Top 5 Youngsters To Watch Out For Next Season: Featuring Zelalem, De Bruyne & Zaha
With the footballing pre-season in full swing and the news season fast approaching, Tom Gatehouse identifies the Top 5 talents to watch out for next season.
With the footballing pre-season in full swing, Tom Gatehouse identifies the Top 5 talents to watch out for in the new Premier League season.
So here we are, right slap-bang in the middle of pre-season. For those not privy to the hustle and bustle of weekly Premier League football, it is a chance to witness some of the biggest stars in their own back yard, where ever that may be. Being situated in Hong Kong, I have witnessed the furore surrounding the on-going ‘Barclays Asia Trophy’ competition, and it has been quite a sight. Fans have appeared in their thousands, battling the rain, brandishing all sorts of bizarre pieces of merchandise, all looking to catch a glimpse of their favourite players.
The sprinklings of young, up-and-coming talent in the Premier League teams are brilliant bonuses in pre-season games. Glimpses into the future maybe; certainly food for thought, as the Premier League elite put their men through their paces, braving the humidity, hype, and growing expectation in the face of a beckoning new season.
Here is a list of the Top 5 prospects for the new Premier League season; players that will surely not be playing on loan in lesser divisions for experience, but on the biggest stage in the biggest league:
5. Andreas Cornelius, Cardiff City, Striker
So far, newly-promoted Cardiff have made only one signing in this summer’s transfer window; that of Danish striker, Andreas Cornelius from Danish champions, FC Copenhagen. The 20-year-old is a fantastic prospect, and the Welsh side had to smash their own, and the Danish league’s transfer record to secure the player, to the tune of £8m.
Although he is yet to make his debut for the Bluebirds, his first appearance is hotly anticipated by fans of the club and neutrals alike. Having played only one full season for the Danish side, he managed a whopping 20 goals in all competitions. His success also translated into merchandise sales for the club, as his name graced 40% of all named shirts for the year.
He is also a Danish national team regular, and scored his first goal for his country in March this year, in a World Cup 2014 qualifying match against the Czech Republic. Cardiff’s hopes of surviving the drop will surely increase markedly with the young man in their ranks.
4. Gedion Zelalem, Arsenal, Midfield
The youngest man on this list (trust him to be an Arsenal player), the 16-year-old has recently hit the headlines due to a quite exceptional display in the Gunner’s friendly against Arsene Wenger’s former club, Nagoya Grampus.
The German youth international played a sumptuous ball over to Theo Walcott for Arsenal’s third and final goal on the night, and his all-round display has given rise to comparisons to Cesc Fabregas, mainly due to his slight frame, and mature performance despite his age.
After the game, Jack Wilshere was one of the first to praise Zelalem, touting him as a future Gunners star,
“I’ve spoken about them before, especially Zelalem. He sees passes that not a lot of players can. You think: ‘what’s he doing?’ and suddenly someone is in. He’s only 16 and he’s an exciting player.
“It won’t be long before he’s ready. He’s so comfortable on the ball. Even in training he’s a nightmare to play against. He keeps the ball away from you and shields it. He’s not very big but he’s strong.
“He drifts in and out of players. He’s quite a strong lad and technically he’s right up there. He can use his left and right and sees so many passes. He’s a good one for the future.” [Source: Mirror]
There are rumours that the youngster may be fast-tracked into the Arsenal first team for next season, much like his Spanish predecessor. Keep an eye out for him, as his star will surely continue to rise, and fast!
3. Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United, Winger
While not a ‘new’ prospect to be scouted, the anticipation around the player continues to grow, both in Manchester, and at his old club, Crystal Palace. The 20-year-old, who has been a shining light in what has been an underwhelming pre-season adventure so far for the Red Devils, has been linked with a loan move back to Palace, a move that may materialise in the January transfer window.
Zaha wowed the Championship last season, firing Palace up to the Premier League, and dazzling audiences across the country with his direct, swashbuckling style of play. Such is the hope United have placed on the English youngster that he has been assigned to club legend, Ryan Giggs’ care. He has been given a locker adjacent to the Welsh maestro, and has been shadowing the 39-year-old during the club’s tour of Asia.
As he continues to grow as a player, so will United’s excitement over him. Palace may reap the rewards for having close ties still with Zaha, and it is highly likely that we will see him turn out in the Premier League next season, for at least one of the aforementioned clubs.
2. Gerard Deulofeu, Everton, Winger
Looks like Everton have finally snapped up Gerrard, arguably the most unobtainable player for the club! But no, they have indeed signed a Gerard, but this is Spaniard, Gerard Deulofeu, Barcelona Academy graduate, and flying wing-wizard extraordinaire.
It is rare for such a transfer scramble amongst top-flight clubs, including the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Valencia, for the loan of a 19-year-old, with only limited first team experience.
But Everton have popped up, and snared the starlet, and they may have a serious game-changer on their hands. The Spaniard starred in the Under-19 European Championships in Estonia last year, being awarded the ‘Golden Player’ for the tournament.
Having seen his potential game time severely threatened by the arrival of £47m man, Neymar, Deulofeu has seen fit to continue his top-flight education in England.
Likened in Spain to a certain Leo Messi, he has been handed the number 10 shirt by Roberto Martinez, who will surely hand the youngster plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his obvious talents. He will make Everton a much more dangerous unit, especially on the counter. Check out the video below for examples of his talent. Premier League defences beware!
1. Kevin De Bruyne, Chelsea, Midfield/Winger
Despite looking incomprehensibly young, the Belgian is the oldest player on the list, coming in at 22-years-old. This however, does not make him any less of a prospect as his has been a name that has been shrouded in mystery ever since his ‘move’ to Stamford Bridge in January 2012 from Genk for £7m.
After signing for the Blues, he was immediately loaned out to German club, Werder Bremen to continue his footballing education, and there he notched up ten goals and nine assists in 33 appearances, as well as picking up seven man-of-the-match awards. Now, De Bruyne has returned to finally take his place amongst the growing Belgian footballing ‘community’ at Chelsea.
Here is a player who can seriously challenge the attacking midfield monopoly currently held by Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, and Oscar; his pre-season performances have certainly shown it. Roaming the pitch with effortless confidence, De Bruyne has put opponents to the sword, especially shining in the game against the Malaysia XI. His early assist and stunning goal set the Blues on their way to a 4-1 victory on Sunday. Unfortunately, his tour has been cut short due to a knee injury suffered in the same game. His importance to the Blues was highlighted by boss, Jose Mourinho after the game, who said,
“He’s showing to me in training that he is going to be a key man on the pitch.” [source: BBC]
A player of deft touch and control, his footballing brain will be a key asset for the young man if he is to succeed at the Bridge. With shades of Gareth Bale, due to his endless running ability, devil-may-care wing play, and eye for the spectacular, his addition to the Chelsea squad this year could turn out to be a masterstroke by Mourinho.
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/ 2 hours ago