For all the information and queries regarding this feature, we recommend reading this document. Feel free to contact us if you have any issues regarding the list. 100 Best Young Players to Watch-Out for in 2014 | Forwards/Wingers (20 – 11)
20) Mauro Icardi
Back in 2013: In the first half of the year, he played for Sampdoria, and was quite prolific for them. While he wasn’t always a starter in the first half of the 12-13 season, he broke in and cemented his place in the side in the second half of the season. An incredible 9 goals and 2 assists post Christmas meant that this highly rated youngster was now chased by some of the top European clubs. He scored a spectacular 4 goals in their 6-0 rout of Pescara in an excellent performance. He ended up at Inter Milan. At the Nerazzuri, he’s a bit of a fan favourite. He’s made 8 appearances thus far, scoring 2 goals. Most of his appearances have been off the bench, but he’s still managed to score a very important goal in the draw against Juventus. Unfortunately for him, an injury interrupted his progress, and he’s had to start afresh.
Looking to 2014: Frustratingly for Icardi, he’s gotten injured again, and will be out for approximately a month. When he does return though, he’ll have to work hard to win a place in the side. Palacio is the undoubted number 1 at Internazionale, but Icardi has the talent to change that.
19) Zakaria Bakkali
Who is he?: Bakkali is a Belgian of Moroccan descent. The youngster has the record for being the youngest scorer of a hat-trick in the Eredivisie, and is a winger, who plays at PSV Eindhoven. Bakkali is still only 17.
Back in 2013: At the start of the year, Bakkali wasn’t in the first team, but someone who was used in rotation. However, 2013 has proven to be a great year for the Belgian. He managed to break into the side, and made quite an impact, making a lot of starts for the team. He managed to score 4 goals in the second half of that season, with a brace coming in the 8-1 demolition of NAC Breda. As good as he was last season, Bakkali has burst into fame this season. His terrific hat-trick against NEC really shot him into fame. Since then, he’s chipped in with a solitary goal against Waregem in the Champions League qualification, with a few niggling injuries troubling the starlet.
Looking to 2014: Bakkali is still only 17, and has the potential to be a mega star. At PSV, he’s with a team that will give him the chances he needs to develop. He’s been linked with the likes of Chelsea, but that sort of move at stage of his career probably isn’t appropriate for his growth.
18) Yassine Benzia
Who is he?: Benzia is a forward player at Olimpique Lyonnais. He had been deployed across the front line by his coach. Benzia is currently 19 years old, but has made 4 appearances for the French U21 team.
Back in 2013: In the first half of the year, Benzia couldn’t really make much of an impact for Lyon, being used mostly as a back up player. He made a few starts towards the end of the season, getting as assist as well, but nothing more than that. He started this season very well, getting a goal and 2 assists in an excellent performance away at Sochaux. Since then his form has been indifferent, much like Lyon’s, and he’s found the back of the net only once in a win against Bastia.
Internationally, he made a number of appearances for the French U19 team, scoring 5 times. For the U21’s, he has 4 goals in his 4 appearances in the Euro qualifiers.
Looking to 2014: Benzia, much like his club, needs to turn his form around. He’s a very talented young player, and he needs to work hard to keep Lyon going in the Ligue 1 and improve their position.
17) Lazar Markovic
Who is he?: Markovic is a Serbian who plays for Benfica. He’s primarily a left winger, but can play across the front line. He’s a product of Partizan’s youth academy. Markovic is just 19 years old at the moment.
Back in 2013: Markovic didn’t have the best start to the year, as he missed a lot of games due to injury, and his subsequent recovery from it. He returned towards the end of the season, and got himself a goal and an assist. Despite the poor return, Markovic’s talent was in no doubt. He was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, but ended up joining Benfica. His introduction to Portugal has been good. He’s made 12 appearances thus far, scoring 3 and assisting twice. He’s made 5 appearances in their unsuccessful Champions League campaign. He’s also a full Serbian international.
Looking to 2014: Markovic made a good recovery after a poor start to the year, and will hope that his good form continues as Benfica move into the new year. At only 19, he may still very well move to a big club.
16) Angel Correa
Who is he?: Correa is a striker who plays for San Lorenzo in Argentina. He’s only 18 at the moment, and is someone who’s been crucial in San Lorenzo’s excellent performance in the Inicial this season.
Back in 2013: Correa’s year began in April, with his first appearance being a 35 minute cameo in a heavy 4-1 defeat. Since then though, Correa did well to take his chances, and gradually grew into a first team spot. He ended up making 8 starts in the Final, scoring 4 times and laying on 3 goals for his team mates. In the Inicial, which began in August 2013, Correa had a huge impact as San Lorenzo were crowned champions. He made 17 starts for the side, scoring 4 times, and assisting thrice. The diminutive two footed striker’s performances were an important part of the success.
Looking to 2014: Correa’s performances have already won many admirers, and the Argentine will not be shy of suitors should he choose to move to Europe. However, for now, his main goal will be to help San Lorenzo put in a good performance in the Torneo Final.
15) Lucas Ocampos
Back in 2013: The talented Ocampos had moved to Monaco just prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, and he was a regular starter for the Principality club last season. In the second half of the season, that is in 2013, he managed to notch up 4 goals and 2 assists, helping Monaco gain promotion back to Ligue 1. Of course, after Monaco won promotion, they received a significant boost in their funding, and this meant that new players who could threaten his starting place in the side were brought in. He started the season in the first 11, doing well to earn 2 assists in the first 2 games as Monaco won comfortably against Bordeaux and Montpellier. His run in the starting 11 though was interrupted by a change in tactics from Ranieri, and since then, he’s been a peripheral presence, mostly restricted to cameos from the bench.
Looking to 2014: There can be no doubting the fact that Ocampos has the talent to mix it with the best of the very best, but he’s going to have to work very hard to convince his coach to give him another run in the starting 11. If that doesn’t work, Ocampos may well look at another club that can offer him regular playing time.
Who is he?: Jese Rodriguez is a Real Madrid starlet, capable of playing across the front line, but he prefers the left wing. The 20 year old Spaniard has been a back up player at the Galacticos this season, and has showcased his talent.
Back in 2013: In the first half of the year, Jese was part of the Real Madrid Castilla which was playing in the Spanish Segunda. There, he played well enough to earn a call up to the senior squad for this season. His 12 goals and 8 assists were a great contribution to his side. In the summer, he took part in the U20 World Cup, where Spain were knocked out in the quarters by Uruguay, scoring 5 times, and making 1 assist in 5 appearances. Such efforts meant that Ancelotti couldn’t ignore his claims for a place in the first team, and he was given his chance this season. So far, in his 11 appearances, all off the bench, he’s got a very respectable tally of 2 goals and 3 assists. His goals have also been important ones. One against Barcelona in the Classico will definitely endear him to the support, and one to secure a key 3-2 victory against Valencia will endear him to Ancelotti.
Looking to 2014: Realistically, Jese couldn’t have expected much playing time with stars like Ronaldo and Bale in front of him, but he’s done very well with his limited opportunities. Jese will hope that Ancelotti trusts him a little more this year, because he clearly has the talent to be a part of this Real side. Question is, will he get the chance to show it?
13) Federico Cartabia
Back in 2013: Cartabia was moved from the reserve team, Valencia Mestalla to the first team early in the year, but didn’t manage to make any inroads. This season, he’s finally got a few chances in the league, making 12 appearances for Valencia, and making one assist as well. He’s been much more active in the Europe league though, making 4 starts. In his 5 appearances in the continental competition, Cartabia has scored twice, a brace against St. Gallen in their 5-1 thrashing.
Looking to 2014: Cartabia is slowly growing into the Valencia first team. he’s still only 20, and can establish himself in the side if he does well. His immediate goal will be to impress his new manager Pizzi, and try to get more playing time. Over the course of the year though, he’ll want to become a regular starter for the team.
12) Imoh Ezekiel
Back in 2013: After a terrific start to the 12-13 campaign, Ezekiel had a slightly indifferent start to 2103, with injury nagging him. He did manage to score 4 goals in the league games and play-offs put together though. The 2013-14 season has seen another excellent start from the young Nigerian. So far, he’s managed to make 21 appearances in the Jupiler Pro League, scoring 8 goals and making 7 assists. He hasn’t really been able to make such an impact in the Europa league, getting booked thrice and making just 1 assist in his 4 appearances in the competition.
Looking to 2014: Ezekiel is a very highly rated young striker. If he continues scoring and setting up goals at his current rate, there is sure to be some sort of demand for him in the summer transfer market. One way or another, the player will want to improve on his good form to attract attention from the big boys of Europe.
11) Timo Werner
Who is he?: Werner is a Stuttgart player who is used primarily on the left wing. He is however, very capable of playing on the right and thorugh the middle as well. He’s 17 at the moment, and is one of the youngest on this list.
Back in 2013: At the start of the year, the then 16 year old was a key part of the Stuttgart U19 team. Not only was he a regular starter, but one of their main players too. A hat-trick against the Nurnberg U19’s and an incredible 4 goal haul against FSV Frankfurt’s U19 side highlighted the immense potential this player had, and he was promoted to the first team at the start of this season. The big stage of the Bundesliga hasn’t really frightened the player, and he’s continued churing out excellent performances, scoring 4 goals and notching up 4 assists to be labelled as one of the most exciting youngsters in the Bundesliga, a huge compliment in itself. He scored a crucial brace away at Freiburg to seal a 3-1, and was very good in the 6-2 thrashing of Hoffenheim, setting up 2 goals for team mates.
Internationally too, he’s been a rage. A 4 goal haul against the Estonia U17’s in March convinced many that he needed to play at a higher level. In total, he had 16 goals in 17 appearances for the U17’s, and he recently made his debut for the U19’s. At that level, he’s got 2 goals in 4 appearances.
Looking to 2014: Werner has certainly progressed very quickly, and is a major asset for Stuttgart. He’ll want to keep his feet on the ground and continue the good work that has seen him rise so quickly. A lot of clubs have taken notice of this talent, and his is a name to remember.