Scout report – Jadon Sancho: City and England’s next rising star

Scout report - Jadon Sancho: City and England's next rising star

Having burst onto the scene in the blue half of Manchester, the 15-year-old winger represents an exciting breed of talent at Eastlands.

Scout report – City and England’s next rising star

Name: Jadon Sancho

DOB: March 25, 2000 (15)

Height: 1.78m

Position: Attacking midfielder

Current club: Man City

Preferred foot: Right

For every young player, all they want to do is play. Irrespective of the quality, or the opposition, most aspiring youngsters just want their opportunity centre-stage.

After seven successful years in Watford‘s youth ranks, Manchester City winger Jadon Sancho made his lucrative move – joining the big boys in the process. Signing an initial scholar contract with the sky Blues, his switch surprised plenty, not least because of the fee involved.

Big fee for promising talent

To pay £500,000 (upfront, £66k – plus add-ons) for an unproven 15-year-old suggests they’d been monitoring his progress for a while, and in the ten short months he’s been at the club, he’s more than shown his outright potential to force his way into their first-team plans in the not-too-distant future.

Obviously, with the hype also comes plenty of expectation. At his age, you can’t expect too much. But, he’s been excellent since the move, and proven his massive potential in the process. Predominantly an attacking midfielder, usually deployed on the wing or just behind the striker, he’s already impressed for City’s youth side as well as England‘s talented crop of under-16’s.

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U18s: Man City 7-2 Derby County: Wilcox’s youngsters back firing

U18s: Man City 7-2 Derby County: Wilcox's youngsters back firing

Jason Wilcox’s youngsters returned to the top of the Premier League’s u18 table in emphatic style, with a 7-2 home thrashing over strugglers Derby County.

A hat-trick from Isaac Buckley-Ricketts, a well-taken double from Joe Coveney as well as one goal apiece between creative midfielders Paolo Fernandes and Javairo Dilrosun ensured Jason Wilcox‘s Manchester City youngsters got back to winning ways in the best possible manner at home against Derby County.

Soured by their unfortunate 1-0 defeat at the hands of midtable West Brom last time out, it was important for the young sky Blues to respond and boost their title credentials.

Young Blues firing on all cylinders

They did just that, with a fantastic team performance – sandwiched by nine goals at the City Academy Stadium.

Buckley broke the deadlock after 15 minutes, volleying home from range after spotting Derby goalkeeper Joshua Barnes off his line, rushing to try and close down the angle between himself and the gaping goal.

City smell blood, and punish Derby in style

Coveney scored a well-taken header and a neatly-placed rebound before the interval, whilst Buckley added to his personal tally for the afternoon with a close-range strike which left Barnes helpless.

Derby shored up their defensive issues in the second-half, and grabbed two consolation strikes courtesy of Jahvan Davidson-Miller and Emil Riis Jakobsen after the break. With that in mind though, they were unable to settle quickly enough and City’s counter-attacking exploits, plus the blistering acceleration at which they get forward, was too much to handle. It was evident to see, the visitors struggled and their heads dropped after quick-fire goals in the first-half.

Buckley netted his hat-trick, whilst Fernandes also got himself on the scoresheet to add gloss to a fantastic win. It finished 7-2, Derby’s heaviest defeat of the campaign – and City will hope to build from that display of attacking impetus with the Manchester Derby coming up soon – fixture time and date to be confirmed, due to fixture rescheduling.

England 1-1 Guinea: Arsenal’s youngsters in u17 World Cup action


Three of Arsenal’s promising stars were on-show on Saturday evening, as England’s FIFA u17 World Cup campaign got underway with a tricky fixture against Papua New Guinea.

The attacking trio of Kaylen Hinds, Chris Willock and Stephy Mavididi all started the match in Coquimbo, Chile – and the Young Lions could have found themselves ahead within the first two minutes of the contest.

Some encouraging work on the left-hand side by Willock allowed the 17-year-old to advance towards the edge of the area, where his inviting ball was almost fed through into the path of Hinds in the centre.

Luckily for the Oceanic country, the danger was averted as the goalkeeper rushed out to collect the ball in his box.

Willock’s pace and trickery was a troublesome combination for Guinea to contend with on the far side, and his link-up play with Mavididi was evident to see, as England tried to make use of their domination spells in possession with opportunities to break the deadlock.

That being said though, Guinea posed their own threat on the break – and could have easily scored one or two goals for themselves in the opening twenty minutes.

Mavididi came close with a chance of his own just before the half-hour mark, but struggled to get proper contact on the ball as it was fizzed into his path from close-range. Often the only player in an attack-minded position when out of possession, the Guinea players

Fode Camara was penalized for a late sliding tackle on Tottenham’s Marcus Edwards in the area, but the resulting penalty-kick was thwarted with a good diving stop by Moussa Camara to keep the scores level.

As the match continued, Guinea asserted themselves and established a real threatening presence in the final third – certainly unlucky not to be leading at the half-time interval, but for an excellent double save by Tottenham goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman.

In the second-half, the match was an increasingly intriguing affair. Camara was lucky not to be shown his marching orders five minutes after the restart, having brought down Mavididi on the edge of the area. The referee only brandished a yellow card to the goalkeeper, who would have been breathing a sigh of relief as the Arsenal youngster would have been through on-goal with the net bulging.

Whiteman came to England’s rescue again, to deny the Guinea attackers on a blistering counter-attack towards goal. Then, it was finally time for the opening strike of the game, as well as the tournament.

It seemed like destiny that an Arsenal player would be involved, but all three made the move all the more pleasing on the eye. Mavididi passed the ball across to Willock on the flank, near the edge of the box. A sharp turn and his marker was wrongfooted within a flash, before his delivery in the area was perfectly-weighted in the path of Kaylen Hinds.

Shrugging off the advances of a Guinea defender, Hinds headed home from close range to break the deadlock, and it was coming in truth.

Just as he was getting more involved in the evening’s action, Hinds made way with twenty minutes to play – with Manchester City winger Will Patching replacing him.

With time ticking down, Guinea continued to press and you wondered whether they’d eventually get the goal they’d been in constant search of. With just under fifteen minutes to play, they finally grabbed it – from another of their rapid counter-attacks, with Naby Bangoura slamming home into the corner, giving Whiteman no chance.

Alterations came thick and fast with Iké Ugbo and Kaziah Sterling replacing Edwards and Mavididi with the clock nearing toward the final-whistle which finally came, meaning the opening game of the tournament ended in an underwhelming finish given the plethora of chances to score throughout for both sides.

Czech Republic U21s 0-1 England U21s: Carroll second-half strike settles solid display from Young Lions

Czech Republic U21s 0-1 England U21s: Carroll second-half strike settles solid display from Young Lions

An early second-half strike from Tottenham‘s midfield wonderkid Tom Carroll (currently on-loan at Swansea City) was enough to seal a victory for Gareth Southgate and his young men, on an intriguing night of football in the Czech Republic.

In the first-half, the Young Lions got off to a decent start, utilising Norwich winger Nathan Redmond‘s blistering pace to their upper hand down the flanks, as he got past his marker with ease every time he got on the ball and drove forward dribbling on the attack. Fulham‘s Cauley Woodrow had a goal-scoring opportunity early on as his touch set him past a defender in the box, but he fired his effort narrowly wide of the goalkeeper’s far corner, flashing above the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.

Woodrow was a constant pest to the Czech backline in the first-half, where his workrate and acceleration were a devastating combo which the hosts had to bring to a halt, and the only way they could muster this was by fouling him, amongst other players, in an attempt to slow down the fast-attacking tempo of the match. Fulham’s startlet was unlucky not to score in the first 45 minutes, and the only real criticism of England’s youth would be that their final ball was not good enough to warrant them going ahead. Watford striker Matej Vydra went closest for the hosts, but saw his shot cleared off the line mid-way through proceedings in the first-half.

Arsenal‘s young and talented defender Calum Chambers acted as a defensive anchor to help Redmond whenever the winger was in danger of losing the ball, or needed support from a team-mate, the former So’ton man was always there in the right place at the right time, as well as providing an attacking threat with his bursting runs forward into space on the wing.

Soon after the restart, Chambers proved his attacking qualities. A well-driven, low cross was fired into the box, and the Czech defenders were unable to get the ball clear, before it fell into the path of Carroll, whose low fizzing effort beat the goalkeeper and bounced into the back of the net. In the goalmouth scramble leading up to the goal, Carroll unfortunately picked up a knock and was not risked by Southgate, who replaced him with Derby‘s highly-rated Will Hughes.

Hughes instantaneously got amongst the thick of things and unselfishly squared a pass towards the path of Alex Pritchard, who had an effort from close-range denied by a goal-line catch courtesy of the quick reactions from Jiri Pavlenka.

England made a triple substitution to try and shore up things; Carl Jenkinson, Jesse Lingard and Danny Ings all entering the fray in place of Chambers, Pritchard and Woodrow – who had played well in all honesty.

A Czech counter attack almost caught the visitors out, but a neatly-placed through ball found the run of Jiri Svalák who was quite clearly under pressure to take a shot, rushed the contact and fired over the bar – not troubling debutant Marcus Bettinelli in the England goal.

Lingard was very unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet with a few minutes left to play; Redmond got the better of his marker once more and floated a chipped cross towards the Manchester United youngster, whose effort was denied by a dramatic goal-line clearance as the hosts hoofed the ball clear. With time running out, England held out for a 1-0 victory, with Bettinelli getting a clean sheet which is sure to increase his morale, despite not being troubled for the most part in fairness.

Despite all of the media criticism, England’s U21‘s give cause for excitment towards the future. Following on from this result, they host Germany in Middlesbrough on Monday night.

U21’s – Fulham 2-1 Norwich City: Plumain at the double as young Whites prevail

Fulham U21s 2-1 Norwich City U21s: Plumain at the double as young Whites prevail

How did Fulham’s youngsters get on, as they hosted Norwich U21’s at Craven Cottage on Friday night? Read below for the match report, written by myself – who was there personally to watch the action unfold.

A first-half brace from 20-year-old forward Ange-Freddy Plumain secured all three points for the young Whites at home against 6th placed Norwich City, who gave them a tough test especially in the second 45 and almost managed to level the scoring in the dying seconds of stoppage time.

The Canaries were under the knife within the opening minutes of the first-half, as Remi Matthews had to be alert in the Norwich goal to thwart Plumain from close range, with the resulting corner-kick flashing over the crossbar from captain Jonathan Buatu.

After a fast-paced start to the game, the deadlock was broken in the 20th minute as Plumain latched onto a superb through ball pass by Mesca before beating his marker for pace and curling an effort beyond the ‘keeper into the bottom corner of the net. Norwich had a half-chance with a headed effort which flew wide of the mark, before Plumain netted his second in the space of ten minnutes to double Fulham’s lead; an excellent touch-and-go move which was clinically finished on the edge of the area.

On the stroke of the half-time interval, challenges were flying in and referee Simon Knapp was more than happy to go into his pocket and brandish some yellow cards to help enforce his rules. Some harsh, some justified – Norman, Williams and Hall-Johnson all went into the book for respective tackles before the break.

It was safe to say that Fulham were totally in control for the majority of procceedings, and Norwich needed to pass the ball quickly across the ground if they were to fashion any chances of getting back into the game. In the second-half, they did just that, but ultimately left it too late. Midfielder and captain Cameron Norman had a fizzing effort well caught by ‘keeper Marek Rodak in the 55th minute, before Plumain broke on the counter attack with pace down the other end of the pitch and almost completely his hat-trick, if it was not for a good stop from Matthews at the near post.

Plumain was a constant threat to the Norwich backline throughout, as they were unable to keep tabs on him or track his runs, his pace was too much to handle as well as his quick feet and neat dribbling skills.

An un-enforced mistake led to Norwich’s only goal of the game in the 77th minute, as an attempted header was flicked backwards into the path of Conor McGrandles, who weaved past the last defender and cooly slotted his effort beneath the ‘keeper to make it 2-1 and set up an intriguing end to an interesting game in truth.

Questionable decisions and cards were flying everywhere, as Fulham’s game-plan chopped and changed as the clock ticked down. Emerson Hyndman was given his marching orders for a second yellow card with a few minutes left to play, as he cynically kicked the ball away as Norwich were preparing to take a free-kick from a previous offside call – which wasted time but also managed to kill Norwich’s momentum in truh. Fulham themselves had to adapt with ten men for the final few minutes, they were sitting in their own half inviting Norwich pressure, which almost led to a stoppage-time equaliser but for the ball to marginally trickle out of play as a Norwich player whipped it into the box, headed into the back of the net, with the linesman having his flag up on the far side to deny the visitors from taking what would have been a hard-earned point.

After that result, Fulham’s young side are still in 11th place – but eight points off bottom side West Ham, and just five points off fourth placed Tottenham in their respective national group. This was Norwich’s sixth defeat of the season, but they remain in sixth place, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton all with games in hand, below them.

Brandon Barker – Manchester City’s rising talent

Rising Star: Brandon Barker

The 18-year-old English left winger has burst onto the scene in Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad; his impressive displays in both the U21 Premier League and UEFA Youth League have prompted coaches to take note of him for a future talent in years to come.

Brandon Barker, 18. The English left-winger has impressed City coaches with his rapid development over the past two years, his dazzling displays for the respective youth set-ups in Manchester hinting that the youngster could very well force himself into getting amongst things in the first-team at some stage next season. 7 goals and 5 assists in all competitions thus far; U21 Premier League and UEFA Youth League being taken into account.

He is already a regular on the international youth stage for the English; making his debut for the U18 team back in October of 2013 and has gone onto U19 level, where he has netted 3 goals in 5 competitive matches for the Young Lions. Brandon won the City Academy Player of the Year last campaign, and given his ability, has all the makings of a great professional footballer to come, as long as he stays grounded.

Brandon’s strengths:

Has electric pace, close-control dribbling strong, likes to take on defenders with ease, a good playmaker, quick on the counter attack.


Decision-making not perfect, could score a few more goals, crossing inconsistent.

Many sections of the media have criticised City for the lack of homegrown talent in their team, but if you delve deep enough, players like Barker are a good example that there are players with a lot of potential to fulfil, in the ranks. The Citzens themselves have an abundance of talent in their first-team squad, so Brandon will have to keep his consistency if he is to eventually get his chance amongst the star-studded players you often see every week, including the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva for example.

Very few academy players have flourished or reached their full potential, with the likes of Micah Richards, John Guidetti and Dedryck Boyata all still contracted to the club; despite reports suggesting that none of the above will stay at the club long enough to heavily feature. However, the future is bright in the blue half of Manchester. Karim Rekik, Jason Denayer, Pozo, Marcos Lopes, Thierry Ambrose and Bersant Celina are all very talented players in their own right, so do not be surprised if they turn out to be world-class players in the near future.

Rising star: The young, talented midfield dynamo at Spurs

The young, under-rated midfield talent who is flourishing at Spurs

Tottenham’s youth midfield talent, who turned 20 in November, is a rising star but with that being said, relatively under-rated in European football today. Read below, for exactly why.

English football has been criticised for the lack of young talents shining through the first-team ranks at the top Premier League clubs, but Nabil Bentaleb is certainly an exception. The 20-year-old Algerian midfielder joined the Spurs set-up in 2012 after non-professional spells in France and Belgium respectively. He signed a new contract until 2018 as a result of his impressive displays, and was consequently promoted into the first-team itself, back in the 2013-14 season; where he made 20 appearances in all club competitions as well as featuring in last summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Since then, he has flourished in the Tottenham side, and is often one of the first names on the team sheet, when he is available and fit, mind you.

Bentaleb has already played the same amount of games as he did last season, so far in the 2014-15 campaign; for both Spurs and Algeria (at the African Cup of Nations), where he scored his second international goal in a 2-0 victory over Senegal last week.

Although his overall stats upon first viewing do not look too impressive with two goals and an assist to his name, he is a hard-working midfielder who is ready to put his body on the line for his team-mates, a credible asset for any professional team to have. He is versatile and can play anywhere from CDM to CAM in the midfield, but is mostly preferred as a defensive-minded midfield player who looks to pass the ball up to the front-players, whilst doing the dirty work and getting involved in tackles galore.

His main strengths include his passing, whether that be short-range or long-range, as well as a lack of fear shown to get involved in 50-50 challenges and tackles to win the ball. The only real downside to his game, apart from the lack of eye-catching stats (goals and assists), is his lack of disclipine; three yellow cards in his last five matches proves this. The rate at which he is developing and maturing is very fast, and he is without a doubt, one of Europe’s finest young prospects for the future – as well as a key player for Mauricio Pochettino‘s men.

Should Emre Can be used in midfield or a defensive three?

Should Emre Can be used in midfield or a defensive three?

Can has found himself having to adapt to different positions and become a versatile player at Liverpool, following his summer move. But, where should Rodgers really play him?

Emre Can, has only recently turned 21, and following his £8million pound summer move to Liverpool from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, has found his spells in the team interesting to say the least. He has been deployed as a make-shift centre-back in a defensive three formation, as well as playing CDM and CM at times in other matches for Brendan Rodgers’ men so far this campaign.

So, where should he be used?

He has already raised comparisons to experienced German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, based on the fact that he can combine attacking and defending so well, and his versatile nature means that he can play two or three different positions without looking out of place.

Liverpool’s defensive options are not that great upon first glance at the moment, meaning that Rodgers will be eager to put out his best defensive trio or quartet for every game. Lovren has been inconsistent at the best of times so far this campaign, whilst Touré is only really a squad rotation player, meaning adaptability is key. Skrtel seems to be the rock centre-back at the moment, but he himself, has some topsy-turvy times occasionally.

Can plays there when needed for the team’s benefit, but it’s not his preferred position. He is normally a CDM/CM, but you can tell that he will probably be used in this role towards the end of the season, and perhaps more often following the end of the current campaign; given the fact that Steven Gerrard will leave in May – leaving a significant gap in midfield.

Player watch: During their 1-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, he played in two different positions during the match, and did so well and with composure. In the first-half of the game, he was part of a defensive trio which helped to snuff out any potential danger with the hosts lurking towards the box in short periods of the match.

Steven Gerrard picked up a knock and had to be replaced at half-time, so Can slotted into midfield, using the extra space to his advantage as he was a constant threat down the right-hand side of the pitch. He forced Liam Bridcutt into committing a needless foul, getting the Scottish midfielder sent off for a second yellow card, just minutes into the second 45.

He also won 100% of the duels that he got himself involved in, during the match. His passing and accuracy overall was over 90%, whilst he was a constant danger attacking-wise as he always looked to slot through Fabio Borini on the ball in the box; although the Italian’s finishing was not up to par.

Explored: Chelsea’s talented youth system and the problems attached to it

Stats, data – all correct to January 9, 2015: 

Chelsea’s youth set-up is full of potential, with wonderkids ready to break through into the first-team. So why are most of them being loaned out? Will they get their chance? Read below, for my opinion on the intriguing situation which is currently unfolding at Chelsea.

You could argue that The Blues have an interesting situation on their hands. They have many good young players amongst the U-18’s, U-21’s and other age groups, with some of those players having the potential to force their way into the first-team.

With that being said, Chelsea’s team is strong. They have strength in depth, and unlike most of their title rivals in the league, do not have to make many signings or additions to the squad in respective transfer windows. Obviously, this means that most players will not get as many minutes as they would like; unfortunate for a team in a league trying to pride themselves on having homegrown talent, especially given the criticism of recent years over the sufficient lack of world-class English players.

There have been many different young players that have joined Chelsea, and gone on to flourish elsewhere, with a prime example being Wolfsburg‘s creative midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian is still relatively young at age 23, but only made 9 appearances for the first-team, with the majority of them being cameo appearances.

Chelsea signed him back in 2012 from Belgian side Genk, where he was being heralded as a player with potential to be special in the future. They sent him on loan, back to Belgium as well as to Werder Bremen – missing out on his talent.

STAT: De Bruyne has already created 10 assists in the Bundesliga alone so far this season, more than almost every player in the top five European leagues currently, apart from Cesc Fabregas, who has 14 at Chelsea – ironically enough.

He joined Wolfsburg in January 2014, and has looked a completely different player. One that plays with costlessdom and has the confidence to prove his doubters wrong, as well as Mourinho – he is a good player who should have been given a better opportunity to showcase his abilities in the first-team.

However, you could also spin the argument, and say that the fee brought in from the de Bruyne transfer shows that The Blues have an efficient way of selling on players that they know will not be able to gain first-team experience in the squad. They signed him for £7million, and sold him for £17million just two years later; a massive amount of profit which could help them in the future to ensure they keep in line with the Financial Fair Play rules and regulations.

The picture below (source: Wikipedia) just shows the sheer scale of players out on loan from Chelsea at the moment – the majority of which, are all young and under the age of 23:

Lucas Piazon, 20, has been compared to by current Chelsea first-team star Oscar amongst other Brazilian compatriots for his attacking flair, pace, skill and being a costless-kick specialist. With that being said, he has barely featured for his parent club – instead, being loaned out to the likes of Vitesse and Frankfurt. He has already admitted that he is open to staying in Germany, so what does that tell you?

Thorgan Hazard, 21 has been praised for having similiar attributes to his older brother, Eden, who is a star player in the first-team. He is currently on-loan at Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga, but will he get his chance eventually following his move in 2012 or find himself on a different pathway to his sibling?

It is all well and good, to have a world-class youth system. But if you do not utilise your youth players and give them chances to shine, then what is the point? To say, that Chelsea do not give some of their talented players a chance amongst the stars in the team, is unfair. Defensive partnership Kurt Zouma and Nathan Aké have been tipped for world stardom, and have played cameos in the side following impressive spells in the youth set-up and elsewhere.

Dominic Solanke, a 17-year-old English striker of Nigerian descent, has starred for the youth squad and earned himself a call-up to their UEFA Champions League group stage squad against NK Maribor towards the end of last year.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 18, received a huge welcome onto the Champions League scene, as he played ten minutes in their 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in December.

All of these youth startlets have been tipped for glory and success in the future. It is exciting to see how they develop and excel amongst the youth ranks. But, it is important not to forget that these are just a FEW of the many amongst the current crop at Stamford Bridge who are waiting patiently for a game. Will they get it? That’s the major question.