The thing about potential is that it never disappoints: Potential allows for an imagined future full of glory. More often than not, potential is slathered in hype. The problem is that hype has a magnetic effect on expectations, whether it covers real talent or not.
Then again, history is littered with young players who did not live up to the hype, not because they didn't have the talent, but because they couldn't make the transition from teenage wunderkind to full-blown star.
The children—and by that I mean teenagers—are our future. Even now, some are already contributing at the top levels of the game.
This year's batch of teenage talent features players from around the world. All of them have high expectations. Not all of them will live up to them.
Here are the 15 hottest teenage talents in the world, accounting for both hype and potential, in no particular order.
Probably the most-wanted teenage footballer on the planet,19-year-old Goetze is a talented attacking midfielder already making his mark for the Bundesliga leaders, Borussia Dortmund.
England youth-international Chamberlain made his debut for Arsenal just days after his 18th birthday, and appears ready to contribute on a regular basis for Arsene Wenger on the wing.
Property of Arsenal but on-loan to Bolton, 19-year-old Miyaichi has impressed with his passing ability from the wing during his stay with the Wanderers.
A fixture for Athletic Bilbao at 19, Muniain made his senior national-team debut for Spain last month against Venezuela.
Brazilian teenager Lucas doesn't get the headlines of his slightly older compatriot Neymar, but that's not because the 19-year old-lacks talent. He's got all the traditional attributes of a Brazilian attacker, in spades.
The tumultuous season at Chelsea hasn't helped 18-year-old Lukaku get on the field, but the young Belgian is packed with talent, strength and speed.
Pogba just turned 19, and while he hasn't featured much for Manchester United, he looks to be on the verge of a breakout. That might not ultimately happen at United, but the young Frenchman looks certain to star for someone in the very near future.
Liverpool winger Sterling, 17, has yet to appear for the Reds' first team, a fact that might push him elsewhere. The suitors are lining up as we speak, a testament to the England youth-international's obvious abilities.
Purchased by Arsenal from Costa Rican side Saprissa last summer, 19-year-old Campbell is out on loan to Lorient in France. Campbell is a speedy striker with good technique.
Schalke's wunderkind Draxler doesn't get the attention of Dortmund's Goetze, but has enough talent that he could end up being better than the Dortmund star. 18-year-old Draxler is growing up at Schalke, but will certainly have plenty of suitors in the summer.
19-year-old El Shaarawy is on the rise at Serie A leaders AC Milan, where his manager believes him to be a future star. An Italian U-21 international, El Shaarawy made his first start for the Rossoneri on March 1st.
Maybe it's the one name (his full name is Jesé Rodríguez), but this 19-year-old Spanish winger—who is often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, naturally—has enough technique and flair to make him an obvious choice for future Merengues star.
Son Heung-Min is Hamburg's 19-year-old, versatile, attacking talent from South Korea. Two-footed, fleet and able to play anywhere in the forward line, Son has three goals in 20 appearances in 2011-12.
Coutinho made the move from Vasco de Gama to Inter in 2009. Now 19, the Brazilian midfielder is on loan at Espanyol, where playing time is accelerating his development.
Mexican striker Carlos Fierro made a name for himself at last year's U-17 World Cup, where he won the Bronze Ball as the tournament's third best player. Like Javier Hernandez, Fierro comes from the vaunted Chivas Guadalajara academy.