Quick. Who is the best teenager in Europe this season? Well if you answered Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj or Real Madrid striker Jesé, neither of them made the list. According to whoscored.com the answer is Liverpool and England winger Raheem Sterling.
WhoScored’s rating system, of every player to have made at least 10 appearances, Sterling is the top rated teenager in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season.
Raheem Sterling (7.31) – Liverpool
Sterling burst onto the scene last season at Liverpool, but he has really progressed this season,
Having been handed the chance to showcase his talents by Brendan Rodgers last season, Raheem Sterling making 21 league appearances, 15 of which have been starts. Alongside Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge in the attack.
With the two goals against Arsenal at the weekend, Sterling now has 5 goals this season with another 2 assists to his name thus far. In a World Cup year, Sterling is coming into form at just the right time as he looks to force his way into Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for Brazil 2014.
The winger is currently averaging 2.6 dribbles per game, accumulating a matching WhoScored strength in turn, with his figure bettered only by Suárez (2.9) of every Liverpool player. Surprisingly Sterling has won the most penalties (3) in England’s top tier this term, highlighting how he’s able to draw fouls in dangerous positions for the benefit of the team.
Aymeric Laporte (7.24) – Athletic Bilbao
After a disappointing season last year, Athletic Bilbao are once again challenging for a Champions League place. Having conceded just the 28 goals in Spain’s top tier, part of their success has been down to their defence, with Aymeric Laporte in particular impressing in his second full season at San Mamés.
Like Sterling, Laporte has show a big jump from last year to this year, going from an average rating (6.97) in La Liga last season, to 7.24 this season. Valverde’s influence on the young defender is evidently having a positive effect, with the Frenchman averaging a notable 2.2 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game.
Max Meyer (7.2) – Schalke
Meyer is the latest in the conveyor belt of talented attacking midfielders to come out of Schalke, following in the footsteps of Lewis Holtby and Julian Draxler.
While Draxler has been stealing most of the headlines this season, Meyer has been terrific, scoring 5 goals.
However, it’s his capability to carry possession that has caught the eye of several of Europe’s big teams, with Meyer currently averaging 3.7 successful dribbles per game, an asset that has seen the teenager develop a statistically calculated strength of ‘dribbling’. Able to drive at the opposition from deep, Meyer is capable of utilising this aspect of his game to punch through defences to increase Schalke’s chances of scoring and with Draxler tipped to leave in the summer, Meyer is understandably considered his natural successor.
Domenico Berardi (7.19) – Sassuolo
Serie A’s smallest club have been in the bottom three seemingly all season, but if Sassuolo is going to avoid relegation this season, it will be due to the scoring prowess of striker Domenico Berardi. Only Giuseppe Rossi (14) and Carlos Tevéz (13) have scored more league goals than Berardi (12) this season.
No player has scored more clear-cut chances (9) than Berardi in the league this season, with the teenager displaying an impressive level of calmness when presented with the opportunity to net. Berardi is co-owned by Juventus and based on his performance this season I would not be surprised to see the young striker in a Juventus shirt next season.
Nicola Murru (7.1) – Cagliari
Another youngster starting for a struggling side is Cagliari’s Nicola Murru. The 19-year-old has started 17 of their 23 league games.
Murru’s biggest asset is his ability to read the game, and the teenager is averaging 3.1 interceptions per game, the most by any regular full-back in Serie A this campaign.
The youngster is currently making 2.6 tackles and 2.9 clearances per league match, highlighting how he’s able to consistently deny the opposition any goalscoring opportunities on his side of the pitch.
I would not be surprised to see one of Italy’s big teams come in and sign Murru in the summer, especially if Cagliari, who are currently 15th in Serie A get relegated.