2013/14 season review

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The thrilling Champions League Final 4 last week end was the end of this season, so it’s time for Handball Talents to review the performance of some of the most promising talents. Players of last generation like Jim Gottfridsson, Hampus Wanne and Bogdan Radivojevic are now Champions League winners while others like Alex Dujshebaev, Harald Reinkind , Borut Mackovsek, Timothey N’Guessan, Raul Santos or Dejan Manaskov are already important players in their senior national teams. So who will be the big next talents ?

(This review is based only on players born after 01.01.1994)

Goalkeeper

 Jonas Maier (20 years old – Kadetten Schaffhausen)

Rhein Neckar Löwen has extended the loan of his youngster to Schaffhausen for one year after some great performance this year despite an early elimination in EHF Cup. He has shared the position with the veteran Arunas Vaskevicius and this duo did the job to bring back the national title to the Kadetten. Next season, he will be associated with swiss talent Nikola Portner and this new talented duo will play the Champions League for the first time, it’ll be worth seeing !

 Havard Asheim (20 years old – Follo HK)

Only twenty and already seven appearances with the senior national team this season. Havard Asheim did an amazing job in championship between Follo’s posts with 194 saves out of 490 shots (40%). And norwegian to club Haslum didn’t remain indifferent to this talent as he will be one of their signings for next season.

Left Wing

 Lovro Mihic (19 years old – Zagreb)

It seems you have to be called Lovro to succeed on the left wing in Zagreb. But Zagreb’s staff will have to do a choice between Lovro Sprem and Lovro Mihic in the next months. Both are young with great potential and they won’t be glad to share their playing time on the left wing forever. This season, Mihic has scored 33 goals in 15 games in SEHA League, and Sprem did exactly the same. But Mihic has only scored 6 goals in 4 games in Champions League while Sprem had the opportunity to score 15 goals. Next season will probably give some information on how Zagreb’s staff will handle this matter.

 Viktor Hallen (20 years old – Halmstad)

Despite a disappointing season with a 9th place in championship (Halmstad was champion in 2012/2013) and no victory in Champions League,  Viktor Hallen was able to show his skills with 89 goals in 32 championship games and 17 goals  in 6 Champions League games. Halmstad wants to build around him so his contract was logically extended until 2016.

Left Back

 Marko Mamic (20 years old – Kadetten Schaffhausen)

Best left back of both U18 Euro and U19 World Championship, Marko Mamic has moved early in Switzerland to play Champions League with Kadetten Schaffhausen. Unfortunately, for his second season with the Kadetten, he was only able to play EHF Cup and the swiss club didn’t achieve to reach the group phase, being eliminated by Hannover in the third round. But it was enough for Mamic to score 18 goals in 4 european games. He was a little more discrete in championship where he scored « only » 63 goals in 29 games. But it was enough for Schaffhausen to be champion and to play again in Champions League next season.

 Luka Maros (19 years old – Pfadi Winterthur)

Another player from swiss league. At only 18, he was the best scorer of Zürich (102 goals) last season. He moved to ambitious Pfadi Winterthur last summer to play a big role in championship and to discover EHF Cup. But Winterthur didn’t pass the second round of EHF Cup, defeated by Besiktas (Maros scored 8 goals in these two games). Completely focused on the championship, Pfadi Winthethur finished at the first place in regular season but Schaffhausen was better in the three play off final games. Third best scorer of his team with 124 goals in 33 games, Luka Maros also finished the season at the 9th place in the scorers ranking.

 Michal Kasal (20 years old – Barcelona B)

Michal Kasal would be an important player in a lot of european clubs but as he chose Barcelona, he had to play the whole season in spanish second division with the FC Barcelona B. But it didn’t prevent the czech left back to score 81 goals in 22 games to help his team to get crowned at the end of the season. On loan to Celje for the next two seasons, Kasal will at last be able to play at the european top level. The one which is compared to Filip Jicha has still a lot of things to prove.

 Lasse Andersson (20 years old – Kolding)

The new wonderkid from Denmark didn’t go unnoticed this season. With 37 goals in 10 games of Champions League with Kolding, he has proved that he has already reached the european level. And with 6 goals against Kielce and 7 against Kiel, european top clubs already have him in sights. In danish championship, he was the third best scorer of the team (93 goals in 32 games) alongside big names like Lukas Karlsson and Bo Spellerberg.

Middle Back

 Sander Sagosen (18 years old – Haslum)

Sander Sagosen scored 102 goals in 22 championship games and the norwegian federation decided to build his project « Rio 2016 » around him. Transferred to Haslum last summer, Sander Sagosen has shown such a great potential that danish top club Aalborg decided to pay Haslum to buy him before the end of his contract. He will progress even faster in the danish league but his passing and shooting skills are already amazing for his age.

 Tim Suton (18 years old – Rhein Neckar Löwen)

Tim Suton is the youngest player of this selection but not the less talented. Voted best middle back of the last U19 World Championship, he was playing with Saarlouis in 2. Bundesliga this year but he will be a Rhein Neckar Löwen player next season. Best scorer of 2. Bundesliga with 241 goals in 36 games, he represents the future of Germany which still search for a strong middle back since the retirement of Markus Baur. He is often compared to Nikola Karabatic because of his talent and his Croatian origins.

 Jon Azkue (20 years old – Bidasoa)

In the pure tradition of spanish handball, Jon Azkue is a very sharp middle back. He discovered the Liga Asobal this season with Bidasoa but despite a good season (148 goals in 30 games), he will play again in spanish second division next season since Bidasoa has finished last. He agreed to extend his contract until 2016 to give back to the club everything he has given to him.

 Jesper Konradsson (20 years old – Alingsas)

The national title going to Alingsas was a big surprise in swedish championship this season. And it was partly possible thanks to Jesper Konradsson. With almost 4 goals per game (163 goals in 41 games) and a lot of decisive passes, he was the metronome of his team despite his relatively small size for a middle back (184cm) . He will have to guide his team in Champions League next season, and try to perform better than Halmstad this season (and it shouldn’t be difficult).

Right Back

 Pascal Vernier (18 years old – Stafa)

It seems swiss league have a lot of young talents this season. Pascal Vernier is the other big swiss talent from this generation who has permitted to Switzerland to do such great results in youth and juniors tournaments these last years. With 2 goals per game last season, he has gone one stage further with 120 goals in 27 games (4,4 goals per game) this season. Voted best young player in championship this year, Pascal Vernier is now a full part member of the Nati with about ten selections until now. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him going in a more ambitious club in the coming months.

 Niclas Kirkeløkke (20 years old – GOG)

Voted best right back of both U18 Euro and U19 World Championship, Niclas Kirkeløkke is seen in Danemark as the strong right back they search since so many years. This season was his first at danish top level and the least we can say is that he wasn’t afraid.  With 98 goals in 30 goals, he was one of the reasons of the nice season of GOG which has reached the play offs and missed the semi finals for only one goal. Renowned to form great players (Eggert, Mogensen and many others), GOG should be able to count on him one more season.

 Fabian Wiede (20 years old – Füchse Berlin)

Pure product of  the Füchse philosophy, Fabian Wiede had a lot of things to prove this season as backup of Igor Igropoulo. And he did it nicely, scoring 68 goals in 34 Bundesliga games and 14 in 10 EHF Cup games. He has even impressed Martin Heuberger who has took advantage of the plight of the national team to incorporate him with success. Now, he represents the future of Berlin with whom he extended his contract until 2019.

 Luka Sebetic (20 years old – Zagreb)

Luka Sebetic is definitely wise beyond his years. He was already at the U18 Euro in 2010 as he was only 16 and at the U19 World Championship one year later. Injured during almost the whole 2012-2013 season, he came back in great shape this season. He is more than a back up of Luka Stepancic as he scored 54 goals in 20 SEHA League games and 14 goals in 6 Champions League game. He will quickly need more playing time to develop his skills so we should witness a departure on the right back position in the upcoming months.

Right Wing

 Peter Hornyak (18 years old – Essen)

Peter Hornyak is a young man in a hurry. Voted best young player in Hungary in 2012 as he was only 16, he has moved to Essen in 2. Bundesliga last summer to already have a taste of Bundesliga. In a very young team, he is already a key player with 131 goals scored in 33 games. 11th of 2. Bundesliga, Essen won’t play in Bundesliga next year but it won’t prevent Peter Hornyak to score a ton of goals.

Pivot

 Ignacio Plaza (19 years old – Guadalajara)

Ignacio Plaza is a mistery. He did his first game in Champions League at the age of 16 with Ciudad Real and then he slowly disappeared before bouncing back in Guadalajara for two seasons. But he only played a few games so he decided to move to Puerto Sagunto last summer. And it seems it was the good decision this time. Following his title of best pivot at the last U21 World Championship, he did an amazing with Puerto Sagunto, scoring 123 goals in 30 games. Puerto Sagunto has avoided the relegation this season, and Ignacio Plaza isn’t a stranger to this situation. His career is now back on tracks and we should see him quickly in national team considering how old current pivots are.

 Adrian Rotaru (19 years old – CSM Bucarest)

Romanian championship isn’t the better nor the most mediatized but it has some interesting players. Adrian Rotaru is one of them. Voted best pivot at the European Open, he has scored 68 goals in 27 games this season with Bucarest. Considering his talent and the fact that Bucarest is kind of a nursery for young Romanian players, it won’t be surprising to see him wearing Constanta’s shirt in one or two years.

After this overall review, it’s time to take a look at the Talents team of the 2013/2014 season :

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