Top 20 Young Footballers to Watch in 2009

Top 20 Young Footballers to Watch in 2009


All that most football managers really want for Christmas is a promising young player to emerge as an established star in the coming year.

As the game becomes more and more global and the wealth of the bigger clubs increases, so too do the scouting networks of these clubs which now extend to every continent and footballing corner of the planet. Is it too far a stretch of the imagination to expect that in the coming years the big clubs will vie to buy a seat for their leading scout on future space missions in the hope of being the first to sign the best talent, should life be discovered elsewhere?

And consider the gene potential of the baby Sergio Aguero’s girlfriend (Maradona’s daughter) is carrying, pending its arrival in February next year. While the child is undoubtedly a bit late to get onto my list for 2009, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear that Arsene Wenger has the Arsenal lawyers burning the midnight oil in an attempt to find a legal instrument by which he can contract with an embryo!

But enough farce! With the expansion of the scouting networks we have become used to the almost weekly arrival at one or other of the big European clubs of the next Pele, Maradona, Best, Ronaldo (either version) etc. etc. With clubs bringing players into academies as soon as they are weaned and offering significant incentives to mere 14 and 15 year-olds, forecasting the next superstar has almost become a sport in its own right.

If you peruse the football press, websites and blogs, and I know you do, then you will be very familiar with the many lists of impending superstars published each year. Of course the formats vary and while most are interesting, others can be vaguely irritating.

Take, for example, the list published in July of this year by Spanish football weekly paper Don Balón which I found on Neoseeker. Now while the research to come-up with such a list is admirable, I found myself wading through a long list of (often) unpronounceable names of (mostly) players I had never heard of, 95% (ish) of whom I had never seen play and, probably, 60-70% of whom I never will, or at least won’t remember that they were on some list I read several years previously if I do. The other problem is that you can’t retain this amount of detail and nobody will ever do the follow-up to determine how many of these prodigies ever actually make it big.

My own theory is that players under 18 are very hard to judge, with some notable exceptions, as they have so far to go in the developmental process, never mind the minefield of fame, money and temptation. While there are no statistics available I would suggest that something like 80-90% of players on these lists go on to make a living from the game and become decent players but only a more modest 10-15% actually make the grade as big stars at club and international level.

And then there are the more targeted lists which I must say I enjoy more. Take the Soccer City lists, published on this site as a regular column, which profile the most promising young players league by league around the world; easy to digest and to follow the players progress. Or the equally good list from Marco (England Top 20) also published recently on this site.

Alternatively, if you would like to take a retrospective look at the predictions of the 10 best African players from a post on Big Soccer in 2005 you can do a ‘where are they now’ take on its accuracy ( Africa’s Best 2005). Or for a more recent look back there’s Kenny’s list of the Top 50 teens from a year ago (Top 50 Teens 2007) and the precursor to this article, Top 20 Young Footballers for 2008.

So the question I asked myself was: how can I come-up with a list for 2009 that is interesting to the reader and does not just regurgitate what you have read elsewhere, and with my usual unfailing genius I have come-up with a formula (patented by the way so hands off!).

  • In keeping with the approach of most other lists all players over 20 (i.e. having reached their 21st birthday) will be excluded.
  • I am looking for players who have the potential to make the breakthrough as genuine ‘stars’ in 2009. This excludes the promising teenagers who have the potential but still have 2 or 3 years to go before reaching the first team at their clubs.
  • I am concentrating on players who are already part of the 1st team or, at least, significantly involved in the squad. Otherwise they don’t have the launching pad for success in 2009.
  • In keeping with the balance of readership on this site I will split the list into 2. One will look at the Top 10 potential stars of 2009 from the English Premier league while the other will look at the Top 10 internationally.

Now, I realize that any such list of 10 and 10 has to exclude all sorts of names that others would include on their lists, but that’s the whole point. My list is just the catalyst to draw you out to suggest your own tips and get some debate going. So don’t hold back….like there was any chance you would!

So let me start with my list of the Top 10 2009 potential stars from the EPL:

10 Most Promising English Premier League Players for 2009

In no particular order:

1. Theo Walcott (19, Forward, Arsenal, England)

Finally seems to have made the break-through after so much hype and premature exposure to the England squad. If he can avoid Robsonesque issues with his shoulder he should be a real force in 2009….and beyond.

2. Rafael Da Silva (18, Defender, Manchester United, Brazil)

With Wes Brown injured and Gary Neville off the pace, Rafael has made an outstanding start to his first team career at Old Trafford and looks like making the RB position his own. Brazilian flair and a mean shot. Could become a Utd legend!?

3. Aaron Ramsey (17, Midfield, Arsenal, Wales)

Transferred from Cardiff to Arsenal in the summer following many (justified) superlatives and already making an impression in the first team. Looks certain to be a star and already a key player for Wales.

4. Jonny Evans (20, Defender, Manchester United, Northern Ireland)

Having gained experience at Antwerp and Sunderland, Evans has arrived back at Old Trafford this season and instantly asserted himself in the first team squad. Already with several outings this season he has filled in almost seamlessly for Ferdinand or Vidic. There’s no higher praise than that!

5. Carlos Vela (19, Forward, Arsenal, Mexico)

Another to make the breakthrough at Arsenal this season and has shown flashes of brilliance. 2009 could be the year that he can’t be ignored. 4 goals and 2 assists for Arsenal’s first team so far and already a goalscoring member of the Mexican national side.

6. Franco Di Santo (19, Forward, Chelsea, Argentina)

Bought for 3.5m from Audax Italiano (Chile) in early 2008. 3 appearances so far this season and has caught the eye of Big Phil. 2 goals in 6 appearances for Argentina’s U-20 team. With Drogba constantly injured and a lack of strikers at Chelsea 2009 could be his big break.

7. Rodrigo Possebon (19, Midfield, Manchester United, Brazil)

Talented Brazilian who made his debut this season. Having just returned from injury this rangy midfielder looks to have what it takes to compete for a place in the ultra competitive Utd midfield. Another who could blossom in 2009.

8. Jack Wilshere (16, Midfield, Arsenal, England)

Breaking my own rules here as 16/17 is surely too young for a breakthrough? But Wilshere is an outstanding kid, even by Arsenal standards and 2009 could see his star rise.

9. Krisztian Nemeth (19, Forward, Liverpool, Hungary)

Boasts a stunning 38 goals in 32 games at underage level for Hungary. Voted Liverpool (Title Winning) Reserves player of the year last season. Looking to make the breakthrough in 2009.

10. David N’Gog (19, Forward, Liverpool, France)

Bought from Paris St.Germain in July 2008 he has already made the breakthrough into the senior squad, scoring his first goal against PSV in the Champins League. 20 goals in 30 underage internationals for France says he knows how to find the target. Could make the breakthrough in 2009….move over Robbie Keane???

Yes, it is noticeable that all of these players are with one or other of the ‘Top 4’ but then aren’t they the clubs with the widest scouting networks that attract the best talent? I did consider both James Vaughan of Everton and Andy Carroll of Newcastle but in my opinion both have been touted for some time now, both have had their opportunities at first team level and neither look likely to step-up to stardom in 2009 but maybe they’ll prove me wrong.

You can also argue that 2 young Liverpool strikers are unlikely to make the breakthrough in the same year and this is a valid point, so take this as an each way bet. Equally, how can Evans displace either Ferdinand or Vidic at United? Well, he probably can’t but he can become part of an established 1st team 3 instead of just a 2.

So onto the Top 10 potential international stars for 2009:

10 Most Promising International Based Players for 2009

In no particular order:

1. Bojan Krkić (18, Forward, Barcelona, Spain)

Already established as an exciting new talent in the Barcelona first team making 36 appearances last season. 15 goals in 17 internationals at underage level for Spain and gained his first full cap this season. Exceptional talent who could become as big as Ronaldinho was at Barca in 2009.

2. Alexandre Pato (19, Forward, AC Milan, Brazil)

Now a regular at Milan having scored 14 goals in 28 games for Internacional before his big money (22m Euro) move in 2007. 4 caps for Brazil to date (1 goal). Highly rated forward who is a key piece in the Milan rebuilding process.

3. Breno (19, Defender, Bayern Munich, Brazil)

Brazilian defender who famously rejected Real Madrid after they requested a bone analysis to prove his age! A $22 million signing from Sao Paulo in 2007, Breno has been a regular on the bench for Bayern this season. Has captained the Brazilian U23’s and could be targeting compatriot Lucio’s place in the team.

4. Lorenzo De Silvestri (20 , Defender, Lazio, Italy)

Attacking right full-back widely regarded as one of the best young talents in Italy. Made 24 appearances for the Lazio 1st team last season and was considered as having Robben ‘in his pocket’ when Lazio played Real Madrid in the Champions League. Capped at every juniour level for Italy.

5. Mario Balotelli (18, Forward, Inter, Italy)

Born in Italy of Ghanian descent , has been capped by Ghana but this year scored 3 goals in 4 internationals for Italy’s U-21s. Made the breakthrough to Inter’s first team last season and starred in their Coppa Italia run, scoring some vital goals. 2009 could be the year Mourinho lets him off the leash!

6. Stevan Jovetić (19, Forward, Fiorentina, Montenegro)

Moved from Partizan Belgrade to Fiorentina in May 2008 for 8m Euro. Has scored 4 goals in 7 games at full international level for Montenegro and captained the U-21 side at the age of 17. One to watch in 2009.

7. Miralem Sulejmani (20, Forward, Ajax , Serbia)

First came to prominence at Heerenveen where he scored 15 goals in 34 games. Transferred to Ajax in July 2008 for 16.25M Euros (a Dutch record) and has since scored 5 goals in 7 appearances. With Klass-Jan Huntelaar off to Madrid his horizons have opened up. 3 senior caps for Serbia.

8. Ivan Rakitić (20, Midfield, Schakle 04, Croatia)

Born in Switzerland but declaring international allegiance to Croatia, Rakitic won the Swiss young player of the year award and ‘best goal’ award in 2006/7. 5 goals in 16 internationals for Croatia he can be deployed in both attacking and defensive midfield roles. Could be a transfer target in 2009.

9. Franco Zuculini (18, Midfield, Racing Club, Argentina)

Made his debut for Racing in April 2008 and now with 26 appearances. Already on Maradona’s radar as a future potential international. Has been pursued by Manchester United and Liverpool and may soon move to Europe. Big things await in 2009.

10. Adem Ljajic (17, Midfield, Red Star Belgrade, Serbia)

Attacking midfielder nicknamed “little Kaka”, high praise indeed. With only a handful of first team appearances behind him and 2 caps for Serbia’s U21’s he is still a fledgling but rated highly enough to be a target of Sir Alex Ferguson. Maybe too young for a breakthrough in 2009, but maybe not!

So, hopefully, a list of exciting potential but which of them might be in the frame for the ‘Best Players of 2009’ lists next year, if any? And who have I forgotten? More importantly, who will prove me wrong or succumb to the many pitfalls that await the promising young star these days?

Anyway, that’s the best my crystal ball can do for next year. What does yours predict?

UEFA Europa League 2009-2010 Schedule
Transfer Rumors (22 Dec 08): Foster to leave United, United and Chelsea chase Belgian star, City like Villareal keeper, and more


  1. Good call Yutmixer….missed him, and he certainly looks to have the quality, although competition at City is likely to get tougher.

    Consider him on the (ever extending) list!

  2. For me David N’Gog should not be there. From what i have seen of him this season and my liverpool mates tell me, he is nothing special. But i could be horribly wrong.

    I think Danny Welbeck (man utd) deserves a mention, made his league debut against stoke and scored a belter.

    Possibly Insua of liverpool, started the last few games for them i believe and is a hot prospect.

    Also Rafael’s twin brother Fabio. Hasn’t made a 1st appearance yet, because he has had shoulder operation, but was the Brazil U17 captain and was held in higher regard than his brother. So he could be one to watch out for.

  3. Insua of Argentina and LFC should definitely be in there. He was man of the match against Arsenal on Sunday and is only 19. His raids forward from left back created havoc. A star in the making.

  4. I know that you are talking about English premier players and international based players but you should watch out for John Fleck at Rangers, will be a superstar that is certain.

  5. All of these players play for Big Four clubs and most have been brought in from abroad so I think it does a bit of a disservice to Middlesbrough, Manchester City and my club West Ham and other nurturers of British talent not to have anyone mentioned.

    In my opinion 2009 will be the year of Jack Collison and he is far more likely than most of those ten to get in his club’s first team constantly. I’ve rarely ever seen someone so young come into a team and show no nerves and just be better than the first-teamers (well, this is West Ham!). The only worry is that while 2009 is his breakthrough year, he could be spending most of it at a bigger club.

    Loved ready the foreign list though – both made for interesting reading.

  6. One to watch perhaps from next season is Rangers youth product John Fleck.

    John Fleck Position:- Midfield/Striker Nationality :- Scottish

    DOB:- 24/08/91

    Even those Rangers fans who don’t take much of an interest in the Youth Team have heard of John Fleck. Already tasted first team football and been included in the first team pre-season squad for the last two seasons. A regular for the youths the last two seasons, scored two goals in last years Youth Cup final against Celtic. Although he is eligible for two more seasons at this level it looks like his appearances will be limited. No doubt the coaches feel he is ready to step up to the next level. Missed out on the recent European Qualifiers in Hungary due to injury.

  7. Watch Eljero Elia from FC Twente, Holland. Right now he is developping himself at an incredible rate. He’s fast, strong on the ball, can occupy three defenders with his dribbling and scores goals and makes assists. Is surely to go to Ajax anytime soon and sign for a world-class club in a few years. One to watch!

  8. May be you dont know him but he is a very good defender that soon will be in the eye of a big team. HECTOR MORENO, (20,defender, AZ ALKMAAR, MEXICO) Unfortunatelly he suffered a fracture in his foot two weeks ago, that will take him out from three to four months. But at his 20 he was already a regular at Louis Van Gaal’s (played all the 15 games before the foot fracture) team that now is the leader in the Eredivisie League. So he could be the next RAFAEL MARQUEZ

  9. Think the author must be an Arsenal Fan!

    Are we saying in top 10 there are only 2 english talent – need to start watching more reserve/championship games we have emerging young internationals ready to go in 2009!

  10. i think madrid’s new sign(recall)ing dani parejo is one hell of a talent too. also daniel opare. those two are good. and barca’s busquets.

  11. OK, Insua(Liverpool), John Fleck (Rangers), Jack Collison (West Ham), Eljero Elia (FC Twente)and Hector Moreno (AZ) are all now on the list(s).

    Lamby, I did consider Welbeck but, with the competition up-front at Utd and his age, I thought it might be a year too soon for him. With Fabio, because of his injury and the fact he hasn’t been in the first team like his brother, I left him out. Was also trying not to be too Man Utd centric! (Joe thinks I’m an Arsenal fan!) I’ll be watching them both very closely though.

    Joe, as I say in the article, it’s impossible to cover everyone in such short lists and also impossible to know every young player no matter how much research you do. It’s not often that players make the step from youth team football to first team ‘stars’ without a transition period but if you have suggestions let’s have them.

    Just to remind everyone, my list only kicks things off, your contributions are what we’re looking for to build a more expansive and representative list.

    Off to a good start!

  12. well what about Fabian Delph? 19 Leeds United, scored a couple of belters. Fabiano Santacroce 21 Napoli Brazil or Italy turned down Real Madrid speculation.

  13. there is correction on this story Adem Ljaljic is Partizan Belgrade player and not a red star player. Now one more news Adem Ljajic 10 , Stevan Jovetic 6 and Miralem Sulejmani 7 are Partizan Belgrade youth players.

  14. Compelling topic again from you, Condell. Thank you.

    All of your picks are excellent. I was starting to worry when you included Lampard (no club titles & awful at international level) in best of 2008, but this demonstrates your sanity.

    Just three must additions:

    Sergio Busquets of Barcelona, Alan Dzagoev of CSKA and Douglas Costa of Gremio

  15. Yup, good work..cudn’t resist a laugh though when I saw all the Promising BPL players were from the ‘Big Four’. How about Chad Evans ? Me a ManUtd fan but heard a lot about him, scored against Pompey this season as well…

  16. Good list…many good players left off though… I dont know how you could leave germany’s best young prospect Toni Kroos off this list. Marco Marin as well… and as much as everyone hates american footballers…. Altidore is big strong and will eventually break through. Who knows about adu though… Busquets from barca should be on this list as well…

  17. BD Condell, where is Newcastle United’s most promising player, Kazenga LuaLua? At 18 he is fantastic!! He’s quick, agile, skillful, scores some belters and is a great dribbler. Andy Carroll is way overated and will never make it, trust me. Also Nile Ranger is another great Newcastle Utd wonderkid.

    Kerlon is missing too, as is Opare. Also what do people think of Freddie Sears of West Ham? I think he is the new, maybe not as good, Rooney.

  18. Thanks lewy. Consider your suggestions on the list.

    Haven’t seen much of Sears so will rely on others opinions.

  19. Joe Candy, the arsenal players in that list are all deserving. Vela was superb at osasuna last season, against Real making Ramos(one of worlds best right backs) look like a sunday league player. Ramsey was wanted by every team in the premiership and is one of the best creative players around. I don’t really think i need to argue Walcott’s case, Liverpool last season and Croatia speak for themselves. And in the case of Jack Wilshere, never have i been so excited about a young player. Quality in any position across the midfield. Potential to be best player in the world.

  20. Gareth Bale, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge? Sturridge is way better than Nemeth and N’Gog. Before doing this list you really have to consider all talents not just the big 4 OK

  21. @Knitemare: No not OK!

    Do you bother to read the thread?

    I gave reasons for the list being dominated by players from the Top 4.

    I acknowledged Sturridge in #2, having clearly stated that it was impossible to include everyone.

    I addressed the reason for excluding Welbeck in #13.

    Gareth Bale has been around for a couple of seasons now, has been injury prone and does not suggest he will suddenly blossom into a ‘big star’ in 2009. One of the over-rated I fear.

    Read the thread properly before jumping in. 😉

  22. In my opinion you should have emilano insua up there, been great for liverpool with aurellio being injured and dossena being a flop

  23. @yychris: Can’t disagree on his recent performances. He has only made his mark in the last few weeks really and looks a real prospect but wasn’t on my radar when I wrote the article (which was a couple of weeks before it was published).

    Consider him on the list! Thanks.

  24. If you have Breno you need to include Toni Kroos, he is definitely better. And if Marko Marin isnt there thats another serious problem

  25. firstly very good list, with very good ideas from everyone else.

    i also agree with Kroos, hes a very good talent and has captained german youth international teams.

    i think possebon from united is a year or two too early, he looks talented but i doubt he will break out in 09.

    also what happened to giovanni? he gets played at barca but not tottenham?

  26. @Westy: Re: Giovanni, I’ve seen some bad press on him recently from Spurs fans. He’s had 9 appearances this season and I’ll keep a watch on him. Thanks.

  27. what about Gonzalo Higuain . I he deserves a place too . He is scoring alot and also important goals . For real madrid in one of the best leagues in the world !!

  28. Wijnaldum of Feyenoord is one of the brightest prospect’s in Holland. The Peruvian Reimond Manco has recently joined PSV Eindhoven and is impressing people at the club and further afield in Holland…definitely one to watch.

    Look out for Neymar (Santos), Zuculini (Racing Club), Guilherme (Cruzeiro), Mesut Ozil (Werder Bremen) and Alex Teixeira (Vasco Da Gama) who are all destined for bright thing’s.

    One player few outside of Man City may have heard of is Vladimir Weiss, the young Slovak midfielder. I watched him in the FA Youth Cup Final against Chelsea and he was the best player on the pitch by a mile. Before Man City had the massive Arab cash injection they would often leave him out of big youth team games for fear of scout’s spotting his incredible talent. He will be a start, no doubt about it.

  29. agree with daniel sturridge..

    jose baxter(AM/ST) – everton
    nathan delfouneso(ST) – villa
    jack rodwell(DC/DM) – everton

    a few others outside prem

    victor moses(AM/ST) – crystal palace
    joe mattock(LB) – leicester city

  30. Jose Baxter
    Marouane Fellaini
    Jack Rodwell
    Dan Gosling

    All the English lads have played this season and are all captains of their English international youth sides. Rodwell is rated as the best future English defensive talent and Gosling has been compared to lampard.

    Fellaini should be on the above list.

  31. fellaini is too old for the list he is also a regular established player already,
    like georgio wijnaqdum he is a great player, and also ismael aissati, jack collison from west ham would be a great addition, another arsenal player who could make the breakthrough is nacer barazite impressing at derby will have to wait to see what happens to him when he gets back, also john bostock at tottenham if harry redknapp gives him a chance, maybe championship players like joe o’toole of watford and shaun scannell of crystal palace, might not be big names yet but still bright prospects.

  32. What about Parma’s striker on loan from A.C Milan alberto paloschi he has a lot of potential and there is young keeper called ochoa that plays for a mexican team called america something or something america i can’t remeber is said to be the best youung keeper.

  33. Francisco Guillermo Ochoa Magaña plays for Club America and is indeed rated as one of the top keepers in the world. He’s 23, which is very young by goalkeeping standards and certainly one to watch!

    Alberto Paloschi, just turned 19, has scored 7 goals in 26 appearances for Milan and Parma and 8 goals in 22 appearances at underage level for Italy.

    Both great suggestions. Thanks Alex!

  34. de guzman, urby emanuelson, insua, marin marko, sofiane feghouli, lulinha, nemeth, jovetic, pjanic, sulejmani, nsereko, busquets, rakitic, kroos. Btw, ngog not so good scorer.

  35. i definetily think fabio darprela (if ive spelt it corectly) who is a swiss 19 year old i think who looks very good!!!

  36. Well am a football star who live in Ghana, my name is Manaf osuman 19yr and currently play my professional soccer in ghana.iam 5.6 tall.iam a talented soccer player by all standards, my favoirte position is in offensive midfield and can play as an attacker as i have the appetite for scoring goals. because of my style of play iam affectionately called ronaldo in my local community. I love soccer, i love to play soccer but unfortunately i guess luck is not on my side as i think i should be playing professinal soccer in europe by now.two years ago i nearly had the chance to join an european team but unfortunately in that last trial match, i twisted my ankle and could not make the grade. i have since recovered and i know you would be glad to see me play,i have the skill and could be an asset to you and your team.

  37. Where did you put Ravel Morrison of manchester united………..He is just 16 p;aying for the researves and academy,as well as davide petrucci 17 manutd,Kiko Macheda 17 manutd,Ignacio miguel arsenal,fabieb delph Leeds,Micheal Mancienne chelsea and others.

  38. to repeat a couple of names from other suggesters but the list defo needs Jack Rodwell (everton), played an awesom game in the derby and looks very composed on the ball.
    oh also in the same match Lucas looked very out of his depth an oppinion shared by many liverpool fans.

    also Mamadou Sakho, from PSG very good defender

    pablo Piatti, Almeria young argentine winger just breaking into first team with some excellent performances.

    i agree that Elia is also class

  39. @51: Thanks Marko. Someone else pointed that out also. My mistake!

    @52: Manaf, I hope you make the grade. Should I put youi on the list? :)

    @53: Ade, all good prospects but I stated in the article that I was trying to identify players who may beocme stars in 2009 i.e. already in or on the fringes of 1st team squad. The names you suggest have longer to go than that.

    @54: Simon, good suggestions. Thanks!

  40. @ Randy: Giovinco turned 22 in January, so outside the age criterion. I haven’t seen Santon but do you think he can make the breakthru this year?

    @westy: Yes, Kerrison is attracting a lot of attention. Looks like a move to Europe is not far away but doubt he’ll make his mark in 2009. Maybe next year.

  41. Ryan Tunnicliffe 17years-old Pos:MC
    John Cofie 16years-old Pos:FC
    William Keane 16years-old Pos:FC
    Nicky Ajose 17years-old Pos:Winger/Forward
    Cameron Stewart 17years-old Pos:RB/RM
    Oliver Norwood 17years-old Pos:MC
    Tom Thorpe 16years-old Pos:DC
    Ezekiel Fryers 17years-old Pos.DC

    All the above will evantually play for my beloved Manchester United at some point in the near future. : D

    Marek Hamsik
    Franco Zuculini(I know you’ve already mentioned him)
    Douglas Costa(Brilliant player)
    Fabian Delph
    Jack Rodwell
    Eden Hazard
    Daniel Aquino
    Neymar (The “next Robinho” apparantly)
    Yoann Gourcuff(Not unknown.but deserves a mention)
    Oscar Sielva
    Mathias Jorgensen
    Jonjo Shelvey (Made his debut at 16 for charlton)

    I personally belive these players above are more than capable to step-up to the big-stage and become ‘Worldclass’..Well Some of them.

  42. Sergio Asenjo Andrés (19) Played 43 times for Valladolid, Spain U19 7 caps and 6 caps for U21’s.won the U19 European championships with Spain in 2007. Quality keeper. Not as good as Ochoa, but still class

  43. 1. Mario Balotelli-Inter Milan
    2. Dagoberto-Sao Paolo
    3. Sofiane Feghouli- Grenoble Foot 38
    4. Daniel Sturridge- Manchester City
    5. Sotiris Ninis- Panathaikos
    6. Bojan Krkic- Barcelona
    7. Ivan Rakitic- Shalke 04
    8. Diego Capel- Sevilla
    9. Alan Dzagoev- CSKA Moskva
    10. Arda Turan-Galatasaray

  44. Those are all great players
    But there was the kid that got my attetion.. Omar arrellano he plays for this team in Mexico I think it’s chivas but I am not sure.. Great speed agility..over all a great stricker.. Should b on that list

  45. @Ozziee: What a list! I admire your knowledge and will keep tabs on your suggestions (if possible)!

    @SpursyouSpurs: Ditto, very comprenehsive list!

    @Robert: hadn’t heard of him but will keep an eye out.

    Thanks to all. :)

  46. Omar Andrade.(ST) La Pena
    Lulinha. (AMF) Corinthians
    Alex.T. (AMF,RW,ST) Santos
    Eden Hazard (AMF,ST) Lille
    Kerlon (AMF, ST) Cruzieo (Manchester Utd Was Intrested)
    Sergio Bosquets (CM) Barcelona
    Sotris Ninis (RW,LW,AMF,ST) Panathanikos.
    Mario Balloteli (ST) Inter Milan
    Neymar (AMF,ST) Santos
    Ivan Rakotic (AMF) Shalke 04
    Diego Capel (RW,LW,AMF,ST) Seville

    All Great Players 😀

  47. Probably taking the list from Football manager BD, it can make anyone looked half knowledgable!

  48. @Maverick: I know nothing of Football manager but the objective is not to look knowledgable, merely to write something of interest to the readership that is worthy of debate.

    Much research was involved, as is the case in most decent articles. Why not have a try yourself?

  49. i know some of these player have already been mentioned, but this is just a few of my favourite young players that i think are worth looking out for:

    Giovinco – 20 – Juventus
    Defour – 19 – Liege
    Sakho – 17 – PSG
    Rui Patricio – 19 – Sporting Lisbon
    Fran Merida – 17 – Arsenel
    Pjanic – 17 – Lyon
    Santon – ? – Inter Milan
    Balotelli – 17 – Inter Milan
    Paloschi – 17 – Parma (On Loan I Think)
    Vela – 18 – Arsenel

    and these 3 although they are a bit older:

    Miguel Veloso – 21 – Sporting Lisbon
    Joao Moutinho – 21 – Sporting Lisbon
    Hernanes – 22 – Sao Paulo

  50. mauro zarate is a bit older but hes still wicked.
    and dont forget benzema-20, dzagoev-18, sergio aguero-??, fellaini-20, toni kroos-??, and micah richards-20.

    STURRIDGE IS CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. from what i’ve seen, these are the most promising young star of 2009:
    -Davide Santon & Balotelli (Inter)
    -Johny Evans & Rafael (MU)
    -Sergi Busquets (Barca)
    -Diego Perotti (Sevilla)
    -Angel DiMaria (Benfica)
    not to mention last year’s starlets:
    -Theo Wallcott (Arsenal)
    -Alexandre Pato (Milan)

    I think those names can start to think about establish their position in the first team..
    for the rest on your list, I guess they’ll still struggle just to show up.. even for Bojan Krkic.. maybe 2010

  52. just a couple of players that are good enough or defin will be good enough i know some u aint heard off but trust look them up????? CESAR AZPILICUETA,PAPADOPOULOS Kyriakos, BENDER Lars, IGNACIO CAMACHO Barnola,POLI Andrea,GAI ASSULIN Yigaal, SUAREZ Diego Orlando,AYEW André,PALOSCHI Alberto,FORESTIERI Fernando, ADAMS Sadick

  53. Make sure and watch out for this Kid Neymar,already making big waves in Brasil and has hardly played a senior game. Touted to have signed a pre-contract agreement with Real however his club Santos deny this. Definitely gonna make a big money move to Europe this summer.

    Also, look out for a young arsenal protege called Vincent Van der Berg. I think this boy has great potential.

  54. adem ljaic played in partizan belgrade,not played in red star!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. Davide Santon should be on the list, he tamed C.Ronaldo very well in the champions league. Marcelo who plays for Real Madrid should have a mention aswell strong defender and he also scored a massive belter this year. Marco Motta who plays for AS Roma and captin of the Italy U21 squad looks very solid. Ezequail Ivan Lavezzi who plays for Napoli looks threating upfront hes even been considered as the next D.Maradonna, also Marik Hamsik from Napoli aswell. Who can forget Sebastian Giovinco, looks very promising.

    would anyone here consider Yoann Gourcuff as a promising star?, hes still young but people thought he was going explode on the scene a few seasons ago.

    Robert Acquefresca who plays for cagliari looks promising.

    the next play is 24 so hes still quite young but had to give him a mention due to his current form for Sampdoria, Giampaolo Pazzini.

  56. interesting list, premier league centric, most of those premier league players aren’t in the same class as the others. A world wide one would struggle to find a place for a premier league player.

    And Balotelli hasn’t been capped by Ghana or he wouldn’t be allowed to play for italy.

  57. Where is Lulinha ?… Renato Augusto (Bayer Leverkusen), Ok he’ 21 but he is a very good young footballer,
    Carlos Eduardo,
    Mesut Özil,
    Zoran Tosic,
    Daniel Pacheco,
    Simon Kjaer,
    Victor Polson,

  58. i do not think that these will nessessarily blossom this year but …
    Delph (obviously-summer move imminent)has blossomed this year.
    Joe Mattock – Leicster City…hope a large club picks up on him as he can play left back and midfield and has bags of potential and if he’s given access to the best players coaches etc. then he could be potentially brilliant premiership player in the future….but then again I wanted Manchester United to sign Bale and he has failed to impress so far (could say partially down to injury)

    Also well done for putting Jonny Evans in the list…. people have so often overlooked him in recent years, he played in some big matches and did well eg, chelsea at stamford bridge but never had the chance to follow it up with another game after. but this year he has shone, particularly recently and i’m so pleased ferguson kept faith in him and didn’t sell him to sunderland when keane was in charge… he has the hardest job of all coming off the bench to replace either Vidic or Ferdinand and yet he has more than proved himself at old trafford as a worthy first team player.

    Darnel Situ (Buyente) is a quality player and this could be his year…captained french u17 side…hasnt really made his mark on youth /reserve or main team for RC Lens but yet he still attracts interest from clubs such as Manchester United…currently 17 years old defender.
    Man City bought Helan who is another quality french player but i doubt he’ll break through at ciy any time soon!!
    other young ones….
    Eddy Gnahore very good player fast and midfield(/attack) can score goals, are others but i dnt waht to write an essay…….

  59. @ Michael James: Quote from the article
    “In keeping with the balance of readership on this site I will split the list into 2. One will look at the Top 10 potential stars of 2009 from the English Premier league while the other will look at the Top 10 internationally.”

    That’s why its Premiership centric.

    Your right about Balotelli, he was called-up by the Ghanian senior team but declined as he wanted to play for Italy.

    Thanks to all for the many, many contributions.

  60. Yoann Gourcuff is already a star in my opinion, been brilliant this season for Bordeaux, and been one of France’s best players this season as well. Another young French player, Hatem Ben Arfa has had injury problems since signing for Marseille, but looks a great talent, Marseille could have paid too mouch though. In France you also have Blaise Matuidi, Feghouli and PSG defender Sakho.

    My shout is Simao at Panathanaikos looks a great young defensive midfielder, scored a great goal against Sparta Prague earlier in the season. He’s being hyped up quite a lot in Greece.

    The Porto left back Cissokho looked a great young player up against Manchester United and is causing a stir in Portugal. Already being linked with a move away after only signing for them in January. Another young full back who could be one for the future is Gregory Van Der Wiel, made his debut for Holland recently.

    Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente at Bilbao. Already made a name for themselves in Spain, I expect them to improve their reputations further this year.

    Pablo Hernandez is a player I expect to make a big impact at Valencia, with the possibility of a clearout, he has already had a succesful season at Getafe and if they hold on to him, he has the quality to be a top winger.

  61. Jack Wilshere – seen him play on many occasions amazing talent.
    Carlos Vela – the same as long as wenger begins to play him over Bendtner.
    Kyle Bartley – One to watch for brilliant young defender.
    Havard Nordveit – Arsenal reserve captain at the age of 17.
    Martin Galvan – plays in mexico for cruz al, he was offered (and turnt down) a trial at Barcelona.

    PRETTY MUCH JUST ARSENAL UNDER 18’s with a few exceptions lol.

  62. ravel morrison. gng to be a superstar. something special….might even become a first teamer next season.
    speed of walcott,
    dribbling of messi,
    passing of iniesta,
    aggression of rooney,
    finishing of ronaldo,
    tricks of ronaldo.

    you know ferguson, unlike wenger they dont like building/talking up theyoung players, but they are some potential superstars at OT, as you have all seen with macheda, welbeck, evans and da silva this season alone!

    we have petrucci, norwood, ajose, fabio da silva, tosic and possebon all coming through.
    And Adem Lljaic joining!

    none as talented as Morrison though!

  63. this is purely european okay take this young guy from zimbabwe playing for caps united tafadza rusike and milton makopa for dynamos watch out for them after abt 3 years they will definitely rock europe

  64. john fleck of rangers deserves a mention. top class up coming young player. going to be huge. was voted 7th highest rising star in WORLD football!!

  65. hey that list is just perfect but what about lucas leiva???
    Barazillian palyer of the year 2006….
    And David N’Gogg is the right choice but should be more up….


  67. Anyone heard of a young chilean star playing in Italy called Lopez, Man Utd are rumoured to be after him

  68. All there players (bar 2 or 3) are European or South American.
    Australia is producing some hot young talent but due to our distance from Europe our players don’t move there until they are early 20’s. Usually to the Dutch or Turkish leagues initially. Some young A-League players to look out for in future are:
    Tahj Minniecon (AM/Wing) – 20, Gold Coast United
    Mitch Nichols (AM/Wing) – 20, Brisbane Roar
    Michael Zullo (Wing/LM) – 20, Brisbane Roar (turned down offer from FC Twente to spend 1 more development year in Australia)
    Kofi Danning (Fwd) – 18, Sydney FC
    Shannon Cole (LB/LM) – 19, Sydney FC

    Nikita Rukavytsya (Fwd) – 22, FC Twente (Holland)
    Bruce Djite (Fwd) – 22, Genclerbirligi (Turkey)

    They may not be of the same standard of some of the young Italian, Spanish, Brazilian or English stars listed above, but Australian football is constantly improving and some of these guys will be the Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Mark Vidukas of the future.

    Latest FIFA world rankings 01/07/09 – AUSTRALIA 16th and on the rise! Bring on SA2010.

  69. @AussieAussieAussie: Thnaks for the input. I actually live in OZ but don’t follow the A-League much(shame on me).
    I’ll be fully behind the boys at SA 2010 thugh!

  70. Good list but miss alot of good talents

    1-Giovinco – 20 – Juventus

    2-marco marin-20 werder bremen

    3-Tony Kroos- 19 (bayern munich)-loan to of germany’s most promising talents

    4 Sergio Busquets – 20 barce

    6- Thomas Muller -19 fc bayern
    Lets wait and see.

  71. Thanks sandra1: I agree, and in particular Marin (already with 6 full caps), Kroos (great goal-scoring record at every underage level for Germany) and Muller (fantastic scoring record with Baayern reserves, for a midfield player) are all ones I’ll keep an eye on.

  72. How could you forget about Arda Turan. He lead the Turkish squad to mny remarkable comebacks in Euro 2008

  73. Sotiris Ninis – Panathanaikos
    Toni Kroos – Bayern Munich
    Ivan Rakitic – Schakle 04
    Federico Raúl Laurito – Udinese
    Fernando Forestieri – Genoa
    César Azpilicueta – Osasuna

    All very promising players!! Also Aguero, but he already made the breakthrough really!

  74. @Turan: I agree he is an excellent prospect but I excluded anyone over 20 from my selections (he’s 22).

  75. Adem Ljajic plays for PARTIZAN BELGRADE!!!!Until 12 january 2010 when he goes to Manchester United..Hi hates Red Star, arch rivals…please change

  76. Hey, just checked back here for the first time in a while. plenty of good suggestions. I was wondering if a new list was going to be produced for the new season which is under a month away! An email would be appreciated if you produce a new list because i really enjoyed this years. P.S. Kiko to shine 09-10!

  77. good list and good read, next time you should look at chelsea’s Gael Kakuta, probably not gonna make a massive breakthrough this season will one day be a huge star im sure of it. Also Alan Dzagoev of CSKA moscow is emerging as a world beater

  78. I think joxy altidore,the american at villareal should be considered for the international list. he is shaping up to be a wonderful player.

  79. Nobody has mentioned Eden Hazard of Belgium, Jeremy Menez of France and Alexis Sanchez Chile or Thomas Necid Czech
    or Wilshere England and Giovinco Italy anymore…?

  80. Knowone has mentioned Rodwell, who is going to be pure class for everton and england in the future. Gosling aswell but i also think Douglas Costa of Gremio is class.

  81. james tomkins, junior stanislas, frank nouble, fabio daprela and marek stech of west ham, jack rodwell and jose baxter of everton, tim krul and nile ranger of newcastle, eden hazard of lille, miroslav stoch, michael mancienne and scott sinclair of chelsea, darron gibson of man utd, james mccarthy of burnley, marcus berg of fc gronigen, ole toivanen, axel witsel,

  82. cant beleive guiseppe rossi only been mentioned once best player ive ever played against. Axel witsel john flek guna be huge next 2 years

  83. @jimmy: he failed the age cut-off but you actually played against him? Interested to hear more about that! :)

    @Brad: Still too young to make a call on Madin!

  84. Why has nobody signed up the youngster Kyle Whitcher from Cape Town? great player – come and see for yourself

  85. Did anyone forget Macheada? He was phenominal last year for man u when they needed him the most. In fact when they needed goals in crucial games last year he impressed. He is the future for italy and is definitely worth a mention.

  86. Fair enough Bill but the article was written in December last year, at which point he hadn’t made his mark.

  87. Good lists above, MY 1-8 PLAYERS ARE

    I see a very neat potential, he likes to run far and has an eye for the goal.

    This guy is like Iniesta’s twinbrother. I think he would work better as a midfielder though, awesome. Only 21.

    He moves completely different from other strikers, this guy is a robot and he will be one of the greatest around.

    Ok, hes 24 but nevertheless, this guy is true class.

    If this guy would move to another club, say Prem or La liga he would develope amazingly, this guy is going to be one of the best, he moves like Messi, always best towards the defender.

    Amazing potential and talent but unstable.

    Small defender but a damn good one. Future!


  88. @Neta: Good list! I especially agree on Jovetic…he really looks class!

    @luxo.saty: Great pick. He wasn’t on my radar last December when I did the list but he looks a real prospect and scores a lot for a midfielder.

    Will he be bought by one of the ‘big’ clubs do you think?

  89. Why does everyone look at the big teams?
    Everton have some top quality players coming through!
    Jack Rodwell, 18. 1st team place in the squad, amazing on the ball, brilliant shooting ability and can play midfield or defence! one too watch!

    Dan Gosling also showin us wat he can do against liverpool last season, will improve as he gets more experience

    Seamus coleman, brilliant game against spurs on the weekend, basically he made both goals! brilliant from the young lad. hope he keeps it up, also one too watch out!

  90. What about Ghana U20 players Dominic Adiyiah who is now signed by AC MILAN 8 goals in 7 games at U20 world cup won the player of the tournament n goal king..,
    Andrew Ayew of marseille only 19 already played in champions league Won U20 world Cup and has about 8 senoir cups for Ghana with 2 goals…and jus helped Ghana to AFrican Cup Finals!

  91. why is dominic adeyaih of ghana not included?he won the best and most valuable player at egypt under 20 world cup.

  92. ROMELU LUKAKU-Plays for RSC Anderlecht a bit like Drogba with his style of play but seriously, he will be the best striker in the GALAXY one day!

  93. Thanks for the input guys but this article was written in December 2008! I can’t believe that it is still alive.

    Things have moved on and there are certainly new talents identified.

    @uuuu: I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve apologised/corrected that error on here!

    But thanks to all for the continued input and interest. :)

  94. I am a Chelsea and there is a player called Dominic Vose and he reminds me of Joe Cole ten years ago. He has wonderful ability and i think he is a star in the making!

  95. Dominic Vose. I watched him play for west ham against the chelsea academy and he took them apart from start to finish. i think someone said he was 16 years old. Chelsea have alot of good young players that we have spent lots of money for all over the world but this boy had something special. Does anybody know if he is English?

  96. Romelu Lukaku has got to be one of the best players in the world he is 16 and is in anderlecht’s first team so is a big hit for the future

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