Happy New Year everyone! I’d like the last article I write before 2015 starts to be about some young players that are hoping 2015 will be the year where they are launched in super-stardom. I’ve noticed a few teams across Europe with a small core of exciting, young attacking players. To be honest with you all, it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m in a festive mood, so for the sake of time, I’m going to try not to dwell forever on the players abilities and merits, and instead just earmark them for big things in the future.
First, Anderlecht. At respective ages of 17, 20, and 20, Youri Tielemans, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Dennis Praet. Aside from a ridiculous level of talent, these three possess an amazing level of experience despite being so young. Tielemans, a mobile and energetic midfielder, boasts the title of youngest ever Belgian to play in the Champions League, as well as being the third youngest player in the competition ever. He has been tipped to become a world-class talent. When I watch him, I see the balance and mobility of an Arturo Vidal with the potential creativity of an Eden Hazard. He will surely be a fixture for club and country for years to come. On to Tielemans compatriot, Dennis Praet. I need to say the word ‘balance’ again when I describe Praet. He was a boy in a man’s game at a young age but he has developed physically and he looks like the real deal. Sitting underneath the strikers and drifting onto the wings from time to time, Praet is clever. When I watch him play, I think: “Christian Eriksen’s twin brother separated at birth.”
Finally on to Aleksandar Mitrovic. For a 20 year-old, Mitrovic is an astonishingly accomplished striker. At 20, he has the strength of a veteran center forward, and his aerial prowess is fantastic, as he demonstrated against both Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League this season. A big, strong, athletic goal-scorer… take your pick on who to compare him to… but I’m going to pick Adriano.
The second team with a precious young talent triangle, is Schalke 04 with Julian Draxler, Max Meyer, and Leon Goretzka. None of these players are strikers, but I would be willing to say that they will all contribute significant goals from midfield. Draxler, at 21, is the oldest of the three. Already an established Germany international, he can pick a pass, dribble, and shoot from distance like a young Kaka. Max Meyer, a short and strongly built midfielder has fantastic awareness, close control, and patience for a 19 year-old. Capped by Germany already, Meyer is phenomenal on the edge of the box like a certain… Xavi. Nextly (I know that’s not a word), is the impressive Leon Goretzka. Also 19, also capped by Germany, also a midfielder. A tall athletic player, he has been deployed on the wing at times but will likely be bred into a classy central midfielder like Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Two German teams made my list today, and the next one is Bayer Leverkusen. The most attacking trio of the day, with 20 year-old Hakan Calhanoglu, 22 year-old Son Heung-Min, and 22 year-old Josip Drmic. Calhanoglu, who represents Turkey, is an insane free-kick specialist and I wouldn’t put it past him to become a legend in that category with the likes of Beckham and Juninho. Drmic, a Swiss international, looks likely to become a ruthless finisher at the top level. Acceleration, and lethal finishing with either foot make me think of Diego Forlán, when I watch him. And then there’s Son Heung-Min. Blistering pace and a great striker of the ball, Son has a habit of scoring spectacular goals. This one is a stretch, but the way Son can run with the ball makes me think of the original Ronaldo.
The last team of the day, AS Monaco. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco. Pace and trickery from the wing, this 21 year-old Belgian reminds me a little of Freddie Ljundberg. In the center of the pitch is 21 year-old Geoffrey Kondogbia, is an intimidating presence. Kondogbia is likely to be a fixture in France’s already ridiculously talented midfield for years to come. I see a taller, left-footed Claude Makalele. And up top, 19 year-old Anthony Martial. An exciting French youth international, he is dangerous playing on the last man because of his athleticism and power like a young Louis Saha.
So I suppose this article wouldn’t be complete without me groaning about how great it would be to see these trios evolve into the cores of elite European attacks. Chances are, these players will disperse to the top teams in the top leagues across Europe, but for now they remain in young triangles of insane talent.
I think Schalke’s crop of Draxler, Meyer, and Goretzka have the most potential as a group. They are the only group that are all the same nationality; German. If they somehow managed to stay at the same club, there’s no telling how strong they could grow together.
I think the most attacking and powerful is Leverkusen’s group. They all score so many goals. I would love to see how they will link up for as long as they are together.
This piece was written by Eddy Prugh. Follow him on twitter @EddyPrugh