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 – 21 years old and below]
10. PACO ALCACER // 22 // Valencia // Spain // new entrant
Like his club side Valencia, Alcacer had a rough start to the season, as manager Nuno didn’t always show faith in him over Alvaro Negredo. But things have turned around of late, with the latter falling out of favour. While his Spain place was never in doubt, he always backed it up with good performances, including a brace against Luxembourg. He seems to have found form at club level too, with 3 goals coming in his last 3 appearances for Valencia. This youngster certainly has a lot to offer to both club and country, especially with competition suffering from a lack of form.
9. ARKADIUSZ MILIK // 21 // Ajax // Poland // new entrant
The leader of the line of the latest crop of attacking talent from Ajax, Milik has been in good form this season, propelling his team to the top of the charts. What’s most impressive about his game is the fact that he’s been good not just at scoring the goals, but also at linking up the rest of the team, and aiding in build up play. His last 3 appearances for his club side have featured 3 assists, and 2 goals. Such good form sees him break into the top 10 for the first time this season.
8. OUSSAMA TANNANE // 21 // Heracles // Morocco // 3 ↓
The left footed player got off to a terrific start to the season helping Heracles to a very high place in the league. He even scored 4 goals in one half (!) against Cambuur, a rare and incredible achievement. Unfortunately for him, and for Heracles, injury has kept him out of the team ever since September, and consequently, this sees him drop dramatically down our rankings.
7. AYOZE PEREZ // 22 // Newcastle United // Spain // 9 ↑
Picked up from the second division of Spain, Perez has been a real revelation for Newcastle. Adored by the Geordies for his incredible efforts and skills, Perez has been a bright shining spot in a tough season for Newcastle so far. After scoring and assisting in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea towards the end of September, Perez has carried on, with a goal and an assist in the incredible 6-2 win against Norwich. he also got the winner in a very important win at Bournemouth last weekend, showing some strength and skill to score his goal. His work rate off the ball is also impressive, and he forms a crucial element of the attacking side of Newcastle that McLaren will be hoping fires more often. Newcastle’s survival hopes have been dwindling as the latest betting tips reflect, but the Spaniard’s form in the next few months will be crucial to see how the once competitive club will eventually sway.
6. SEBASTIEN HALLER // 21 // Utrecht // France // 5 ↓
Haller has been an important presence in the Utrecht side, and has done well to sustain his form over the few months of this season. It’s been even more impressive considering that Utrecth are lodged in mid table right now. With 4 goals in the last month or so, Haller certainly has done his bit, contributing to the good form of his team. An important brace Zwolle was scored as well, to ensure 3 vital points in a 2-1 win. He’s been a constant presence in their side, and rightly so, considering his importance to the team.
5. PAULO DYBALA // 22 // Juventus // Argentina // 7 ↑
Juventus’ return to form and recovery has coincided with Allegri adding Dybala to the first team. The Argentine has made his mark on the reigning champions, adding a new dimension to their attacking play. His dribbling ability and creativity make him a tough player to mark, and he finally seems to be striking up an understanding with fellow new signing, Mandzukic. He’s gained the trust of his manager on the back of his performances, with a match winning performance against Atalanta proving to be the key.
4. HARRY KANE // 22 // Tottenham // England // new entrant
With the England man misfiring at the start of the season, the term ‘one season wonder’ was thrown about with alarming regularity. Thankfully for Spurs fans and everyone who enjoys watching Kane play, the man has come good and started finding the back of the net again. The goal against Manchester City was the first, but the form really got started after Bournemouth worked hard to help him score a hat-trick. That was followed up by goals against Villa and Anderlecht, and then a very well taken one against Arsenal. Though he missed a couple of decent half chances against Spain, Kane showed enough in his performance to indicate that he wont be bullied by the best. If he keeps scoring goals, this already sharp Spurs team will be a serious contender for the Champions League spot, especially with Chelsea floundering the way they are.
3. ANTHONY MARTIAL // 19 // Manchester United // France // 2 ↓
Whatever the size of the fee, the general consensus was the United overpaid for Anthony Martial when he first arrived at Old Trafford. 2 months on, the general consensus has been silenced by the excellent performances of the young man. The United attack has lacked sizzle of late, and it has often looked like Martial has excelled despite his teammates, rather than due to them. After a great start in the middle of the park, the young forward has been shifted out wide to accommodate Rooney, and even there he’s been creative, with even Alan Pardew highlighting his importance to the United attack. He drops down though, because he hasn’t notched up a single goal since the killer brace against Southampton. Having said that, he isn’t far from the top at all, and with a large part of the season to go, dont be surprised if he ends up on top at the end of the year.
2. JURGEN LOCADIA // 22 // PSV Eindhoven // The Netherlands // 4 ↑
Another player who rises up the ranks due to consistently good performances. The Dutch champions haven’t been on top of their game so far this season, with fighting on multiple fronts possibly taking its toll on them. But Locadia has adapted well to the challenge, chipping in with 7 goals and 5 assists in his 17 appearances so far. That’s a terrific rate, and it hasn’t just been goals here and there, but important moments in important matches. An assist against Ajax, and a goal in the important win against Wolfsburg were particular highlights.
1. MICHY BATSHUAYI // 22 // Marsielle // Belgium // no change
Yet another talented young Belgian making his mark in Europe, Batshuayi has been in electric form this campaign. His 13 appearances have seen him score 8 times, and notch up 3 assists as well. Batshuayi is a player who has maintained his place on this list due to consistenly good performances, rather than a few standout ones. 3 goals and an assist represent a sort of slowdown in the last month, but not really enough of one to allow other contenders to displace him. Moreover, with goals coming against opposition like PSG and Lille, respect for his achievements must go up.