It’s that time of the year again.
Just before the league season returns from its customary winter slumber, this website publishes a list of eleven names; names that I feel are the most exciting youngsters to play their football in the Czech Republic (or Czechia, if you prefer). Throughout 2017, I’ll keep a close eye on their performances and, importantly, their development. Then, shortly after we have all welcomed in 2018, I’ll report back to you all and provide an update on their calendar year: What went right, what went wrong – that kind of thing.
The process for selection has remained the same as last year. As previously noted, to make the list a player needs to be based in the Czech Republic at the time of publication. Unfortunately, that means there is no Patrik Schick to pontificate – but since his switch to Sampdoria last summer it is safe to say that European football has begun to sit up and take notice of the former Sparta and Bohemians 1905 forward. As for the age range, anybody who born on or after 1st January 1995 qualifies.
This time around, however, I’ve made a decision to freshen things up and bring some new names into the fold. Because of this, a number of well-known and talented prospects who have had a troubled couple of months have not made the list this year. This means that despite meeting the selection criteria, you won’t find Aleš Matějů or Tomáš Souček. The pair are undeniably talented but with Plzeň adding depth at fullback and Souček still stuck at Slavia, first-team football could be hard to come by.
Also, just like in years gone by, I’ve prioritised those who are playing regularly or those who I believe will have a legitimate chance become an established member of the first-team in the forthcoming months. That’s why there’s no Václav Dudl, Christian Frýdek or Michal Sáček, and that’s why right until the last minute, one highly rated Bosnian didn’t feature.
It’s ridiculously hard to strike the right balance with this type of project and often, I’ve been made to look a fool. Last year, for example, I opted against including Antonín Barák because I feared that due to his move from Příbram to Slavia, he would find playing time extremely limited. Barák then went on to become a first-team regular, score on his international debut and seal a move to Udinese. As they say; hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Nine different clubs, four nationalities and numerous positions are represented on this list but the lack of a goalkeeper on this list needs to be addressed.
There are talented ‘keepers in the Czech Republic; sadly none of them appears to be anywhere near starting a game in the top two divisions. Sigma Olomouc’s Štěpán Spurný came closest to a nomination but after starting 2016 as a regular for Sigma’s second string and taking his maiden steps in international football, he’s dropped off a cliff and has barely featured at the Andrův Arena since the summer.
Anyway. Enough with the waffle.
If you agree or disagree with my choices, or simply would like to know a little bit more about them drop a comment either on this page or on social media. Let’s talk.
Here’s The 11 (or The jedenáct) for 2017.