by Andrew Doulton - 24th December 2015
With 2015 coming to a close it is time to take a look at 2016 and the players we are looking forward to seeing more of, and who we think are destined for big things in the months to come. This is the second part of a two-part piece on our ‘Players To Watch’ and will focus on the players I expect to shine, folling on from Tom Lees I am bringing you my own predictions.
Here are my ten to watch.
JONATHAN TAH - GERMANY
Jonathan Tah has to go down as one of the best defending prospects in Europe at the moment. At 194cm he is a tall powerful defender who is also solid in structure so defenders will have little luck pushing him of the ball. He also is confident on both feet and is more that capable with the ball at his feet
Tah has made an impressive 137 professional games and he is only 19 years old. Tah was signed by Leverkusen for an impressive £5.25million from Hamburg. Following that move he has nailed down his first team place and is now showcasing his ability in the Champions League.
At an international level Tah has been representing Germany throughout the youth levels. He has yet to make his senior debut but I can seriously see him challenging for a place in the German Euro 2016 squad.
I think this will be the year that Jonathan Tah establishes himself as a key German defender for years to come.
VICTOR FISCHER - DEMARK
Viktor Gorridsen Fischer is a player that I have been impressed with for a long time. Unfortunately for Fischer he suffered a major hamstring injury that resulted in him being missing most of the 2014/15 season. This however has not phased Fischer who has now fought his way back to the first team even though Ajax are blessed with very talented players.
Even with his injury problems Fischer has still managed to play 106 games scoring 33 and assisting 19. For a player who’s primary position is on the left wing this is a very impressive ratio.
Fischer is also a very hot prospect for the Denmark national team where he played over 51 games across the youth teams. He has also managed to 8 full international caps and looks to be a international player for years to come.
There was plenty of speculation in the summer linking Fischer with a move to Liverpool and Arsenal. With the way he is playing this season following his long injury surly the interest in him will intensify.
DENNIS PRAET - BELGIUM
As I have recently written a wonderkid article about Youri Tielemans I thought I would pick Dennis Praet as one of my 10 to watch during 2016. He is 21 years old and an established player in the Anderlecht midfield. I do not hold anything against Anderlecht but for me a talented 21 year old should be looking to move to one of the big leagues.
Praet has so far played an impressive 159 games for Anderlecht scoring 25 and assisting 35 along the way. Amongst those games he has made an impressive 17 appearances in the Champions League. He was also part of the 13/14 league winning Anderlecht side and he has also gone on to win 3 Belgium Super Cups.
It is clear from the Stats of Praet that his not a prolific goal scorer from midfield but he does add plent to his team’s performances for someone so young.
As for Praets international performances these have also been of high quality making his way through each of the youth teams and also gaining himself and international cap in a very good Belgium midfield.
LUKA JOVIC - SERBIA
I feel it was a slight risk picking someone from Serbia as one of my ones to watch, but Luka Jovic really is a special talent. The development of Jovic has been at a rapid pace with him playing 48 games, scoring 13 goals all by the age of just 18.
I would not describe him as a fox in the box, I would tend to describe his as a complete forward who is not only looking for a goal but also working hard for the team. He also has excellent movement of the ball, which is far beyond that of an 18 year old.
Not only has he been progressing well at club level he has also been playing regularly through out the youth teams for Serbia. He has represented Serbia in the U16s, U17s, U19s and now the U21s. During these games he manage to get a good goal scoring rate of 11 goals in 17 games.
The future for Jovic is looking very good, there was rumours of a £2million bid from Athletico Madrid being rejected last summer. Other clubs who have been reported to have been looking at Jovic include Arsenal, Juventus and Tottenham. I think when you look at these clubs, it is clear to see that the big clubs are really looking at Jovic as a potential star for the future.
HAKAN CALHANOGLU - TURKEY
Now this is a player that will have a huge year in football. For those football fans who follow the Bundersliga you will probably ask why I am calling him out. The reason I am calling him out is because he will get his chance to show case his class during the 2016 Euros.
Calhanoglu is a very cleaver creative player that sits just behind the attack. The skill that Calhanoglu is most famous has to be his dead ball abilities. He has the ability to con even the best goalkeepers out there with powerful long range free kicks that he is able to move around and dip dramatically.
What impresses me about Calhanoglu is the fact that he has played 215 professional games, scoring and impressive 53 goals and providing 43 assists. It is not only at club level he has impressed, because he has made 15 senior international appearances for Turkey.
With Calhanoglu already playing at a high level for Turkey and Leverkusen it is hard to see him move any time soon. How ever I say with the money in the game now days all it would take would be for one unforgettable free kick at the Euros could see big money being thrown around.
EMANUEL MAMMANA - ARGENTINA
In recent years I feel that the quality of players coming out of Argentina has not been of the same quality of previous years. Now step up Mammama, the defender really does have buckets of potential.
Mammana is a elegant ball playing defender who always seems to play with a touch of class. It was probably the fact that he played in central midfield in his younger years that he has such good composure on the ball. He also has good technique and passing ability, which is not always common from central defenders. He has great anticipation and he has a real ability to snuff out danger using his exceptional timing.
The future is very bright for Mammana and I expect him to move to Europe sooner rather than later. The usual clubs Arsenal and Spurs are interested in Mammana, with the current manager coming form Argentina this is a real possibility.
ALEX OXLADE CHAMBERLAIN - ENGLAND
Now I know that Chamberlain is already playing at big club in the premiership but due to injuries I think he is yet to hit his full potential. Do not get me wrong he has shown glimpses of his ability in the first team, which is some achievement considering the players Arsenal have available.
As we know the Ox is blessed with bags of pace and acceleration, which he uses to great effect when moving forward. Whilst moving forward he is confident on the ball and he is not afraid to run at opposing defenders. He is also being schooled in the arsenal way of moving the ball round so this can only add further quality to the future England star.
Obviously the future will be very bright for the Ox and I am sure that he will be in the Euro’s squad for England. All he needs to do now is to keep on developing and get his name on the starting sheet. He has all the qualities and he will have opportunities to learn from some of the Worlds best. I personally believe he will have a very good Euro’s for England, which could enhance his status further.
KINGSLEY COMAN - FRANCE
There are plenty of quality French players out there including the likes of Pogba, Griezman and Zouma. But for me there is one that is standing out due to his club form at Bayern but is yet to showcase his abilities in the nation side.
I believe Kingsley Coman will continue his already very impressive season at arguably the best team in the world Bayern Munich. Of the back of his first German Title and Italian one the season before, I fully expect him to make a huge impact at the Euros for the home nation France.
Coman has bags of pace and has no shortage of confidence when he facing a international full back. To be honest I think most teams will now see his name on the team sheet and have a sleepless night as he the potential to really run them in to the ground. Its not only the pace that is affective he also has a good eye for goal which can proved dangerous when cutting inside.
Remarkably he is currently on a loan agreement between Juventus and Bayern but I can see that becoming permanent at the end of the season. We could be about to witness the season that Kingsley Coman becomes a house hold name for years to come.
BREEL EMBOLO - SWITZERLAND
Currently applying his trade with Basel in Switzerland Breel Embolo really does have huge potential to be a big star in world football. He was born in Cameroon but moved to Switzerland with his mum and brother and only received citizen ship in 2014.
He was however already applying his trade in the youth international team so it was logical that he was going to step up to the full squad, which has now with ease. At just 18 he already has 7 caps and a goal for the Switzerland national team that will be at Euro 2016.
As for his club form this is really quite exceptional. He has already a Swiss title to his name, has player 86 first team games, scoring 26 and assisting 17. Now to be able to say he is doing all of this and he only turned 18 a few months ago just goes to show how good this player will become. He is a real out and out striker who has good strength, pace and an impressive eye for goal.
As for the future this player really have it all. He is already attacking allot of attention around Europe from the big clubs and it is easy to see why. All it could take is a good performance at the 2016 Euros and he will be on all of the big clubs radar.
JOSE ANGEL POZO - UD ALMERIA
Whilst calling out 10 players to watch out for it seemed wright to mention a young player who has allot of potential in Spain. Now out of all my 10 José Ángel Pozo is by far the biggest risk.
In his early career during 2012 Pozo was purchased by Manchester City for £2.4million from Real Madrid. This was allot of money for a youth player but as the player was already being labled the mini-messi you could see why City decided to splash so much for a player before he had made a senior appearance.
In his two seasons at City he managed to get just 3 games for Manchester City. It was always going to be tough with so much money flowing through City, why were they going to put faith in a young player who has yet to prove himself. Who knows if he had stayed at Madrid we might now be looking at a special player.
Anyway after his disastrous short City career came to an end he was given a lifeline in the Spanish Segunda Division for UD Almeria in his native Andalusia. He has started life ok with the Spanish side but has yet to really show how good he can be. I am taking risk by saying so, but he had so much quality when he was younger I believe once he has settled and he has got a few more goals under his belt he will be a different player. Whilst writing this I forget that he is still only 19 so he has so much time in front of him, however there is a risk with Almeria sitting bottom of the Segunda, there is potential for him to fall further from grace.