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 third instalment.
Jordan Ayew (Marseille)
Ayew has started just two games since we last checked on the young Ghanaian’s progress, his stuttering start to the season continuing as he struggles to break into Didier Deschamps’ team.
Being used irregularly on the right side of midfield by Deschamps, the youngest of the Ayew brothers has only played 178 minutes of football in the last month, battling to impose himself in a position which is not generally considered to be his natural role.
Jordan Ayew may have broken into the Ghana senior side in October, but this exciting prospect is yet to fully express himself at club level.
Yann M’Vila (Rennes)
Arguably the most successful of our group of five thus far, French defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila is coming to establish himself as one of the brightest young players in Europe.
Rennes’ relatively good early-season form may have fallen away of late, the club having only managed to take two points from their last four games, but M’Vila’s reputation continues to grow. His excellence in the holding role has certainly not gone unnoticed by national team boss, Laurent Blanc, the former Manchester United defender having selected M’Vila for France’s last four internationals.
Indeed, the Rennes star will again be featuring for his country against England at Wembley on Wednesday, a chance for those who are yet to see him play get a glimpse of his substantial talents.
Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Marco Reus started the season in exceptional form, but Mönchengladbach’s campaign has gone from bad to worse lately, three straight defeats against Hoffenheim, Werder Bremen and Kaiserslautern leaving Die Fohlen a pitiful second from bottom.
That said, Reus’ form has arguably been one of the few high points of a miserable season for Mönchengladbach, assists against Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen briefly alleviating the pervading atmosphere of gloom. His team may be struggling, but the 21 year-old Reus (who has demonstrated his versatility by playing in several positions this season) is still very much on course to develop into a key figure amongst the next generation of German footballers.
Philippe Coutinho (Internazionale)
Coutinho continues to go from strength to strength in Milan, that despite Rafael Benitez’s Inter currently struggling for consistency both in Serie A and in Europe.
Having started six of the Nerazzurri’s games in the last month, the 18 year-old Brazilian has impressed with the intelligence of his movement and intricacy of his passing.
An excellent performance against Tottenham at the San Siro was capped with the assist for Samuel Eto’o’s second goal, Coutinho again one of the stand-out players against Sampdoria just four days later. Inter may have lost yesterday’s combative Milan derby, but the young midfielder made a positive impact after his introduction for the injured Joel Obi.
The former Vasco da Gama player is beginning to look like a very special talent indeed.
Fran Mérida (Atletico Madrid)
It’s been a month of mixed fortunes for Atleti, with well-earned wins over Getafe and Osasuna coming either side of a defeat at the hands of Villarreal and a draw with lowly Almeria.
Mérida, having joined the club from Arsenal this summer, is still to be afforded many opportunities in the starting eleven, the midfielder having featured only as a late substitute in three of Atleti’s four league games in the last month.
He may well have the potential to become a creative midfielder in the mould of Cesc Fabregas, but Mérida will need to seize the fleeting first-team chances he is being given if he is to really make an impact in La Liga.