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. ANDREA BELOTTI // 22 // Torino // Italy // new entrant
Torino seem to have found a new star in Belotti, with the youngster growing in prominence after each performance. Belotti is increasing the frequency with which he makes our Team of the Week with his match winning efforts. In recent times especially, the correlation between his and Torino’s performances is only increasing. While he forward has just 7 goals this season, it’s a tally that is growing fast, and growing in importance.
9. ANTHONY MARTIAL // 20 // Manchester United // France // 3 ↓
The French import started his Manchester United career like a house on fire, scoring some great goals and earning comparisons to Henry. The hype machine cranked into action a bit too soon though, and Martial has slowed down now. The loss of form hasn’t been helped by injuries either, and neither has van Gaal. Despite that, he’s been United’s brightest spark in attack this season, a rare spark in what has been an underwhelming season for the club as the bookie Sportingbet would suggest. Though individually for Martial, consistently good performances over the course of the year, and 9th is surely a launch pad for him, as opposed to a slippery slope.
8. ARKADIUSZ MILIK // 21 // Ajax // Poland // 9 ↑
Milik has been quite prolific for Ajax this season, with 15 goals and 6 assists in just 21 Eredivisie starts. The Pole has fit in quite well at the Amsterdam ArenA, proving to be more than just a finisher. His link up play has been an attractive feature of his game, and he might just be the Polish striker stealing the show at the upcoming Euros. Recent weeks have been especially fruitful, with 6 goals coming since the start of February. He’s timed his burst well too, with the title race in the Netherlands heating up.
7. OUSSAMA TANNANE // 21 // St. Etienne // Morocco // 8 ↑
The Morrocan forward had a lot to cheer about in the early part of the season, as he got off to an incredible start to the season. 4 goals in a half were the highlight during his time at Heracles, as left with a very impressive record. He missed large parts of the first half though, and the good news for his fans is that he’s actually playing now at St. Ettiene. He scored and got an assist on his debut, but has been fairly quiet since then. But Tannane is the sort who could explode into life at any moment and turn a game around.
6. ANTONIO SANABRIA // 20 // Gijon // Paraguay // new entrant
Sanabria is a new entrant to this list and makes his debut quite high up the ladder. His goal scoring exploits for a relatively weaker team have propelled his status in our eyes, and the 10 goals he’s scored thus far for them might just be worth their weight in gold come May. Gijon don’t ordinarily score much or dominate, and therefore, the contributions that Sanabria make are crucial. He scored a great hattrick in a recent win against Sociedad, and his last Liga goal came in his last Liga win, a winner against Valencia. There certainly is scope for the Paraguayan to do a lot more in this league, and he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of a former Gijon striker who made it big- David Villa.
5. VINCENT JANSSEN // 21 // AZ Alkmaar // Netherlands // new entrant
Janssen has been the top dog in the Eredivisie this season, with the goals just flowing from his boots. The youngster has been a solid leader of the line for Alkmaar, and they’ve profited from his slick finishing. It is just the middle of March, and Janssen has almost hit the 20 goal mark already. What’s most impressive is that he’s achieved this mark in just 25 Eredivisie starts.
4. SEBASTIEN HALLER // 21 // Utrecht // France // 6 ↑
The young striker has been central to the hopes of Utrecht this season, and has delivered the goods. His goals have kept his team in mid table, and he justifies the rise in his rankings with his performances in the last few months. His goal scoring feats have become more regular, especially in the new year, with 5 goals and an assist coming in the last 6 weeks. As mentioned in an earlier edition, Haller is the central hope for Utrecht, and a lot of their play depends on him. His continued improvement is a cause for smiles.
3. MICHY BATSHUAYI // 22 // Marsielle // Belgium // 1 ↓
The young Belgian was the dominant force in these rankings in the first couple of editions, but he’s slowed down since then, and lost his top spot. 15 goals in 33 starts is a great record, especially for one so young, but the winter months were fairly quiet for Batshuayi, and saw his electric pace from the start wane. He seems to have regained his mojo a bit in recent weeks, with 3 goals in 3 consecutive games towards the end of February, and the start of March. He’ll need to regain and retain momentum in order to get back to the top, especially with the pace that the top 2 are setting.
2. HARRY KANE // 22 // Tottenham // England // 4 ↑
The fairytale man just keeps getting better and better. The young forward of the year from last time is snapping at the heels of the leader this year, and might well retain his crown. Kane had a sluggish start to the season, and many were putting him in the same bracket as the likes of Amr Zaki, but he’s shown his class, and taken Spurs to an unlikely and impressive title challenge. 30 league starts have wielded 19 goals, with his most recent strikes coming against Villa in the form of a match winning brace. The penalty kick scored to win the game at City may also go down as one of the biggest for Spurs psychologically, and fans will remember his striker against Arsenal in the recent derby for a long enough time to ensure that he’s going down in the Spurs folklore.
1. PAULO DYBALA // 22 // Juventus // Argentina // 5 ↑
Another man who had a slow start to the season, Dybala has grown in stature to become the leading man for the Old Lady. The youngster has taken a starring role, with his creative play supplementing his finishing touch very well. 14 goals and 8 assists in 23 starts makes for very impressive reading, with his dribbling and creative passing only adding to his range of talents. He’s been a vital figure in the long winning run Juventus put together, and hauled them back into the tie against Bayern with a goal. He’s done well to establish himself at his new club in his first season, and it only remains to be seen if he can establish his spot atop our rankings.