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U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #14: Houssem Aouar and David Neres 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]

Ajax scored a convincing 3-0 win over rivals and runaway leaders PSV to narrow the gap at the top of the table to just 5 points. An excellent win for the Amsterdammers was punctuated by very credible performances from some of their young stars, like Onana, De Jong, and Neres (both of whom feature later on this list). For now, the focus lies squarely on Andre Onana. The keeper has been a regular name on our Talent Radar, with his agility and propensity to step out and play – winning much admiration. He had to make three saves, but did his job without too much fuss, and that’s always a big plus for any keeper. His teammate in defence, Frenkie De Jong also made quite an impact, but going forward. De Jong is nominally a midfielder, so there might have been some concern about lining him up in defence against the likes of an in-form Lozano. De Jong dispelled such fears (thanks partly to PSV’s passivity as well), contributing greatly to an attack that needed to break down a sturdy defence. His astounding nine dribbles and assist earn him a spot on this team. The Eredivise will be tightly poised post this result, gamble to call a winner at this point, much like

Partnering him in the middle of our defence is Milan Skriniar. The Nerazzuri earned a very creditable draw at the Juventus Stadium this weekend, keeping them atop Serie A. The trio of Miranda, Handanovic and Skriniar will take much of the credit for this, as they kept a clean sheet against a strong Juventus attack. The ball playing defender, Skriniar, contributed seven clearances. He also maintained a 96% pass accuracy, the highest on the pitch bar Bentancur (who was an 84th minute substitute). Ball retention is an under-appreciated aspect of defensive football, and Skriniar did a fine job of facilitating that.

The first of the wide men in defence this week is Achraf Hakimi. The young Real Madrid right back scored in the demolition of Sevilla, as Real Madrid looked fluent for probably the first time this season. The youngster was quite dominant down the right flank, scoring once, and making five interceptions. On the left is Pedro Rebocho. The left back picked up an assist in Guingamp’s domineering 4-0 win over Dijon.

The middle of the park features quite an eclectic bunch. First among this selection is from Ligue 1 too. Houssem Aouar was everywhere as Lyon turned around a half time deficit to record a thrilling win against Amiens. Aside from his goals (including an injury time winner) he made three tackles, three interceptions, three dribbles, and had the second highest touches out of everyone on the pitch. A truly dominant performance from the teenager, and one that is sure to earn him a ton of goodwill. Alongside him is Max Eggestien from Werder. Werder find themselves in a relegation battle, and the win against Dortmund was crucial for them to stay in touch with those above them. While he opened the scoring with a left footed strike, this was a better defensive performance from him overall, as he chipped in with three interceptions in midfield. Another man in a relegation battle is Roda’s Simon Gustafson, who scored a brace to put Roda in a strong position this weekend. His second was scored with a fine left footed shot, and while his passing did leave a bit to be desired, criticism of someone who scored twice does seem a little pedantic.

The first wide man for this team is David Neres. The Brazilian was a useful contributor last season as well, as Ajax took the title race to the last day. He scored the breakthrough goal in this game, giving his side a precious advantage against a circumspect PSV, and opening the game up. On the other side is Martin Terrier – the left sided attacker scored and assisted one this weekend, as Strasbourg continued their fine form to beat Bordeaux 0-3.

All by his lonesome self up front is Kylian Mbappe. The teenage sensation has been the third wheel in terms of dramatics, but is the perfect complement for Neymar and Cavani with his speed and sharp finishing. A goal against Bayern in midweek was ultimately for a lost cause, but a goal and assist against a pretty hapless Lille side provided a soothing balm for Emery’s men, allowing them to stop the rot that had set in with two defeats in a row.

Read all our Talent Radar Team of the Week articles here

Vishal Patel

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