It’s nearly here! The Africa Cup of Nations 2017 kicks off this weekend and it’s a tournament we love and have covered in detail in the past on Just Football. Ahead of this year’s edition in Gabon here are a selection of promising young African talents that have risen to prominence and could play an essential […]
The #JF70 is our annual selection of the top most exciting young players to watch in Europe around a variety of Europe’s major leagues.
After selecting the best young talents to watch in England, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal, we’re then tracking these 70 top talents each week on Just Football to see how they get on and who can rightfully be considered Europe’s best young player.
It’s an international break this week, but these six talents impressed us in the most recent round of club action last weekend…
#JF70 Young Talents of the Week
Andrea Belotti, Torino
After claiming only two points from their previous three Serie A games, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men responded in style last weekend with an emphatic 5-1 win over 10-man Cagliari at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.
In fairness, it was a great team performance by The Maroons, with every member of the team impressing, but it was Andrea Belotti who once again stole the headlines with two goals – the first and last of the game.
Belotti’s first was an exhibition of his striker’s instinct and desire to be first to every ball in the opposition area. After failing to execute his first attempt – saved by Storari – he responded quickest to strike the rebound into an empty goal.
His second was from the spot after 59 minutes to make it 5-1. Before then, Belotti helped his side go 2-0 up, feeding Adem Ljajic – who still had a lot to do.
Torino are back on track in their quest for European football. But if that is to become reality, they’ll need Il Gallo to continue contributing to goals & assists. Currently, he’s the team’s top scorer (8 goals), and joint second in assists (3).
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 7, 2016
Mijat Gacinovic, Eintracht Frankfurt
Mijat Gacinovic narrowly missed out of our weekly JF70 review two weeks ago, despite excelling in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 3-0 win away at Hamburg. But there would be no overlooking him this time.
In front of 51,500 spectators at the Commerzbank Arena last Saturday Gacinovic proved to be the match-winner, as Frankfurt pipped Cologne 1-0 for their fifth Bundesliga win of the season.
Gacinovic’s decisive goal came after just five minutes, the 21-year-old sneaking to the near post to head home a Timothy Chandler cross, just ahead of Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn.
The match was largely disappointing, and failed to sparkle, but Gacinovic had done just enough to hand Niko Kovač’s side the three points which took them to seventh on the Bundesliga log.
Ousmane Dembélé, Borussia Dortmund
Before last Saturday’s statement making 5-2 win over Hamburg at the Volksparkstadion Borussia Dortmund had struggled for form, winning [in normal time] only two of their eight previous matches.
Dortmund’s loss in form coincided with Ousmane Dembele’s loss in form, with the French attacker struggling to influence matches as much as he did at the start of the season.
— Marc Bartra (@MarcBartra) November 5, 2016
On Saturday though, everything was different; the team was in prolific form in front of goal, led by star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and it transferred to everyone – including Dembele who started on the bench.
The 19-year-old had spent just eight minutes on the pitch when he picked up a layoff from Aubameyang on the right and placed a left footed strike past René Adler in the Hamburg goal for his second goal of the season.
He’s with the French national team on international football duty this weekend, but the big question now will be what role he’ll play in Dortmund’s crucial tie against Bayern Munich after the break.
Ousmane Dembélé: Has scored more goals than any other player aged 21 and under in Europe's big 5 leagues since the start of last season (14)
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 5, 2016
Kylian Mbappé, AS Monaco
After his first two starts of the season for AS Monaco [vs Montpellier and St. Etienne], a second straight game starting from the bench followed for Kylian Mbappé last Saturday in Monaco’s 6-0 bashing of Nancy at the Stade Louis II. His last substitute appearance was a five minutes cameo against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. This time though, he got all of 26 minutes. And he made the most of it – immediately.
Kylian Mbappé had barely spent a minute on the pitch when he finished off a loose ball in the Nancy area to give Monaco a 3-0 lead.
Kylian Mbappe really looking good at Monaco. Only 17 – 2 goals and 4 assists in roughly 200 mins of Ligue 1 football. 🔥👏
— Mohammed Ali (@mohammedali_93) November 5, 2016
He then continued to torment the visitor’s defence with his pace and movement upfront. It was only fair that one of those runs yielded a result. In added-on time, he jinked his way through the right side of the Nancy defence, beating a couple of players, before finding Guido Carrillo, who finished at the near post to round up the scoring for The Red and Whites.
Two goals and three assists in 250 minutes of football in Ligue 1 for Mbappé who only turns 18 this December. He’s proving to be a quality option from the bench for Leonardo Jardim. And he never fails to make a mark when he gets the chance.
Diogo Jota, FC Porto
The 19-year-old forward, on loan from Atletico Madrid, was on target when second placed FC Porto hosted Liga NOS leaders Benfica at the Estádio do Dragão last Sunday. The big game in Portugal ended in a 1-1 draw, but for over 40 minutes, Diogo Jota must have thought his goal would be enough to take Porto to within two points of their visitors.
Jota’s goal, his fourth of the season, came five minutes into the second half when he drove the ball home via the goalkeeper’s near post after receiving a pass from Jesús Manuel Corona.
Since his hat-trick against Nacional in October, Jota has become a more influential feature in the Porto side, starting every league and Champions League game. He’s not quite Cristiano Ronaldo yet – as some have touted him to become – but he’s growing in importance to Porto with every game.
If he keeps up his performances, Porto may well consider paying Atletico Madrid the whooping €22 million needed to sign the Portugal Under-21 player on a permanent deal.
— FC Porto FR 🇫🇷 (@FCPorto_Fr) November 6, 2016
Enes Unal, FC Twente
Against PSV last Saturday, the Manchester City loanee was on target yet again. His goal came eight minutes into the second half, finishing neatly after being played through 1 v 1 by Stefan Thesker.
That goal took him to eight in the league this season, placing him joint top on the Eredivisie goalscorers chart. Unal’s eight goals also means he’s scored more than a third of Twente’s league goals this season.