The world has indeed, fallen into one time zone. ESPN’s advertisement has promoted the ecstatic concept of the world adhering to witnessing the greatest spectacle on Earth. For a long time, the World Cup has been deemed as the stage where great players are made. A widely augmented reason as to why Messi and Ronaldo aren’t placed in the bracket of Maradonas and Peles is that they are yet to deliver at the grandest stage of them all.
While the globe is currently hooked onto the World Cup with any form of distraction treated with contempt, I would request you to take a moment off and enjoy an analysis of club football. The World Cup is a collision between the best teams on Earth, and the best players take it out on the biggest stage. However, the dream of playing in the World is something few have ever achieved when you look at the 84-year long World Cup history.
For those who are playing currently, this might just be the greatest time of their life but there are so many more whose aspirations of making it one day look strong. There have been a recognizable list of players this time who have missed out of making the team but there are some, whose recent efforts look good to secure a spot in 2018, rather than now.
Let’s take a look at top five young footballers who are not yet in the spotlight, but will be in the future. These are players whom the top clubs must be sniffing around with an intention of signing them in the near future.
Italy have been primordially disguised as a team whose defense alone stands out from the rest. However, through the years, there have been so many players who have come out to wrong that claim. Few of them are their goalkeepers, who are rated as some of the best the game has produced, most notable being Dino Zoff and Gianlungi Buffon. And continuing that rich tradition seems to be this 18-year old youngster from Udinese.
His debut performance in front of goal was so compelling that it led to the tabloids rating him as a young Buffon in his Parma days. There are some simple rules in football. When at 17 years old, you are regarded as a potential successor to Gianluigi Buffon, that doesn’t happen without substance. It means you are the real deal. He stands at 1.87 m and is athletic with the gloves. Although not proficient, his dominance inside the box is good and will only improve as time progresses.
In the next two months where the transfer window will be largely overshadowed by the World Cup, we can expect a mad-hatter race for this young goalkeeper whose life has been well laid out ahead of him.
At the age of 20, Mitrovic has won the Serbian and Belgian leagues, the UEFA under-19 Championship where he was named the golden player, while his national team record stands at six appearances with one goal. Such exciting stats at a tender age promise a great deal to come from this young Serbian. Described by UEFA.com as possessing ‘pace, power, maturity and attacking intelligence’, Mitrovic represents one of the best strikers Serbia has produced in the recent past.
Although he is far from the finished product, his statistics reflect an accomplished striker. Till date, in his professional career, he has scored 41 goals from 107 appearances. While on the face of it there might be better ones, we should note that he has had many substitute appearances. Playing at Anderlecht currently, he was their top scorer in the league with 16 goals from 39 appearances.
The rumours have suggested that Wenger is scouting him intensely and is looking to secure a deal, after having released Yaya Sanogo. Whatever be the case, this young striker could well be the talk of the town in the near future, having been in obscurity till recently.
Well, let me tell you, Serbia sure has a bright group of players to take the world by storm in the near future. Joining Mitrovic on this list is Serbian winger Lazar Markovic, playing at Benfica currently. His performances in the 2013/14 Europa League were certainly exciting and earned him a place in the team of the season. His resume is quite similar to that of Mitrovic’s, having won the top-flight in Europe as well as in Belgium while having made the same number of appearances for his country.
Markovic’s primary strength is his pace, which if it were to be described in a single word, devastating. In a particular match against Inter Milan this season, the right side of Inter’s defense was undone by his pace quite a few times. Although his pace with the ball is very good, he produces the most when he has space. Except for a physical presence, his traits are up to that of a modern European attacker, whose real strength lies in getting behind defense.
Although he finds himself in goal scoring positions, his finishing leaves a lot to be desired, perhaps one thing that demarcates him from Mitrovic. It was reported in March that Chelsea have been tracking him and Mourinho has placed him high up on his transfer shortlist. While it seems a great move, he is clearly capable of attracting other teams and shouldn’t move to Chelsea, for the reason that his game time may starve rapidly.
This name might not even sound remotely familiar to you. Well, it doesn’t to most people in Europe or any other place. But, you check into Botafago and this guy has been touted as one of Brazil’s most promising youngsters. Often compared to Marquinhos for their similar career trajectories, where a single season shot up their value, Doria is a strong and well-built defender.
His footballing traits originate from Futsal, known for its notorious ball skills, something which Doria possesses in abundance after his stint with the game. The duo of Brazilian defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz, are players whose game is built on physical approach and daunting presence at the back. Doria, too is of a similar build which complements his excellent ball skills. Thus making him a very valuable presence at the back.
Thiago Silva is nearing his 30s while David Luiz always had a penchant for inconsistency. Although they are regular starters, they possess a lot of room for error and seeing that Scolari prefers defenders of such mould rather than technical ones like Marquinhos, Doria might well get into the squad. Once again, Chelsea were rumoured to be tracking while AC Milan missed out on him due to disagreements in the move. While the Italian league may be tempting, for a player like Doria, a move to the more physical Premier League would be beneficial for him as he would fit in seamlessly.
The recent 5-1 drubbing of Spain by Netherlands sent shockwaves across the world. A match that will be remembered for ages to come and an inexperienced Dutch side tore apart what was arguably the greatest team of the last decade. As we speak so highly of the Dutch, it might do well to know that Dutch academies have once again come to the fore having produced some excellent players. Recent ones include Stephan de Vrij, Kevin Strootman, Jordy Clasie and Christian Erisken. As we talk about such players, there is one in PSV Eindhoven who is left out of the mix.
Adam Maher, of Moroccan descent has been quietly making a name for himself in the Dutch top-flight. His performances in the midfield have attracted a lot of attention after his coach compared him to a young Fabregas. Just as described, he thrives when played ahead of a two-man midfield and is technically adept to complement his low center of gravity, making him a very mobile player.
It may be interesting to know that Johan Cryuff was of a similar build, which allowed him to hold his own against anyone in the world. Not to say that Maher measures up to Cryuff but his style certainly gives people a lot to think about. His statistics don’t lie either, with him notching up 27 goals from 130 games, quite impressive for a 20-year old youngster. Having already made his debut for the national team, Maher was unlucky to miss out on the trip to Brazil.
There have been reports that Ajax want to sign him as a replacement to Christian Eriksen who left a year ago. Arsenal and Manchester City too have been keeping tabs on him with a potential move in the offing. Although these offers may be tempting, it would be good if he stayed at PSV, and moved a season later, thus gaining more experience and building a better reputation.