Four talented young footballers to keep an eye on
With the January transfer window fast approaching, Elephant Sport runs the rule over four young European footballing talents who could potentially be involved in big money moves in the new year.
Youri Tielemans is a 19-year-old central midfielder who plays for Anderlecht in the Belgian Pro League.
The same year he signed his first professional contract he also made his Champions League debut against Olympiakos aged 16 years and 148 days.
He also won the Belgian title in his first campaign and has since been on a roll, improving season after season.
Tielemans possesses complete control on the ball and has been compared to Frank Lampard as they have a similar style of play with great strikes from distance.
The promising midfielder has won Young Belgian Player of the Year twice in the 2013/14 season and 2014/15 season.
Tielemans has been with Anderlecht since the age of five, wearing the number 10 shirt as he’s climbed through the age group ranks.
He is currently having his best season so far with eight goals in 12 games.
Tielemans made his international debut this year as a late substitute against Netherlands in a 1-1 draw, and can play either centre midfield or attacking midfield.
What gives him the edge over his opponents is his technique and great timing to play killer passes with both feet.
A mature head on young shoulders, he shows very good discipline and leadership skills and seems destined to be a club captain – unless he doesn’t get grabbed in a big-money move first.
Ruben Neves is a 19-year-old holding midfielder with great reading of the game as well as technique.
He made his Primera Liga debut for Porto aged just 17 in a 2-0 win against CS Maritimo. Neves is also the youngest player to score in the league for Porto.
In the 2014/15 season Neves became the youngest player to captain a club in the Champions League aged 18 years and 221 days in a 2-0 win against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
He made his international debut in 2015 against Russia as a late substitute in a 1-0 loss.
What makes Neves a threat is that he has a strong drive that also makes him an attacking threat with accurate passing, vision and interceptions.
Neves is currently valued at around £30 million, making him relatively good value in today’s overheated transfer market.
He will be out of contract in 2019 but Porto have been warning big clubs to stay away – for now.
Leon Bailey is a 19-year-old winger from Genk who plays in the Belgian Pro League with great dribbling and skills.
Manchester United are showing interest in the Jamaican, who has five goals in 10 games so far this season.
Bailey is a threat playing on the left or right wing with great ability to get past his opponent and get a cross in.
The Jamaican international won Belgian Young Footballer of the Year award after his impressive 2015/16 season.
Ajax have had already had a £10m bid rejected by Genk as they believe he’s worth more.
The winger started showing signs of magic whilst playing for the Phoenix All Stars football academy back in his hometown Kingston.
His dad later took it upon himself to seek trials in Europe in order to pursue a professional career.
Bailey is known to have a very rare combination of skill and speed which makes him a threat at all times during a game.
He has the ability to show explosive speed from a standing position on the ball.
Bailey had an impressive 2015/16 season scoring 6 goals in 31 games but is currently on form in the 2016/17 season scoring 4 goals in 4 Europa league games and 2 goals in the league so far in 12 games.
Hachim Mastour is a 18-year-old attacking midfielder who plays for AC Milan but is currently on loan at PEC Zwolle who play in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Mastour has impressive dribbling abilities and can play a dangerous final pass which always makes him a threat.
He isn’t one to hide his skills and has competed in a freestyle battle for Red Bull against Brazilian superstar Neymar.
Mastour was born in and represented Italy at under-16 level but then chose to play for Morocco which he has ancestral links to.
Several big clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have already made enquiries about signing him.
In AC Milan’s 2013/14 season, he caught the eye of manager at the time Clerence Seedorf. If he’d come off the bench for their last game of the season, he would have been the youngest Milan player to feature in the league at 15.
Mastour made his international debut for Morocco last year in a 3-0 victory against Qatar.
His dribbling and ability to beat players has been compared to Neymar and Ronaldinho as he tends to leave opponents for dead whilst getting past them.
He also possesses an ability pull the strings in midfield which he has been compared to that of Wesley Sneijder.
Mastour could well be make a big-money move if he continues to develop to his full potential.