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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 seven 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 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
The final weekend of club football before the international break (yes, we’re excited about it too) saw some great action from across the continent. With title races and other mini-leagues having pretty much completed formation, teams are starting to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, and areas that may need rebuilding in January. Aside from transfers though, many clubs are also looking to youth to build the broken walls, and indeed lead charges.
Defence: Returning to this line up after a long time is a veteran of this team really. Loris Karius has had an indifferent start to the season, with an injury delaying his debut, and uncertain form never allowing him to establish his spot firmly. A solid performance in a crushing win over Watford will have calmed the nerves of many a Liverpool fan, not least those of Jurgen Klopp.
At right back is the currently unstoppable Benjamin Henrichs. He made it to number 2 in our latest list of Defender Rankings on the back of some consistently brilliant performances. His starring role against Spurs at Wembley was the sort that will hold him in good stead for the future.
At center back we have Yeray Alvarez on one side, and alongside him, the now permanent Niklas Sule. Yeray played an important role in a match that not too many football purists will remember fondly a few years down the line. That of course, is a huge compliment to both sets of defenders. Yeray himself 4 tackles and 5 interceptions, as his side managed a good clean sheet away from home. His partner for the week, Niklas Sule has now made it 3 appearances in this feature in the last 4 weeks, showing how successful the last month has been for him. Sule’s talent has never been in question, but his application and output seem to have multiplied manifold under the stewardship of Julian Nagelsmann. This week, they managed to extend their unbeaten streak at the start of this season, pulling out a draw against Bayern Munich away from home. Sule chipped in with 4 clearances, as Hoffenheim often hung on to dear life to leave with a well deserved point.
At left back was Mr. Efficiency for the team that personified ruthless football this weekend. Liverpool and Chelsea are getting a lot of attention for their football, but this youthful Monaco side is one of every hipster. They cruised to a 6-0 win with just 8 shots on target. Benjamin Mendy was just as sure with his work. 100% pass accuracy, 4 accurate crosses out of 6, and 2 successful long passes in 2 attempts meant that he had quite a productive afternoon.
Midfield: Mendy’s teammates weren’t far behind him either. Our right winger for this week, Thomas Lemar didn’t have the same laser precision as Mendy, but was equally incisive. His pace and dribbling, long considered his finest assets were on full show, as the Nancy defenders were tormented from all sides.
In the middle of the park was another dominant Monaco man, Tiemoue Bakayoko. The all action midfielder wasn’t among the goals and assists, but his energy and skill across the board set the platform for his teammates to dominate. 5 tackles, 3 dribbles, and a 90% pass accuracy rate are a good measure of his contribution to this side.
Manning the 3 man midfield alongside his Ligue 1 compatriot is Adrien Rabiot. For a long time, many have felt that Rabiot can do better in terms of game time by heading away from the Parc de Princes, and considering the lack of a regular starting spot for him, they might not have always been wrong. Given the chance to shine though, Rabiot is showing his true potential. Placed alongside Talent Radar alumnus Marco Verratti, Rabiot pulled the strings against Rennes from start to finish, with his 116 touches second only to the aforementioned Italian. 102 complete passes at an accuracy of 97% is a scary stat, and his goal was very well deserved to say the least.
The last 2 midfielders are both Bundesliga players, and a fitting way to form the midfield, which porises players only from Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga. Nabil Bentaleb put in a solid performance against Werder Bremen as Schalke cruised to a 3-1 win. His goal was well taken, as he showed great sharpness to react first to a fine free kick and score. Similarly, given a creative license has seen him thrive, and he was quite effective on the day with his incisive football.
On the left wing is another Bundesliga, and specifically Leverkusen man. Julian Brandt has been very highly rated, and has managed to hold his own in a team that contains so many young talents like Henrichs, Tah, Pohjanpalo, and Calhanoglu. He played a starring role in their 3-2 victory over Darmstadt, with a goal and assist to his name.
Striker: Rounding up a dominant week for Bundesliga and Ligue 1 is Timo Werner, the RB Leipzig striker. The newly promoted team continued their dream run behind Bayern Munich with a 3-1 win against Mainz at home. Generally, the youngster runs the channels, and plays second fiddle to Poulsen, but on this occasion, grabbed the limelight. 2 goals and an assist for his teammate are just reward for a hard working forward. A match winning performance for his tema that will long be remembered by him.