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Talent Radar

Talent Radar Awards 2016-17: Best Young Player of the Season – Naby Keita

For the fourth season running, the Talent Radar Awards recognise the best individuals across Europe’s top leagues across seven primary categories.

Having moved to German Bundesliga life after impressing with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Naby Keita came with a lot of potential but not too many expectations from the viewing audience. Nevertheless, the Guinean international treated his viewers to a midfield masterclass – tactically astute, positionally intelligent and an impressive work-rate.

The 22-year-old, who had a stint in Ligue 1 earlier, captured the imagination of football enthusiasts with his hard working box-to-box role. While managing to regain and retain possession constantly, Keita also added an attacking prowess to his bag of goods. With four titles back in the Austrian Bundesliga in two seasons, and a fantastic first season in Germany, Naby Keita’s story has only just begun.


Following on in the footsteps of Koke and Nabil Fekir, Keita becomes the third midfielder to win the Talent Radar Player of the Season award with Atletico’s Jan Oblak being the odd pick in the four year history of this award. Naby Keita also becomes the first ever African (and non-European) to win any Talent Radar award.

The 22-year-old is also the first ever Bundesliga based player to be named Talent Radar Player of the Season, with Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund finishing as runner-up last season, and Ricardo Rodriguez finishing as second runner-up in 2013-14, whilst at Wolfsburg. Impressively, Naby Keita is also the first ever player to win this award after playing the season with a promoted team – a testament to the season RB Leipzig have had despite all the obvious backlash from Bundesliga supporters.

AS Monaco’s young star, Kylian Mbappe finished in second place, still some way off from claiming this title as Naby Keita was the clear front runner – and with that we are yet to see a forward be named Talent Radar Player of the Season. Mbappe becomes the youngest, and only teenager, to finish in the top three of this award in it’s history. Mbappe becomes the second Frenchman to finish in the top three, joining Nabil Fekir who won this award in 2014-15; with Fekir, Mbappe is also the only other Ligue 1 based player to finish in the final three.

Second runner up in 2016-17 is Tottenham Hotspurs’ Dele Alli who had another incredible season and another, so nearly, title challenge. The Englishman is the second youngest player to finish in the top three, beaten ofcourse by Kylian Mbappe. Alli is the second Englishman, and second Spurs’ player, to be in the running for this title as Harry Kane finished in the same spot last season. The two Spurs team-mates are the only Premier League based players to have a significant finish in this award.



We tracked the performances of these youngsters via our Talent Radar Team of the Week and Talent Radar Player Rankings feature (the final standings of which are displayed below).

While Naby Keita was the clear front-runner, honourable mentions must go out to the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Timo Werner, Thomas Lemar, Andre Silva & Benjamin Mendy – all of whom were equally impressive throughout the season and deserved recognition.

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SeasonPlayerAge (at the time)NationalityClub (at the time)Current Club
2016-17Naby Keita22GuineaRB LeipzigRB Leipzig
2ndKylian Mbappe18FranceAS MonacoAS Monaco
3rdDele Alli21EnglandTottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
2015-16Jan Oblak*23SlovakiaAtletico MadridAtletico Madrid
2ndJulian Weigl20GermanyBorussia DortmundBorussia Dortmund
3rdHarry Kane22EnglandTottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
2014-15Nabil Fekir22FranceLyonLyon
2ndMemphis Depay21NetherlandsPSV EindhovenLyon
3rdJose Gaya20SpainValenciaValencia
2013-14Koke22SpainAtletico MadridAtletico Madrid
2ndThibaut Courtois22BelgiumAtletico MadridChelsea
3rdRicardo Rodrgiuez21SwitzerlandWolfsburgWolfsburg

Read all our 2016-17 Talent Radar Awards 

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