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 Weekdocuments 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 – 21 years old and below]
10. SVEN VAN BEEK // 21 // Feyenoord // Netherlands // 7 ↓
Feyenoord have been on an impressive run of late in the Eredivisie, climbing up to second. They currently sit just 3 points behind the leaders, with a game in hand. However, van Beek sees a drop in his rankings due to some inconsisten performances over the last month. While the Feyenoord side have been impressive going forward, they seem a bit fragile at the back. The concession of goals has to stop, and van Beek will be required to do more in this respect.
9. AYMERIC LAPORTE // 21 // Athletic Bilbao // France // new entrant
Laporte is an impressive young defender who has been a consistent performer over the last couple of years. Once again, Laporte has put in good performances this season, and he finds himself on this list. The last month has been a good one for the French defender. Convincing performances at home and in Europe have earned his side good results, and a goal in a good win against Valencia has just been an added bonus.
8. JOSE GIMENEZ // 20 // Atletico Madrid // Uruguay // new entrant
Towards the end of last season, it became quite evident that a serious talent emerging at Atletico Madrid was Gimenez. The youngster then put in a great show at the Copa in the summer as well, and became firmly entrenched in Simeone’s plans. This season, he’s proven to be a very capable partner for Godin. Of course, the youngster still makes a few silly positional errors, but it’s nothing that age and good guidance cant cure. This is one to watch.
7. LUCAS DIGNE // 22 // Roma // France // new entrant
Lucas Digne this summer continued a worrying trend of talented youngsters leaving PSG. The French starlet has been a key cog in Roma’s current title challenge. The ever present defender has proven that he’s not just a good player going forward, but his numbers indicate that he’s solid defending as well. If the player and his team can continue their current run of form, there is a good chance that they may end the season with some gold.
6. BENJAMIN MENDY // 21 // Marsielle // France // 5 ↓
Mendy is one of the discoveries from the Marcelo Bielsa era, and the youngster has carried on the good work from last season. Mendy is naturally a very good attacker from the left hand side, with his ability going forward never in any doubt. The youngster though, drops a place in the latest rankings because his performances in the last month have been well below par by his own high standards. A good show in a Europa League defeat has been followed by a gradual slump. This seems to have coincided with his team’s form. Fans will be hoping that both the player and the team can recover their mojo quickly.
5. JORDAN AMAVI // 21 // Aston Villa // France // 1 ↓
Quite unlike the rest of his team, Jordan Amavi started the season like a house on fire. The defender put in many great performances and stood out as the lone fresh apple in a rotten basket. However, the Frenchman has seen a loss of form and playing time affect him, and his place on top of the tree has been taken. The youngster still has the talent to make this a good season personally, and will be hoping that the arrival of a new manager can help him recover some of his early season form.
4. MATTHIAS GINTER // 21 // Dortmund // Germany // no change
Ginter made it onto this list on the back of some terrific performances as Dortmund raced out of the blocks at the start of the season. He stays here on the back of some solid consistent, if slightly unspectacular, performances. Ginter is emerging as a reliable right back, and Jogi Low has spotted this, giving him a chance at the international level. With Dortmund looking like they might be able to challenge for honours this season, and with a big tournament coming up, Ginter looks the most likely candidate to take over Lahm’s coveted right back spot for the national team.
Van Beek & Gimenez both featured in our Talent Radar Team of the Season
Seven of these players featured in our Talent Radar 100 to Watch in 2015 list
3. JOHN STONES // 21 // Everton // England // 2 ↓
Chelsea fans must look at this player even more longingly now, with their defence in shambles at the moment. The player drops down only because of the injury that afflicted him earlier in the month. His partnership with Jagielka at club level has been great for a resurgent Everton team, and Stones himself has firmly established himself as England’s top center back alongside Chris Smalling. He may be at 3 right now, but don’t be the least bit surprised if you see him at number one on this list in the coming editions, he is an immense talent.
2. HECTOR BELLERIN // 20 // Arsenal // Spain // 6 ↑
Hector ‘The Flash’ Bellerin has continued his stunning rise this season. After establishing himself last time around, the youngster is scaling new heights this season. Part of a solid Arsenal backline, the La Masia graduate has shown great skill, and importantly, temperament too. The performance against Bayern Munich was the most impressive one. After being bullied by Douglas Costa through the first half, Bellerin recovered in the second, and showed incredible pace and stamina right at the end to intercept an Alaba pass and set up Ozil’s goal. Bellerin is fast becoming one of the best right backs in the Premier League, and he’s just 20.
1. SAMUEL UMTITI // 21 // Lyon // France // 5 ↑
Another player who has surged up the rankings after some very good performances, Umtiti is one of the few Lyon players that has built on the exploits of last season and improved. The last month or so have seen him serve as the very embodiment of solidity, with his reading of the game really shining through. Umtiti is a player who is rarely making a tackle, and winning most of the tackles he makes. His form has been sublime, and in 3 league games that he’s featured in, in October, Lyon have conceded just 1 goal. If Germany is full of talented keepers and midfielders, France is where the good young defenders are coming from.