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2017-18 Young Players’ Team of the Week #6: Anthony Martial & Bruno Xadas feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Young Players Team of the Week with the best young players compiled into an XI from across Europe’s top seven leagues. You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature. 

[Max. Age Limit: 22 years old on match-day for outfield players, 23 years old for goalkeepers]

There was some fascinating football this past week including some top tier European clashes. Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea made the biggest statements there while this weekend the likes of Manchester City, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund can be considered the biggest winners. Our team this week was incredibly hard to compile, not owing to a dearth of options but rather an abundance of players to choose from specifically for the attacking positions. As we mentioned on Twitter, the likes of Hirving Lozano and Richarlison who had fantastic weekends miss out as a result.

Thomas Strakosha, current leader of our Talent Radar Keeper Rankings, is in goal for the second time this season. The Albanian had a comfortable enough game owing to a twenty-three minute period in the second half where his side scored five goals in an eventual 6-1 win over Sassuolo. But it wasn’t all plain sailing as the 22-year-old was called to action multiple times, specifically from Domenico Berardi – a task he was up for throughout the game.

At right-back is 18-year-old Achraf Hakimi, debutant for Real Madrid this weekend in the 2-0 win over Espanyol. The Moroccan became the first Arab to play in Los Blancos’ first team (Zidane & Benzema’s origins aside) and put in a decent shift (seemed a bit nervous on occasions) in what was not as simple a game for the defending champions.

Central defence this week sees an ex-Ajax centre back, along with one who could possibly be taking the void left by his predecessor. Last season’s Young Defender of the Season, Davinson Sanchez, has slotted in well into life at Tottenham Hotspur – and this past weekend saw another confident performance that we’ve grown used to from him in the 4-0 away win over Huddersfield. Partnering him is Maximilian Wober, the 19-year-old Austrian who signed from Rapid Wien, made his full league debut for Ajax this weekend in the 4-0 away win over Heerenveen. Partnering fellow teenager, Matthijs De Ligt in defence, the duo put in a stellar shift. The young defender also got on the scoresheet, with a rather scrappy goal.

We go to Champions League football for the left back position as Celtic’s Kieran Tierney makes his first ever Talent Radar Team of the Week appearance. Alumnus from last season’s 100 Best Young Players to Watch, the Scot was fantastic in his side’s 3-0 win over Anderlecht, even managing an assist in the comfortable victory.

Leon Goretzka, with his excellent free-kick in Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Leverkusen on Friday night, takes his place in central midfield. The German took eleven matches to reach two goals last season; doing that four games early this season. Partnering him in central midfield is Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini who had his best week yet for the capital club. In mid-week he started his first Champions League game for his new side, getting an assist in the 2-1 win over Qarabag; while on the weekend he came off the bench in the clash against AC Milan with one hour to go and set up Edin Dzeko’s opener mid-way through the second half – Roma won 2-0.

Braga’s 6-0 win over Estoril sees them two points behind defending champions Benfica who are in third – instrumental in the big win was 19-year-old Bruno Xadas. It was the teenagers’ best game yet in senior football, truly announcing his arrival to viewers. He first squared a ball perfectly on the counter for Dyego Sousa to open the scoring before delivering a perfect free-kick for Raul Silva to head home. But his best moment was just before the hour mark, receiving a cross field ball outside the box and absolutely plummeting it home with his left for his second goal of the season. On the opposite flank was Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, who much like many members of the squad (Mkhitaryan, Fellaini to name a few) has revived his stint at the Manchester club. Across the Champions League in mid-week and the Premier League this weekend, the Frenchman managed two assists and a goal from the spot.

Upfront sees two contrasting young strikers in terms of footballing stories – firstly we have the world-renowned 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe who had another solid week for PSG. In their 3-0 win over Bayern, Mbappe received the plaudits for his fantastic foot work to set up Edinson Cavani and leave David Alaba in his wake. While this past weekend in the 6-2 win over Bordeaux, he set up the side’s 5th goal with a perfect deep cross for Julian Draxler to volley before the German returned the favour in the second half, playing Mbappe through for his third goal of the season. Partnering him is comparatively lesser known, Dimitri Oberlin of Basel, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg. The Swiss youngster scored twice as Basel coasted to a 5-0 win over Benfica in the Champions League. His energy and determination was there for all to see as he ran from his own box at break-neck speed to make his way into the opposition box and score the first of his goals on the counter.

Read all our Talent Radar Team of the Week articles here

Sami Faizullah

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