21 Best Under-21 Summer Transfer Window Prospects

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJune 26, 2015

21 Best Under-21 Summer Transfer Window Prospects

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    Here are the 21 best under-21 summer transfer window prospects. 

    Please note the following:

    • Footballer has to be 21 years old or younger.
    • The players will be subjectively ranked via most recent form, upside and potential resell value.

    Long-List Cuts

    Brazilian forward/midfielder Anderson Talisca, 21, Benfica.

    German left attacking midfielder Julian Draxler, 21, Schalke.

    Belgian midfielder Adnan Januzaj, 20, Manchester United.

    Dutch centre-back Terence Kongolo, 21, Feyenoord.

    Spanish goalkeeper Sergio Rico, 21, Sevilla.

21. Morgan Sanson (Montpellier)

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    Montpellier's French midfielder Morgan Sanson, 20, has an all-round playing style.

    He pressurises opposing players into mistakes and is a threat on the ball having scored six goals and provided three assists in 32 Ligue 1 games last season.

    Sanson would be ranked higher, but there are concerns after a cruciate ligament tear, which could adversely affect his transfer stock and the likelihood of a suitor gambling on his fitness.

20. Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion)

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    West Bromwich Albion's English centre-forward Saido Berahino, 21, is moving on having been engulfed in controversy.

    Despite being tagged with character concerns, Berahino continues to produce.

    He scored 14 goals in 38 Premier League games for West Bromwich Albion, a 13th-ranked side last season.

    He outscored Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (12 goals) and Manchester City's Wilfried Bony (11 goals) [1].

    If a top club invests in Berahino, he needs to be given leeway to fail.

    Say he's kicked to the curb the instant he messes up, he will never live up to his potential. This is why he has to be surrounded by a positive environment.

    Berahino should be ready for the upcoming Premier League season after initial fears over a knee injury, per Steve Madeley at the Express and Star.

    [1] Nine of Bony's 11 goals were scored for Swansea City.

19. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

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    Southampton's English midfielder James Ward-Prowse, 20, possesses an outstanding skill set.

    A set-piece specialist, Ward-Prowse is an accurate passer and provides creativity. He registered six assists in 25 Premier League games last season.

    He needs to work on his defending if he plays as a No. 8. In the No. 10 or No. 11 role, he possesses elite potential.

18. Sven van Beek (Feyenoord)

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    Feyenoord's Dutch centre-back Sven van Beek, 20, is a viable alternative for top clubs unwilling to pay premium money for overpriced defensive prospects.

    Winning 110 headers in 33 Eredivisie games, Van Beek is a dominant aerial presence.

    He is also comfortable on the ball and links the defence with midfield. If he continues to improve, he will be a coveted defender for top clubs.

17. Jordan Amavi (Nice)

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    Nice's French left-back Jordan Amavi, 21, will likely use the club as a platform to a great career, a la Patrice Evra.

    Playing for Nice from 2000-02, Evra went on to become one of the best left-backs of his generation.

    Amavi is a world-class ball-winner, accumulating 3.9 tackles and 4.6 interceptions per game.

16. John Stones (Everton)

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    Everton's English centre-back John Stones, 21, is a fine ball-playing defender.

    Stones completes 89.5 per cent of his 45.1 passes per game and can carry the ball out of defence. He is technically superb.

    If he can become more physically dominant, Stones will be playing for one of the Premier League heavyweights.

15. Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient)

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    Lorient's Portuguese left-winger/left-back Raphael Guerreiro, 21, has been a revelation.

    Entering the 2014/15 season, he was goalless in 2,700 minutes over 30 Ligue 1 games. He is now a scorer, registering seven goals in 34 Ligue 1 games last season.

    Guerreiro is gritty, he interchanges from defence to midfield and he is always looking to improve.

14. Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax)

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    Ajax's Dutch right-forward Anwar El Ghazi, 20, has the physical and technical talent to develop into a superstar.

    Scoring nine goals and providing eight assists in 31 Eredivisie games, El Ghazi at times resembled a world-beater.

    However, his character was questioned by Dutch scout Piet de Visser, per De Volkskrant (h/t Michael Bell at Football Oranje):

    [El Ghazi] looks up to Cristiano Ronaldo, but Ronaldo played [at the Toulon Tournament] admirably and [it contributed to him earning] a transfer to Manchester United.

    While El Ghazi showed little, became angry when he was changed by [Netherlands manager Remy Reijnierse] and [quit] ... I was certainly not the only one who noticed it. Foreign scouts asked me what the hell is this?

    Ronaldo also had his petulant moments, but his professionalism ensured it didn't become a reoccurring problem that hindered his performances.

    This could be the same with El Ghazi.

13. Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven)

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    PSV Eindhoven's Dutch left-back Jetro Willems, 21, is lethal when charging forward.

    Willems registered 13 assists and created 75 scoring chances in 30 Eredivisie games. He at times had a telepathic connection with Luuk de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum.

    There is enough attacking potency for Willems to move into a more advanced role, rather than staying as a left-back.

12. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Monaco)

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    Monaco's Belgian left attacking midfielder Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, 21, is a nightmare for opposing defenders.

    Carrasco is a tricky dribbler, he can be a one-man counter-attack and he is a dual-threat to score or create.

    He contributed to 16 goals in 36 Ligue 1 games last season (six goals, 10 assists).

11. Abdul Rahman Baba (Augsburg)

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    Augsburg's Ghanaian left-back Abdul Rahman Baba, 20, is no longer a relative unknown after a breakout campaign.

    Baba provides width going forward and he is strong defensively. He averaged 3.5 tackles and 2.7 interceptions per game last season.

    He needs to be more diligent in possession because he tends to give the ball away. 

10. Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid)

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    Atletico Madrid's Spanish central midfielder Oliver Torres, 20, has so much potential. 

    He has the passing range and vision to operate as a deep-lying playmaker, yet his positioning is so good he can be a match-winner as a goalscoring midfielder. 

    If Oliver is given a chance, he will live up to the hype and become a world-class footballer.

9. Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan)

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Inter Milan's Croatian central midfielder Mateo Kovacic, 21, is on course to being another Dennis Bergkamp—held back in a Nerazzurri shirt.

    Despite orchestrating the tempo of play, having a fluid shooting motion and being able to split open opposing defences with incisive passes, Kovacic isn't world-class week in, week out.

    But if Inter Milan couldn't get the best out of Bergkamp or Andrea Pirlo, then it provides context to why Kovacic drifts in and out of games.

8. Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen)

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    Bayer Leverkusen's Turkish central attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, 21, is capable of awe-inspiring brilliance.

    A combination of cockiness and extraordinary technique is why Calhanoglu scores some of the greatest goals you will ever see. 

    The high-degree of difficulty in his shooting is replicated in his passing. This is why he attempts home-run passes, which are then intercepted.

    He gives away the ball 30.5 per cent of the time he passes. When he tidies up his passing, he has the chance to be one of the best No. 10s of his generation. 

7. Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao)

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    Athletic Bilbao's French centre-back Aymeric Laporte, 21, is projected to be a defensive star.

    This is why he has a €50 million/£35.5 million release clause in his contract, per the Guardian.

    He is at his best when reading play, charging out, cutting off the pass and launching a counter-attack. If he works hard, he can be as good as compatriot Raphael Varane.

6. Bernardo Silva (Monaco)

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    Monaco's Portuguese central attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva, 20, is a genius on the ball. 

    While his statistics are OK (nine goals and three assists in 32 Ligue 1 games), he pulls the strings, is the creative outlet and generally a level above most of the players on the field.

    He needs to be more productive and win games with his own brilliance. 

    Jorge Mendes picks winners, and Silva is the latest client seemingly destined for stardom.

5. Jose Gaya (Valencia)

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    Valencia's Spanish left-back Jose Gaya, 20, might be La Liga's answer to Luke Shaw in terms of being an overpriced once-in-a-generation talent.

    Gaya is easily identifiable on the field because he is a special player. At 20 years of age, he already knows how to play a final pass better than more proven midfielders. 

    He registered six assists, which was more than Atletico Madrid's Gabi (five assists) and Barcelona's Andres Iniesta (one assist).

    Like Shaw, Gaya's sky-high upside will likely lure one top club to overspend. 

    Gaya has a €50 million/£35.5 million release clause, per AS (h/t Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC).

4. Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

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    Lyon's French centre-forward Nabil Fekir, 21, has a consummately elegant playing style.

    Aside from heading the ball, Fekir has a near-complete attacking range of skills: direct dribbler, creative passer and a scorer. 

    He scored 13 goals and provided nine assists in 34 Ligue 1 games last season.

3. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

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    Liverpool's English forward Raheem Sterling, 20, is in the eye of the storm as he faces a career-defining summer.

    Scoring seven goals and providing seven assists in 35 Premier League games, Sterling's statistics are average, but his transfer stock is still high.

    He is set to be a classic example of English inflation.

    Liverpool value Sterling at €70.5 million/£50 million, per John Percy at the Telegraph.

2. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

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    Tottenham Hotspur's English centre-forward Harry Kane, 21, is probably the best young No. 9 in the world.

    Kane scored 21 goals and provided four assists in 34 Premier League games last season. He possesses outstanding awareness, great positional sense and is an excellent finisher.

    He will have deep pockets if he can prove he is not a one-season wonder.

1. Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)

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    Atletico Madrid's Uruguayan centre-back Jose Gimenez, 20, is an extraordinary prospect.

    He is comprehensive in his defending: strong in the air, solid tackler, regular interceptor, good at clearing the ball and can pull off game-saving blocks.

    Barring a long-term injury, Gimenez will be of the most valuable footballers in the world.


    When not specified, statistics via WhoScored