Neymar and 15 Other Youngsters Who Will Be Looking to Impress in 2012
Footballers are a funny old bunch.
Some have all the talent in the world but ultimately fall short of their expectations as players, whilst others are written off only to move clubs and become superstars.
I don't know whether footballers are prone to making New Year's resolutions, but if they did then perhaps they should wish for a first team opportunity or to find their place at another club.
For some players one of those wishes will become a reality in 2012 and it just might make their careers.
Here we'll take a look at some out the players that may finally make a name for themselves in 2012.
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Neymar might already have 15 games under his belt for the Brazilian national side, but the 19 year old still has doubters.
A lot of talented players get hyped up, only to fade away once they move into a more competitive and advanced league.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have been credited with targeting Neymar but a move is yet to materialize.
Neymar's goal in 2012 would be to prove himself at international level and become a consistent club player.
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Everton midfielder Darron Gibson might have had seven years at Manchester United but he only made 31 appearances for the Red Devils.
He had loan spells at Royal Antwerp and Wolverhampton Wanderers within that time, but David Moyes has plucked him out of the wilderness in order to give him a run of first team football for the toffees.
At the age of 24, Gibson's goal will be to prove he has what it takes for the Premier League.
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Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an 18 year old who signed for the Gunners in August 2011.
Having made just a few appearances since his transfer to Arsenal, The Ox will be looking to get some more pitch time in 2012 in an effort to display the ability that Arsene Wenger saw in him.
At 18, he has time on his side.
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Sunderland striker Connor Wickham is another 18 year old starlet purchased in 2011.
Having signed for the Black Cats in June of last year, Wickham has made 12 appearances so far for Sunderland and will be hoping to become a first team regular under new manager Martin O'Neil.
With one goal to his name since his transfer, Wickham will be hoping 2012 brings some more luck in front of the posts.
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Gaston Ramirez might already have 30-plus games under his belt for Italian Serie A side Bologna, but a lot of people still don't know much about the 21 year old.
With a number of high profile links in the newspapers last year, Ramirez could be showcasing his talents in the Premier League next season.
2012 might see his talent turn into more productive football and increase his stock even more.
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Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling was signed from Premier League rivals Queens Park Rangers in 2010.
His initial fee of £600,000 could rise up to £5 million depending on appearances, which gives you an idea of Liverpool's faith in the youngster.
Sterling is 17 years of age and might just begin to see some appearances in 2012 under the watchful eye of Kenny Dalglish.
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Manchester City have enough money to buy Fort Knox so it's even more sickening that they have such an amazing youth talent in Denis Suarez.
No relation to Liverpool's Luis, Suarez is a midfielder who apparently has similar traits to David Silva.
18 year old Suarez has yet to make an appearance for the Manchester City first team and breaking into the City squad will be tough, but possible.
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Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is deemed to be the long term successor for Paul Scholes but injury has stalled his start to the 2011/12 season.
With five appearances in the first team to his name, Cleverley will be hoping he can put his injury problems behind him and become a United regular.
Has he joined Liverpool, or has he not joined Liverpool? No one is quite sure at the moment whether there is a contract in place or whether Liverpool just took a look at him.
Either way, 2012 will be Bueno's breakout year and he will surely be part of the Mexico national setup one day.
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18 year old midfielder Josh McEachran is a Chelsea player currently on loan at Swansea City in the Premier League.
Whilst McEachran had managed 11 first team appearances for the Blues, he was loaned to Swansea yesterday until the end of the season in the hope that first team football may bring along his development.
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Tottenham defender Steven Caulker has yet to play for the Londoners' first team, but he now finds himself on loan at Swansea City where he has so far looked solid.
2012 will give Caulker a chance to show he can cut it in the Premier League.
Manchester City have loaned out Swedish striker John Guidetti to Dutch side Feyonoord and the youngster has subsequently scored 11 goals in 12 games.
Unfortunately for him, Manchester City have such depth that it would have been difficult for him to get a starting berth ahead of Balotelli, Dzeko or Aguero.
2012 should be prosperous for the exceptionally talented Swede.
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Ross Barkley is a midfielder who plays for Everton FC in the Premier League.
Barkley has made five senior appearances for the Toffees so far, but that is largely due to the horrifc leg break he suffered in 2010.
Look out for Barkley to make an impact this year if Moyes gives him the opportunity.
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Hazard currently plies his trade in the French Ligue 1 division with Lille, but there has been much speculation about him moving this year.
If Hazard does make a transfer, then he will finally be able to display his talent on a higher level to prove he has what it takes to make it to the top.
At 20 years of age he has time on his side, but this could be his breakout year.
Luuk De Jong
21 year old Luuk De Jong is a Dutch striker who broke into the national side in 2011.
He has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool of late, but is still currently playing for Dutch side FC Twente in the Eredivisie.
Look for De Jong to really make himself known this year.
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Mario Balotelli has had a good season for Manchester City in the Premier League so far, but City fans will be hoping 2012 is the year Balotelli breaks out into a true superstar.
Clearly blessed with superb abilities, Balotelli needs to control his temporament and off field antics if he is to ever truly gain legendary status (for footballing reasons, that is).
Already a great player, Balotelli should look to break out into a class player.
So those are my 16 picks for players that will break out—in one way or another—in 2012.
It could be an International breakout, it could be a media breakout or it could just be a senior side breakout. Each player has his own challenges to face.
Some of these players mentioned are clearly at a more advanced stage than others which shows why we get so frustrated with players that never reach their potential.
One thing for sure is that 2012 will showcase some excellent talent, and the Euro 2012 tournament means football will barely leave our screens this summer.
Look for some of these players to put themselves in the shop window if they get the opportunity.
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