25 Young Players to Watch in the Champions League Next Season
Their will be some top young talent on display in the Champions League next season.
Some of these players may only get a game or two and some may see loads of playing time during their respective clubs' campaigns but fans should definitely try to keep an eye on them.
Players on this list are either 21 years old or younger.
Here are 25 young players to watch in the Champions League next season.
Jack Wilshere: Arsenal
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Jack Wilshere is still only 20 but he is already a key player for Arsenal.
He missed the entire 2011/12 season due to injury and will be looking to make an impact just as he did in his full debut season two years ago.
Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain: Arsenal
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks set to follow in the footsteps of his fellow English and Arsenal teammate Jack Wilshere by becoming an integral part of the team at a young age.
The young attacker's impressive debut season earned him a spot in England's Euro 2012 team and he featured in all but one of the team's games.
At only 18 years of age, Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly one to watch for the future.
Mario Gotze: Borussia Dortmund
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Mario Gotze will get his second crack at Champions League football next season and will be hoping that he and his side can produce better results.
Gotze is one of the most highly regarded talents in world football and it is easy to see why. The young German's playmaking talents and the fact that he is an integral part of two-time Bundesliga champions Dortmund make him an exciting player.
David Alaba: Bayern Munich
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David Alaba was a constant fixture in the Bayern Munich side that made it to the Champions League final last season. Alaba missed the final through suspension and will hoping to avoid that fate should his team end up in that position again.
He featured both at left-back and in midfield throughout the tournament and was impressive wherever he played. Look for Alaba to again put on some wonderful performances for his side next season.
Nelson Oliviera: Benfica
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Benfica's young forward Nelson Oliveira could be the man his country needs to lead the line for years to come.
The youngster played a substitute role for Portugal in Euro 2012 and, while he did not make a telling impact in terms of goals and assists, his assured play in possession made all his outings good.
Benfica almost made it to the semifinal of the tournament last year and will look to make a strong run again next season.
Julian Draxler: Schalke
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Julian Draxler recently completed his high-school education though he still managed over 30 appearances for his club last season.
The 18-year-old has considerable experience despite his young and will again feature heavily in the Schalke setup.
Draxler is good on the ball and, if this goal says anything, has a powerful shot as well.
Christian Eriksen: Ajax
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Christian Eriksen has been strongly linked to Manchester United and, while he wasn't at his best during Euro 2012, Eriksen already has played plenty of games in Europe at the club level but hasn't been as effective there as he has been in the Eredevisie.
He'll be counted upon even more at Ajax next season or if he goes to Manchester United he could still make an impact in midfield.
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Isco played a major role in Malaga's succesful bid for a Champions League spot last season.
While the side is currently in a playoff position, with Isco himself and other players such as Santi Cazorla and an experienced player such as Jeremy Toulalan, Malaga could very well be playing the Champions League proper come September.
The 19 year-old's playmaking skills will be on display for Spain during the Olympics.
Photo courtesy of www.as.com
Juanmi is another Spanish youngster in the Malaga setup who has a bright future. He was part of the recent U-19 European championship squad.
He had more appearances for Malaga in 2010/11 than he did last season but should see some game time should Malaga make it into the group stages.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen: Borussia Monchengladbach
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Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is one of the brightest young goalkeepers in the game. The Borussia Monchengladbach 'keeper was one of the main reasons the club gained a Champions League spot.
He recorded 15 clean sheets which is second only to Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer and his club's goals against average of 24 was second only to Bayern Munich's and better than league winner's Borussia Dortmund.
Granit Xhaka: Borussia Monchengladbach
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Granit Xhaka is, along with Xherdan Shaqiri and others, one of Switzerland's great new talents.
The former Basel midfielder will be playing alongside Mar-Andre Ter Stegen at Borussia Monchengladbach and will try and play his part in helping the team get past the last qualifying round.
Xherdan Shaqiri: Bayern Munich
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After impressing with Basel for the last few seasons, Xherdan Shaqiri made a big step up in quality to play for German giants Bayern Munich.
The young winger will have plenty of competition but is sure to be an exciting option in place of either Franck Ribery or Arjen Robben.
Jano Ananidze: Spartak Moscow
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The baby-faced Georgian attacking midfielder has been part of the Spartak Moscow senior setup since 2009.
At the age of 19, Jano Ananidze has some pretty good experience and will look to get strut his stuff in the Champions League by helping his club get past the last qualifying round. Should that happen, fans will be able to see some great skill from the youngster.
Jores Okore: FC Nordsjælland
Jores Okore is only 19 years of age but the defender has become a vital part of Danish side FC Nordsjælland. For more on this youngster check out this Sky Sports Scout report.
Okore's side is an automatic qualifier so all he can do is wait and see which top players he will be playing against next season.
The youngster was rumoured to be of interest to a number of top English sides earlier this year.
Stephan El Shaarawy: AC Milan
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Stephan El Shaarawy is likely to play an even bigger role for AC Milan in all competitions next after a solid second half to the season and thanks to the imminent departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The young Italian attacker has already made his Champions League debut and played against teams like Arsenal and Barcelona.
Raphael Varane: Real Madrid
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It is a bit unusual that Real Madrid has a bright young talent who should get decent playing time given the club's recent transfer history.
Raphael Varane ended up with 15 appearances for the club last season with four of those coming in the Champions League.
The young French defender should replicate that number of appearances next season as he was assured in his play when selected.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos: Schalke
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Whether it is with Schalke or AC Milan, Kyriakos Papadopoulos will be playing in the Champions League next season.
The central defender has plenty of potential and will be the cornerstone of the Greek defense in coming years. He already has experience in the competition and was part of the side that went to the semifinals of the competition a few years ago.
Phil Jones: Manchester United
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Phil Jones took the step up to Manchester United in his stride and had some very good performances for the club last season.
The English youngster filled a number of roles for his club last season and had good moments in all.
He got introduced to both the Champions League and Europa League in the process but he, like the rest of his teammates, will be looking for a much longer stay in Europe's premier club competition next season.
David De Gea: Manchester United
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David De Gea just makes the cut on this list as he is still 21. The Spanish goalkeeper had an up-and-down debut season for the Red Devils and will be looking to make a better, more consistent impression this time around.
The talent the young goalkeeper has is quite clear and he could become the next great Spanish goalkeeper.
Eden Hazard: Chelsea
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Eden Hazard will certainly have many eyes on him next season thanks to his move to Champions League holders Chelsea.
The Belgian attacker was one of the most sought-after players in the game and fans will look to see how he lives up to his major deal with the London club.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will be expecting his club to go far in the competition again and 21-year-old Hazard will be expected to play his part in that.
Mario Balotelli: Manchester City
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Coming off a solid Euro 2012 campaign and an extremely impressive performance against Germany in the semifinal, fans will be curious to see where Mario Balotelli shines next.
The 21-year-old Manchester City star played his part in the team's title win last season and while they will certainly be looking to defend the title, he and his teammates will put forth a lot of effort in the Champions League.
Mateo Kovacic: Dinamo Zagreb
Fans can catch young Croatian talent Mateo Kovacic in the act from as early as the second round of qualifying.
The attacking midfielder played his part as the team reached the group stages of the Champions League last season but will be hoping for much better this time around as the side failed to gain a single point while in the competition.
James Rodriquez: Porto
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Talented Colombian winger James Rodriquez has been in the Porto setup since 2010. The young winger has been impressive for the Portuguese side and recently committed himself to the club after interest from Manchester United.
Rodriquez may have bigger burden offensively next season if, or when, fellow attacker Hulk leaves and it will be interesting to see how he reacts should that occur.
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Danilo joined Porto during the January transfer window and, while he may not be as hyped as formed Santos teammates Neymar and Ganso, he was a good signing for the club.
Porto was certainly a good move for the player as with his ability to play either right-back or in midfield he is likely to see a good amount of playing time.
It will be interesting to see how one of Santos' former young stars fares against the European elite.
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Rodrigo had a solid debut season with Benfica as he racked up 13 goals in 29 games for the club. He featured in virtually all of Benfica's Champions League games on their way to the quarterfinal.
He will certainly feature again in the competition for the side and will look to improve upon his tally of one goal in nine games.