10 Up-and-Coming World Football Stars You Must Know
With many of our beloved and legendary players aging, clubs and national teams are asking themselves, "Who will replace John Terry/Didier Drogba/Xavi in the future?" Here is a comprehensive list of 10 youngsters that have successfully broken through this season and gained acclaim for their performance, skill, and mentality.
They are giving fans and club owners around the world hope and security for the future of their clubs and the hope that world football is nowhere near its peak.
1. Gregory Van Der Wiel
The Dutch international currently plays for Ajax, and at the age of 24 has appeared 127 times for his club, on top of 25 appearences for the Netherlands national football team.
van der Wiel has been Bert Van Marwijk's first choice right-back for the national team for this summer's Euro 2012. It's not surprising that the defender has Chelsea as admirers.
2. Cristian Tello
The breakthrough striker of the Barcelona B team has become a beloved part of the first team within one season. His presence is felt all over Camp Nou as fans chant "Tello, Tello," whenever his feet touch the ball.
Although his performance in vital matches, such as El Clasico and Barcelona's Champions League semifinal against Chelsea were disappointing, he has still managed to score seven goals in 22 appearances this season.
3. Isaac Cuenca
Josep Guardiola put a lot of faith in Isaac Cuenca this season and it payed off well.
The Barcelona youth product scored seven goals and made three assists this season while playing in 22 matches. These statistics solidify the winger's place in next season's first team, and reassures Barca's future.
4. Alan Kardec
The 23-year-old Brazilian boasts two of the greatest teams in world football as his home. Alan Kardec currently plays for Santos on loan from Portuguese outfit Benfica.
Playing alongside the likes of Neymar, Elano and Ganso, he has already appeared in 27 matches for the club. Expect the forward to burst into the Brazilian national team when the country hosts the World Cup in 2014.
5. Junior Hoilett
The Brampton, Ontario-born winger was scouted by England's Blackburn Rovers at the mere age of 11. The 21-year-old Canadian was named as one FIFA's 13 Players to Watch in 2012.
Blackburn face the loss of the winger to Arsenal this summer. Considering Arsenal have yet to extend Theo Walcott's contract, expect Wenger to eye Hoilett as a worthy replacement.
6. Jack Rodwell
The Great Britain squad member for this summer's Olympics has become covered extensively by the media this season as Everton boss David Moyes urged the national team to not name the player in the squad.
The circumstances behind such an outcry from the manager is because the defensive midfielder has appeared in 14 games for the club this season and two national team friendlies, which led to a hamstring injury which he is still recovering from.
The 21-year-old has been on high demand in 2012 and expect him to be a more prominent face in English football in the upcoming years. He is a clear replacement for John Terry.
7. Ahmed Musa
The 19-year-old Nigerian broke into the Nigerian international squad at only the age of 17, appearing in the World Cup as the team's second striker. Currently playing for Russian club CSKA Moscow, his talent has been admired by many, even earning an endorsement from Nike.
Expect the young forward to be a prominent part of the Nigerian team if the nation makes it to the 2014 World Cup.
8. Eljero Elia
Liverpool, Newcastle and Benfica are battling to sign the wantaway Eljero Elia this summer.
The winger becoming one of the hottest targets this summer. The Dutch winger has appeared in only four matches for Juventus this season and is expecting to leave to better prospects this summer as he wants to regain a place in his national team.
Liverpool and Newcastle lead the race in signing the youngster, so rest assured he will become a highlight in next season's English Premier League.
9. Hatem Ben Arfa
The 25-year-old French winger was instrumental in Newcastle's challenge for Champions League qualification this season. He appeared in 26 matches and scored five goals. His goals have been described as "magical" and "a moment of brilliance" by English tabloids.
His impressive skills has promoted him to the first team in the national squad for the Euros, with him being preferred over the beloved Yoann Gourcuff. Expect millions to watch Ben Arfa in anticipation for more magic in the upcoming tournament.
10. Jan Vertonghen
Jan Vertonghen has become one of the hottest targets of the transfer window this season with Arsenal and Tottenham chasing after the Belgian defender.
Although he has stated he intends to join Tottenham, after Spurs failed to qualify for the Champions League next season we may see him change his mind and revert back to Arsenal as his next destination. Whoever ends up with the Ajax skipper, Vertonghen will surely be a player to watch next season.