* Soccer prospects rankings by leagues *
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12-20-2005, 02:35 PM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Here are the first 15:
Probably a very unfamiliar bunch to the rest of you as a lot of youngsters on the following list have yet to make their professional debute. That said, I wanted a stronger cutt-off age. Due to this I've missed to mention plenty of potential gems who I will mention seperately at the bottom. The order was hard to make, as most prospects are barely 17 years old, having accomplished little, to some who are 20 and are already fulltime internationals. That said, I tried hard, and have basicly created a list based on potential and what they've done lately.
Nine of the 25 prospects are from the youthranks of Ajax, which is no coincident. There are plenty of scouts from elite European teams scouting the junior squads of Ajax, pretty much every game. This is said by many to be the Dutch best generation in years, it includes the U17 squad who lost the European Finals to Turkey but then beat the same Turkey squad at the WC where they finished 3rd, as the best European nation. They accomplished so without the young stud who leads my list:
PS: Former write ups were added for some players.
Ismael Aissati 16-08-1988 MF - PSV - (Marocco/Holland)
Ismael Aissati already saw some minutes as a substitute for PSV this year, but his fulltime debute was quite special. Just 17 years and 2 months old, Ismael Aissati started his first game vs European Giants AC Milan. Ordered by Guus Hiddink to keep Andrea Pirlo in check, yet what turned out was the exact opposite. Ismael Aissati has not looked back since and has been a big part of young Oranje, despite the fact he is nearly 4 years younger than his collegue's. In his first two young Oranje games, he had the ball 170 times, losing it only 4 times. He even is being courted by Marco van Basten to play for the big boys.
Ismael Aissati is a very shy individual, but once on the pitch he goes completely out. He simply always knows to do with the ball,
an instict unable to be taught. He rarely, rarely loses it, knows when to speed things up and slow things down, can create oppertunities with slick playmaking and can already shadow some of the game's best. He's a complete package, a very, very smart kid..
: Piet de Visser (Chelsea scout) recently called Aissati the most promessing and unique 17 year old in the World. Ismael Aissati will likely play for PSV for quite some time. His game requires no adjustments, he should fit in and contribute everywhere.
Salomon Kalou 05-08-1985 W/S - Feyenoord - (Ivory Coast/Holland)
Not really optimized playing for Feyenoord at the moment as Feyenoord already have Dirk Kuijt at striker, but Salomon Kalou can be a dangerous winger as well. Blessed with speed and technique, Marco van Basten likes to compare him to Arjen Robben in that both have game breaking ability. There's been a lot of commotion around Kalou this year as he is trying hard to persue a career in Oranje, as he was born in the Ivory Coast, just like brother and former Feyenoorder Bonaventure Kalou (PSG). Kalou would compete with van Persie, Robben, Castelen and Babel, and odds are strong he will outperform all but one and start for Oranje in 2006.
Salomon Kalou has been one of the most underrated youngsters of Europe since making his professional debute. Scoring 20 as a 19 year old didn't get him enough recognition to be mentioned for the Golden Boy award, yet he's arguebly a better player than Ryan Babel, Quincy Owusu, and at the moment even Hedwiges Maduro, who all did get nominations. Anyway, Kalou is lightning quick, can beat you with technique or speed and is stronger with the head than you would think. Can be used as a shadow striker, as a striker or as a winger.
: Look for Kalou to have a simular career to Arjen Robben, though maybe not injury wise. They are extremely alike, so much alike in fact, that Chelsea has been scouting the youngster for about the last few games. Kalou however, do needs to learn to pass more, he's been quite selfish this season.
Hedwiges Maduro DF - 13-02-1985 - Ajax (Holland)
Already a firm strenght on the Dutch national squad, Maduro is one of van Basten's favorites. Hence why Maduro is starting over the likes such as Davids, Sneijder, Cocu and Seedorf. Teams are after Maduro for quite some time. When he was 15, Manchester United showed strong interest, but decided to back out due to Fergeson not being impressed. Little did they know as Maduro is now a starting force on the Dutch national team, playing the style United urgently lacks at midfield.
Maduro plays for Ajax, arguably the team with the best educational youth system in the world. It's hard cracking the team, but it's even harder maintaing. Dealing with pressure, the constant breathing in your neck of the next talent in line, having to play not only efficient but also entertaining, etc., etc.. And just a while ago Maduro found himself in a tough spot. He was not a starter for the first time since his debute, but Maduro has worked hard, and didn't had a funk very long, in fact, he's already a valueble presence once again. Maduro plays a safe game, he's should already be considered one of the best in handling the flow of a game. Can play as a CB or as a DM.
: Maduro has often drawn comparisons from Frank Rijkaard, one of the best ever at his position. He's not as tough nor as good defensively as Rijkaard was, but his game overall resembles him alot. Maduro is being courted by United, Juventus, Milan and Chelsea, just to name a few, but the sober guy that he is, doesn't even think of leaving just yet. He feels he stil has a lot to learn and won't consider leaving before he feels the time is right.
His previous write up:
What a year it was for Hedwiges Maduro. After starring for Holland's youth in 2004, Maduro managed to crack and maintain a spot in the starting eleven. Not only that, he impressed Marco van Basten (who also coached him with Jong Oranje) that much, that he also earned himself a place on the national team. Provided a strong defensive presence at midfield, and also managed to score twice in 12 games.
Talent analysis: A tall and reliable player, Maduro is a two way midfielder who's a vocal, yet quiet presence. Can be assigned to take someone out, or be assigned to create offense. Strong shot, good with the header, strong on the ball. He's extremely effective in everything he does. Maduro can become the Dutch most complete player walking around at midfield, for his age group that is.
Projection: Probably an Ajacied for at least a few more years. Maduro's future looks extremely bright. He will be heavily scouted the upcoming year(s). Maduro will be a player teams are after who lack a stable, quiet, all-round force at midfield. Big teams will soon stand in line for him, if they aren't already. Because of his maturity, attitude and all-round game, Maduro will fit in pretty much everywhere. The Serie A will be the league most suited for him IMO.
Vurnon Anita MF - 04-04-1989 - Ajax - Holland
There are no real single studs in the current youth ranks of Ajax right now, but a whole bunch who are hard to differ from eachother. IMO Vurnon Anita leads the list. He was a strong member on both U17 squads which won silver and bronze at the most recent U17 EC and WC, respectively. Vurnon Anita is a versatile and prodigious talent who can play on the right wing or in the centre of midfield and defence.
He's often been compared to Clarence Seedorf when he was the same age (16). And that's about the biggest comparison any 16 year old midfielder can have, as Clarence Seedorf was deemed as the world's greatest talent before he made his proffesional debute at the tender age of 16. Anita plays alot like his model, his strong on the ball, but he's faster and having more defensive tasks throughout his career makes him a pretty complete package, not to mention that he was also the captain during the EC. Also highly skilled, Anita is a midfielder of a new era, he can be a world class neutral midfielder, or compete on offense like the best of 'm.
: One of the most versatile players of his agegroup, Anita is at just 16 years the youngest one so far. It's hard reading his upside, he should become a simular player like Seedorf, here's hoping he won't walk with his head in the clouds as early as Seedorf did. I doubt he will have a simular career, as few can tip what Seedorf has accomplished. No one in fact. As most Ajax youngsters, Vurnon has already drawn a lot of interest from scouts worldwide. Anita is on the verge of making his professional debute for Ajax 1. Oh yeah, I also think he will be better than Maduro, but Maduro's resume is hard to deny right now.
Ron Vlaar CB - 16-02-1985 - AZ - Holland
Things went fast with Ron Vlaar, perhaps too fast. After his oustanding play in the quarter and semi finals of the UEFA Cup last season, it didn't take long for Vlaar to wear famous Orange jersey. This year however, has been rough. Vlaar does not seem to like coach van Gaal, who has him as the team's 3rd ranked Central Back, both are Dutch internationals. Vlaar openly expressed his feelings with fines and a nice, warm seat in the stands as a result. Vlaar wants out, his play is suffering because of it, hinted by his game vs Italy. Luckily for Ron, pretty much every team is dying to add him, especially after being named top defender of the most recent WC under 21. Ajax has been the supposed front runner, mainly because Vlaar is an Ajax fan himself, but AZ is not coorperating with a deal to such a rival. Interested English teams such as Tottenham and Arsenal are now a more realistic place for Vlaar to continue his progression.
The next Jaap Stam, Ron Vlaar is an immensely strong and stable defender who stands his ground. Loves to battle in the air, has a hard, powerful shot, a good long pass and just like Stam, a very underrated part of his is his speed. Rarely panics with the ball and often is the foundation of an attack. He's a beast when it comes to
one on one defending, but might need more tweaking on his positional game.
: 20 Years of age, Dutch international, experience in European tournaments, interest from Ajax, Arsenal and Tottenham, being compared to Jaap Stam; hard to say the future doesn't look bright for this towering defender. His days for AZ are numbered, but times for a more powerful team are just around the corner. And since he's still in his junior contract, he won't even be expensive either, but you can't really be an expensive player when you play for AZ in the Ere Divisie in the first place.
Jeffrey Sarpong - MF - 03-08-1988 - Ajax - Holland
Another one of the U17 generation, Sarpong is a highly skilled and techniquely gifted teenager. He scored two goals in the final for the bronze at the most recent WC U17, making the so called "tournament all-star team", suddenly getting recognition from all over the globe. Moments it looked like as if Chelsea would pry another talent away, but Jeffrey Sarpong declined and instead signed a new contract with Ajax.
He's alot like Vurnon Anita in that both have the same offensive game, yet he's nowhere near as well-rounded. Sarpong has some killer one on one moves and seems to prefer shooting above passing.
: If Ajax' talent pool wasn't so deep, he'd probably would have made his debute this season. He has to wait another year, maybe even two, but the future looks extremely bright for Jeffrey. I expect Ajax to build around Anita and Sarpong once they become contributors to Ajax 1, and become a strong foundation on a team with very high expectations. They've already proven to be able to carry teams in the past, whether it was with junior Ajax teams or with the National squad. The two are lethal combined and are pretty much inseperateble.
Dirk Marcellis - CB - 13-04-1988 - PSV - Holland
The Captain of the U17 squad which won Bronze during the U17WC this past summer, Marcellis beat out several of his collegue's to win soccer talent of the year here in Holland. Marcellis' potential is absolutely huge, he's an entirely different kind of a defender than Ron Vlaar or even Heitinga for example. He just always knows where to be, he's like the Ruud van Nistelrooij among defenders, plays a mature, no nonsense game, constantly wins his battle's and like most Central Backs, has a rocket of a shot.
: Expect Marcellis to join the selection of PSV when Alex da Costa leaves, likely as early as next season. He should make his debute somewhere late in 2006. Even though he's already quite high on the list, Marcellis will more than likely move up than fall down. Somehow I see Marcellis joining Chelsea in a few years, the two teams have connections, that and Chelsea scout Piet de Visser seems to have a man crush on Dirk ever since he made his U17 debute. He wouldn't look out of place, his upside is immense.
Urby Emanuelson - LB/M - 16-6-1986 - Ajax - Holland
When it became obvious that Maxwell would be out for more than 6 months, Ajax had to insert a home grown talent into the line-up. But I doubt they expected his replacement to not only to fill the void left by Maxwell, but perhaps being even more of a contributor. Urby Emanuelson has been nothing short of amazing so far. He's been named man of the match 5 times just this season already. He's also become a Dutch international and should easily start ahead of Gio, who Marco van Basten likes for some odd reason.
Emanuelson is a fast, skillful two-way back. Can leave a few holes here and there due to his enthiusiasm, but that's understandable considering he's only 19 years old. Loves to create and start something from the left, loves to cutt inside, loves to combinate, and loves to shoot. Also a fearced tackles, Emanuelson can be important both defensively as offensively. LB or LM, Emanuelson would probably make an effective LW as well. He really can cover an entire flank..
: AC Milan have already been reported as interested in Emanuelson, and that's only a blip of things to come when Emanuelson will be a full time regular next season. The future on LB of the Dutch national squad, Emanuelson will be the first quality LB since Arthur Numan. He has the potential to be among the best at his position.
Ryan Babel - W/S - 19-12-1986 - Ajax - Holland
Just like every Ajacied who went before him, Babel has to deal with a downfall sooner or later, and for Ryan, it's happening right now. A striker of origin, Ryan Babel has strictly been used as a left wing, as Ajax is not wanting to giving up on aquisitions Charisteas and Rosenberg. Babel is useful, but not very effective on the wing, this as resulted in minimal playing time.
Babel is a striker and should be used as such, only then will he reach his rediculous upside. He reminds fans of Patrick Kluivert, while some see more of a Thierry Henry in him. Babel has a nose for the net, has a strong drive, wide arsenal of moves and a hard, accurate shot. This is probably the lowest you'll ever find Babel on the list, he might even be first depending on whether he's playing striker or not next season. I also really hope he is not serious about his rap career.. "MC Ryan Babel, zit maar lekker comfortabel!".. please!
His previous write up:
Ryan Babel emergence as Ajax's answer at the striker position came rather suddenly. He scored on the first ball he touched and has continued scoring for the remainder of the season. Babel probably could've scored as much as 10/15 if not for the experiments trying to add Charisteas into the picture. This had Babel playing wing which resulted in "only" 7 goals in 20 games. Definitely not a bad thing as the switch in positions only made Babel a much better player. He scored 6 goals and 1 assist in his first 8 games, and in his wing period he scored once while adding 3 assists. It was hard scoring for Ajax this year though, but Babel led the way while averaging around 65 minutes per game. He also contributed with a goal in the UEFA cup and one more in the Amstel Cup. Ryan Babel is only 19 years old and is already on his way on becoming a full time international, so far his goal scoring clip in Orange is a .500
Talent analysis: It wasn't hard for people to draw comparisons to Patrick Kluivert. The two are nearly indentical in pretty much each and every facet of the game when Kluivert was still 19. They are even equal in terms of height and size. Many people, including myself also see a bit of Thierry Henry in him, in how he uses his speed and techinque better and in that he's more athletic..
Projection: Ryan Babel has the potential to start for the best teams in Europe. It's only a matter of time before he leaves to a big club abroad. But Ajax will ask a heavty price for him, especially now that van der Vaart is gone, Babel has become their new buildingblock. Considering Babel and Kluivert are so indentical when both were 19, it wouldn't shock me if Babel also becomes a top 3 striker in the world someday. He's already a fairly mature and complete striker..
Ibrahim Afellay - AMF - 02-04-1986 - PSV - Marocco/Holland
Afellay's career is continueing nicely. His strong play off last season got rewarded with an invitation from Marco van Basten to play for Oranje. His play in the Champions League has also remained quite stellar, he backs down from no one, and has really been some kind of rolemodel for Aissati.
Not much has changed for Afellay. He isn't playing for Ajax, so a downfall is unlikely to come. He's a great down to earth kid with plenty of potential. Guus Hiddink knows how to capatilize his youngsters.
His previous write up:
A highly talented youngster, Ibrahim is PSV's most promessing player. A broken toe saw him making his defenitive debute later than expected (his official debute came in 2003 at the age of 17), but the breakthrough came. Ibrahim stepped out of the shadow with 2 goals against arch rivals Feyenoord, (two beauties btw). Ibrahim had a great season, even though he appeared in only 7 games (started in 3 - Finished with 2 goals, 1assist).
Talent analysis: A player with fast ball handlings and good offensive instincts. Loves to make meters and go on fancy dribbling tours. Owns a good cross but prefers to go for personal succes as he has the talent to do so. Lanky, athletic offensive dynamo with an impressive area of skills.
Projection: Afellay is expected to be a full time regular for PSV next season. He will likely start rushes from the right, whereas Park tries to do the same from the left flank. Judging by his skillset can become a star potential player. Still very raw so it's hard to see what the future holds for him, but it's definitely promessing. A player in the mold of slightly lesser skilled Robin van Persie but with a lot more defensive comittment.
Jonathan de Guzman - AMF - 13/09/1987 - Feyenoord - Canada/Holland
De Guzman suddenly had to step in for Feyenoord this year, and he's been great. De Guzman won the Dutch talent of the year award last season and just recently he was named man of the match in the game vs PSV. He fits in very well..
Jonathan de Guzman has already developed a knack for coming up big in the clutch. He reads play well, posseses some good moves but can also be valueble controlling the play. Versus PSV for example, de Guzman did not give anythign away against Philip Cocu, and that's not an easy thing to do.
: Jonathan de Guzman and Ibrahim Affelay are both extremely alike. I'm not sure who's better right now or who will be better in the future. The only reason de Guzman is behind Affelay is because of experience. Heck, both even face the decision whether they want to comitt their soccer careers to Holland or to Marocco/Canada. Jonathan de Guzman too has been scouted by Chelsea recently (seems like everyone is). Jonathan de Guzman will get a more in depth role once Kuijt and Kalou leave, and I think he can handle that just fine. He's a stud, plain and simple.
Quincy-Owusu Abeyie - AMF/W/S - 15-04-1986 - Arsenal - Holland
Arguably one of the most entertaining prospects in the world. Owusu's extremely wide arsenal of moves is a joy to watch, however, he's often been doing them for no reason, with no efficient result. He now seems to struggle not knowing when to go all dandy and when not. Still, his skillset, his speed and physical strenght are too good for him to only become an average player.
Owusu will be a world class stud once he knows how to combine all his intangibles. He has also started for Arsenal a few games this year, so things haven't been bad.
His previous write up:
"Stolen" from Ajax's junior ranks, Quincey is a rare and sick talent but isn't breaking into my top 10 because of inexperience at the highest level (understandable) but also a bit because he likes to toy with his opponent too much, resulting in ineffectiveness at times, so his maturity needs some work. Though only 19 for about a month, Quincey already played a few games for the Gunners this season, drawing some attention with his highly entertaining game. Arsene Wenger is said to have big plans for Quincey in the near future.
Talent analysis: Based on pure talent and instincts, Quincey would lead this list by a fairly decent margain. He's probably the highest skilled player I've ever had the pleasure to watch live.. He's so strong physicaly, it's not that as much as he's a bulldozer, but you nearly can't knock him off the ball when he has his sights set towards the goal. He combinates this with rediculous speed and control, to go with a high arsenal of moves.
Projection: Fortunately for Quincey, his 2 biggest problems are completely understandable for a kid his age and are relatively easy to overcome. He will no longer toy around much once Wenger gets to have more time on his hands with him. A player with superstar potential, if all goes well Quincey could play for the biggest teams there are and skyrocket into the top 5, if not take over the reigns. Will definitely be a full time international once he matures and gets some playing time.
Quincey Owusu-Abeyie is a WC under 20 participant, his regarding quote:
Foppe de Haan (headcoach of Oranje under 20):
'Quincey kind of plays like a rookie. And I don't mean that in a negative way. The unexpected and unexplainableness (word?) of his game makes him so hard to contain for his opponent. Quiney is such a rare player in that everyone who plays against him will be terrified. So fast, such rediculous moves.. He's actually a bit of a phenom.
Diego Biseswar - RMF - 08-03-1988 - Feyenoord - Holland
I don't think I'm doing Biseswar justice placing him at 13th, but it's a tight group all together. Give it a few more weeks and the list will look entirely different. Biseswar is yet another one of those studs of the U17 squad. Unlike Anita and Sarpong however, Biseswar has made his professional debute already. In fact, he already did in 2004/2005 when he was 15/16 years old. This year he scored in his first game, and it proved out to be the game winner as well.
Biseswar is a strong forward who likes to create havoc. He had outstanding U17 tournaments and yes, you guessed it, he too was scouted by Chelsea. Diego is extremely smart in the small, crowded areas. He is already quite a mature player for his age.
: Expect Biseswar's role to increase when Kuijt and Kalou leave. He might not become a starter immidiately, but it's definitely a possibility. If he proves he can be succesful on a consistant base playing for Feyenoord 1, then his international Oranje debute will only be a matter of time, just like it is for Anita and Sarpong. All are so gifted and loaded with potential, I have a tough time thinking of European top teams they wouldn't fit into.
John Goossens - W/S - 25-07-1988 - Ajax - Holland
John Goossens was the Dutch top scorer in both the EC and WC, it got him a mention on the tournament all-star squad. Much like Sarpong, John Goossens too, was nearly convinced by Chelsea, but eventually signed his signature for Ajax (
Out of the current young talents, John Goossens is said to be the first to make his debute. He can play both LW as well as Striker. Goossens is a striker in the mold of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with a tad more speed. He has the ability to score out of all angles, but also posseses a good cross and good one on one moves, hence his stints at wing.
: Expect Goossens to make his debute next season, perhaps even this season if injuries occur. Ajax is being very careful with John, they have high expectations of him and will bring him slowly. With Rosenberg, Babel and Huntelaar, Goossens likely won't be making his debute as a striker. John Goossens should succeed playing for Ajax 1 after being through the entire youth ranks, who too imply the same system. And usually, every home grown striker who succeeds for Ajax is one to remember (Cruijff, van Basten, Bergkamp, Kluivert).
Murat Yildirim - DMF - 24/4/1987 - Ajax - Turkey/Holland
Murat Yildirim was named Ajax talent of the year in 2005, quite the accomplishment. Previous winners are Dennis Bergkamp, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, John Heitinga, Tom de Mul and Hedwiges Maduro so big things are expected of Yildirim,
who btw is not related to Heereveen winger Ügur Yildirim. Yildirim deems as one of Turkish biggest talents and is a valueble member of their U19 squad.
Yildirim is a feisty defensive midfielder who is capable of creating plenty of offense, but isn't always allowed to do so. He is quite small in stature, couple that with his work ethic, and people tend to compare him to Edgar Davids when he was 17/18.
: Yildirim joined Ajax when he was 15, which is quite late. He got scouted due to his tenicious defense, this should get him in Ajax 1 someday. So despite the fact that he plays the most crowded position, he should still have a chance due to his willingness and ability to do the dirty work.
Last edited by Ajacied: 12-20-2005 at
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