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 – 21 years old and below]
Carrying on from our last set of rankings, we look at some of the best young midfielders in Europe, with performances over the last couple of months being taken into consideration. To reiterate, the list now consists of ‘pure’ midfielders, and not wingers as well, which wasn’t the case until this season.
Staying in the same region of the list is Dennis Geiger. The teenager, given his chance this season by Julian Nagelsmann, has done adequately to take his chances. He’s featured in some big games for his side, and come out unscathed. Nagelsmann seems to be protecting the youngster a bit, and this has seen game time for Geiger drop a little in the recent past. That said, the fact that he’s featuring regularly can only be a positive. Like Geiger, Mikel Merino of Newcastle United has also dropped a few places due to a lack of playing time. Of course, this was due to an injury, and the important midfielder has returned to Benitez’s plan immediately. Newcastle seem to have hit a bit of a roadblock of late, and the return of their talisman should see a change in fortunes.
Teams in Ligue 1 seem to have found a model to operate recently, with the likes of Monaco successfully leveraging their youth academy to win trophies, accolades, and ultimately, massive profits. Pioneering this system of course, were Olimpique Lyon. The latest exciting player from their academy is Houssem Aouar. The midfielder has been a fairly regular presence in the starting 11, playing mostly as a central midfielder, but also filling in as a covering player for the defence. He’s shown good passing ability in his appearances, and surely, we have much more to come from Aouar. Just above him, and making a steady climb up the rankings is Guus Til. The Alkmaar man has been nearly ever-present this campaign, scoring 5 times in 14 games for his club. Another player who’s been nearly constant for his team is Lucas Torreira. Sampdoria have enjoyed their best start in Serie A this season for a long time, and the youngster has been at the heart of it all. He’s made his mark on the big stage, scoring in the recent 3-2 win against Juventus as well.
Unmoved after Torreira is Dele Alli. The Englishman is the subject of constant media glare, and despite this, he’s gone about his work without much of a fuss. Having said that, Spurs seem to be in a bit of a rut of late, and players like him will need to take initiative to get them out.
Valencia under Marcellino seem to be a different beast this season, and currently appear to be the most realistic challengers to Barcelona for La Liga. They’ve built their stupendous season on their youngsters, with players like Carlos Soler attracting the right kind of headlines. Soler hasn’t been able to retain the blistering pace with which he started his season though, and as a consequence, he drops off the top spot. Moving in the opposite direction is the Argentine Santiago Ascacibar. The summer signing has continued his solid work, playing some tidy football and adding defensive steel to Schalke’s midfield. A very useful player for them indeed.
In second place is Goncalo Guedes. The PSG man never really got much of a chance in Paris, but has grabbed his chance to impress the Los Che with both hands. His aggressive approach on the ball has made him very important for the way Valencia play, and the results are showing. He’s scored 3 times, and racked up 5 assists in just 8 starts. La Liga opposition will do well to shackle him, if they are to stop Valencia. Surging up the table to claim top spot is Donny van de Beek. The Ajax academy product broke through last season, and has gained prominence this time. His passing and skill on the ball have been important for an Ajax team that is on the road to recovery, and will need to keep winning to try and catch up with PSV.