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 2016 – 21 years old and below]
It’s been 2 long months since the last edition of these rankings, and we’ve seen quite a few changes. The run up to Christmas, the festive fixtures in England, and the recent restart have all played a role in these rankings, and performances of a lot of good young forwards have been taken into consideration.
Starting off the list is Arber Zeneli. The Kosovo forward has not been quite as effective as he was when he started off the season, and consequently, he’s seen his ranking drop considerably. Just 1 assists in the last 2 months is evidence of a tapering performance, and he does need to up his game to stay here.
Just above him is Divock Origi. The young Belgian has been very impressive under Jurgen Klopp, and the Merseyside outfit look to fashion a title challenge. He’s managed to get ahead of Sturridge in the pecking order for strikers, and has done a fine job scoring some good goals as Liverpool have needed him to fill in while the likes of Coutinho and Mane have been out of action for various reasons. The risk that Klopp has taken has paid off well. It leads us to believe that he can also play poker for fun and risk free.
At number 8 is Sandro Ramirez. The young Spaniard sees a slight drop in his place, and that’s down mostly to some inconsistent performances from him, rather than a real drop in levels. He’s still getting on the scoresheet, but not with the kind of regularity Malaga would like from him.
6 and 7 are both new entrants, with Mbappe and Simeone both putting in impressive performances for their teams. Giovanni Simeone has been among the goals for Genoa, with his breakthrough performance against Juventus heralding his entry to the spotlight and constant attention. 4 goals and an assist doesn’t immediately strike you as a great haul, but his performances have merited inclusion on these rankings, and he will do well to stay here. Like him, Kylian Mbappe-Lottin has also been quite the find for Monaco. The teenager has been in and out of the side as a partner for Radamel Falcao, and he’s been top drawer whenever he’s been given the opportunity. Unfortunately for him, he’s recently been reduced to substitute appearances for most recent matches. He’s got the talent to break into the team though, so look out for him.
Sebastien Haller was at rank 10 in this list during the previous edition of these rankings, but has climbed half the list this time around. The goals did seem to dry up for him after a fast start, but Haller answered his critics brilliantly in the run up to Christmas, scoring 4 times in the last 4 matches before the break. He’s returned strongly as well, with an assist last weekend against Sparta Rotterdam, and hopefully, the long time Talent Radar favourite will climb even further up the list with some good performances in the coming weeks.
Staying in his 4th place spot is Enes Unal. The City man, on loan at Twente, faces some real competition back in Manchester with the likes of Iheanacho and Gabriel Jesus in line behind Aguero, but he’s certainly making his case. The striker is a physical presence, and importantly, also has good technical ability. Surely one to watch in the future.
While the occupants of the podium remain the same, their positions have changed. Dropping into third place is Kasper Dolberg. An incredible start after his introduction to the first team earned him a spot here pretty high up the ladder, but he hasn’t found the back of the net in the Eredivisie during the period under consideration, and has seen him drop down a bit. Just above him is another player that’s dropped a place. The previously dominant Andre Silva has seen his goals dry up a bit. He scored an incredible 5 goals in a week in December, including a fine brace against Leicester City, but since then, has only scored once, his goal coming against Moreirense in a win last weekend. He needs to get his 2017 back on track soon, if he is to get back on his throne atop the rankings!
Occupying that throne at the moment is Timo Werner. The German has had a fairytale run this season, much like RB Leipzig. While Leipzig did of course lose their unbeaten status after losses to Ingolstadt and Bayern Munich just before the winter break, they retain their place near the top of the pile. 5 goals during this period from Werner have not harmed them, with the young German touching double figures this past weekend with a good header.