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For those of you who haven’t followed us, our Talent Radar features has become hugely popular over the last few months as we continue our website strategy of focusing on the younger players. Keeping that in mind, we have published this mini-series of the 25 Young Players to Watch at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Before you read the article, there are a couple of points about the criteria which will help you understand our approach to this list, the players selected, the order of the ranking etc. Players eligible for this list are those that were 21 and below at the start of the 2013-14 season (considered to be August 1st for convenience). We have taken into consideration their ability, but above all, we have considered what impact they can have on their respective side and the tournament as a whole paying attention to potential playing time as well.
Portugal | Defensive Midfielder | 22
How did he do? The Sporting CP midfielder was the best player in the Portuguese Primeira Liga with an incredible four Player of the Month Awards as proof of this. In a side that improved from 7th to a runners-up spot, William Carvalho was the architect of the rise, taking his position in the defensive midfield zone. With a strong physical presence, Carvalho played a holding midfield role, breaking up play and supplying the attack. His ability to move forward with the ball is an added bonus. He didn’t get enough of a look in for the national team, with just a brief cameo in the play-off vs Sweden.
♦ William Carvalho also featured in our Talent Radar Young Player Awards, being named by the editors in the Talent Radar Team of the Season.
What can we expect from him? Carvalho’s inclusion in the Portuguese side had been thrown into question, but as Tom Kundert told us, it would have been impossible not to include the the young midfielder with a possible strong media back-clash. His role in the World Cup may be limited with Portugal playing to Carvalho’s strengths in a three-man midfield but already possessing a tried & tested trio. It may seem hard for Carvalho to break into Bento’s standard midfield, hence his low ranking in this list, but on talent alone he could have been higher up. Shame that fans will probably not get to see enough of him.
Nigeria | Winger | 21
How did he do? The CSKA Moscow youngster first caught our attention at Confederations Cup a year back with impressive displays at a rather disappointing Nigerian side. After an impressive start to the season scoring 5 goals in the first 7 games, Musa faded out of the side and struggled to find form. An injury in the Russian Cup didn’t help his issue either, finishing the season on the sidelines. Coach Stephen Keshi has always trusted him with the national team and despite lack of form, he is expected to play a key role.
♦ Head this way for a detailed Scout Report on Ahmed Musa.
What can we expect from him? With Keshi’s faith in Musa, the youngster will take up his position on the left-side of attack, as he did at the Confederations Cup. He will be expected to work the flanks with the primary objective of supplying the lone striker up front from the wings, with Emenike most likely playing that role. Personally, Nigeria’s chances don’t look that good, which may overshadow any positive displays from the 21-yr-old who is one of the most experienced players at the top level in the Nigerian side.
Ghana | Forward | 22
How did he do? For most of the season, Majeed Waris was near non-existent with no first-team chances and barely even making the bench. But once he earned a temporary loan move to Valenciennes, his fortunes took a positive turn. The youngster took the league by storm, displaying his immense pace and sheer strength, thus auditioning well for a striker’s role in a physical Ghanaian side.
Waris was named in our Talent Radar Ligue 1 Team of the Season
What can we expect from him? Many fans have speculated the possibility of Waris starting as the lone striker for the African nation. There is a possibility of Asamoah Gyan playing a second strikers’ role, thus allowing Waris to take up the position ahead of him. With a Ghanaian side always looking to spring surprises, one can certainly expect them to make a challenge in what is a difficult group. While we do rate Waris’ ability, the pressure of leading his country may just prove to be telling.
Spain | Midfielder | 22
How did he do? The young Spanish sensation first really caught Talent Radar’s attention at the U-21 European Championship last summer. Since then he has only grown into one of the best young players in the World, with an incredible balance of attacking and defensive contribution. Winning possession and instantly creating an opportunity is the best way to describe the player who helped Atletico to the La Liga trophy and Champions League final. He also made his national team debut only this past season.
♦ Koke was named Talent Radar Player of the Season by the editors at our inaugural Talent Radar Young Player Awards (link above). He also won another individual award and was named in two team awards.
♦ Head this way for a detailed Scout Report on Koke.
♦ Koke was named in our Talent Radar La Liga Young Players Team of the Season
♦ He was also voted as the La Liga Young Player of the Season at our End of Season Awards.
♦ We also did a more brief Tactical Performance Report on him at the U-21 European Championship, before he became the well-known established player that he is now.
What can we expect from him? As is the case for many of Spain’s youngsters, the national team currently possesses on of the best and most talented roster of players that have proved their worth over the last three major competitions. Breaking into this side at the moment is a near impossible task. Vicente Del Bosque is unlikely to change his quality midfield and Koke will be restricted to substitute appearances. A perfect player to have in the side while looking to close the game out and containing any pressure from the opposition.
England | Winger | 19
How did he do? As did Liverpool, Sterling surprised many with his exceptional performances displaying raw bursts of pace and an unexpected show of strength. Playing a key role towards the second half of the season in a front trio, Sterling managed to put in fantastic performances leading Liverpool back into the Champions League and nearly an unlikely title. His improvement in the 2013-14 season gave him an assured spot in Roy Hodgson’s 23 man squad.
♦ Sterling featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-out for in 2014, coming in at #6 in the attackers category
♦ Head this way for a detailed Scout Report on Raheem Sterling.
♦ Sterling featured in our Team of the Season and Readers’ Team of the Season at our inaugural Talent Radar Young Player Awards (link above)
♦ The youngster was also named in our Talent Radar Premier League Team of the Season.
♦ He was also voted as the Premier League Young Player of the Year in our End of Season Awards.
What can we expect? Sterling’s versatility is certainly an asset, with experience out-wide and good displays through the centre. It is likely that Hodgson will use Sterling as an impact player to try and turn a result in England’s favour, but given the lack of expectations for the side, his impact may turn out to be minimal. Nevertheless, with an Italian side happy to sit towards the end of games and a weak Uruguay defence, Sterling might just be a valuable member of the squad.