He scored his first goal for the club in the memorable victory over Spanish giants, Barcelona, and has since consistently performed terrifically to see PSG’s slow start turned into a dominating one. His composure on the ball and calmness in pressure situations is almost unmatchable, while his ability to control the game and pull the strings is what sets him apart from other players in his age group.
TALENT RADAR PLAYER RANKINGS → Goalkeepers // Defenders // Forwards
Written by Sami Faizullah