Teams such as Spain, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium all claim to have the best young talent on the planet today meaning that this year’s World Cup could be largely influential in shaping the careers of the next generation of world-class stars.
10. Raphael Varane
When you are a young player at the great Real Madrid C.F, more often than not you find yourself warming the bench.But not 21-year-old Raphael Varane who has already made around 60 appearances for the Los Blancos and even helped them win a couple of El Classicos last season. Unfortunately for him, injury troubles this season restricted his number of appearances to just 16. Even in these few games, whenever he took the field he impressed the fans and critics with his impeccable performances.
The boy from Lille is gifted with speed and an acute sense of positioning. His presence in the back four for France will definitely provide Les Bleus the much-needed solidity. He is certainly a player to watch out for in the World Cup.
9. Paul Pogba
Manchester United needed to sign a dynamic central midfielder capable of playing between both penalty boxes, and while David Moyes presumably signed Marouane Fellaini to fill this role last summer, his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson failed to see he already had a player capable of that role on his books in Paul Pogba. The 6’1″ midfielder left Old Trafford for Juventus in summer 2012 and immediately made an impact in the first team, earning his first Scudetto title after a fine debut season in Serie A.
In December 2013, Pogba won the Golden Boy award for best young player in Europe, and he looks set for great success with both Juve and France in the future. He will need to be a vital cog in the French midfield if they are to go forward in the World Cup.
8. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The 20-year-old is blessed with speed, power and footwork which provides that much-needed x-factor in Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. He suffered a devastating blow when was sidelined due to injury for several months but the youngster was back with a bang in January and his sparkling performances for the Gunners this term are illustrative of his extreme talent. Against the mighty Bayern Munich, he put in a splendid performance as he dribbled past the Bavarian defence on quite a few occasions. He could prove to be a key player for England in both central midfield and in the wings
7. Raheem Sterling
This season has been a career building one for this 19-year-old Liverpool man. His nine goals and five assists in 24 games is a testament to the huge amount of potential he possesses. His diminutive stature is not to be underestimated; Sterling’s speed and footwork is more than enough to bamboozle the world’s top defenders. Even at this tender age he has time and time again shown the maturity needed to perform at the highest level. He could be quite the wild card for Roy Hodgson’s England.
6. Romelu Lukaku
An all out striker has never been Belgium’s forte, and amidst all the glittering array of playmakers defenders and goalkeepers, it is up to Romelu Lukaku to impose himself as the team’s ace striker. He already made his presence felt in the qualifiers against Croatia where he scored two first half goals to effectively muzzle the home team. Lukaku doesn’t possess flair and sweet skill; he is a man with brute power and bulk who always keeps bouncing back. He never got the chance to make a mark with Chelsea, since they always seem to loan him, first at West Brom and now at Everton. However, that did not bother the big Belgian as he did what he does best - score lots of goals for both the clubs.
5. Eden Hazard
If Lukaku provides brute strength and power to his team, Eden Hazard is counted on for creativity, and if he carries on his Chelsea form in to the World Cup, he could well become one of the marquee players of the tournament. He honed his skills for Lille in the French league, and his speed, footwork and tactical insight turned him into the Ligue 1’s best player until the London club lured him in. Since his arrival at Chelsea he has become their best player by far . Belgium will no doubt be highly dependent on Hazard’s sublime skill and pace in the World Cup.
4. Thibaut Courtois
Outplay the Belgium defence and there still remains one ominous problem for teams at the World Cup – how to slip past Thibaut Courtois. Yet another Chelsea man, he has been on loan with the Spanish club Atletico Madrid. At Atletico under the charismatic Diego Simeone, he won the Europa League and Copa del Rey by beating cross city rivals Real Madrid last season. But this season was like no other for the 21-year-old as Atletico surprised everyone and ended the long-standing La Liga duopoly by winning the title under Barcelona and Real Madrid’s noses. He also played a crucial role in Atletico’s march towards the Champions League Final.
He faces to two of the best players of the world in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on a regular basis. At 21, the towering goalkeeper with an immense reach is already considered one of the best keepers in the world.
3. Oscar Dos Santos
A couple of seasons ago a baby-faced Oscar Dos Santos Emboa Junior signed for Chelsea. The Brazilian wonder kid was unveiled in front of the media brandishing the no.11 shirt. Unfortunately this bag of talent was often left on the bench by then Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo. Finally given his Chelsea debut against Juventus in the Champions League, Oscar bagged a brace in a captivating man of the match performance. Even after this show he still found himself mostly on the bench. The arrival of Jose Mourinho and his famous 4-2-3-1 system drastically changed Oscar’s scenario.
Under The Special One, Oscar truly flourished and displayed his talent for the world to se . He became Chelsea’s vital cog in the midfield, while also impressing the world with his performances in the Confederations Cup that Brazil won yet again. In this World Cup, Luiz Felipe Scolari will rely heavily on Oscar to pull the strings in the Selecao midfield and make those defence splitting passes to create opportunities for the strikers.
2. Mario Goetze
It seems as if Mario Goetze has been around forever; at the age of 21 he already has 27 caps for Germany and a 37 million euro transfer to Bayern Munich under his belt. He has already won the Bundesliga twice, once with Dortmund and another this season with the Bavarians. The versatility of the 21-year-old is one of his prime attributes; he can play across the attacking midfield and even as a false nine and is an increasing threat as a goal scorer.
The playmaker already has 13 goals and nine assists in 30 games for Bayern Munich, and add to that, he has scored four times in his last seven games for Germany. With his exceptional passing and dribbling skills he is sure to make an immense impact at the World Cup.
1. Neymar Da Silva
Brazil’s dream of an unprecedented sixth World Cup title rests on the shoulders of a frail yet freakishly talented Neymar Da Silva Junior. Brazil already has an immensely strong side and they believe that in Neymar they have a very special player who can be the difference between them and other teams.
Last summer in a dress rehearsal to the World Cup, Neymar was Brazil’s most influential player when they won the Confederations Cup. After his awe-inspiring performances all through the tournament, which included a 3-0 drubbing of world champions Spain in the final, he finished with the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament. The message was loud and clear from Neymar – “I’m ready for the World Cup”.
Since his arrival at Barcelona, where he has been deployed in the left flank , he has had a decent first season in Europe as he racked up an impressive 15 goals and 11 assists in 31 games which included match winning goals against Atletico in Super Copa and Real Madrid. All of Brazil will be hoping that this young boy can work his magic and carry his team to World Cup glory.