Youngsters Who Still Need 1 More Year
Here are six European-based football prospects who still need one more year before potentially maturing into elite players.
The point of this article isn’t to list the best young talents (20 or younger) playing in Europe, but instead to list gifted youngsters who’ll play limited minutes or get loaned out.
The list will be broken down into seven leagues: Bundesliga, Eredivisie, La Liga, Ligue 1, Premier League and Serie A.
Please note, the leagues are listed in alphabetical order.
Bundesliga: Max Meyer (Schalke; 17)
Max Meyer flourished in a free-roaming role under Stefan Böger for the Germans during the 2012 Euro U-17s.
The UEFA technical committee noted Meyer's prowess in a tournament that lacked goals:
Only two players found the net more than once, both of them Germans, neither of them strikers.
Max Meyer, top scorer with three, operated as shadow striker or wide on the left in the line of three in their 4-2-3-1; Leon Goretzka, a powerful upfield runner from a screening-midfielder position, scored two from set plays.
For the Schalke U-19s, he scored 21 times and registered 13 assists in 29 games, giving you an idea how dominant the fleet-footed playmaker is.
He was awarded the 2012 Fritz Walter silver medal, with the gold going to Bochum midfielder Goretzka, who's now a Schalke player.
All three 2012 medal winners are on Schalke's books: Leon Goretzka (gold), Max Meyer (silver) and Pascal Itter (bronze).— Schalke UK news (@Schalke_UK) July 15, 2013
But can Meyer make a smooth transition from youth to senior level?
The right side will belong to Jefferson Farfán, who led the club in shots created per game. And with every passing month, Julian Draxler looks more and more like a German Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 19-year-old 6'2" Draxler is at home on the left as a attacking midfielder, but he's also had success in a deep-lying forward position.
Should Meyer's career hit a brick wall, he'll have to seek greener pastures, which was what Mesut Özil did in 2008.
Julian Green (Bayern Munich; 18): The Tampa-born player is known to Pep Guardiola after a hat trick in a preseason game.
He started on the left, showed pace and left a memorable impression.
Reserve manager Erik ten Hag, who's overseeing the development of Alessandro Schöpf, Kevin Friesenbichler (currently injured), Patrick Weihrauch, Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg, Vladimir Rankovic, et al., will be informing Guardiola of how gifted Green is.
So far in Green's first three games for Bayern II, he's scored twice and created three goals.
He's not going to make many appearances for Guardiola, but the American-born-German is one to put on your watch-list.
By the way, Ten Hag's Bayern II team already have a goal difference of +14 a few weeks into the season.
Marc Stendera (Eintracht Frankfurt; 17): With Alexander Meier out, Stendera was a surprise starter in an April league game vs. Schalke.
Even if he doubled his age, he would've been four years younger than veteran goalkeeper Oka Nikolov, who made nine saves that day.
Stendera started in the No. 10 position, flanked by Takashi Inui on the left and Stefan Aigner on the right.
The teenager was rash in possession, giving away the ball left, right and centre, but he did get an assist and would've scored if not for the woodwork.
Marc Stendera, 17, scores then tears his ACL in Frankfurt friendly. Will miss most of the season, a shame for one of Germany's best talents— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) July 14, 2013
Maximilian Arnold (Wolfsburg; 19): He was 15 when he played for the Wolfsburg U-17s. Seventeen when he made his Bundesliga debut. Eighteen when he netted his first Bundesliga goal. Nineteen will be the year he adjusts to playing regularly. He started five league games last season, scoring three times in a deep-lying forward role.
17 - At 17 years and 183 days, Wolfsburg's Maximilian Arnold has become this season's youngest Bundesliga player today in Augsburg. Youth.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) November 26, 2011
Eredivisie: Jürgen Locadia (PSV; 19)
Jürgen Locadia has the makings of another PSV goal-scoring machine, following in the footsteps of Luc Nilis, Mateja Kezman, Romário, Ronaldo, Ruud Gullit and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
However, 86.7 percent of Locadia's league games last season were sub-affected.
Even in the recent UEFA Champions League qualifier against Zulte Waregem—the team of Thorgan Hazard, the little brother of Eden—Locadia started on the bench before scoring after good wing play from 19-year-old Joshua Brenet.
Earlier in the game, the immensely skilled Memphis Depay, 19, scored from long range.
19-year-old centre-back Karim Rekik, on loan from Manchester City, looked solid at the back.
Phillip Cocu's squad is filled with elite prospects and should Depay, Brenet and Rekik start week-in, week-out, they'll make exponential growth.
6 – PSV's Jurgen Locadia scored the most goals (6) coming on as a substitute in the Eredivisie season 12/13. Impact.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) July 11, 2013
Whereas with Locadia, it seems he's being pigeon-holed as an impact-sub which will hinder his potential from breaking out into an Eredivisie superstar—something Feyenoord phenom Tonny Vilhena, 18, won't have any problems with this season.
Kyle Ebecilio (Twente; 19): Burst onto the scene as the Netherland's next big thing during the 2011 Euro U-17s. Took home UEFA.com's Golden Player award but failed to break into Arsenal's first team. Has made a sensible decision to return to the Eredivisie. Talent isn't the concern, staying healthy is.
Richairo Zivković (Groningen; 16): Whenever a schoolboy shares the field with grown men, it's always an eye-opener. Zivković is still a kid with no real expectations to transition into a world-class player this season or even next season. Groningen have been stepping stones for the likes of Arjen Robben, Dusan Tadic, Luis Suárez and Tim Matavz in the past.
Richairo Zivkovic, 16 years - 088 days (FC Groningen) becomes 4th youngest player in Dutch Eredivisie (since 1955).— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) December 2, 2012
Tim Hölscher (Twente; 18): Had a run of games in the first team last season but hasn't consolidated a starting position. Demonstrated playmaking potential with assists in three successive games.
La Liga: Jesé (Real Madrid; 20)
Real Madrid management convinced Jesé that his long-term future was with Real Madrid and promptly submitted an absurdly inflated bid for Gareth Bale—Florentino Pérez is full of it.
Jesé scored 22 times and created 12 goals for Real Madrid Castilla, top-scored as Spain won the Euro U-19s and received the Bronze Shoe during the U-20 World Cup.
Why can't Real just give him an extended run in the first team?
Pérez signed Isco, Illarra and kept Jesé, Morata to add Spanish players to Real Madrid, but the club members consider them only complements.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) July 29, 2013
Álvaro Vadillo (Real Betis; 18): Confident teenager who loves to take on opposing players. Though, still very raw.
José Giménez (Atlético Madrid; 18): Described as a "magnificently promising defender" by South American correspondent Tim Vickery, Giménez is likely to spend his first season watching and learning.
Oliver Torres (Atlético Madrid; 18): Has an innate ability to calculate his teammates' runs and then deliver a pin-point long pass. A genius with the ball, but it remains to be seen if he can become a regular in the Atléti starting XI this season.
Barcelona scouts at the U20 World Cup drew up excellent reports on Atletico midfielder Oliver Torres (18), who has a 24M buyout fee. [sport]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) July 18, 2013
Ligue 1: Neal Maupay (Nice; 16)
In the 459 minutes Neal Maupay logged last season, he wasn't an exceptional passer, didn't register an assist and was anonymous aside from when he scored.
16 - Neal Maupay is the second youngest goalscorer in the history of Ligue 1 (16 y, 4 mths & 1 day) behind Laurent Roussey. Baby.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 15, 2012
Some defenders didn't bother picking him up since he would intentionally stray offside.
He's a pure goal poacher, but presuming Darío Cvitanich, who scored 19 Ligue 1 goals, stays at the club, Maupay will have to bide his time.
Adrien Rabiot (Paris Saint-Germain; 18): With Laurent Blanc at the helm, you'd presume Rabiot would be given a run in the first team. Can he play at the world-class level of Blaise Matuidi? Of course not. The issue may be that Rabiot wants to be a starter every week, something Blanc cannot guarantee, which could lead to another loan spell for Rabiot.
Anthony Martial (Monaco; 17): A regular at French youth international level, he's not going to get any game time as long as Falcao stays healthy. Martial's upside was high enough for him to be subbed on four times as a 17-year-old for Lyon last season.
Anthony Martial is fast. Really fast. And, against other kids his age at least, good. Really good. A shame he had to go to Monaco— Robert Smithson (@_bobeto_) July 23, 2013
Mario Lemina (Lorient; 19): In an ill-tempered match against Marseille, Lemina completed 90 percent of his passes, made nine tackles (yes, nine!), intercepted four passes and just flat out dominated. He's had a few decent outings in other games but hasn't dominated to the extent he did vs. Marseille, which is probably the reason why he only started five games last season. If he can be more consistent, you're talking about a world-class centre midfielder.
Premier League: Lucas Piazón (Chelsea; 19)
Chelsea manager Jose Mournho says quartet Nathaniel Chalobah, Josh McEachran, Lucas Piazon and Wallace will be loaned out next season.— NextGeneration (@NextGenSeries) July 23, 2013
Chelsea must loan Lucas Piazón to a Premier League team, so he can get accustomed to the pace of the league.
In most top-flight teams, Lucas would be a starter, but the Blues have stockpiled some of the best young players in the world, meaning his chances of starting are limited.
If Romelu Lukaku, who played 98 first division games when he arrived at Chelsea, had to spend one season doing nothing and another season on loan, Lucas will need to prove his value on loan to another Premier League team.
Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United; 18): His balance is impeccable and his understanding of the game at such a young age is noteworthy. Yep, he's Belgian (no surprise there). Judging by his recent comments, he won't do a Paul Pogba.
Bertrand Traoré (Chelsea; 17): You can list every Chelsea player 20 years or under for this article, but Traoré is different. For a 17-year-old to instantly control the ball, move, pass and shoot with such fluidity suggests he'll be a world beater.
Remember, he was competing as a 14-year-old against 17 year olds at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. September 6 (the day the Blues can sign him) can't come fast enough. Once it does, provided that he plays well in the reserves, a January loan to a championship or a struggling Premier League club are options the Blues management will entertain.
Bertrand Traore our future maybe ? pic.twitter.com/uWkFitwegc— Skinner (@skinner_on) July 26, 2013
Chuba Akpom (Arsenal; 17): Against inferior opposition, fringe players need to produce "look at me" performances if they're really determined to succeed at the highest level. This is what Akpom has done—he just can't stop scoring.
Walcott in, Walcott out. In out in out, shake it all about. You bring on Chuba Akpom and you win a cup, that's what it's all about.— Wenger Knows Best (@wengerknowsbest) July 26, 2013
Serie A: Piotr Zieliński (Udinese; 19)
Like Márcio Amoroso, Kwadwo Asamoah, Gökhan Inler and Alexis Sánchez, don't be surprised if Piotr Zieliński makes a significant move in the next few years.
He had a bit-part role last season, but when he started in the 1-0 win over Lazio, he registered an assist, created three shots for his teammates, completed five dribbles and won back possession five times.
Ambidextrous, dynamic, has good vision and in the No. 10 role, he can transform into a special player, only if he gets regular playing time.
Udinese starlet Piotr Zielinski has admitted that he would like to play a more regular role in the team next season http://t.co/W5N9J48sp3— footballitalia (@footballitalia) July 22, 2013
Felipe Anderson (Lazio; 20): Gone are the days of Sergio Cragnotti's lavish spending, so when Lazio announced the €8 million signing of Felipe, it was a surprise.
Felipe Anderson has joined Lazio from Santos. Young, (reasonably) talented attacking midfielder, but overpriced at €8m. Inconsistent.— Christopher Atkins (@Chris_Elastico) July 9, 2013
Jherson Vergara (AC Milan; 19): He made interception after interception during the FIFA U-20 World Cup. He's physically solid and comfortable with the ball. One minor problem was his tendency to get caught out trying to intercept passes.
Tin Jedvaj (Roma; 17): Roma aren't Chelsea where they can ask another club to fill in a blank cheque. So Roma buying Jedvaj, a Croatian youth international, for €5 million, suggests he's projected to be one of the best centre-backs in the world. Roma were right about Marquinhos and they could be right about Jedvaj, who'll spend the next year getting used to life in Rome.
Photo confirmation of Tin Jedvaj's move to AS Roma from Dinamo Zagreb. (Source: asroma.it) pic.twitter.com/Km1aAqd9lb— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) July 11, 2013