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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]
The most wanted rankings for the most vaunted keepers is back after a break, as we look at the first update for keepers after the winter break. There isn’t much chopping and changing, as the usual suspects all retain their place at the top table.
Sergio Rico has fallen a couple of places to reach Rank 5. Sevilla looked very promising indeed, but have recently fallen off the bike a little bit, with results not all convincing. While they haven’t really been renowned for their defensive stability, it hasn’t really been top notch with their striker also seeming to have misplaced their shooting boots, and Rico too, has failed in his bid to provide his defenders with the right kind of confidence and security. These factors have created conditions that have seen him drop down the rankings.
This drop has seen the rest of the table propped up a bit. Alban Lafont, the teenager who is between the sticks for Toulouse, has been on a bit of a hot streak of late, and finds his successive Team of the Week appearances rewarded with a climb up the rankings. The talented keeper has shown very good ball handling skills, and as we’ve mentioned on this site before, that is a very rare, and very underrated quality for keepers to possess.
Just above him is Andre Onana of Ajax. The Amsterdam club has fallen behind their rivals Feyenoord a little bit in the title race, the current deficit being 5 points, but have shed loads of ability in the team, and are sure to recover. Chiefly important for this proposed resurgence is Andre Onana. Onana has proven to be a keeper who is good at making some spectacular looking reflex stops. Should he stick to his strengths, he will be quite asset for his team, though one feels he does need to step up his all round game by a notch or two. His ability with the ball on his shoes could be improved too.
The top two remain constant, whit Cardinale trailing Donnarumma in the race for the gong of the best young keeper in Europe. Cardinale has been a constant at the back for Lucien Favre’s unlikely title chasing side, and while Nice have lost their advantage at the top to rampant rivals Monaco, it would be churlish to deny them and indeed Cardinale, of the credit that is due to them for this performance.
Leading the pack, as last time, is the incredible Gianluigi Donnarumma. A lot of the fans of the Rossonieri supporters have pinned their hopes on the up and coming generation of young talent at their club, and Donnarumma is the living breathing and amazing save making embodiment of this wave of youth. While Milan haven’t really set the world on fire of late with their performances, one can’t really place blame at the shoulders of the keeper alone. All else considered, at this point in the season, Donnarumma is indisputably the best young keeper in Europe.