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]
Jack Butland // Stoke City // 21 // Goalkeeper: The young Englishman is in a tough competition with Alphonse Areola when it comes to this spot in the Team of the Week, and this week, Butland has come out the winner after a great performance in a well earned draw at Stamford Bridge. The big man made 6 saves to keep out a fairly impressive Chelsea side. There have been a number of debates about whether Butland may just be challenging Hart for his place, but what is uncontested is his spot in the squad, and that’s great progress for the keeper.
Hector Bellerin // Arsenal // 20 // Right Back: Another young star who has shot to fame this season, Bellerin displayed his all round prowess in a good Arsenal performance at White Hart Lane. The Catalan full back managed to pick up an assist for the Ramsey goal, with his energy abetting a good Arsenal counter attack, and still keeping alive Arsenal’s faint title chances according to the most popular betting exchange. Aside from this as well, he was a force down the Arsenal right, tackling the threat of Danny Rose very well. He excelled with tackling (5) and dribbles going forward (4) to put in a fine display for the away side.
Alexander Hack // Mainz // 22 // Center Back: Mainz have won some deserved fame for the succession of excellent managers that they have picked, and the team is once again exceeding expectations to find itself near the top of the Bundesliga. The success of youngsters like Hack has played an important role in ensuring this performance. In mid-week, Hack was again very strong for his team at the back as his side got a shock win over Bayern Munich. He was very powerful in the air, and his passing was a go to factor for Mainz in their build up. They will be pleased to have picked up a point despite being down to 10 men for a large part of the match, and they have Hack to thank.
Nathan Ake // Watford // 21 // Center Back: The young man on loan from Chelsea has made quite the impression in Watford colours, and is making a strong claim for a place at Stamford Bridge next season. Starting at center back, as opposed to left back, Ake was influential throughout the 90 minutes. He managed to hit the woodwork for his team, and made a clearance off the line as well. This in addition to his 5 tackles, and generally strong passing through the game. His long balls were also quite useful, with Deeney and Ighalo looking to feed off them.
Jetro Willems // PSV Eindhoven // 21 // Left Back: Just like the other full back in this week’s ToTW, jetro Willems made a great contribution going forward, and he picked up a goal in PSV’s straightforward 0-3 win over Groningen. Willems will have been pleased to have the opportunity to unleash his attacking instinct, as he got off another shot, and completed 87% of his passes as well.
Florian Grillitsch // Werder Bremen // 20 // Central Midfield: Werder Bremen pulled off an impressive 4-1 against Hannover, with goals coming from all over the park, and attacking contributions all around. Of course, this was built on the solid platform provided by the central midfielders, including Grillitsch. There wasn’t much attacking intent from him, as he sat back and made crunching tackles to slam the brakes on the opposition attacks. He also got involved in the aerial battles, though his contribution to build up could certainly do with some refining. His performance on the weekend was fantastically similar to the one in mid-week where Bremen overcame Leverkusen with the same scoreline
Emre Can // Liverpool // 22 // Central Midfield: Towards the end of his time as Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers faced a lot of flak from supporters and pundits for his deployment of Emre Can as a right back. Can’s performances in midfield have gone far to justify the opinion of the majority. Against Crystal Palace, Can again put in an excellent all round performance, with dribbles (5), tackles (3), and lots of passes (83 @81%), showcasing an almost ideal performance for the position and the German was similarly solid in the side’s impressive mid-week win over Manchester City. Play central midfielders in central midfield and reap the rewards. Football management is a simple enough job, isn’t it?
Julian Draxler // Wolfsburg // 22 // Attacking Midfield: The German started higher up the pitch than he is normally accustomed to, and made no real fuss. With his talents, we have argued in the past that he might be a good fit as a striker, and not just an attacking midfielder, and some of his recent performances certainly add weight to that view. Draxler went on to score in the 2-1 win for his side versus Gladbach, only adding to the list of important goals from him. This was in addition to the goal and assist against Hannover in mid-week
Max Meyer // Schalke 04 // 20 // Attacking Midfield: Schalke have produced a number of excellent young players in recent times, and Meyer is part of that crop. The departure of Julian Draxler would generally be seen as a negative for almost any team, but that has in fact, freed up a space for Max Meyer in the starting 11. On the basis of this performance, he’s grabbed the opportunity by both hands. In a counter attacking performance by Schalke, he’s made a number of dribbles, and a lot of good one touch passes. He also managed to get a goal for himself, which was the icing on a very delicious cake. A cake that included a goal and an assist in mid-week as Schalke defeated Hamburg 3-2.
Ousmane Dembele // Rennes // 18 // Attacking Midfield: While an attacking midfield performance generally has some hint of passing and assists, this one was all about running, pace, and lethal finishing. The 18 year old Dembele really made his mark on Ligue 1 this weekend with a glorious hattrick to seal a brilliant 4-1 win for Rennes.
Bertrand Traore // Chelsea // 20 // Striker: It is indeed a very rare sight to spot a Chelsea player in our Team of The Week but Bertrand Traore has made it after some consistently good performances. He’s been effective as a sub in the past few weeks, but he was finally trusted to start as Costa got a rest, and he justified Guus Hiddink’s faith in him. A fairly good performance as the lone man up top, with a superbly taken strike at goal capping off his effort should silence anyone clamouring for Remy or Pato over Traore. His assist versus Norwich in mid-week further made a case for the wonderful people of Talent Radar.