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A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled into an XI from across Europe’s top six leagues. You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2015 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
Paul Bernardoni // 18 // Troyes // Goalkeeper: Prior to this game, Bernardoni had only featured once before for Troyes, and the 18-year-old did not face a very gentle ride despite this being very early in his career. Despite racing into a healthy lead within 15 minutes, Troyes were smashed 4-2. The giant keeper Bernardoni can be fairly proud of his efforts though, with 9 saves made. One can only imagine what the score might have ended at without such a performance.
Kevin Diks // 19 // Vitesse Arnhem // Right-Back: Young Dutch defender Kevin Diks didn’t end up with a goal or an assist to his name, but he performed spectacularly going forward, and ended up being a real menace to the opposition back line with his constant bombardment down the right flank. What turned out to be a fairly easy win for Vitesse was heavily aided by his performance, with 4 shots, and 3 dribbles completed. That’s more than what a lot of attackers can often boast of!
Daniele Rugani // 21 // Juventus // Centre-Back: The young man, who has been compared to the likes of Nesta in the past, has been starved of playing time this season after his move to the capital, but his performance in yet another rampant Juventus win showed just why he is ready to step up at any given time. Rugani looked calm and composed at all times, recording 2 tackles and an interception over the course of the game.
Jose Gimenez // 20 // Atletico Madrid // Centre-Back: Gimenez is one of the best young defenders in Europe. The 20-year-old has been the backbone of Atletico’s latest title challenge, and with strong performances from the youngster, it isn’t hard to see why they’re top of the table. 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 9 clearances built a strong foundation for the counter attacking win that Altetico managed.
Lucas Digne // 22 // Roma // Left-Back: The former PSG youngster has been one of the few bright spots in this inconsistent season for Roma. Operating from left back, Digne has offered a a healthy mix of offensive and defensive action. This weekend, in yet another underwhelming draw for the Italian giants, he was very active going backwards, winning 6 aerials and 4 tackles. Going forward as well, he did quite well, completing 2 dribbles. It’s been a tough start to life in Rome for him, with Rudi Garcia recently losing his job, but Digne is working hard to make a good impression on his new manager.
To know more about football’s young stars, read our 100 Young Players to Watch in 2015 feature.
Eric Dier // 22 // Tottenham Hotspur // Central Midfielder: Dier played a lot of last season as a centre-back, and sometimes as a right back, but this season, he’s been shifted into a slightly unfamiliar midfield role. Fortunately for England and Spurs, he’s been a revelation, with some neat passing, and great break up play. He put in another superlative performance this past weekend as Spurs bounced back from defeat to record a resounding win over West Ham United. He picked up an assist, and his 87% pass accuracy from the base of midfield certainly set a good platform for the eventual man of the Match, Eriksen.
James Ward-Prowse // 21 // Southampton // Midfielder: The Saints have been on a slippery slope in recent times, but seem to have arrested the trend in their last couple of matches. Fans will feel happy enough to see a home grown hero, Ward-Prowse play a role in that reversal. 2 first half goals from him, including one from the spot, set the team on their way to a comfortable win at home. Ward-Prowse has often seen his set piece skills earn him comparisons to Beckham, but he’ll need to add consistency to his game now if he is to live up to the billing.
Ousmane Dembele // 18 // Rennes // Central Midfielder: The 18-year-old attacking midfielder had a ball in the Ligue 1 match against Troyes, leading a fiery comeback from the away team. Troyes took an impressive lead, but didn’t really get to enjoy it because of the way Rennes played. Personally, Dembele scored 1 goal, but was a menace throughout, with 3 shots on target, 4 dribbles conceded, and 1 foul won.
Paulo Dybala // 22 // Juventus // Striker: After an initial struggle to break into the side, Dybala has become the undisputed star of the Juventus show. His pace, skill, and creativity are the showpieces in Juve’s crown, with the Old Lady recording 10 wins in a row now. Another convincing win over the weekend saw the Argentine score 2, and assist the other 2, as Juventus ran riot against Udinese. A lot of clubs have their eyes on Pogba, but with the current dearth of top quality strikers across Europe, is Dybala the real prize?
Michy Batshuayi // 22 // Marseille // Striker: A regular member of our team of the week feature, Batshuayi has been the revelation this season in Ligue 1. The Belgian striker has 12 goals and 6 assists so far this season, with his most recent outing against Caen fetching him one of each. Impressively, he even manage to maintain a pass accuracy rate of more than 80%, which is a great number for a lone striker.
Andrea Belotti // 22 // Torino // Striker: Belotti has not been very prolific all season, with his tally after this weekend’s performance still only at 3 goals, but as far as this weekend goes, he was top of the pops. Partnering an old Torino favourite, Immobile, Belotti stole the show with a brace and an assist in a 4-2 defeat of Frosinone. The Torino faithful will hope that he can knock a few more in during the next few games, as their old talisman re-adjusts to life in the peninsula.
Written by Vishal Patel
Read all our Talent Radar Team of the Week articles here.