I set myself a challenge to find unknown young talented players across Europes vast football communities that aren’t the so called “top 5” best leagues. Searching high and wide from Denmark to Belarus. This blog has taken me round countries with untapped potential that top teams don’t necessarily look at. This experience has found me some brilliant niche players who potentially could make a step up in competition but first I set myself some rules for this exciting task.
- Must be under the age of 20.
- Had to be playing regular football for their respected teams.
- They must have a starting value of less than £2 million.
Age: 19 Position: Right Winger
Club: Nordsjaelland League: Superligaen
Atanga had a good start to his debut season, the skilful Ghanaian scored in 3 consecutive games. Able to make effective runs into the box with very skilled finishes with his right foot. Creative at his off the ball movement, he finds the best space to receive the ball and running at his opponents or finding a team mate with a well-timed cross. Hopefully he can get a move to Belgium First Division but if this doesn’t materialise then a step in the league to Copenhagen wouldn’t be a bad move.
Key Stats: 5 goals & 4 assists. 1.87 progressive runs per 90 with 47.37% successful dribbles.
Age: 18 Position: Attacking Midfield
Club: Zilina League: Slovak Super Liga
The best prospect in my opinion to come out of Slovakia since Marek Hamsik. This creative midfield playmaker can find that killer pass, adding to that his individual dribbling skills to go past players is very good. He links up well with team mates, making effective runs into the box and scores majority of his goals like this. Could comfortably play in either the 10 or 8 roles, showing the versatility he has at a young age. Would like to see him move on in the summer to a club like Ajax, where he can develop his skills very well and even get a loan move away for a season for regular first team games.
Key Stats: 5.24 progressive passes per 90, 48.6% successful dribbles. 7 goals & 1 assist.
Age: 20 Position: Defensive/Centre Midfield
Club: Sparta Praha League: Fortuna Liga
Having only just moved to Sparta in the summer, he has certainly acquitted himself very well. Sitting in front and breaking up the play while protecting the defensive line. Ladislav has been the standout performer in the midfield this season. Standing at 6 foot 2, the young Czech’s style of play reminds me of a young Nemanja Matic. Hopefully he could take a similar route and develop his talent at a top team in Portugal.
Key Stats: 8.55 progressive passes per 90 & 67% completion on long passes. 2.03 progressive runs per 90.
Age: 20 Position: Centre Forward
Club: Flora League: Meistriliiga
Having scored 78 in 91 games for his boyhood club, the young goal machine from Estonia is more than capable of holding his own in a more competitive league. He has a real good knack of finding space in the area, with his finishing being clinical. Already a full international for his country making 6 appearances and starting in 4 of them. Sorga can link up well with his midfield very well, he showed this in a game against the Netherlands where he more than held his own against top international players. Only a year left on his contract come the summer, a move across to Sweden with Malmo could help with his development where he will surely be playing better competition.
Key Stats: 31 Goals & 4 Assists with 0.82 xG per 90.
Age: 20 Position: Centre Forward
Club: Energetik-BGU League: Energetik-BGU
The centre forward was given the starting centre forward role after making a few appearances off the bench last season. After a slow start to the campaign, with scoring just 1 goal from 12 fleeting appearance’s, after this he went on a rampage and scored 17 goals in 17 games. Standing at 6 foot 2, he has been the perfect target man for his club. Holding up the ball for the midfield to join the attack and laying simple passes of to team mates. He is very aware of his positioning and also his off the ball movement, creating the space to run onto a through pass and an ever presence in the penalty area, being composed to finish smartly. It won’t be long before clubs in higher competition start to notice Ilya’s exploits, assuming the country’s biggest club BATE Borisov won’t sign him first.
Key stats: 19 Goals & 7 Assists with 0.74 xG per 90.
Age: 20 Position: Left Winger
Club: FK Mariupol (loan) League: FAVBET Liga
Signed in the summer by Shaktar Donetsk, Vakula is on his way to be a very promising forward. The ability to create 1 v 1 situations against defenders is in fact proven in the stat that he has the most 1v1 dribbles in the league with 122 attempts. Playing more of a inside forward, his main threat is to cut inside on his favoured right foot and open up the defence for team mates to run off him. When he does come into the middle, he is very creative and composed in his passing selection. The young Ukrainian has plenty of time to learn and develop his abilities and a loan away from his home country could be highly beneficial for his career. Potential destinations could be Turkey or Russia.
Key Stats: 3 goals & 1 assists. 2.18 progressive runs per 90 with 48.36% successful 1v1 dribbles.
Age: 20 Position: Centre Back
Club: Lodzki KS League: Poland. Ekstraklasa
The left footed, 6-foot 1 Polish centre back has certainly shown he can play at a much higher level at this tender age. Sobocinski is very composed and strong on the ball, with an eye for a longball pass. He started all the games in the U20 world cup for Poland and also the Euro qualifier’s for U21 teams, performing very well in these competitions. His contract is up in the summer, he could be a very astute signing for clubs in Belgium or taking his talents to the second division in Germany.
Key Stats: Wins 67.03% of his defensive duels & 5.77 Interceptions per 90. 11.4 progressive passes per 90 with 47.67% long ball passes completed.
Age: 20 Position: Right Back
Club: FC Viitorul League: Romania. Liga
The young Romanian under 21 has been a consistent performer for his boyhood club. Solid in his defensive duties but his main threat is to get himself forward and produce some good crosses for his team mates. His contract is up in the summer, where a move to a more competitive league is on the cards with bottom half clubs in the Eredivisie or Belgium First Division would be a nice step in the right direction.
Key stats: Wins 60.98% of his defensive duels & 5.33 interceptions. 1.22 progressive runs per 90 with 8.37 progressive passes per 90. Has 2 goals & 3 assists in 20 games this season.
Age: 20 Position: Centre Midfield
Club: Dinamo Tbilisi League: Erovnuli Liga
The talented Georgian is his team’s captain at such a young age, showing he has maturity beyond his years. Box to box midfielder likes to arrive late in the area and judging by his goal scoring record he is pretty good at finding the back of the net. The other strong point to his game is his passing ability can find splitting defensive pass or long balls across the park, adding set pieces to his game as well. I’m sure it won’t be long before a club playing at a higher level will come calling. Judging by the majority of Georgia national team, I’d be surprised if his next move isn’t to the Russian Premier League
Key Stats: 8 goals with 7 assists, 10.08 progressive passes per 90 and 63.25% completion on long passes.
Age: 19 Position: Centre Back
Club: Admira Wacker League: Austria. Bundesliga
Talented ball playing centre back, could potentially be on his way to becoming a regular for Austria. He breaks the lines and carries the ball up the pitch for his team. Defensively he is very good at covering the defensive line and smart in his tackling always trying to stay on his feet. Unfortunately, he picked up a foot injury early in the season and missed 5 games but is back and has been a first team regular in his last 8 games. Would be nice for him to step up in level in his home country with RB Salzburg.
Key Stats: Wins 65% of his defensive duels and 5.26 Interceptions per 90 and 7.35 progressive passes per 90 with 60.94% long ball passes completed.
Age: 20 Position: Left Back
Club: Heracles League: Eredivise
The young German has really caught the eye in his second season in Holland. Likes to progress up the pitch with the ball, consistently trying to get crosses in or passes into the forwards feet. Has got a really good strike on him scoring a terrific goal against Groningen. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on in the summer, potentially to a bottom half club in the German Bundesliga.
Key Stats: Wins 61.29% of his defensive duels & interceptions. 2.65 progressive runs per 90 with 7.18 progressive passes per 90. Has 2 goals & 2 assists in 18 games this season.