London 2012: Neymar and 10 Other Soccer Stars to Watch in the Olympics
With 79 days left until opening day of the Summer Olympics in London, teams are getting closer to calling on players.
According to the rules, the men’s competition will be an under-23 event. However, each country can select up to three players over 23.
There are no age restrictions on the women’s event.
The groups are set.
Group A: Great Britain, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay
Group B: Mexico, South Korea, Gabon, Switzerland
Group C: Brazil, Egypt, Belarus, New Zealand
Group D: Spain, Japan, Honduras, Morocco
Group E: Great Britain, New Zealand, Cameroon, Brazil
Group F: Japan, Canada, Sweden, South Africa
Group G: USA, France, Colombia, Korea DPR
The Olympic Games for younger football players are their chance to get noticed by managers of top team in Europe.
This is the time to shine for Neymar and 10 more football players.
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, or simply Neymar, is a 20-year-old forward playing for Santos FC in Brazil.
Neymar is Pele’s favorite. He even says Neymar is better than Argentina’s great Lionel Messi. While this is a personal opinion, the fact is that European grands Barcelona and Real Madrid already want Neymar.
The Catalans seem the likely team to sign the Brazilian, but they will wait until 2014, when his contract expires.
Neymar scored in his debut game against United States in August 2010. He caught everyone’s attention when he scored twice against Scotland at Emirates Stadium during a friendly game in March 2011.
It will be entertaining to see Neymar’s innovative style with the ball at his feet. He is a specialist at finishing and has faultless technique. On top of that, he is an intelligent forward who can play wide and in the middle of the pitch.
Ander Herrera Aguera is a 22-year-old midfielder from Spain playing for Athletic Bilbao. Starting in 32 games this season, he is a skillful playmaker.
Herrera picks up a pass and easily finds a teammate to pass to. He has shown creativity in central midfield as well.
If he stays healthy and lives up to the hype around him as one of the most exciting new midfielders in Spain, Manchester giants City and United will probably formally enter into a race to obtain him.
The Daily Mail cites reports that the Citizens and the Red Devils are ready to pay about $26 million this summer for Herrera.
Sebastian Coates is a 21-year-old centre-back from Uruguay who came to Liverpool last August for about $11 million.
Coates is a smart player who has a good sense of where to position himself. He is quick in analyzing the game while on the pitch. Yet he remains calm and, therefore, is able to make good choices as to what to do with the ball in his feet.
In the 2010-2011 season in Uruguay, Coates as a Nacional defender, was both the Uruguayan Championship Player of the Season and Defender of the Season. He was also the 2011 Copa America Young Player of the Tournament as Uruguay won the tournament.
Gaston Ramirez is a 21-year-old Bologna midfielder. He may be playing for Liverpool next season.
Reports link him to the Reds, or a “very important team from the Premier League,” that has offered $26.5 million for Ramirez.
He has scored eight goals in 32 games for the Italian team.
Ramirez is tall and strong and his skill to know to run with the ball gives him advantage when he needs extra space to run through the other team’s opposition players who try to master the highly-regarded in Serie A midfield area.
He has the potential to impress more teams than Liverpool, or whoever the mysterious bidder is, but Ramirez needs to avoid unnecessary bookings like the one against Juventus for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Takashi Usami is a 20-year-old Japanese midfielder playing for Bayern Munich. He joined the Bavarians last year from Gamba Osaka.
Usami was the youngest player to have played and scored for Gamba Osaka in the Japanese national football league.
Usami is a midfielder, but he can adapt to other positions up the pitch with his great footwork. He is fast, which always helps, but he manages to keep the ball and stay in control. He can also shoot with both feet equally well.
If Usami stays consistent and impresses in London, the Bavarians, to whom he is loaned, won’t let the loan deal expire this summer.
Cristian Tello is a 20-year-old Argentine striker for Barcelona.
Tello made his senior debut in the 2009-2010 season, during which he played four games with the B side and then with the club being relegated from the third division.
He has played in 14 games in La Liga, scoring three goals. He played three matches in the UEFA Champions League and scored two goals—both in his debut against Bayer Leverkusen.
According to the Mirror, Liverpool face competition from Atletico Madrid and Valencia in their attempts to sign Tello.
Ahmed Hegazy is a 21-year-old defender from Egypt playing for Ismaily SC in the Egyptian Premier League.
Goal.com reports that Serie A Fiorentina can buy Hegazy for nearly $2 million. There was a similar deal in December 2011, but it never came through.
Hegazi has played for Egypt at a youth level in two World Cups.
Barry Bannan is a 22-year-old midfielder playing for FC Aston Villa and his national team of Scotland.
He was loaned in the second half of the last season to Leeds United after making 19 appearances for Villa in all competitions.
He was back with Villa this season, playing 27 games in the Premier League but often coming in as a substitute.
Bannan can contribute to the team with his creativity and enthusiasm. On the more technical side, he is a great passer and is able to position himself in the right place.
Aaron Ramsey is a 21-year-old midfielder for FC Arsenal. He is also the captain of the Wales national team.
He was regarded a potential new hero for Arsenal after the end of the previous season, but didn’t live up to the expectations. The pressure seemed to be too much
He has had inconsistent season with the Gunners playing in just 33 games this season, often being substituted or coming in at the end of game, scoring just two goals. Maybe he was just tired because he was playing a lot more than usual due to the injuries on the team.
He will come back, just like he did after he broke his leg at the Britannia Stadium two years ago.
Ryo Miyaichi is a 19-year-old midfielder for Arsenal, but he's playing with the Bolton Wanderers on a loan.
His most impressive quality is his quickness. He runs 100 metres (109.36 yards) in 10.6 seconds. He is also an aggressive player who is not afraid to take the opponent team’s defenders on.
It would be interesting to observe how these two will look when Miyaichi is on the pitch playing for his national team.
Arsenal will be watching to see whether Miyaichi will be a start player for them next season.
Christina Rampone is not under 23, but for the women’s event that doesn’t matter.
Rampone is the 36-year-old defender and captain of the U.S. women’s team. The 2012 London Summer Olympics could very well be her last. That alone is a good reason to watch her.
She has been a real asset and a living legend for women’s soccer in the U.S., helping the team during the last four World Cups and Olympic medals.
The U.S. Women’s National Team is the reigning Olympic champion.