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.
The Talent Radar Player Rankings were out of action for two months with the 100 players to watch list to contend with, and a winter break for Europe’s major leagues. But with nearly all leagues returning and the new year well under-way, the rankings have been updated with more changes and a few surprises.
5. NICOLA LEALI // 21 // Cesena (on loan from Juventus) // Italy // new entrant
Although Cesena find themselves in the relegation zone, they do have some positives to take from the campaign so far, which in all actuality will please the defending Italian champions more. Juventus owned Leali has been impressing with minnows Cesena, as he looks to convince management at the Old Lady given their search for Buffon’s heir. With Cesena often seen as a beatable option, the inferiority complex and poor defence means Leali is constantly kept busy, faced with a flurry of shots and needed to be up to his game when his team-mates aren’t.
4. TIMO HORN // 21 // FC Koln // Germany // ↓ 2
After having made an incredible start to the campaign, keeping clean sheets in each of the first six games and continuing to improve his development that saw him rise as high as second in the goalkeeper rankings, Horn has fallen well below the pace in more recent games. His record prior to the winter break and since the previous rankings saw just one cleansheet in six games, a run that saw Cologne lose four. While the club maintain their middle-table ambitions, it’s been a disappointing drop in form from Horn who looked to take his promising showing from the second division into Germany’s top flight.
3. ALPHONSE AREOLA // 21 // Bastia (on loan from PSG) // France // ——
Though Areola’s seemed to be a bit inconsistent in his displays, showcasing both extremes of the spectrum, he maintains his spot in third place. The man on loan from champions Paris Saint-Germain has impressed with his performances, including against his parent club, a week ago. While rightly accused of lacking in confidence earlier, the 21-year-old seems to have found his mental stability with experience in Ligue1. That confidence is needed further by Bastia as they look to fight past potential relegation, having come into the season as favourites for the drop.
2. MATTIA PERIN // 22 // Genoa // Italy // ↑ 4
The Italian who is widely considered as Gianluigi Buffon’s successor at club and possibly country is the biggest (and only) riser in the latest edition of the young goalkeepers rankings. Though being sent off for a rather awful challenge in a home loss to Roma, Perin has largely impressed with his displays since the previous issue of the rankings, particularly in Genoa’s impressive victory over Milan. With years of experience, it’s easy to forget the Italian is still only 22, a fact further deceived by the command he displays in and around his area.
1. LORIS KARIUS // 21 // Mainz // Germany // ——
Maintaining his spot at the top, and likely to do so right till the end of the season is the ever impressive Loris Karius. The man who broke through last season and continued to impress Talent Radar this season hasn’t lost his spot despite the extended winter break in Germany. While there is a lot of talk in Germany of a certain World Cup winning goalkeeper redefining the position, Karius is still very much a traditionalist in the next generation of Bundesliga keepers. Despite being just 21, few are able to control the defence as well as he has at his age. His shot stopping further emphasises his ability, while his distribution sets him apart from the rest on the pitch. The Mainz keeper was among the players named in the Talent Radar Top 20 Young Players of 2014 feature.
Here’s a snapshot of how the current rankings look:
Written by Sami Faizullah