Our Talent Radar 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.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2017 – 22 years old and below]
Far too often, it’s been tough going for the keepers this season. Forwards have been hogging the limelight, and with the increased scrutiny that every goal has been placed under, keepers are under the microscope far too much. Despite this, the wave of emerging talent between the sticks maintains its strength. A few new faces make their way into our rankings this time.
Starting off is Alban Lafont. Followers of Talent Radar are quite familiar with the young Frenchman. He’s been one of our more favoured keepers, and he makes his debut for the season at number 5. The Toulouse teenager made a name for himself with his reflex stops, and has continued playing to this particular strength. Of course, playing for a team in the lower middle half of the league isn’t very conducive to your clean sheet statistics, and Lafont’s record rightly reflects his side’s position in the table. Having said that, we can’t detract from his performances at the back.
Just above him is Gigi Donnarumma. The Milan keeper is slowly but surely learning the hard way this season. Milan have underwhelmed in the league, and European progress wasn’t enough to save Montella’s job. While sacking the manager is obviously a potential solution, the players, like Donnarumma, have to stand up and be counted at a time like this. Donnarumma is only 18, but will now have to emerge as one of the leaders of the team, even at national level, where he is favourite to step into the shoes of the legendary Gianluigi Buffon. It’s going to be a period of exciting growth for Donnarumma if he can take this in his stride, and you can be sure that we’ll be watching closely.
The now 23 year old, Kepa Arrizabalaga, drops one place in our latest rankings to 3rd. Bilbao have struggled to keep clean sheets in the last couple of months despite their best efforts, and as a consequence, the young keeper’s stock has fallen just a tad bit. Taking his place is Andre Onana. Ajax had a tough start to the season interspersed with excellent performances. Getting knocked out of Europe altogether was a tough pill to swallow for the Dutch side. A slightly indifferent start to the league campaign also played its part. Recent weeks have seen a re-emergence of the dominant Ajax though, and Onana has been an equally vital part of the positive ecosystem that facilitated this revival.
Retaining top spot for another edition is Lazio’s Thomas Strakosha. The Albanian has been the rock solid base for a Lazio side that has defied all its critics, and is in contention for Champions League places. A good showing in the Europa league has also helped Strakosha’s cause. He’s shown a calm demeanour, and smart ball handling in the opportunities he’s got, marking him out as one to watch, and the best young keeper in Europe at the moment.