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For those of you who haven’t followed us, our Talent Radar feature has become hugely popular over the last few months as we continue our website’s 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.
10) BRUNO MARTINS INDI
Netherlands | Centre-Back | 22
How did he do? Martins Indi continued his place in Feyernoord’s first team, and played nearly every game except when he missd a month’s action through suspension after having been found guilty by the federation of dangerous play for this incident. A solid centre-back, the defenders’ reputation has only been growing. It’s hard to imagine he’s only 22, with consistent experience at the top level. His strength is his biggest asset, and this showed in Feyernoord’s successful season, qualifying for the Champions League.
What can we expect from him? Louis Van Gaal has been experimenting with a three-man back line and may look to play this at the World Cup as well. Personally this remains a favourite of mine and an effective tactic to implement. Martins Indi will take his place alongside De Vrij & Vlaar. He’ll come in on the left side of defence and thus has a difficult task of effectively shielding his wing-back while maintaining compactness narrowly as well. With Spanish and Chilean attacks to play with, it’s no easy task for him.
9) SERGE AURIER
Ivory Coast | Right-Back | 21
How did he do? The Ivorian was in exceptional form for Toulouse, which also saw him captain the side. His versatility was his biggest asset as he easily transitioned from a right-back to arguably a right-winger in the 3-5-2 employed by the French side. He got among the goals as well, and was surprisingly often seen in the box. This experience as a defender and an attacker will do wonders for the 21-yr-old, both at the World Cup and beyond.
What can we expect from him? Though versatile, Aurier is certain to take his spot at right back in the Ivory Coast set-up. In a fairly open group, as opposed to the difficult ones the last two editions, the African giants will be looking to progress from the group at the very least. Aurier fits in perfectly into the physical and balanced Ivorian side. Expect some good displays from him going forward, as we hope he doesn’t leave it too short at the back having played as a wing-back.
8) JOSIP DRMIC
Switzerland | Forward | 21
How did he do? Josip Drmic was one of the greatest stories of the Bundesliga season, carrying the Nurnberg side on his young shoulders as they tried to fight off relegation but eventually failed. His 17 goals left a mark on viewers and prompted a lot of rumours before a move to Leverkusen was finalised. He’s also currently on a nice run of form for the national team, three goals in his last three appearances.
Josip Drmic was named Talent Radar Forward of the Season (Editors’ choice) in our inaugural Talent Radar Young Player Awards, also making the Team of the Season
The striker was also named in our Talent Radar Bundesliga Team of the Season
What can we expect from him? The youngster is the proper definition of an out-an-out striker. Regularly playing in and around the box, he seems to come alive as he gets closer to the goal. Switzerland have been tipped to surprise many by us as the real darkhorses of the tournament. Drmic will lead the line in a youthful Swiss side, playing off the shoulders of the last defender. Expect atleast a goal or two in proper poaching style.
7) ROMELU LUKAKU
Belgium | Striker | 21
How did he do? After failing to break in at Chelsea, Lukaku moved to Merseyside with Everton on loan and impressed again, as he did the previous season with West Brom. In 36 games for Everton, Lukaku either scored or set-up 24, showing his influence. He is the best example of a complete striker. Strength, speed, finishing, he ticks all the right boxes and helped Everton to an impressive finish, narrowly missing out on Champions League football.
What can we expect from him? Belgium were being touted as dark-horses, but with everyone doing so, the pressure that comes with it has defeated the purpose of the term. There are now expectations with Marc Wilmots men, and a lot of it rests on Lukaku’s young shoulders. He’ll be the man they look to for goals, as he takes his places up front as the lone striker with now a clearer path as Benteke misses out with injury.
Brazil | Attacking Midfielder | 22
How did he do? Chelsea’s attacking midfielder had a good season overall at the Bridge. It began very brightly, as he scored the opening goal of the season, and eventually displaced Mata as the number 1o at the club. Some excellent performances in this position helped him cement his place in Mourinho’s team. Aside from his obvious attacking potency, Oscar also brings an impressive work ethic to the table, and this is what endears him to most Chelsea fans. However, the end of the season saw Mourinho leave him out a bit more frequently, as he sometimes sought extra defensive cover, and sometimes a different combination. However, one cannot say that Oscar has had a bad season by any means, and he comes into the World Cup in good form.
What can we expect from him? If Mourinho is to be believed, Oscar’s end season form was a product of fatigue and distraction due to the World Cup. With a short break after the club season, Oscar should be raring to go now, for a tournament that he is apparently excited about. He carries the weight of a lot of expectations, not least because of the number he wears on his back, but Oscar is a player who is tactically aware, hard working, and very skilled. Don’t be surprised to see him ensuring a steady flow of ammunition to the likes of Neymar and Fred, as he will work hard to break down the opposition defence. He has a pretty decent shot as well, and wont be shy to putting it to use when it is needed.
You can find the players who are ranked 25-21 here.
You can find the players who are ranked 20-16 here.
You can find the players who are ranked 15-11 here
You can find the players who are ranked 5-1 here