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Talent Radar

U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #11: Will Hughes and Donny van de Beek 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]

In goal this week is Ajax’s Cameroonian – Andre Onana. Though his side romped to a comfortable 8-0 away victory over NAC Breda, the 21-year-old was called into action on a couple of occasions, being forced into six saves throughout the game. His task was pretty straightforward as those ahead of him took care of business on the other end, but Onana was confident in his duties when required.

Liverpool’s 19-year-old defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold, is at right back after another impressive performance at home to Southampton in a 3-0 win. The Englishman’s forward exploits were once again in the limelight, including a darting run into the box early in the second half, but he once again showed maturity in the defensive phase of play. Manager Jurgen Klopp has employed a rotation policy for the role with Nathaniel Clyne out with an injury as both Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez alternate at right-back – both impressing in their own right.

While Mauro Icardi took the plaudits in Inter’s 2-0 win over Atalanta, defender Milan Skriniar put in another fantastic shift, continuing his form in the season and being widely regarded as the best defender in Italy’s domestic league (irrespective of age group). He made five tackles as he completely shut out the oppositions once again in a result that sees Luciano Spaletti’s resurgent side leap-frog Juventus into second place.

Partnering him in central defence is another heroic performer from the 8-0 Ajax win earlier mentioned, Matthijs de Ligt. While we are well aware of the 18-year-old’s defensive capabilities, it was his performance on the other end that warranted his inclusion in this week’s team. The Dutchman opened the scoring from a Lasse Schone delivery, scoring with a well placed header before adding his second and the side’s fifth just after the half-hour mark – the second another set piece delivery, this time from Hakim Ziyech.

Nathan Ake makes a return to the Talent Radar Team of the Week, as Bournemouth continue their rise up the table, this time with a 4-0 win at home to Huddersfield Town. Though the Dutchman played in central defence, he has been positionally adjusted for the purpose of the team. Ake’s job was made far more difficult with Simon Francis’ sending off at the end of the first half; but with five successful aerial duels and further crucial defending, he ensured his side kept the opposition out while the ten men added further goals.

Will Hughes announced himself to the Premier League with his first goal for Watford in his side’s 2-0 win over West Ham United. He pushed forward as the Hornets piled on the pressure, with the Englishman pouncing on a lucky break to score. But the goal was only the start of it, as Hughes ran the show from midfield, creating multiple opportunities (five in total), including Richarlison’s second half goal. Having burst onto the scene a couple of season’s back, Hughes may well be reaching the heights his early career performances promised.

Uruguayan Lucas Torreira makes his second team of the week appearance, after putting in a tireless shift in Sampdoria’s 3-2 win over Juventus. He scored the games’ second goal with a powerful strike from the edge of the box to extend his side’s lead. Having shown what he can do with a free-kick a couple of week’s back against Chievo, he put in another delivery towards the far-post to Fabio Quagliarella, who in turn set up Gian Marco Ferrari for the third goal.

It’s not often that we have three players from the same club in any week’s XI, but such was the performance of Ajax on the weekend, that it was hard to ignore the ones included, and yet we have to acknowledge the fact that more could have been added. And so on the right side of attacking midfield is 20-year-old Donny van de Beek, who completed a stunning hat-trick in the 8-0 win. The first came from some good movement into the box as Justin Kluivert set-up the midfielder, the second was a neat turn and shot from the right hand side. His third, with the game already done as a contest, was a placed shot from outside the box.

We stay in the Eredivise for the central attacking midfield position as Sparta Rotterdam’s Deroy Duarte scored his first two senior level goals in a 2-2 draw against Willem II. Both goals came in the first half, four minutes apart, with both being powerful shots from the edge of the box. Sparta might be disappointed at not having taken all three points given their 2-0 lead after under thirty minutes, with the result leaving them only four points ahead of bottom spot.

The left side sees Anthony Martial take his place after the Frenchman scored in Manchester United’s 4-1 comeback victory over Newcastle United. His goal coming in the first half after a well hung ball from Paul Pogba to his countrymen, who made no mistake from his head. The team is led up front by another Watford man, Richarlison, who had multiple chances in the game, finally taking one in the second half from Will Hughes’ through ball. He picked the ball on the left and drove at the defence, before finally finishing past Jordan Pickford at the far post.

Read all our Talent Radar Team of the Week articles here

Sami Faizullah

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