Ruben Neves (Youtube)

10 European Golden Boy nominees Liverpool should keep an eye on

Liverpool’s Jordon Ibe and Divock Origi have been named on this year’s European Golden Boy shortlist, alongside a host of prodigious talents.

KAZAN, RUSSIA - Thursday, November 5, 2015: Liverpool's Jordon Ibe celebrates scoring the winning goal against Rubin Kazan to seal a 1-0 victory during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at the Kazan Arena. (Pic by Oleg Nikishin/Propaganda)

Ibe and Origi were surprise inclusions in a 40-man shortlist for the annual award, which acknowledges the best talent in European football, with neither showing consistent form throughout 2015.

Both will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of current holder Raheem Sterling, though the likes of Hector Bellerin and Luke Shaw make a more convincing case from the Premier League.

Scouring the list of Europe’s most promising young stars, a number of potential targets could arise for Liverpool, as Jurgen Klopp looks to bolster his fledgling side.

Here are 10 European Golden Boy nominees that Klopp should keep an eye on.


Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax)

Age: 20
Position RW

Klopp was tenuously rumoured to have sent scouts to watch Ajax winger Anwar El Ghazi shortly after his appointment as Reds manager, and with his squad currently short of wingers, the Dutchman would be a sensible target.

El Ghazi, who joined the Amsterdam club from Sparta Rotterdam in 2013, broke through to the Ajax first team last season, scoring nine goals and assisting eight in 31 Eredivisie appearances.

The No. 21 has continued this strong form this season, scoring eight and registering one assist in 10 league games so far.

Though an unorthodox wide option at over 6’1″, El Ghazi’s pace, physicality and dribbling ability make him one of European football’s most promising goalscoring wingers.


Max Meyer (Schalke 04)

Age: 20
Position: AM

After establishing himself in the Schalke first team in 2013/14, at the age of 18, Max Meyer has gone on to become a key player within the Gelsenkirchen midfield—as well as making inroads alongside Emre Can within Joachim Low’s Germany squad.

Blessed with pace, dribbling ability and a strong creative zeal, Meyer is similar to former Klopp disciple Mario Gotze, and his futsal upbringing would make him a wild card in the Premier League.

Whether Liverpool need to add another playmaker to their ranks is questionable, but Meyer is an elite talent worth monitoring.


Adrien Rabiot (Paris Saint-Germain)

Age: 20
Position: CM

“PSG is the club closest to Adrien’s heart but he would like a career. This is not possible at PSG,” Adrien Rabiot’s mother, Veronique, said in June, after a muted season in Paris for the midfielder in 2014/15.

Rabiot finds himself behind Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti in PSG’s first-choice midfield, and if he fails to establish himself in light of Verratti’s recent injury, could move on in the future.

If so, Liverpool should make a move, as Rabiot is a well-rounded deep-lying midfielder, able to break up play and prompt attacks with composure and maturity.


Ruben Neves (Porto)

Age: 18
Position: DM

A reported Liverpool target since the beginning of 2015, Ruben Neves has continued his development at Porto this campaign, becoming the Portuguese side’s youngest-ever Champions League captain in October.

The 18-year-old is a remarkably intelligent deep-lying midfielder, possessing a strong passing range, great close control and an advanced tactical understanding.

Neves is set to continue to develop into a world-class midfielder, and could suit any number of roles within the Liverpool midfield. A rare talent.


Youri Tielemans (Anderlecht)

Age: 18
Position: CM

Youri Tielemans has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid so far this season, and if the young Belgian’s trajectory continues this interest will bloom.

A versatile, pacy midfielder, the 18-year-old has been playing regular football in the Jupiler League and Champions League since for the past two years.

Tielemans can play anywhere from the base of midfield to behind the strikers, and uses his passing range and shooting ability to great effect. An archetypal box-to-box midfielder.


Andrija Zivkovic (Partizan)

Age: 19
Position: RW

A skilful, lightning-fast, Serbian right winger, Andrija Zivkovic bears many similarities with Liverpool’s Fenerbahce loanee Lazar Markovic, and has similar potential.

While Markovic spends a season in Turkish purgatory, Zivkovic is continuing his development at Partizan Belgrade, and has scored five goals and assisted two in 10 Super Liga appearances so far this season.

Zivkovic has also added a further three goals and two assists in three Europa League games, and if he continues to hone his raw ability, he could become a top-class talent.


Jason Denayer (Manchester City, on loan at Galatasaray)

Age: 20
Position: CB

Jason Denayer signed a new long-term contract with Manchester City this summer, but with Manuel Pellegrini’s side well stocked in terms of centre-backs, was sent on loan to Galatasaray.

Meanwhile, £32 million summer signing Nicolas Otamendi has forged a strong partnership with the immovable Vincent Kompany, and Eliaquim Mangala waits in the wings, leaving Denayer’s future up in the air—while he has spent much of his spell in Turkey so far at right-back.

A strong, composed, right-footed centre-back, Denayer is very much an undervalued talent at this stage, and Liverpool should follow his progress closely.


Nemanja Maksimovic (Astana)

Age: 20
Position: CM

Joining Kazakhstan Premier League side Astana at the beginning of 2015, Nemanja Maksimovic has put a slow start to his youth career behind him with a strong maiden campaign in the reigning champions’ midfield.

In February, Astana president Kaisar Bekenov described the Serbian midfielder as “one of the most talented and promising players in Europe in his position,” with his physicality in the No. 6 role providing his side a strong base in their push for Champions League qualification.

Currently captain of the Serbia U21s, Maksimovic’s next move will likely be to a high-reputation European side, and Liverpool could look to capitalise on his lowly status at this stage.


Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Bayern Munich, on loan at Schalke)

Age: 20
Position: CM

After signing a new long-term contract with Bayern Munich this summer, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s future could go one of two ways.

The midfield could prosper on loan at Schalke and earn a place in the Bayern first team—like Toni Kroos, who blossomed during his season with Bayer Leverkusen in 2009/10—or fail to establish himself and look to move on—similar to Can, who left Leverkusen for Liverpool in 2014.

So far, Hojbjerg has failed to impose himself on the Schalke first team, making just one start in the Bundesliga this season, but the Dane remains an all-round midfielder with vast potential.


Munir El Haddadi (Barcelona)

Age: 20
Position: RW

Struggling, understandably, to dislodge the phenomenal Neymar-Suarez-Messi triumvirate at Barcelona, Munir El Haddadi may be forced to look elsewhere to continue his development in the future.

A left-footed forward blessed with raw pace and an eye for goal, Munir excelled at youth level, but has so far failed to make an impact under the weight of pressure in Catalonia.

He is an undeniably strong young talent, however, and if his Barcelona career continues to fade, he could find a home in Klopp’s attack.