With the 2014-15 football season done and dusted, a number of young players have dazzled Europe with their strong performances. Here are the top 5 players (21 or younger at the start of the season) from Europea s top 5 leagues who not only have showcased their brilliant individuality, but also have helped their teams during crucial stretches of the season.
Who do you think has been the best young player for the season 2014-2015?
Granit Xhaka (Borussia M nchengladbach)
Considered a flop after arriving from Basel in 2012, Xhaka turned things around in style this year, putting the last 2 seasons in Germany behind him. The midfield motor behind a Gladbacha s third placed finish, Xhaka averaged 81 passes per game with 87% accuracy. His ferocious left boot and hard tackling prove that he is an all rounded midfielder worthy of any top team, although his discipline (10 yellow and 2 red cards) has often let him down.
The versatile midfielder has been primarily used in defensive midfield, but often features as a number 10 or even a right winger for Switzerland. Should he continue next season the same way, the a next Schweinsteigera could earn himself a big money move.
Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Marco Verratti has featured in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season every season he has played in Ligue 1. This alone speaks volumes about the consistency of the Italian midfielder. After nailing down a starting place at PSG, he should soon be a mainstay in the Italian national side as well.
Not unlike Andrea Pirlo, Verratti is slowly becoming synonymous with the Regista role. He averages 92% pass accuracy and is a very dependable distributor of the ball.
However, like Xhaka, his discipline is often called into question (16 yellow cards). The only black mark in his otherwise perfect season.
Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyonnais)
A relatively unknown name before this season, Francea s Nabil Fekir now finds himself sought after by top clubs across Europe. The Lyon winger had formed a deadly partnership with Alexandre Lacazette to claim a second placed finish in Ligue 1. Courtesy of 12 goals scored and a further 9 assisted, Fekir has also burst into the French national setup. He completes over 2.5 dribbles per match and is capable of playing in any attacking position on the field.
The French national team could also do with his talent as a winger, a position not adequately filled in since Franck Riberya s retirement. Another good season at Lyon, especially at European level, could cement his place in the national team.
Ricardo Rodr guez (VFL Wolfsburg)
Arguably one of the best full-backs in the world at the moment, Ricardo Rodr guez has had yet another outstanding season – Europa League quarterfinalist, DFB Pokal winner and Bundesliga runner-up. After last seasona s success and an impressive World Cup, one would have thought that fatigue would catch up. Instead, the Swiss defender hit new heights.
He averages less than a foul per game and has scored 10 goals as well. Further, he is a long-ball specialist and one of the most accurate crossers and set piece takers in the Bundesliga. His best games this season came against Leverkusen, Lille and Stuttgart where he managed to net a brace of goals on each occasion in addition to a flawless defensive display.
Felipe Anderson (SS Lazio) .
Guiding Lazio to their first Champions League spot in 8 years, Brazila s Felipe Anderson was one of the star men in the exciting squad. Now a target for Bayern Munich, Andersona s game is all about pace and energy. Mainly finding success as a right winger, he has been deployed as a central midfielder as well as an out-and-out striker. Spectacular displays in the 3-0 wins over Sassoulo and Sampdoria were the highlights of his season.
Further, his 10 goals almost all came during the middle of season which proved to be vital in cementing the European spot. A rare breed of fast and technically gifted players, Anderson has a bright future ahead.
Here are a few other players who narrowly missed out on the top 5:
Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich), Johannes Geis (Mainz 05), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Mateo Kovacic (Internazionale), Daniele Rugani (Empoli), Paulo Dybala (Palermo) and Harry Kane (Tottenham).