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. WESLEY HOEDT // 22 // Lazio // Netherlands // new entrant
As Lazio have struggled, seeing a change at the helm, and the arrival of Simone Inzaghi, Wesley Hoedt has maintained his performance level, and managed to make it into this list at number 10. The tall Dutchman is a player who tends to rely more on his reading of the game, than his size and strength. This is a quality that is necessary to succeed in Serie A, and 3.6 interceptions a game prove that he possesses it in abundance. Hoedt will be someone who Inzaghi will look to as he tries to rebuild the capital club.
9. ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN // 20 // Borussia Monchengladbach (On loan from Chelsea) // Denmark // new entrant
The 20-year-old on loan from Chelsea may not retain that status for too long, as his parent club and his current club seem to embroiled in a tug of war for his services. That is a luxury he has earned with his performances, and the ball is in his court because of that. Christensen has been a rock at the back for Gladbach, with his manager relying on him a lot. What sets him apart is his passing ability from the back. 87% pass accuracy doesn’t really stand out, but when you consider that he completes 3.3 long balls per game, you can see why he’s rated as highly.
8. KEVIN DIKS // 19 // Vitesse // Netherlands // 1 ↑
The full back rises in the rankings after some good performances for his home town team, becoming one of the few Vitesse products to displace the whole host of Chelsea loanees at the club. Diks has been solid at the back, with 3 tackles, and 2 interceptions per game. He’s not been spectacular going forward and attacking, but solidity at the back has led to him growing well.
7. LUCAS DIGNE // 22 // Roma (on loan from PSG) // France // no movement
Digne has been a great addition to the Roma side from PSG, and watching him grow with the playing time has been an absolute pleasure for all followers of Serie A. Great going forward, and with a great cross to boot, Digne has set himself at the left back spot for Roma. While PSG should be smiling at his success, it might be tough for them to convince this settled player to return to the club. Strong performances see him earn a well deserved rise in his rankings.
6. JOHN STONES // 21 // Everton // England // 1 ↓
England supporters and Everton supporters need to look away right now, or risk extreme rage. Stones started the season looking like he was going to be a real success story, but things have turned sour. If Stones is to slow this slide down the rankings, he will need to get himself off the bench to start off with. The Toffees need him in form too, with their leaky defence proving to be a painful point for all their supporters and Roberto Martinez.
5. NATHAN AKE // 21 // Watford (on loan from Chelsea) // Netherlands // 1 ↑
Many expected Watford to be on the way down this season. They made an unorthodox move by replacing the manager who brought them here in the first place, but their slightly oddball policies seem to be paying dividends now. Nathan Ake is also a big reason for their success. Defensively solid, Ake has helped Flores set up the foundation on which the season’s success has been built. Again, Ake is on loan from Chelsea, and when these performances are compared to those of the likes of Kenedy and Rahman, you know Conte has some thinking to do.
4. HECTOR BELLERIN // 21 // Arsenal // Spain // no movement
The best right back in world football? That question might have come too soon (might), but surely, he is the best young right back going around. Bellerin has been Arsenal’s most consistent performer this season alongside Ozil. Paranoid Arsenal fans are afraid of when Wenger will finally break Bellerin too, but for now, let’s just enjoy the show.
3. JOSE GIMENEZ // 21 // Atletico Madrid // Uruguay // 1 ↓
There’s a lot more to Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid than just a solid defense but there’s no denying that a solid backline forms the backbone of the side. The pairing of Godin and Miranda were majestic at the back during their title winning season and it is a credit to Jose Gimenez that Miranda’s loss wasn’t felt that greatly. The Uruguayan has formed a potent partnership at the back with Diego Godin for both club and country.
2. SAMUEL UMTITI // 22 // Lyon // France // 1 ↑
Ligue 1 may have been a procession for PSG but there’s still plenty to play for when it comes to the chasing pack. A young Lyon side has been threatening to emerge as a force to be reckoned with for a while now and the side is constantly maturing. Umtiti is a player who perhaps embodies this evolution best as he has gone from strength to strength. Assured on the ball and a composed defender off it, Umtiti is making the most of his last year under the Talent Radar umbrella.
1. MATTHIAS GINTER // 22 // Borussia Dortmund // Germany // no movement
Ginter started the season in scintillating form contributing equally in terms of attack and defence for the German giants. The return of Piszczek saw him lose his place at right-back but his versatility came to the fore once again as he slotted into the central defensive role. Ginter is a great squad player to have especially with Dortmund still challenging on multiple fronts.
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