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. OUSSAMA TANNANE // 21 // St. Etienne // Morocco // 7 ↓
Tannane got off to a flying start this season, with goals galore for Heracles. Ultimately, he made the move to to St. Etienne in January on the back of that good start. He hasn’t been playing through the middle, and has had to compromise, but has turned in a decent performance nonetheless. He falls down the pecking order because of the fact that his goal scoring regularity has dropped drastically. Playing from the wide areas, Tannane doesn’t get as many opportunities to to find the back of the net, and this is a direct contributor.
9. ANTONIO SANABRIA // 20 // Gijon // Paraguay // 6 ↓
Sanabria was bound to have a tough time maintaining his previous high position in the rankings, especially as he plays for one of the relatively weaker teams in La Liga. He’s been doing well, and getting a lot of playing time for his side. Unfortunately though, he’s been unable to keep up his scoring rate, just 1 goal in March and April (a winner against Atletico though) to show for all his efforts. The bottomline is, that a striker will always be judged on the goals he scores, and on that count, Sanabria has fallen behind a little bit. With experience though, he can certainly learn to deliver what is expected from a striker in the top division, just like how you can learn how to win at craps. Understandably, this stint with Gijon was just a learning experience, the youngster will undoubtedly only get more consistent as he feature more often.
8. ANDREA BELOTTI // 22 // Torino // Italy // 10 ↑
The last time these rankings were published, Belotti had just about made the list, finishing ranked 10th. We mentioned how important he was for Torini, and he’s upped his performances since then. 6 goals and an assist in March and April area good return for him and his side. He’s certainly improved to a large extent, especially when you consider that he had only 7 goals for the season before this period. Making his push at the right time for sure!
7. ANTHONY MARTIAL // 20 // Manchester United // France // 9 ↑
Alongside David De Gea, Martial is the only United player who can claim to have had a good full season. The young Frenchman came in and faced the ire of a lot of doubters, but has shut them all up with a very impressive debut campaign. He’s been the star in recent weeks, leading United’s charge for 4th place. 4 goals in the last 3 games, including 1 against the new champions, and a brace in a lost cause at West Ham have proven that he isn’t a flat track bully either. Surely, we all must hope that Mourinho, should he take charge of United, doesn’t inflict a case of his particular brand of decimation for young attackers on Martial.
6. ARKADIUSZ MILIK // 21 // Ajax // Poland // 8 ↑
A prolific season that ended in heartbreak for Milik, as Ajax narrowly lost the league title to PSV. The 22 year old has 8 goals in the last 2 months, and at times, it looked like he was almost single handedly pushing the Ajax title charge. The wheels came off for him as he failed to find the net in the last 2 games though, as Ajax ended up in 2nd place. Having said that, he’s finished the Eredivisie with 21 goals, a great achievement. Surely, there will be a few suitors knocking on the doors of the Amsterdam ArenA, considering the shortage of top quality strikers across Europe.
5. SEBASTIEN HALLER // 21 // Utrecht // France // 4 ↓
Utrecht have defied odds to make it into 5th place, and will soon square off with Zwolle in a Europa League playoff. Central to their progress has been Sebastien Haller. The French forward has scored 17 times for his side this season. Though he has been quiet in the last few matches, Haller has done enough to ensure a high placed finish this season. However, the silence of the last month or so see him drop down to 5th in our list of the best forwards.
4. MICHY BATSHUAYI // 22 // Marsielle // Belgium // 3 ↓
Batshuayi has been the top dog on this list for a large part of the season, despite the poor show from Marsielle. The French giants picked up their first home win in a long time this weekend, and unsurprisingly, Batshuayi was central to their performance. While he too, has dropped his scoring rate, especially compared to what it was at the start of the season, he’s still be fairly regular on the scoresheet. He’s currently scored 17 league goals, quite a good haul for a side that has fared so poorly this season.
3. VINCENT JANSSEN // 21 // AZ Alkmaar // Netherlands // 5 ↑
27 goals in just 32 starts this season. It isn’t Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar, it’s Vincent Janssen from AZ Alkmaar with those stats. The top scorer of the Eredivisie this season by some margin, Janssen has made a name for himself with his speed, accurate shooting, and intelligent running. He even got the chance to make an impression on the international stage, helping Holland win away in England with a goal and an assist. Of course, who can forget his 4 goal haul recently against Zwolle in a decimation led by him. Janssen will now be out to prove that he isn’t just a one season wonder, and we certainly hope he can succeed.
2. PAULO DYBALA // 22 // Juventus // Argentina // 1 ↓
The void left by Carlos Tevez at Juventus was a sizable one as the Turin giants suddenly had to replace a player who was so influential in what was a very successful previous season. They looked to Tevez’s compatriot, Paulo Dybala to fill the gap and boy has he delivered. The forward seems to have it all and played a pivotal role in Juve sealing yet another Serie A title. it’s still early days but Dybala looks like yet another Argentine forward ready to take Europe by storm.
1. HARRY KANE // 22 // Tottenham // England // 2 ↑
The race for the Golden Boot award in the Premier League looks like it will be going down to the last weekend and few would be surprised to see Harry Kane in the running. The Englishman exploded onto the scene last year under Pochettino but looked to perhaps be yet another victim of the nefarious second season syndrome. However such whispers were quickly drowned out by Kane banging in the goals for Spurs as he threatened to be the villain in Leicester’s fairy tale. Kane and Spurs will see Champions League football next season but before that is the small matter of representing England in the upcoming European Championship.
All our Talent Radar Player Rankings 2015-16