During pre-season we identified five young players that we thought could make a big impression on European football in 2010/11. Every month we will bring you an update on the quintet’s progress – this is the second instalment.
Jordan Ayew (Marseille)
Another disappointing month for the young Ghanaian forward who has had his opportunities limited to just a couple of substitute appearance since we last checked on his progress.
An ineffectual display during Marseille’s disastrous 0-1 defeat to Spartak Moscow in the Champions League did Ayew no favours whatsoever, his only other minutes coming in the team’s more encouraging 0-3 win away at Arles. It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Jordan Ayew.
Yann M’Vila (Rennes)
Rennes have had a superb start to the French season, currently sitting top of Ligue 1 by a point over second-placed Saint-Etienne. Indeed, holding midfielder Yann M’Vila has been at the heart of the excellent run of form which has seen Rennes win five and draw three of their first eight games.
20 year-old M’Vila played every minute of the three league games Rennes have had in the last month, continuing to build on his rapidly growing reputation with strong performances in the holding role. Having been rested for France’s last game against Luxembourg, the young midfielder should be well rested going into the busy October/November schedule with his club.
Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Mönchengladbach have endured a poor few weeks, drawing two and losing two (one of which being a 0-7 thrashing at the hands of Stuttgart) of their last four Bundesliga games.
Playing the majority of his football up front in Mönchengladbach’s 4-4-2, Reus has struggled for quality service and, as a result, has struggled to make much of an impact of late after a superb individual start to the campaign.
Languishing at the wrong end of the table, Gladbach will need Reus to quickly rediscover his best form if they are to start to ascend the Bundesliga.
Philippe Coutinho (Internazionale)
It has been something of a breakthrough month for Inter’s Brazilian creative prodigy, Philippe Coutinho.
Building upon his appearance in September’s European Super Cup, Coutinho made relatively encouraging impressions from the bench against both Bari and Roma and was rewarded with starts against Werder Bremen in the Champions League and versus Juventus in the Derby d’Italia.
Rafael Benitez clearly trusts in the ability of the 18 year-old Brazilian, a feeling that appears to be shared by his national team coach, Mano Menezes. Coutinho was handed his senior international debut against Iran last week, being deployed on the left side of Brazil’s new-look midfield unit as the Seleção marched to a comfortable 3-0 victory to cap a great month for the player.
Fran Mérida (Atlético Madrid)
September was a frustrating month for the former Arsenal midfielder and October has proved little better as Fran Mérida looks to establish himself in Madrid.
An underwhelming display in the Europa League defeat to Aris Thessaloniki was followed by two mediocre substitute appearances against Valencia and Bayer Leverkussen, Mérida’s latest appearance coming in the 3-1 loss to Sevilla.
He may be gradually working his way into the first team, but Mérida will need to substantially raise his level of performance if he is to become a regular feature of Quique Sánchez Flores’ plans.