UEFA European Under-17 Tournament 2014 Ones to Watch – Potential Football Manager 2015 Wonderkids
One would think the FIFA World Cup is the biggest occasion this year. But for me, the UEFA European Under-17 Championship is one I will be looking forward to as much as Brazil 2014. As the football world turns their eyes to beautiful Malta on the 9th of May, 120 youngsters will nervously anticipate what might be their biggest challenge so far in their early career.
This will be their opportunity to attract the interest from some of the best clubs in Europe, such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, Paris Saint-German or AFC Ajax, or just follow in the paths of Toni Kroos, Nuri Sahin, Cesc Fabregas and Max Meyer, to name some former Golden Player award winners.
The UEFA Euro Under-17 Championship 2014 will be your chance to take a closer look on the next Gareth Bale, the new Cristiano Ronaldo or just discover new emerging talents and potential Football Manager 2015 Wonderkids before EVERYONE else!
So to follow up the success of last year, we now hand you the most promising talents of UEFA European Under-17 Championship 2014. Here you will be handed my recommendations on ones to watch, and more closely follow, in this years Under-17 tournament, and in the time before Football Manager 2015 release.
Content of Index
Josh Sims – The New Gareth Bale?
Enes Ünal – The Golden Show Award Winner 2014?
Dominic Solanke – A Lethal Powerful English Goalscorer
Albian Ajeti – Arising FC Basel Star(?) and key player of Switzerland U17
Abdelhak Nouri – A New AFC Ajax Wonderkid Arising
Oguzhan Aydogan – The NEW German Wonderkid?
In The Spotlight; Steven Bergwijn A Dutch Wonderkid
In The Spotlight; Patrick Roberts – A Striking Football Manager 2015 Wonderkid
Next Football Manager 2015 Wonderkid Martin Ødegaard?
Brief Information About The UEFA Under-17 European Championship Malta 2014
The UEFA European Under-17 Championship, which kicks off 9th of May will be the 13th edition of this Under-17 Championship.
This year the youth tournament is held in beautiful Malta between 9-21 May and features players born after 1 January 1997.
The current holders from 2013 tournament, Russia, was eliminated in the elite round after two draws: against Spain and Switzerland, who finished top of group 1. As mentioned, the final tournament of the European Under-17 Championship will be played without Spain, the most successful team (if we take in account this tournament’s overall 32 year old history (since founded 1982), which goes beyond the current age limit format), who didn’t qualify either.
53 national teams have been narrowed down to 8 through qualification rounds and elite rounds, which started September 2013. Gibraltar participated for the first time in history, but couldn’t withstand the quality of England and Republic of Ireland in qualification round. The final 8 teams, who will compete each other for the Euro Under-17 trophy, have been split into two groups, where winners and runners up from both groups will face each other in the semi finals 18th of May.
Here is the draw of the two groups of UEFA European Under-17 Championship 2014:
This years tournament will be a nice re-acquaintance with the great football powers Portugal (last participated in 2010), England (last participated 2011), Germany and Holland (both finalists 2012), who are all favorites to qualify from the group stage. On paper group A looks much harder than group B. Holland who have won this tournament 2 times the last 3 previous tournaments, might struggle against John Peacocks men, as England are eager to show the world the result and progress of their youth development scheme: Elite Player Performance Plan, which was put into place 2,5 years ago and we see results of now.
The prestigious Golden Player Award of 2013 was given to the new Russian ‘Black Spider’, the talented goalkeeper Anton Mitryushkin. The Russian goalkeeper was one of the important figures behind beating Italy in the final shoot-out, saving three penalties and displaying excellent shot stopping and reflexes. Single performances throughout the final tournament will be as important this year as last. Who do you believe will excel this year and be awarded as the Golden Player of 2014?
Who will win the UEFA European Under-17 Championship 2014? Can Turkey surprise everyone, or will Germany finally claim the trophy? What’s certain is that now is the option to spot some new promising Football Manager 2015 talents in the rising! With the brief information about this years tournament under hand, let us now present our list of ones to watch in the final tournament of European Under-17 Championship 2014 in Malta.
Ones To Watch in Malta 2014 – Most Promising Talents of Euro Under-17
Southampton FC has become re-known for their excellent youth development program the past years. Even though competing in one of the toughest leagues, the English Premier League, Saints has looked to their own youth talents; letting 5 players all under 19 get over 100 matches in overall this season. Southampton, who will always be famed for producing Gareth Bale – one of the best players in the world at the moment, and the current record holder of the highest transfer fee ever paid, can soon overshadow Barcelona and their La Masia youth academy if they keep promoting own talents into the first team, while achieving top half finishes like this year. What is promising for all Saints fans are the amount of talents knocking on the doors to regular first team football next season (read; Jake Hesketh, Jake Sinclair, Ryan Seager, Harrison Reed, Omer Rowe and Tom Leggett.
One of the latest English wonderkids emerging from the ranks of Southampton is Joshua Sims. The highly talented youngster, born in Yeovil, is one star for the future. Josh Sims, who signed a professional contract with the Saints in the beginning of April 2014, is one promising talent who can follow in the path of Gareth Bale.
The 17 year old winger has yet to get his professional debut for Southampton, but with a rapid development in the past months, an excellent performance in European Under-17 Championship and rumours of Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea all keeping a close eye on the next Gareth Bale, his first team debut can happen sooner rather than later.
Josh Sims has recorded 8 goals in 23 appearances for Saints’ Under-18 squad, and has also enjoyed some brief spells for the clubs Under-21 team. Some stunning performances, such as the curling shot against Aston Villa (video above), might have been one of the decisive moments for the call up to the English Under-17 squad. While he has only made some brief spells for England Under-17 (playing 169 minutes of 240 in the elite round of Euro under-17 and some friendlies), Josh Sims are definitely a player to watch in the final tournament.
Against Holland in Algarve Cup, Josh Sims showed some of his magnificent skills, hitting on the counter with a great movement; positioned wide, dropping a bit down to lure marker with him before utilizing his quickness to get into the space left by his marker. It’s exactly his vision and football understanding coupled with acceleration and pace which stands out. Sims is already a player capable of utilizing a high pressing style, as he likes to close down opposite defender. Like Robben and Bale he is very good off the ball – making some lethal direct runs from deep.
Josh Sims will be one of the most interesting players to follow in the coming year, and in the European Under-17 Championship, being part of an English side that might impress – as the amount of promising talents are actual many this year. The only question left is; Can Josh Sims become the new Gareth Bale?
Already labelled a Football Manager 2014 Wonderkid, like some of the others in this article too, Enes Ünal might not be the most unknown player for dedicated FM fans. The Turkish wonderkid has already made his name in the history books.
Enes Ünal was handed his professional Süper Lig debut for Bursaspor against Galatasaray SK 25th of August 2013. The young striker had only played 2 minutes, entering the field in the 72nd minute, before he equalized. With a goal in his debut he entered the history books as the youngest and quickest ever goalscorer in Turkish Süper Lig (see video below). Since then he has been rewarded with an overall of 13 appearances for Bursaspor.
Heading into a tournament Turkey won 9 years ago, the young lethal striker, who turns 17 the day after the tournament kicks off, will be key to their success. The captain of Turkey Under-17 has proved to be a typical goalscorer – bagging in 25 goals in 24 appearances for Turkey Under-16. The complete forward has scored 6 goals in 6 matches in the qualification rounds to the final stage of Euro Under-17, and can already be described as a magnificent player in the rising.
From the footages I’ve seen, Enes Ünal could be labelled both a free-kick specialist and a typical goalscorer. A comparison something between Lionel Messi, as he’s not afraid to run with the ball from deep utilizing his excellent flair, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as he’s capable of scoring from all ranges often doing the unexpected, and the typical target man in the likes of Romelu Lukaku (capable of holding up the ball and linking up play), comes to mind.
He got a natural goalscoring instinct, which might be to hard to defend against for nervous English and Dutch defenders, who aren’t as used to playing in front of big crowds under extremely high expectations and pressure. Turkeys match against Malta might be the decisive match for Enes Ünal and his chances to be awarded the Golden Shoe. The Turkish striker, who are capable of scoring with his whole body, has also good technique (first touch and ball control). The interest from Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City or Inter Milan might increase further in what will be expected to be the craziest summer transfer window ever, as both Manchester United and Barcelona are having to start a rebuilding process.
Enes Ünal can only be summed up in two words; worldclass talent! Enes is to good to be described as a promising talent, but features here, just because of his records and big chances to claim the Euro Under-17 Golden Shoe award. As a youngster he scored 107 goals in 102 youth academy matches 2012-2013, and has already played Under-21 matches for the Turkish national team – some impressive achievements fo a 16 year old youngster. Something that makes me convinced that this will be Enes Ünals tournament! It’s no longer a question about if he scores, but how many..!
With an ageing Chelsea squad, owner Roman Abramovich decided to step back as foreground sugar daddy and instead invest in their own youth academy. The one of the richest oil tycoons now wants to produce their own home grown players rather than buying established stars. Eventhough there is a long way to go before we’re able to see a Blues line up similar to FC Barcelona or previously mentioned Southampton, Chelsea FC has one of the best Under-21 academy clubs in England, at least in my opinion.
While The Blues’ youth team features many purchased wonderkids, such as Charly Musonda Jr (former RSC Anderlecht), Jeremie Boga (Marseille), Josimar Quintero (ex-Barcelona), Isaiah ‘Izzy’ Brown (ex-West Bromwich Albion), Victorian Angban (Stade d’Abidjan) and Islam Feruz (ex-Celtic), to name some few, the latest Chelsea wonderkid Dominic Solanke, can be entitled to be developed by Chelsea, as he joined the Blues when he was 9 years old.
The now 16 year old versatile forward has been a big revelation this season for Chelsea Youth Team and the Young Lions. Dominic Solanke has made an overall of 25 appearances in the Under-18 league pluss the FA Youth Cup. Solanke is the overall top scorer for the youth academy team of Chelsea this season, with his overall of 18 goals. The number 10 of the Young Lions, and one of their key players behind Adam Armstrong, has recorded 5 goals in 6 appearances in the Euro Under-17 qualification, scoring one of the most important goals against Italy in Elite round, to secure Englands qualification to the final tournament.
Dominic Solanke, who is of Nigerian heritage is one of the new English wonderkids coming through, is described by his manager Adi Vivesah as a player who can play both in the number 9 and 10 role. Dominic Solanke has featured most often as a left forward for the England Under-17, partnering up with Magpies’ wonderkid Adam Armstrong and team mate Izzy Brown. Dominic Solanke is a lethal powerful forward who bags up goals from all ranges, often being on the right place at the right time. It will be interesting to see how ‘Dom’ performs in Euro U17, and if we’ll see some of his composure, which will be vital in heated moment we might see lots of.
Shall England continue their goal scoring rate of 3,67 goals per matches in the final tournament everything will depend on the English trio; Izzy Brown, Adam Armstrong (the top scorer of the qualification rounds with 7 goals), and the new promising talent Dominic ‘Dom’ Solanke. Who will end up as the top scorer of the Young Lions?
“Dom’s a great lad and he’s a great player. Everything about him is excellent. It’s good that me and him play together for England as well as Chelsea. His movement is excellent and he can finish. He scores goals for fun.”
Izzy Brown, Forward, Chelsea FC
Two of the most exciting Swiss talents the past 10 months have been Breel Donald Embolo and Albian Ajeti. While the young trequartista Embolo could be a hot prospect to write about, this section will be dedicated to his 12 days younger teammate Albian Ajeti.
Albian Ajeti is the twin brother of Adonis and the younger brother of Arlind Ajeti, a teammate and Swiss Under-21 defender. While Arlind (20) has been trusted with 18 caps this season, one less than the Swiss hot prospect Fabian Schär, the 17 year old promising talent Albian Ajeti, has only got a taste of first team football. Both Adonis and Albian Ajeti was on trial with C Barcelona in 2012, but decided progression through the Fc Basel youth academy would prosper them more.
The 180cm tall striker got his league debut against FC Thun on the 6th of April 2014 and his Europa League football debut on the 13th of March 2014, when facing Red Bull Salzburg. The promising FCB striker has been part of the Under-21 squad this season, (playing in the third tier of Swiss League System – 1.Liga Promotion), ranking up 2 goals in 808 minutes (16 caps).
Albian Ajeti is one of the key players for the Under-17 national team of Switzerland in the European Under-17 Championship. He scored the important equalizer against Russia 2 minutes in overtime – putting a dent to the current title holders hope to retain the trophy. Ajeti has scored 5 goals in 5 appearances in the qualification rounds – scoring 2 goals against both Kazakhstan and Austria. The big test for Albian Ajeti and Switzerland Under-17 will come immediately, in the first match, against the German machinery.
Albian Ajeti can be described as an advanced forward or supporting complete striker. From the few footage’s I’ve seen of him, he looks like a player with decent technique and quickness. He’s capable of holding up the ball to play in others and also create chances on his own. His off the ball movements is great, often finding the pockets of space to run into, which will be vital in the counter attacking style Swiss might employ.
Heading into their seventh European U17 finals campaign – an achievement only surpassed by Spain, Holland, England and France – and 12 years since their one and only Euro Under-17 triumph, Albian Ajeti can follow in the footsteps of former Golden Player Award winner (2009), Swiss goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist (22). Do you think Switzerland can out beat both Germany and Portugal and prove to the world that population and size of country has no relevance to the performances and developments of the talents – featuring dedicated coaches and managers which lays foundation for success with their passion?
Ajax is famed for producing excellent talents all capable of replacing those taking their professional football career to the next level. One of the most promising talents emerging are the Moroccan wonderkid Abdelhak Nouri. The elegant midfielder, born in Amsterdam, is currently one of the stars of Ajax A1, after being promoted from B1 before the second half of this season. Despite playing with older players like Branco van den Boomen, Jaïro Riedewald, Ricardo Kishna and Damon Mirani (titled as Ajax Talent of the future 2012-13), Nouri has the potential to exceed them all.
Abdelhak Nouri is a classy advanced playmaker who has excellent technique and ball control. The Dutch number 8 lights up the field with his flair and creativity, tending to use his dribbling repertory to drive by opponent markers, just like Andres Iniesta in his golden years. The new rising ‘de Godenzonen’ talent can be compared to something between Real Madrid’s new star Isco or Schalke’s Julian Draxler. He can play both as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder or as a modern narrow winger.
Abdelhak Nouri has recorded 2 goals in 6 appearances for the Dutch Under-17 National team this campaign. While both goals came against inferior opponents such as Faroe Island and San Marino, the only question left is if there is a place for him in the final tournament, as Donny van den Beek and Marlon Slabbekorn has both impressed. His attacking mentality and driving force might be a game-changer Holland needs to beat England and Turkey. After being awarded the Adidas Best player of AEGON Future Cup award 2014, Abdelhak Nouri might deliver the goods again, this time for the Netherlands in Euro Under-17.
In the past 10 years, Germany has turned out to become the model for the football world of producing home grown talents – labelled top of the class in youth development. The new golden generation in Germany is already arising making them a nation we cannot overlook for the predictions of whom will take home the World Cup trophy 2014. Players like Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Maximilian Arnold, Julian Brandt, Leon Goretzka, Emre Can and Sead Kolasinac, to name some few, has all made their mark in the Bundesliga this year.
As all German football clubs has made big investments in regard to youth development, one club in particular have seen the benefits of producing their own star talents. In the shadow of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 has managed to draw attention to their assemblyline of promising talents. The club who has nurtured players like Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil, Julian Draxler and Max Meyer has fielded no less than 7 under-21 players, where 5 of them are regarded as key players this season. There should be no sorrow for the fans of ‘Die Königsblauen’, when J. Draxler or Max Meyer decides to take their career to the next level. The new generation of Schalke wonderkids (read: Kaan Ayhan, Donis Avdijaj and Oguzhan Aydogan) is already here!
Oguzhan Aydogan is a 17 year old attacking midfielder born in Marl (25km north of Gelsenkirchen). The new emerging talent of Turkish heritage has spend this season playing for the Under-17 team of Schalke 04 together with another promising talent, Polish Oktawian Skrzecz. Aydogan has recorded 4 goals and 4 assists in 19 appearances in B-Jugend Bundesliga West.
The ambitious midfielder has still some way to go before he can be regarded to be a long term replacement for Julian Draxler or Kevin-Prince Boateng, but his potential is there.
Oguzhan Aydogan has not been one of the most significant players of the German Under-17 squad for Euro Under-17, but Christian Wück has called him up for the final tournament competing for the start up line against the one year younger Max Besuschkow (VfB Stuttgart). In the last elite round fixture against Serbia, Oguzhan Aydogan proved to be a super sub in the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, scoring the decisive goal 6 minutes after entering the pitch. That vital goal secured a place for Germany Under-17 in the final tournament, putting them in front of Serbia on goal difference.
It will be interesting to watch Oguzhan Aydogan in the European Under-17 championship of 2014. Will the technical youngster excel, and perhaps follow in the footprints of teammate Max Meyer, who won the prestigous Golden Player Award trophy 2012?
Only time will tell. What’s certain is that Oguzhan Aydogan is definitely one to watch in the years to come.
The photo used in article image “2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship-final” is made available under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported. Image courtesy of Emiel Ketelaar of FrozenImage via Wikimedia Commons
The photo used in article image “Thomas Müller, Germany national football team” is made available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Image courtesy of Steindy via Wikimedia Commons