Our Talent Radar Player Rankings, along-with our Talent Radar Team of the Week documents the progress of youngsters across Europe, 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.
In the past two weeks, we’ve updated our Talent Radar player rankings in the Goalkeepers, Defenders and Midfielders section. We’re now left with this season’s final issue of the Forward Rankings. It’s common tendency that players playing up front attract the most attention, from both fans and clubs. Many of the names on this list will be the subject of transfer speculation in the coming months. We’re going to leave any kind of speculation surrounding these players out of this and give you an unbiased judgement of how the players have done this past season to let you know the reason for the hype around them.
Let’s have a look at who has impressed us this season:
10. DOMENICO BERARDI // 20 // Sassuolo // Italy // new
Sassuolo’s season may not have gone according to plan but a positive they can take from this campaign is Domenico Berardi’s performances this season. With 10 goals and 9 assists this season, Berardi has accounted for a little less than 50% of Sassuolo’s goals this season. After making the right noises over two years while on loan, Berardi’s performances could get Juventus to call him back. With whispers of Carlos Tevez wanting to go back to his home country and Fernando Llorente not performing as well as he would like, Massimiliano Allegri could possible invest his faith in Berardi.
9. ANWAR EL GHAZI // 20 // Ajax // Holland // 10 ↑
Anwar El Ghazi is another one of the many special products from Ajax’s world renowned youth academy. With Frank de Boer vouching for him at a very early stage in his career, it was only a matter of time before El Ghazi got things rolling. El Ghazi’s initial selling point when anyone watches him is his quality and pacey dribbling, very suitable to Ajax’s offensive minded style of play. His ball control and unpredictability make him a suitable fit for different styles of play in different leagues. El Ghazi is currently Ajax’s top scorer in the league, with 9 goals and 8 assists to his name.
8. ARKADIUSZ MILIK // 21 // Ajax // Polland // no change
Milik didn’t have the best of starts to the season, warming the bench for the first couple of months. Frank de Boer was forced to call upon Milik after that due to injury to his first choice striker and since then, Milik has utilised this opportunity to the fullest. Milik has 33 apperances so far for the Dutch club, scoring 23 goals and assisting 10 including 6 goals in a KNVB Berker game against Watergraafsmeer. Milik’s overall play has been a pleasure to watch; the through balls, long range attempts, composure on the ball has shown what he is capable of. What is very evident of his play that we’re a big fan of is his defensive contribution; it’s not often you see strikers willing to run all over the place for the benefit of the team.
7. HEUNG MIN SON // 22 // Bayer Leverkusen // South Korea // no change
The first Asian representative in this top 10 list, Son has captured hearts in the Bundesliga since his time at Hamburg. Now in his second season with Bayer Leverkusen, Son has shown that he is capable of performing at the highest level on a consistent basis. Just short of 40 appearances (at the time of writing) for the season, Son has amassed 17 goals and 4 assists this season.
What Son has also showed us in his time at Germany is that he is capable of adapting to different tactical variations under different managers. Son can call this past season a successful one having featured as on of the better performers in South Korea’s run to the finals of the Asian Cup.
6. LUCIANO VIETTO // 21 // Villarreal // Argentina // no change
Luciano Vietto is one of two strikers from La Liga who have made it to this list as well as surpassed the 20 goal barrier this season. Another Argentine youngster who has done well in our Player Rankings, Vietto’s season has shown just how good his overall game is. Vietto, just like Alacer, benefits from the style of play in La Liga given his (lack of) height, but he has certainly compensated for this with his excellent overall ability otherwise: his passing, ability to finish well, take long range shots and dribble have placed him in the category of being one of the few young strikers who has a well rounded overall game.
5. PACO ALACER // 21 // Valencia // Spain // 3 ↓
Valencia’s quest for Champions League football has been powered partially by the performances of a certain Paco Alacer. After graduating from the Valencia B side, Paco was sent out on loan to Getafe. Upon his return, the 21 year old has earned himself two seasons where he was given sufficient time to prove himself. In a league where the ball stays on the floor, Paco’s height hasn’t put him at much of a disadvantage, scoring 24 goals this season and 4 assists. With the potential new distribution of TV rights in Spain and money from Champions League football, Valencia have a case for keeping the youngster at the club.
4. MAURO ICARDI // 22 // Internazionale // Argentina // no change
The 22 year old has been one of the positives in what was a rather dull season for Inter. It’s been a long season for the Milan club with both ups and downs but one constant has been Icardi’s performances. The Argentine, who seems to be one among many other Argentines currently flourishing in the Serie A, has featured over 44 times this season, scoring 23 goals and 6 assists across all competitions. With the club’s current slump, getting Icardi to stay at Inter will be an increasing hard task given that Icardi, despite being only 22, has been around long enough for most clubs to see that he isn’t just having a good season but is capable of performing steadily.
3. HARRY KANE // 21 // Tottenham Hotspur // England // 5 ↑
Spurs’ pride since Gareth Bale left, Harry Kane has had the biggest season that any English youngster could have. The talk of England for the past months, Kane had a non existent start to the season but since the start of November, the 21 year old has managed to perform week in week out for the London club. He currently leads the scoring charts for English players this season, only second to Sergio Aguero who is two goals ahead of him. Kane’s inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year thanks to his feat of breaking the 30-goal a season mark shows who the country is buzzing about the lad. It’ll be interesting to wait and watch if he can keep up such performances in the seasons to come.
2. PAULO DYBALA // 21 // Palermo // Argentina // no change
Paulo Dybala’s value has sky rocketed this season, with plenty of clubs in want of his signature. Dybala has been involved in exactly 50% (at the time of writing) of Palermo’s goals this season, with a break up of 13 goals and 10 assists. Over the course of the season, we have had the privilege to see the quality this 21 year old possesses; his speed and dribbling accounts for two of his best attributes, making him deadline in one on ones. Still young, Dybala has shown that with the talent he has and the physical side that can be worked on, Dybala is bound to be a quality striker.
1. MEMPHIS DEPAY // 21 // PSV // Holland // no change
Topping our Talent Radar Foward Rankings for the 2014/15 season is one such Memphis Depay who in recent days has headlined the news with his transfer to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. The 21 year old has been an absolute sensation for the newly crowned Eredivisie champions, clocking in over 3200 minutes, 27 goals and 7 assists across all competitions so far this season. One specific detail that beats most of our players here in the Talent Radar rankings is Depay’s incredible consistency through out the season; his longest barren run in the season being just 3 games without a goal or assist. With the job at Eindhoven done, Depay can now set his sights on delivering magic at Old Trafford where his raw pace and ability to run with the ball will be welcomed with open arms.
Here’s how we stand with our Talent Radar Young Forward Rankings:
Written by Razim Refai