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Top 20 Underrated Summer Transfer Window Prospects

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 6, 2014

Top 20 Underrated Summer Transfer Window Prospects

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    Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    Here are the top 20 underrated summer transfer window prospects 23 years or younger.

    Honourable Mentions

    • John Stones (Everton; 19)
    • Pedro Obiang (Sampdoria; 22)
    • Niklas Sule (Hoffenheim; 18)
    • Keita Balde Diao (Lazio; 19)
    • Ramon Azeez (Almeria; 21)

    The aim of this slideshow is to broaden your player database on underrated prospects who could be summer transfer window targets.

    This means hyped-up young guns have been excluded from this list, such as:

    • Adam Maher (PSV Eindhoven; 20)
    • Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon; 22)
    • Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad; 23)
    • Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao; 19)
    • Julian Draxler (Schalke; 20)
    • Koke (Atletico Madrid; 22)
    • Luke Shaw (Southampton; 18)
    • Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan; 19)
    • Paul Pogba (Juventus; 21)
    • Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg; 21)
    • Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim; 22)
    • Romelu Lukaku (Everton—on loan from Chelsea; 20)
    • Serge Aurier (Toulouse; 21)
    • William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon; 22)
    • Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich; 22)

20. Adam Taggart, Newcastle Jets CF, Age: 20

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    Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

    Australian national team manager Ange Postecoglou must select Adam Taggart for the Socceroos' 2014 FIFA World Cup squad. 

    Emile Heskey was Newcastle Jets' marquee signing, but Taggart is the game-winning player who can poach goals and score from long distance. 

    Three years ago, Taggart was watching and learning from Robbie Fowler at Perth Glory.

    Now Taggart is the best centre-forward in Australia.

    If only Glory held on to him. 

    He is the reigning A-League golden boot holder and A-League young footballer of the year. 

    Newcastle teammate Kew Jaliens, a member of Louis van Gaal's Eredivisie-winning AZ team during the 2008-09 season, believes Taggart can make the next step up.

    Per Dave Lewis at SBS the World Game, Jaliens said:

    I think he [Taggart] is ready to go now if the chance comes for him. I think his style would be perfectly suited for a country like Holland, where they are always looking for a target man. They just want a striker who can score goals and that is his best attribute.

     

     

19. Raphael Guerreiro, Lorient LB, Age: 20

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Raphael Guerreiro has cemented the Lorient left-back starting position.

    He is a decent tackler who prefers cutting off passes, having registered 90 interceptions.

    That said, at times he has shown naivety when defending and needs to be tighter in his marking if he wants to earn a move to a major European club.

    From an attacking perspective, he is fleet-footed, pacey and can get past opposing players easily. 

    He has combined well with left winger Kevin Monnet-Paquet. 

     

18. Jean-Paul Boetius, Feyenoord LF, Age: 20

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    PSV Eindhoven left forward Memphis Depay is the headline grabber, but Feyenoord left forward Jean-Paul Boetius is just as good.

    He may end up having the better career. 

    League OnlyGoalsShots Per GoalAssistsKey Passes Per Game
         
    Boetius 105.991.3
    Depay 1213.572.7
         

    Boetius takes 7.6 shots less to score per goal and has registered two more assists in the Eredivisie.

17. Joel Veltman, Ajax CB, Age: 22

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    Patrick Post/Associated Press

    If Frank de Boer leaves Ajax for the Tottenham Hotspur job, per Gerry Cox at the Telegraph, signing centre-back Joel Veltman will be on the cards.

    Veltman can play out from the back, completing 89.2 percent of his passes, and he is one of the Eredivisie's best defenders. 

    One red flag he has is switching off at inopportune moments, just like former Ajax and current Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen

16. Mattia Perin, Genoa GK, Age: 21

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    Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    After a disastrous game in Genoa's 5-2 defeat to Fiorentina early in the season, Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin has rallied to end up having a great season. 

    He has saved penalties from AC Milan centre-forward Mario Balotelli and Atalanta striker German Denis this season. 

    Perin has kept Genoa in many games with save after save. 

15. Timothee Kolodziejczak, Nice LB/CB, Age: 22

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    Claude Paris/Associated Press

    Timothee Kolodziejczak is built like a centre-back, stands 6'1" and weighs 165 pounds, but he is predominantly a left-back.

    That said, he has slotted in at centre-back when Mathieu Bodmer, Nemanja Pejcinovic or Romain Genevois have not played.  

    Kolodziejczak moves smoothly in possession and is a good passer. 

    He offers great defensive cover, winning back the ball 147 times in 32 Ligue 1 games this season. 

14. Benjamin Stambouli, Montpellier CB/CM, Age: 23

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Montpellier's Benjamin Stambouli is willing to do a shift in defence or midfield for the sake of fitting into the team formation on the day. 

    He has started 91.2 percent of his games in midfield but has filled in at centre-back. 

    He is a reliable, rugged and resilient footballer. 

13. Jeison Murillo, Granada CB, Age: 21

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    Daniel Tejedor/Associated Press

    Granada centre-back Jeison Murillo was briefly infamous for his below-the-belt tactics in dealing with Real Madrid right forward Gareth Bale

    Don't let that sway your opinion of Murillo.

    He is keen to sweep up play and launch counter-attacks.

    He probably won't be starring for Colombia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but by 2018, he could be an established centre-back at a major European club.

     

12. Felipe Gutierrez, Twente CM, Age: 23

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    Twente have had world-class talents in the past such as Bryan Ruiz, Collins John, Eljero Elia, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Luuk de Jong, Marko Arnautovic, Ola John, etc.

    You can have world-class potential, though it does not automatically mean the prospect will turn into a world-class footballer as evidenced by those aforementioned players. 

    Felipe Gutierrez is a midfielder with an all-round playing style. 

    He has accumulated 106 tackles, averages 62 passes per game and is a cut above most players on the field.

11. Sergi Darder, Malaga CM, Age: 20

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Malaga central midfielder Sergi Darder has connected well with Ignacio Camacho.

    Camacho rushes at opposing players, aiming to win back the ball, while Darder looks to keep momentum flowing for Malaga. 

    While Darder can tackle, he doesn't strike fear like Camacho, a physical footballer who throws his weight around. 

     

10. Jonathan Schmid, Freiburg RB/RW, Age: 23

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    Michael Kienzler/Associated Press

    Freiburg's Jonathan Schmid is one of the best set-piece takers in the Bundesliga.

    Schmid, who can start as a right-back or a right winger, can create goals via corners or score long-range free-kicks.

    Schmid scored 11 league goals last season and has registered eight assists this season. 

    He is a handy player who has the ability to play at a higher level. 

9. Johannes Geis, Mainz DM, Age: 20

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    Mainz defensive midfielder Johannes Geis plays better than his statistics. 

    Subjectively speaking, he sprays the ball around, makes tackles and is constantly improving his dead-ball ability. 

    Yet, when you look at his statistics, it is nothing special: 23rd in the Bundesliga for tackles per game (2.9) and 131st in pass completion percentage (75.7).

    Statistics do not tell you the full story of Geis because he exudes class and has elite upside. 

     

8. Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord CM, Age: 22

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    Burak Kara/Getty Images

    Feyenoord central midfielder Jordy Clasie is an outstanding player to watch. 

    There is a contrast in his playing style: a pit-bull without the ball and an artist with it. 

    He creates from deep, orchestrates midfield proceedings and can play incisive passes. 

7. Allan, Udinese CM, Age: 23

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    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Udinese central midfielder Allan could be one of the best midfielders in the next few years. 

    He is a prolific tackler, racking up 134 tackles in 31 Serie A games this season. 

    He has the potential to transition into a world-class, box-to-box midfielder. 

    What is missing from his games is consistently supplying goals and assists (no goals, two assists) since he finds himself in the right position but lacks the end product.

6. Vincent Aboubakar, Lorient CF, Age: 22

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Lorient centre-forward Vincent Aboubakar has scored the same amount of Ligue 1 goals (16) as Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain) this season. 

    Aboubakar has gone from a frustrating talent at Valenciennes to one of the best No. 9s in Ligue 1 for Lorient. 

    Credit has to be given to manager Christian Gourcuff who has tapped into Aboubakar's high upside. 

    If Gourcuff leaves Lorient to become the manager of the Algerian national team, per SuperSport, could this precipitate Aboubakar's departure?  

5. Ruben Pardo, Real Sociedad DM, Age: 21

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Real Sociedad midfielder Ruben Pardo is more alike to a deep-lying playmaker than a defensive midfielder.

    He only averages 1.1 tackles per game, so it is an area he should work on. 

    He has to become one of the best passers in Spain if he is to start week in, week out without contributing as much defensively. 

    This season, he has started 60.1 percent of league games he has been involved in. 

    He already has accumulated eight assists and some of his long-passes are immaculate, so keep an eye on him. 

4. Loris Karius, Mainz GK, Age: 20

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    Lutz Matthias/Associated Press

    A series of events led to Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius' ascension. 

    Christian Wetklo, who started 31 Bundesliga games last season, fell out with management, per Bild (h/t Thomas Zocher at Sky Sports). 

    Mainz have made no effort to reconcile with Wetklo, presumably because they wanted to push him out anyway, which is also the case with Heinz Muller, who was axed from the first team, per Mainz's official website

    Karius has taken advantage. 

    He was brilliant when he made eight saves in Mainz's 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

    While he conceded four against Borussia Dortmund in Mainz's 4-2 defeat, he pulled off some outstanding reflex saves. 

    He could be the next great German 'keeper.

    Mind you, as football writer Jonathan Wilson points out, per Deutsche Welle: "In the last 10 years or so, no country has produced as many good goalkeepers as Germany."

    Karius is just one of many young up-and-coming German 'keepers with world-class potential.  

3. Tonny Vilhena, Feyenoord CM, Age: 19

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Feyenoord central midfielder Tonny Vilhena has been phenomenal in the past two months. 

    He has scored four goals and created three goals in his last eight games while commanding midfield. 

    He averages 2.3 tackles and intercepts 1.3 passes per game. 

    The transfer gossip columns have consistently used Adam Maher (PSV Eindhoven; 20), but Vilhena has the same upside. 

2. Simone Scuffet, Udinese GK, Age: 17

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    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon believes Udinese 'keeper Simone Scuffet will be included in the Italian national team's FIFA World Cup squad, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Ben Gladwell at ESPN).

    Scuffet has the prototypical height (6'2"), he moves well, he is a superb shot-stopper, and he has world-class upside.

    As a 17-year-old, he is already better than teammates Ivan Kelava and Zeljko Brkic. 

     

1. Robin Knoche, Wolfsburg CB, Age: 21

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    Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    Wolfsburg centre-back Robin Knoche is a dependable footballer. 

    He is a low-risk tackler (only conceding 23 free-kicks in 31 Bundesliga games), is a passing outlet from the back (averages 56 passes per game) and is strong in the air. 

    Knoche is more comfortable intercepting passes, and while he does not give away pointless free-kicks, he has to be more assertive when going in for the tackle. 

    He is a talented passer, but sometimes he misses his targets when launching long diagonal passes. He needs to up his pass-completion percentage from 83.5 to 90. 

    If he continues to develop, he is good enough one day to play for Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

     

    @allanjianga

    Statistics via WhoScored.com

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