The Top 101 youngsters in world football: Don Balon list 2013
For the third successive year we present to you the Don Balon list of 2013, featuring the 101 youngsters we believe to be the most talented on planet Earth.
Over many decades Spanish magazine Don Balon would publish their list of the top 100 youngsters in world football at around this time of year.
Due to economic pressures and a scandal that brought about the arrest of their editor, Don Balon is no longer with us and we initially stepped into the breach two years ago to list the best young players currently plying their trade in world football.
There is one rule for this top youngsters run down, and follows the format Don Balon put in place over many years. To qualify for inclusion, the player must be born on or after January 1, 1992.
The list below is in alphabetical order and includes video evidence, just click on the name of the player.
Of course, whilst this list took many months to compile, there must be plenty of eligible players omitted. We are happy to hear about the players that you think should have been included in the comments, on Twitter or on our Facebook page.
1. Ali Adnan, Rizespor, 19. After impressing at the Under-20 World Cup this summer, it is a wonder that Ali Adnan didn’t move to a bigger European club than Rizespor, such is the quality of his left foot. After coming through the ranks at Baghdad in Iraq, the 19-year-old left back already appears to have one of the best left pegs in European football. Described as “Asia’s Gareth Bale” and “Iraq’s Roberto Carlos.”
2. David Alaba, Bayern Munich, 21. The versatile Austrian is almost a veteran now having been around for so long – he made his Bayern Munich first team debut in February 2010. Was a key part of Bayern Munich’s treble winning side in 2012/2013 and has blossomed at left back since the arrival of Pep Guardiola and Phillip Lahm’s move into midfield.
3. Zakaria Bakkali, PSV, 17. Another brilliant Belgian off what seems a never ending conveyor belt. Bakkali made headlines in August when he became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the Eredivisie. Recently linked with Manchesters City and United whilst Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has compared Bakkali to Eden Hazard.
4. Saido Berahino, West Brom, 20. Born in Burundi, Berahino could well be the future of the England national team. The Baggies striker has scored goals during all his loan spells and has emerged in recent weeks as a striker capable of mixing it and notching in the Premier League. Now for that pay rise…
5. Domenico Berardi. Sassuolo (co-owned by Juventus), 19. Six goals in eight games for little old Sassuolo in Serie A has lifted Berardi to prominence at the start of 2013/2014. He even did Juventus a big favour with a last minute equaliser at Roma on Sunday. Was linked with a host of big European clubs after impressing in Serie B, it looks like the Old Lady have secured themselves another star in the making on the cheap.
6. Bernard, Shakhtar Donetsk, 21. As is so often the case, Shakhtar Donetsk stole a march on the rest of Europe by bagging Brazilian Bernard for a whopping 25 million euros in the summer. The tricky winger had impressed at Atletico Mineiro and was a key part of the Copa Libertadores winning side. Should be part of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup squad.
7. Bruma, Galatasaray, 19. Arguably Portugal’s current brightest talent who was one of the stars of the 2013 Under-20 World Cup. A protracted and sour contract dispute saw him leave Sporting Lisbon for Turkey in the summer where he has had limited playing time but appears to be growing under the tutelage of Didier Drogba. Has already been fast tracked into the Portugal national team squad by Paulo Bento.
8. Ross Barkley, Everton, 19. Two-footed English midfielders are a rare breed and the exciting Toffee schemer has been compared to Paul Gascoigne, in terms of his ability on the pitch. Impressive loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds have now been backed by regular playing time under Roberto Martinez and a first England start appears to be in the offing in the coming weeks.
9. Emre Can, Bayer Leverkusen, 19. Another highly talented German midfielder from a Turkish background. It came as a surprise that Bayern Munich had let Can go to Leverkusen in the summer until it was revealed the German champions have a buy-back clause on the deal. Can is strong in the tackle and can also play centre back.
10. Joel Campbell, Arsenal (on loan at Olympiakos), 21. The Gunners striker may not have been prolific on any loan spell but is accruing tremendous experience and is a forward player that can set up his team mates on a regular basis. With close to 30 caps for Costa Rica and currently impressing in Greece, some Arsenal fans have wondered whether Arsene Wenger should have kept him at the Emirates this season. Needs to cut out the diving though.
11. Tom Carroll, Tottenham, 21. Came through the ranks alongside Andros Townsend at Spurs and appears to have the touch and vision for a long career in the Premier League. A recent loan spell at QPR was cut short by injury but is expected to return to Rangers in the coming weeks and if he can succeed in the Championship could well be utilised by Tottenham in 2014/2015.
12. Federico Cartabia, Valencia, 20. Similarly to Lionel Messi, Fede is from Rosario and headed to Spain to join Valencia at a very young age – 13. The left winger impressed in the Europa League this season with a brace against St Gallen and already has a buy out clause of 20 million euros with Los Che.
13. Luc Castaignos, FC Twente, 21. The Dutch striker, so often compared to Thierry Henry, has been rediscovering his form in the Eredivisie after a struggling spell at Inter Milan. Castaignos has been an impressive goal scorer for Holland at Under-17 and Under-21 levels and could well force his way into the national team in 2014.
14. Nathaniel Chalobah, Nottingham Forest (on loan from Chelsea), 18. A tall rangy midfielder who can also play in defence, Chalobah has done well in the Championship and is understood to be a player Jose Mourinho will use at Chelsea in the future. Signed a five-year contract with the Blues in August and with good technical skills for a tall player, could well progress from England Under-21s to the full national side.
15. Thibaut Courtois, Atletico Madrid (on loan from Chelsea), 21. It is no exaggeration to say that Courtois could well be the finest goalkeeper currently playing in world football. The Belgian custodian has been phenomenal for Atletico Madrid and is keeping out Simon Mignolet at international level. Its a nice dilemma to have, but you wonder how long Chelsea can hold on to Courtois by simply loaning him out every season.
16. Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool, 21. The Brazilian has been a revelation since joining Liverpool and Coutinho is undoubtedly one of the coups of the Brendan Rodgers era at Anfield. A tricky playmaker, Coutinho is one of the most skilful players in the Premier League and if he can reproduce the form of last season for the rest of 2013/2014 could well force his way into the Brazil squad for the World Cup.
17. Mats Møller Dæhli, Molde, 18. Recently called up to the Norway national team squad, Mats Møller Dæhli was also named “Talent of the Year” in the Norwegian Tippeliga this week. Molde boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has compared him to Paul Scholes and Manchester United are rumoured to have a buy back clause on the midfielder.
18. Memphis Depay, PSV, 19. Depay has only established himself as a regular in the PSV side in 2013/2014 but has played nearly 40 times for the Eredivisie giants and undoubtedly has the technical skills for a long and successful career. Made his debut for the full Holland national team in October and the left winger is already racking up some fine goals from long distance.
19. Mattia De Sciglio, AC Milan, 21. A versatile defender of real promise for the Rossoneri who has already racked up 8 caps for the Azzurri. Due to injury, De Sciglio has only played once this season and AC Milan have missed the youngster as they have floundered in Serie A.
20. Gerard Deulofeu, Everton (on loan from Barcelona), 19. After banging in the goals for Barcelona B in the Segunda Division in 2012/2013, Deulofeu was expected to break into the first team at the Nou Camp but was instead farmed out to Everton to gain Premier League experience. Still not a regular starter at Goodison Park, Deulofeu has been excellent during his cameos for the Toffees so far with big things expected every time he is introduced.
21. Lucas Digne, PSG, 20. Signed by the Ligue 1 champions for 15 million euros in the summer, Lucas Digne is battling it out with Maxwell for the left back spot at PSG. Was a key performer for France during their recent Under-20 World Cup success. Digne is a genuinely exciting attacking full back who can also play in midfield.
22. Jean Marie Dongou, Barcelona, 18. Scored his first goal for Barcelona’s first team in the Joan Gamper Cup against Santos in August. Labelled “the new Samuel Eto’o”, the hype around Dongou has been rife for some time but like his Barcelona B colleagues has not quite set alight the Segunda Division so far in 2013/2014.
23. Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan, 21. The Pharaoh was heavily linked with a big summer move to Manchester City that did not come to fruition, and that transfer story has preceded a disappointing start to 2013/2014 as El Shaarawy has been dogged by a toe injury. Had previously shown plenty of talent and ability for both AC Milan and Italy – therefore it would be a surprise if he were not to come good again.
24. Christian Eriksen, Tottenham, 21. Has so far blown hot and cold at White Hart Lane after a trophy laden period at Ajax prompted a move to the Premier League. Was this week voted Danish player of the year and there is a nagging suspicion that there is plenty to come from the playmaker.
25. Julian Draxler, Schalke, 20. How long can Schalke keep hold of Julian Draxler? This could well be one of the questions that dominate the next few transfer windows. Draxler is improving by the week in the Bundesliga and has also been in fine form in the Champions League this season. A massive money move to one of the very best sides in Europe now seems inevitable.
26. Viktor Fischer, Ajax, 19. Fischer was a revelation in the NextGen Series before storming into the Ajax first team last season with some brilliant performances and key goals. This campaign has not gone according to plan for the Amsterdammers or Fischer who has been benched of late but this could well be the making of the uber talented Danish forward.
27. Mario Gotze, Bayern Munich, 21. Shocked German football when he jumped ship from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich for a fee of 37 million euros last April. Not quite fully integrated into Pep Guardiola’s system at Bayern yet, mainly due to persistent injury problems, but has the potential to be an absolute world star.
28. Serge Gnabry, Arsenal, 18. Gnabry has slowly but surely played himself into a key role in the Arsenal squad and whilst he may not be part of the regular starting XI is key when injuries build up as has been illustrated in recent weeks. The young German appears to be revelling appearing alongside Mesut Ozil and has been tipped for a better career than the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
29. Julian Green, Bayern Munich, 18. Currently the top scorer for Bayern Munich’s reserve team, Green appears to be a goal-getter supreme having also bagged in pre-season goals for Pep Guardiola’s first team. Green can play for both Germany and the USA with Jurgen Klinsmann calling him up for European friendlies in November. The Team America boss described him as “a tremendous talent.”
30. Alen Halilovic, Dinamo Zagreb, 17. “The new Luka Modric” appeared to be Tottenham-bound in the summer but the most recent reports now have Bayern Munich leading the chase for Halilovic. The youngest ever goal scorer in the Croatian top flight, Halilovic is also the youngest ever debutant for the national team. A long and successful career seems nailed on.
31. Thorgan Hazard, Zulte-Waregem (on loan from Chelsea), 20. According to many, including Eden himself, Thorgan is a bigger talent than his more famous brother. Has been excellent for Zulte-Waregem and has been a key reason behind successive title challenges for a relatively small club in Belgium.
32. Angelo Henriquez, Real Zaragoza (on loan from Manchester United), 19. The physically imposing teenage striker was a peripheral figure for Wigan last season but appears to be at home in the Spanish second division where he has five goals in 10 appearances so far in 2013/2014. Could well be fighting for a first team spot at Old Trafford next season.
33. Son Heung-Min, Bayer Leverkusen, 21. Already one of the biggest Asian stars in world football. The reported 10 million euro fee paid by Leverkusen to Hamburg for Son is already looking like a real steal. Very quick with excellent finishing ability, the 21-year-old was a real find for German football.
34. Pierre Højbjerg, Bayern Munich, 18. Another very talented Danish midfielder. Højbjerg became the youngest ever player to appear for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga in April.
35. Gabriel Iancu, Steaua Bucharest, 18. Came through the George Hagi Academy and is generally considered to be Steaua’s best and brightest prospect. A left winger or attacking midfielder, Iancu scored some important goals versus Dinamo Tblisi in the Champions League play-offs and has generally done well for Romania Under-21s.
36. Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan, 20. Another Argentine talent from Rosario. Came to prominence last season with 10 goals for Sampdoria, struggled with injury problems this season but has already broken into the Argentina national team.
37. Kelechi Iheanacho, Taye Academy, 17. Starred for Nigeria at the recent Under-17 World Cup where he was voted Most Valuable Player. Iheanacho scored six goals and bagged seven assists in a terrific personal tournament and has been heavily linked with Arsenal recently.
38. Isco, Real Madrid, 21. After an excellent start to life at Real Madrid, Isco has been left out of Carlo Ancelotti’s recent first XIs, which goes to show just how much talent there is at the Bernabeu. Isco was a key player for Spain during their Under-21 European Championship success in the summer and is a supremely gifted footballer with magnificent touch and game understanding.
39. Adnan Januzaj, Manchester United, 18. Januzaj was the man of the moment during the last international break after that two-goal haul at Sunderland. After signing a long-term deal at Manchester United, Januzaj should have plenty of time to showcase his close control, fine dribbling ability and impressive awareness of his team mates. Looks set to be a major star, whoever he plays for at international level.
40. Phil Jones, Manchester United, 21. Whether playing in defence, midfield or full back, Phil Jones has become a crucial member of David Moyes’ first team and is living up his moniker as the “modern day Duncan Edwards.” Often ridiculed for the faces he pulls on the pitch, Jones is an uncompromising player whose versatility could also be crucial for England.
41. Koke, Atletico Madrid, 21. After years of hype, Koke came to prominence last season with some terrific displays, particularly the performance in the Copa del Rey final victory at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid. Koke is now revelling in a very strong Atletico Madrid side and has struck up an understanding with Diego Costa, bagging plenty of assists with the
Brazilian Spanish striker.
42. Sead Kolasinac, Schalke, 20. An emerging left back who can also play in the centre of defence and defensive midfield. Kolasinac was recently called into the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team squad. He is a dogged player with pace to burn and has impressed in the Champions League.
43. Geoffrey Kondogbia, Monaco, 20. Moved from Sevilla to Monaco in the summer for a mammoth 27 million euro fee and would appear to be the future of the French national team in the defensive midfield position. Although he hasn’t always started for Claudio Ranieri’s side, Kondogbia has been excellent at Monaco so far, bringing his La Liga form to Ligue 1.
44. Mateo Kovacic, Inter Milan, 19. Has been a revelation since joining Inter at the end of January 2013 – a deep lying playmaker of real quality. Already a fans favourite with the Nerazzurri, Kovacic has been compared to the likes of Robert Prosinecki and Andrea Pirlo.
45. Maksym Koval, Dinamo Kiev, 20. Continues to hold the number one shirt at one of Ukraine’s biggest clubs and is racking up huge amounts of experience at home and in Europe. A member of the Ukraine squad for the upcoming World Cup play-offs.
46. Erik Lamela, Tottenham, 21. Only in recent games has Lamela appeared to show anything close to his best form for Spurs after a big summer move from Roma. This time last year we predicted “the big clubs would come sniffing,” now is the time for the Argentine attacker to step up and show the world his undoubted quality.
47. Romelu Lukaku, Everton (on loan from Chelsea) 20. Perhaps Jose Mourinho is the only big football personality unconvinced about how brilliant Lukaku is. Has settled down at Everton after performing heroics for West Brom last season and many Chelsea fans are wondering why he didn’t remain at Stamford Bridge for the season. The recent two-goal display in Croatia for Belgium, was probably the best performance of his career so far.
48. Lewis Macleod, Rangers, 19. Living the dream after joining Rangers as a 10-year-old, he might be playing in the Scottish League One, but there are plenty predicting big things for the midfielder. Impressive displays at all levels for Scotland’s youth sides suggest he will continue to be an important player as Rangers climb the divisions.
49. Adam Maher, PSV, 20. The big summer signing for a very youthful looking PSV side, Maher was excellent at AZ and already has five caps for the full Dutch national side. A playmaker of real promise, Maher’s intelligence and awareness were key assets to Jozy Altidore’s goal laden spell at AZ.
50. Lazar Markovic, Benfica, 19. Perhaps co-owned by Chelsea and even now the attacker continues to be linked with the Blues. Markovic made the big summer move from Partizan Belgrade to Benfica and so far, despite not playing too many minutes, has been a roaring success.
51. Marquinhos, PSG, 19. The young defender has had a rapid career but already looks like one of the best European-based centre backs in one of the most fearsome sides on the continent. Played just six official league appearances for Corinthians before starring at Roma where he subsequently moved to PSG for 32 million euros.
52. Hachim Mastour, AC Milan, 15. Nicknamed the “Moroccan Messi” – there are massive hopes for Mastour in Milan, who was signed for 500,000 euros from Reggiana. Incredibly skillful, if the Rossoneri continue to struggle we could well see Mastour play for AC Milan towards the end of 2013/2014.
53. Max Meyer, Schalke, 18. The German youth system is producing some real gems and Meyer appears to be the latest off the Schalke conveyor belt. Already linked with Chelsea and Liverpool, Meyer is expected to sign a new Schalke contract in the coming weeks.
54. Ahmed Musa, CSKA Moscow, 21. A rapid forward who was great in Holland before a big money move to Russia. Went through a purple patch for goals in August which has slowed down but remains one of Nigeria’s most popular current players.
55. Aleksandar Mitrović, Anderlecht, 19. Adapting superbly to Belgium football with six goals in eight games for Anderlecht at the start of 2013/2014. Could well be the next big thing out of Serbia and goals usually attract big fees. One to undoubtedly keep an eye on.
56. Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid, 21. Could a home grown player break into the Real Madrid first team in an attacking position? Alvaro Morata is very close. After scoring goals for fun at the European Under-21 Championships in Israel in the summer, Morata has endeared himself to the Bernabeu crowd with some aggressive, hard working displays that have shown up Karim Benzema.
57. Ravel Morrison, West Ham, 20. Becoming a regular Premier League player is some achievement after leaving Manchester United and then appearing to drift before a loan move to Birmingham injected some mojo and ambition into Morrison. Has been a revelation in 2013/2014 for a struggling Hammers side, yet plenty of doubts remain about his temperament – which is why he has reportedly been held back from the full England squad.
58. Mosquito, Atletico Paranaense, 17. Came to prominence for Brazil Under-17s with a hat-trick against Slovakia at the recent World Cup. Was an outstanding strike partner to Nathan and the fact the pair play for the same club has meant a brilliant understanding and Brazilian coaches and football fans licking their lips for when they hit the big time together. If you were wondering, his nickname is down to speed and long legs…
59. Lucas Moura, PSG, 21. Perhaps not quite had the impact at PSG that many would have expected but still one of the biggest talents in European football and a potential World Cup star next summer. Has struggled for consistent goal scoring but is a bag of tricks, full of energy and a constant provider of goals.
60. Iker Muniain, Athletic Bilbao, 20. The Bart Simpson look-a-like feels like he has been around for ever after breaking all sorts of records when he first came into the Bilbao first team. Over the past year, Muniain has suffered some real dips in form but remains a key player for Bilbao and Spain Under-21s which should leave him in good stead in the coming years.
61. Nathan, Atletico Paranaense, 17. Voted the second best player at the Under-17 World Cup, Nathan out shined team mate Mosquito and the rest of a very talented Brazil side. No less an expert than Diego Maradona described Nathan as “unique because he can use all his skills — short dribbles, quick change of direction, accurate shooting — in one play.”
62. Matija Nastasic, Manchester City, 20. A composed central defender, Nastasic was one of City’s best performers last season and still looks like a real find considering the 15 million euro fee paid to Fiorentina. Should mature into one of the very best Premier League defenders in the coming years.
63. Neymar, Barcelona, 21. For the third and final time, Neymar makes it onto a 101GG Don Balon list and remains the most obvious player to be included. His move to Barcelona has gone swimmingly whilst Neymar is also firmly Brazil’s main man. We may not see quite as many tricks, flicks and skills as during his time at Santos but there is little doubt that Neymar is one of the top five attacking players in the world and probably the player most likely to take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the very best.
64. M’Baye Niang, AC Milan, 18. Rossoneri supporters have been calling to see more of Niang during their struggles at the start of the campaign. We are left with the promise that Niang showed at Caen to thank for his inclusion in this list.
65. Jan Oblak, Benfica, 20. Considered Slovenia’s brightest young prospect, Oblak is a goalkeeper who was well known when he made his debut at 16 for Olimpija. Still biding his time at Benfica, Oblak has impressed when given the opportunity.
66. Lucas Ocampos, Monaco, 19. Initially one of Monaco’s big signings, Ocampos is now a key member of Claudio Ranieri’s side and has attracted envious glances from some of the biggest Premier League clubs. Excellent passing vision, quality on the ball and accurate shooting means Ocampos can’t be that far off from a first Argentina cap.
67. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Arsenal, 20. The Ox is now the forgotten man at the Emirates having missed most of the start of the 2013/2014 season due to injury. A winger blessed with great pace and ability, it wasn’t that long ago that Oxlade-Chamberlain was scoring for England against Brazil in the Maracana. Will be super motivated to make things happen on his return, 2014 is a big year for the Arsenal wide man.
68. Lucas Piazon, Vitesse Arnhem (on loan from Chelsea), 19. You can understand why a number of Eredivisie clubs complained about the special relationship between Vitesse and Chelsea during the summer. Piazon appears to be way too good for the Eredivisie and has been excellent so far this season – perhaps only a Dutch league title will be enough to get him into Chelsea reckoning though.
69. Paul Pogba, Juventus, 20. Was letting Paul Pogba leave Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest ever mistake? Juventus still can’t believe they lured Pogba away from Old Trafford on the cheap and it isn’t just the powerful, swerving, long rangers that make him stand out. Pogba is already a physical presence in midfield and a player with enough skill and confidence to make an impact pretty much every game. The fact Juventus have admitted they won’t be able to hold on to Pogba forever is a sure sign of his talent.
70. Nick Powell, Wigan (on loan from Manchester United), 19. Compared to Paul Scholes on arrival at Old Trafford, Powell is prospering with the Latics, particularly in the Europa League. Was always able to score spectacular goals, if he can add consistency the first team at Manchester United awaits.
71. Dennis Praet, Anderlecht, 19. Continues to be a driving force in the Anderlecht midfield after breaking into the first team in 2012/2013. Yet another brilliant Belgian talent, Praet is constantly linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
72. Alex Pritchard, Swindon (on loan from Tottenham), 20. The diminutive attacker is impressing for Swindon and keeps hogging the headlines thanks to high class set-piece ability that sets Pritchard apart from many of his age group.
73. Sergi Roberto, Barcelona, 21. Tipped to make a breakthrough when Thiago Alcantara left for Bayern Munich in the summer. Likened to Seydou Keita, Sergi Roberto could yet be an important player for Barcelona in the coming months.
74. Juan Quintero, Porto, 20. As so often happens, Porto bagged the youngster, from Atletico Nacional in Colombia, before many other big European sides. Quintero has been seriously impressive for some of Colombia’s youth sides and predictably been compared to Lionel Messi due to his slight frame and build. Has produced some magical moments in the short time he has been in Portugal.
75. Karim Rekik, PSV (on loan from Manchester City), 18. Spotted by Manchester City in 2011, the defender, who can play left back or in the centre, has featured on loan at Portsmouth and Blackburn but is now getting a good run out at PSV in a very young and talented side.
76. Jese Rodriguez, Real Madrid, 20. Jese is inching his way into the Real Madrid first team and will have made his mark on the globe with the recent consolation goal at the Nou Camp in El Clasico. Was sensational for Real Madrid B last season and at almost any other club in the world would be a first team regular now. Yet another illustration of the frightening talent coming through in Spain.
77. Mohamed Salah, Basel, 21. A lightning quick right winger, Salah has been inspirational for the Swiss champions in the Europa League last season and Champions League in 2013/2014. Not a prolific goalscorer, although he claimed some crucial strikes in the Champions League play-offs, Salah is a player that will give left backs nightmares for years to come.
78. Sergi Samper, Barcelona, 18. The “new Xavi” is now a regular in the Barcelona B side and there are high hopes for the midfielder at the Nou Camp. Constantly linked with a move to the Premier League, it will be fascinating to see how Samper develops.
79. Luke Shaw, Southampton, 18. The Southampton youth system is being studied closely after the south-coast club produced Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and now a whole collection of young English players. Shaw looks to be the very best prospect currently and is excelling in the Premier League as an attacking full back in the best defence in the division.
80. Suso, Almeria (on loan from Liverpool), 19. No player under 20 in Europe’s top five leagues has more assists than Suso so far this season. The Spaniard is excelling at Almeria where he has been their star man and there is plenty of chatter that the loan spell has been the making of Suso who on current form, will return to Anfield a far superior player. Liverpool fans are licking their lips at the thought of Suso and Coutinho scheming behind the SAS partnership next season.
81. Dennis Suarez, Barcelona, 17. Surprisingly allowed to leave Manchester City for Barcelona in the summer – Suarez was impressive for the Premier League side’s reserve team and has been tipped to be a star of the future for a number of years now.
82. Marc-André ter Stegen, Borussia Monchengladbach, 21. Constantly linked with Barcelona, Ter Stegen is similar to Thibaut Courtois in that at such young age for a keeper, he can already count himself as one of the best custodians on the planet. Often single handedly keeps Gladbach in matches with outstanding saves, two full seasons by the age of 21 in the Bundesliga should serve him well for a higher profile club sooner or later.
83. Raheem Sterling, Liverpool, 18. Utilised much less by Brendan Rodgers this season as compared to last, Sterling appeared to be burnt out midway through the 2012/2013 campaign. Nevertheless, showed a maturity on the pitch and pace to burn which justified the hype that has existed since he was plucked from QPR’s youth team.
84. Jonathan Tah, Hamburg, 17. An imposing centre back, who could well grow further and a threat on attacking set pieces as well. Was linked with Manchester United many months before securing a regular starting spot in the Hamburg side.
85. Talib Tawatha, Maccabi Haifa, 21. A highly rated Arab-Israeli left back that has already made an appearance for the national side and is accruing plenty of experience with one of the biggest clubs in the country.
86. Florian Thauvin, Marseille, 20. Highly-rated left footed winger with fine close control and looks likely to be one of France’s biggest stars in the coming years. OM’s secured Thauvin for 15 million euros from Lille last summer and can expect to at least double that fee when he does depart the Stade Velodrome.
87. Oliver Torres, Atletico Madrid, 19. Famously scored within a minute of his full debut for Atletico Madrid, against Real Betis, in October having been tipped as the next big thing for a number of years. Whether he can break into Diego Simeone’s side on a regular basis remains to be seen and Torres may well have to adapt his game a little to play regularly for a well drilled Atletico team.
88. Samuel Umtiti, Lyon, 19. Announced himself to Europe with a wonder goal at Spurs last season. Umtiti has impressed defensively for Lyon and can play on the left or in the centre. Recently embroiled in controversy after sending his new Maserati (number plate: Sam 23) to Lyon’s training ground.
89. Marco van Ginkel, Chelsea, 20. Looked set for a big role at Chelsea this season, in one of the two defensive midfield spots, until injury struck at Swindon in the Capital One Cup. Was one of the very best players at the Under-21 European Championships and had been excellent for Vitesse over the past couple of seasons.
90. Raphael Varane, Real Madrid, 20. Plucked by Zinedine Zidane from Lens, Varane was exceptional last season and was the main reason Pepe lost his place in the Real Madrid side. Has suffered with injury in 2013/2014 but still a guaranteed starter when fit, which at the Bernabeu is no easy feat for a youngster.
91. Marco Verratti, PSG, 21. A major success in France where he has been trusted in midfield by both Carlo Ancelotti and now Laurent Blanc. The most likely successor to Andrea Pirlo in the Italian national team, Verratti is a class act.
92. Tonny Vilhena, Feyenoord, 18. Called up to the full Holland national team squad last March, Vilhena has produced some fine performances for Feyenoord and Dutch youth sides for some time now. Like many players coming through in the Eredivisie, is gaining great experience and plenty of playing time at a young age.
93. Kevin Volland, Hoffenheim, 21. Highly rated German attacker who appears to be coming of age for The Village Team in 2013/2014. Has been scoring goals for Hoffenheim and the Germany Under-21s and the fact Volland can play all across a front three should stand him in good stead. Signed a new deal with Hoffenheim until 2017 in the summer.
94. Timo Werner, Stuttgart, 17. One of the brightest stars of the Bundesliga (and look how many there are on this list!) Werner truly came to prominence last weekend with a brace at Freiburg. Nicknamed by the German press as “Turbo-Werner”.
95. Jack Wilshere, Arsenal, 21. Just makes this list, on account of being born on January 1, 1992. Wilshere’s progress has been stunted by injuries ever since his breakout season at Arsenal in 2010/2011. Nevertheless, remains a crucial player at Arsenal, even with a whole host of awesome midfield talent. And if he can stay fit, will be key for Roy Hodgson and England at the World Cup.
96. Harry Wilson, Liverpool, 16. Made headlines last month when he was included in the Wales international squad and brought on for three minutes against Belgium. Besides bagging his grandfather £125,000 and early retirement, the whole episode suggests Wilson is a player to keep an eye on. Predictably built up as the “new Gareth Bale,” Wilson is a winger with speed and tricks who could well be knocking on the door of the Liverpool first team soon.
97. Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United, 21. Lit up the Championship with Crystal Palace last season and has produced some fine displays for England Under-21s. Zaha is a bag of tricks and at times defenders cannot get near him. Looks questionable now whether David Moyes will give Zaha much opportunity at Old Trafford, so the exciting winger will have to impress all over again on loan.
98. Gedion Zelalem, Arsenal, 16. A midfielder of real promise, Zelalem was the big winner of Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Asia, playing himself into the first team squad. Like many an Arsenal midfielder, Zelalem can pick a pass and for a schemer so young, always appears to have time on his hands. Injury has blocked Zelalem’s momentum a little but he has time on his side.
99. Kurt Zouma, St Etienne, 19. Zouma’s progress has been stunted by a whopping 10-game ban for a horrific leg breaking challenge on Thomas Guerbert at the start of November. Prior to that tackle, Zouma had been tipped as one of the hottest prospects in France with Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps highlighting the young defender’s leadership qualities.
100. Richairo Živković, Groningen, 17. Billed as the “new Arjen Robben,” Živković is aparently being tracked by all the top clubs in Holland as well as Liverpool and Manchester City. Five goals in 13 appearances this season suggest Groningen may struggle to hold on to the well built attacker.
101. Samed Yesil, Liverpool, 19. Only now coming back from a serious knee injury picked up last March. Nevertheless, it was some coup by Liverpool to secure the services of Yesil from Bayer Leverkusen – his goal record for German youth sides is absolutely phenomenal.