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Stuart Reid looks forward to the Rio Olympics and the top 10 young footballers to look out for during the tournament.
Gabriel Jesus // Brazil // 19 – The striker has been attracting plenty of attention from all the top clubs over the summer, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona apparently interested, and his signature finally going to Manchester City and it’s easy to see why. The striker has bagged 25 goals in 66 appearances for Palmeiras and has extraordinary technique, both at dribbling and finishing. Combined with his pace it’s a lethal combination. He can also be used as a winger if needed. A very bright future lies ahead of Gabriel, with Brazilian Ronaldo tipping both Gabriel Jesus and Brazilian team-mate Barbosa for the very top.
Takumi Minamino // Japan // 21 – The winger followed the path of Japanese legends Kagawa and Kiyotake by moving to Europe from Cerezo Osaka, joining Red Bull Salzburg in January 2015. He soon became a starter in his first season in Austria scoring 3 goals in 14 league games (9 starts). But his breakout season is undoubtedly the season just gone where Takumi scored 10 goals in 31 league appearances (22 starts). Takumi plays mostly from the wide left position allowing him to cut in with his deadly right foot. He’s extremely fast, has wonderful technique and a fantastic shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up converted into a more central role (either as a striker or just behind the striker) for Japan, and I wouldn’t be stunned if he followed Naby Keita to Red Bull Leipzig over the summer.
Hirving Lozano // Mexico // 21) – The winger uses his right foot to cut inside from the left wing, with deadly results, notching up 12 goals in 40 appearances for Pachua last season (and 2 in 2 so far this season). He’s very pacy and the ball sticks to his feet like glue. No wonder Europe’s elite are keeping tabs on him, with a move to Manchester United being touted over the summer.
Bruno Fernandes // Portugal // 21 – The Udinese playmaker has been made captain of the Portuguese team so it’s a safe assumption he’ll be starting. He’s very creative, fantastic on the ball and was one of Udinese’s highest rated players over the last season (where he started 24 Serie A games). A very bright future lies ahead of him, although he’ll find it tough to break into the senior Portuguese team, with an abundance of quality attacking midfielders ahead of him.
Giovanni Simeone // Argentina // 21 – The son of Atletico Madrid manager Diego, the striker is very highly rated in Argentina, scoring 12 goals in 29 games during his loans (from River Plate) at Banfield. He was also the top scorer at the 2015 South American Youth championship (which Argentina won, qualifying them for the Olympics) with a very respectable 9 goals. Most likely playing up front with Correa, the duo will look to form a devastating partnership in Rio.
Angel Correa // Argentina // 21 – The Atletico playmaker has not had an easy career, despite being so young, with a heart condition being found during his medical for Atletico. This came after impressing at Argentine club San Lorenzo where he tore the league apart whilst playing just off the striker. He hasn’t had much of a chance at Atletico yet, limited to just 8 league starts last season, but with some players like Vietto leaving the club, there’s a strong chance that this season could be Correa’s.
Lukas Klostermann // Germany // 20 – The RB Leipzig right back will be looking to impress to cement his place in Leipzigs debut Bundesliga team. He had a very solid season in 15-16, notching up 4 assists from right-back. He has bursts of incredible speed, and has a fantastic cross on him. Huge potential and a great chance to show off his talents.
Kwon Chang-Hoon // South Korea // 22 – The diminutive Suwon Bluewings midfielder offers a lot to the Korean midfield, he loves going forward with a good goal to game return (he scored 10 in 35 league games last season and has so far scored 5 in 17 games this season). He’s made 7 appearances for the senior national team (scoring 3 goals) and has apparently had attention from European teams such as PSV and Augsburg recently.
Umar Sadiq // Nigeria // 19 – The young striker has been a regular on the Roma bench since joining last summer from Spezia, although only managed to make 188 minutes of football, scoring 2 goals in the process. He has been dominant in the Italian youth leagues, both for Roma and Spezia scoring regularly. At 6”5 at only 19, he’s been likened to Nwankwo Kanu by many with the Nigerian football federation
Ali Adnan // Iraq // 22 – Described by many as “Asias Gareth Bale”, the 22 year old left-back has already made 40 appearances for the senior national team, scoring 3 goals in the process. He’s just completed his first season in Serie A for Udinese, being a regular in their starting lineup. He’s full of pace and loves to bomb forward and attack. He’s very skillful (meaning he can play on the wing if needed) and has a fantastic free kick on him – see this free kick against Uruguay in the U20 world cup a few years ago and be impressed!
Written by Stuart Reid