As the January transfer window draws to a close with some of the usual big names being thrown around, Eoin Lyons discusses some of the young, hidden gems that the big clubs may have regrettably overlooked this January.
Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
Although the 22-year-old French attacking midfielder has had a tough start to 2015, with many possibly recognising the name for his failed rainbow kick attempt as part of a poor showing against French minnows, Grenoble, in a cup tie, however Florian Thauvin is still one to keep an eye on.
Arsene Wenger has openly and consistently shown interest in the young Frenchman, stating that he is ‘one of the great hopes of French football’.
He has shown promise for Marseille this season, scoring five and assisting seven, and has impressed even more on the international stage with six goals in only 10 appearances for France’s U21s. The price tag for this promising midfielder is a hefty, but not unreasonable €14 million.
Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan)
It is almost unusual for such a young player to be a regular starter for one of Italy’s top clubs, but at the age of 22, Mattia De Sciglio has already made 73 appearances for AC Milan.
Although the young, home-grown defender is far from being the finished article, he has shown much promise – enough to attract interest from Real Madrid last year.
Both his coaches and De Sciglio himself have been quite open about his room for improvement, which at the age of 22 is nothing to be ashamed of. Valued at €10 million, he may be worth the risk. We all know how many clubs are in the market for a right-back after all.
Stephan Al Shaarawy (AC Milan)
Although his season has been marred by a metatarsal fracture, with an expected return date towards the end of March, ‘The Pharoah’ is still one of the highest-rated young talents on the continent.
The left-winger is another young Italian who has shown huge promise for AC Milan. He is just one appearance short of 100 for Milan, and in that time has netted 25 goals and provided 14 assists.
He is one of the fastest, most attack-minded young talents on the continent, and at 22 years of age, still has a decade of football left in him.
His current injury has brought his value down below €20 million, so missing this opportunity may be regrettable for the likes of Manchester City who could use some more options on the left.
Paulo Dybala (Palermo)
It seems that Italian football must be doing something right in nourishing young talent. The 21-year-old Argentine has been a revelation up-front for Palermo, who cruised into the Serie A this season, having been in Serie B last year.
Up until this week, many may not have heard of him. Although he has scored 10 goals and assisted another seven this season, the player has not gained massive attention.
Until of course, PSG stepped in this week to splash the cash in acquiring his services. Apparently, something in the region of €25 million may now have to be paid in order to drag the striker away from Italy.
It’s hard to avoid the thought though, that if Arsenal, Manchester City or Liverpool had mounted their approaches before PSG, then they could have saved themselves a lot of money and effort.
Viktor Fischer (Ajax)
We have seen this week, in the shape of Cristian Eriksen, how Denmark and Ajax are still selflessly providing quality midfielders to Europe’s top tier clubs. Viktor Fischer certainly has every attribute to be another one of these stars.
The 20-year-old winger has made 68 appearances for Ajax, scoring 19 and assisting 15. His speed, dribbling, and composure would have any manager in the market for a young attacking midfielder begging the board for permission to sign him.
He has stayed under the radar, like many others in this list, reflected in the fact that he could be snapped up by Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal for less than €10 million.
Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg)
It may seem like an anti-climax to finish this list with a left-back. However, anyone who has seen Ricardo Rodriguez will disagree completely.
The 22-year-old Swiss international has been dominating Wolfsburg’s left flank this season, and is arguably one of the most promising defenders in European football.
In his time at the German club, he has scored 13 goals and assisted 18, with six of those goals and two of those assists coming from only 16 appearances this season.
A word of warning to any clubs looking to approach this defender; his value is on the increase. This left-back will not be a hidden gem for much longer, with a big move surely on the horizon for the player whose value is heading past €20 million at speed.
An attacking left-back would be well suited to many of England’s top clubs, Manchester United in particular.
Eoin Lyons, Pundit Arena