Much has been made of Liverpool’s scouting prowess recently, with the club’s devastating front three all arriving on Merseyside in subsequent years and all arguably outperforming their respective price tags. But the scouting never ends, and LFC Transfer Room’s Moby Haque (@MobyHaque) is always keeping his eye out for the next under-the-radar starley!
We all know who Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are, and it is hard to find any football fan who hasn’t heard those names before. But it’s the unknowns and up-and-coming players that most excite me. As the game evolves globally, talents come from all over the world, no longer just Europe and South America. Senegal, as just one example, is currently a hot bed of talent, in my opinion. There are some very exciting youngsters and well seasoned players coming out of that country.
My articles going forward will focus on youngsters making waves, who we are most likely to see move to bigger clubs with more exposure. As always, I hope that they come to Liverpool over others. No doubt with Jürgen Klopp at the helm we can expect quality injections into our team.
In this round, here are 5 exciting young talents worth keeping an eye on:
1) Lautaro Martinez
Striker / Racing Club
This 20-year-old Argentinian striker has been a revelation. Sharp, pacy, and with a real poacher’s instinct in front of the goal, he is ready to take the leap to a bigger team. He would do well for a team like Liverpool with our run and gun style of play. Fiercely competitive and hard-working, he has great positioning and good spacial intelligence. Rumours are Atletico Madrid are keeping tabs on him, which is no surprise with Argentinian Diego Simeone at the helm there (for now).
2) Thilo Kehrer
Centre Back, FC Schalke 04
Schalke has always been a great club in developing talents. In recent memory, they developed Leroy Sane before he moved to Manchester City, with Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer the next talents about to make the next step in their careers. Thilo is a 21-year-old centre-back who can play both full-back roles if need be due to this pace. He is a great header of the ball and has good footballing intelligence for his age. His contract runs till summer 2019, but I expect him to develop and be chased by teams looking for a quality CB. He would be a great player for Klopp, as he would be able to defend and press when needed. Would love him at LFC.
3) Tanguy Ndombele
Midfielder, Olympique Lyonnais (on loan from Amiens)
Tanguy has exploded into the Ligue 1 season as an absolute monster in midfield. He has incredible agility to keep hold of a ball, great dribbling skills, and an ability to bulldoze opposition teams that is rare to find in one package. To compliment that, he has an incredible long range shot that is deadly accurate. He is a complete midfielder, a true no. 8 who can also play as a defensive midfielder if need be. Ndombele is a product of SC Amiens academy whose loan to Olympique Lyonnais ends June 2018 with an option to buy. He would fit very well in the Premier League with his physical style of play, no doubt. He’s a top talent to watch out for in Ligue 1 this season who has definitely impressed thus far.
4) Alban Lafont
Goal Keeper, Toulouse
18-year-old Toulouse goalkeeper Alban Lafont is bound to become a world-class keeper by the time he hits his mid-20s. Incredibly agile, he has the reflexes of a cat in front of the goal. He is so talented that upon signing for Toulouse in 2014, he became the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in Ligue 1 at just 16 years old. He already has 60+ appearances for his club, which is unheard of for such a young keeper. Keep an eye on him and don’t be surprised to see him move to a bigger club soon. Some of his saves have to be seen to be believed.
5) David Neres
Right Winger, Ajax Amsterdam
I have been keeping a tab on explosive right winger David Neres for the past two years. I have always loved his footwork and great dribbling skills. A product of Sao Paolo’s youth system, Neres is now the most expensive foreign signing in Eredivisie history. There is regular comparisons with Luis Suarez, who also played as a winger for Ajax in the past. Neres, too, has the uncanny ability to create something out of nothing (he still has a long way to go before he hits Suarez level, of course). He is an unpredictable, pacy winger both inside the box or outside the box. Watch out for him, as this season will be his coming out party.