Judging the calibre of a young player is often a tricky task. Perceived potential has an important bearing in any consideration and is just one of the many parameters to consider when trying to quantify the ability of football’s young stars. To add a basis to what may be a leap of faith, it is useful to look back and trace the growth, or indeed lack thereof, in young players.
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.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2015 – 22 years old and below]
5. JAN OBLAK // 22 // Atletico Madrid // Slovenia
The man who was awarded the Performance of the Season at the Talent Radar Young Player Awards 2014-15, for his display against Real Madrid in the Champions League, has finally seemed to have been shown the same faith in the league, earning a starting berth in the opening three games. Diego Simeone’s faith in the youngster was rewarded with two clean-sheets in the opening fixtures, including an impressive display away to Sevilla in a 3-0 win. Goals from Neymar and Lionel Messi were the first he conceded this season, which also saw Atletico’s first loss.
4. TIMO HORN // 22 // FC Koln // Germany
Horn was a regularly feature in the rankings last season, competing with his compatriot Loris Karius for top spot. It’s no surprise that the 22-year-old features in this season’s edition of the rankings from the start. The opening Bundesliga weekend saw Horn’s Koln away at Stuttgart. A decent showing earned him a spot in the Team of the Week, which was followed by a good 1-1 result at home to Wolfsburg. A 2-1 win to Hamburg saw another good showing and also Koln’s best start to a Bundesliga season. But Horn’s start was over-shadowed with the 6 he conceded away to Frankfurt.
3. JEROME PRIOR // 20 // Bordeaux // France
A foot injury for Cedric Carrasso forced Bordeaux’s hand in looking to their younger back-ups in Jerome Prior and Simon Lefebvre. Eventually the older of the two got the nod. His debut ended in a disappointing 2-1 loss at home to Reims, which was followed by a draw against St. Etienne. Away to Lille saw his best performance, managing a clean-sheet as he was called upon to make 5 important saves in a 0-0 draw, earning a place in the Talent Radar Team of the Week. That sadly for Prior seemed to be his last chance at first-team football, with Carraso recovering for the following league game.
2. LORIS KARIUS // 22 // Mainz // Germany
Karius was also an award winner at the Talent Radar Young Player Awards 2014-15, being named Goalkeeper of the Season. After a summer of speculation regarding his future, the youngster has remained at Mainz, now more experienced and nearly 70 leagues games to his name. His performance against Hannover earned him his first Talent Radar Team of the Week appearance of the season. More recently he put in a stellar showing against Schalke, saving Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s penalty in the opening 4 minutes of the game, though the game ended in defeat.
1. JACK BUTLAND // 22 // Stoke City // England
Topping the first edition of the 2015-16 rankings is Englishman Jack Butland. Many questioned the 22-year-olds decision to join Stoke given Asmir Begovic’s strong-hold on the goalkeeping position. But the Bosnian’s move to Chelsea opened the door for Butland to grasp the opportunity. He has already appeared twice in our Talent Radar Team of the Week, interestingly both appearances came from defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal. The latter result saw the media and his manager heap praise on the youngster as a series of saves (10 in total) prevented Arsenal from earning a higher margin of victory.