World Football's 25 Most Underrated Stars Poised to Break out Next Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 18, 2012

World Football's 25 Most Underrated Stars Poised to Break out Next Season

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    We all know about the players like Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta and Neymar that exist in world football and the international media makes sure we know who they are.

    But not much attention gets paid to certain star players who are making a mark with their club.

    These 25 underrated players may not deserve the same amount of attention that the stars of world football are getting, but they do deserve much more attention then they are getting.

Iker Muniain

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    Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain had a great run with the La Liga club last season by placing second in the Europa League and Copa del Rey.

    However, Muniain is greatly overshadowed by his own teammate, Fernando Llorente, and deservedly so as Llorente scored 30 goals in all competitions last season.

    At only 19, Muniain is a great talent himself and could leave Bilbao in the near future for higher quality football.

Theodor Gebre Selassie

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    Many fans of world football got to see the talent of Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie at Euro 2012.

    Now, fans will get to see more of the 25-year-old defender as he already signed with Werder Bremen this summer and will join the Bundesliga club after plenty of time in the Czech league.

    Last season, Gebre Selassie led Slovan Liberec to the Czech league title and Bremen fans are hoping that the addition of the fullback will help the club improve on their ninth-place finish last season.


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    If you have not been introduced to Isco, then the 2012-13 season will be the perfect time to familiarize yourself with the 20-year-old Spaniard.

    Isco was part of the Malaga squad that finished fourth in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League last season.

    Isco will be a part of the Spanish Olympic team in London before starting his season with Malaga.

    One thing is for sure, Isco will break out to become one of Spain's top young players next season and he will have the European exposure to help him do so as well.

Kevin Strootman

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    Kevin Strootman is a familiar name amongst Dutch fans but he has not made his impression on the world fans just yet.

    The PSV midfielder was part of the Euro 2012 squad for Holland but never got on to the pitch to the dismay of many Oranje fans.

    Strootman does see plenty of time on the pitch for his club as he made 30 appearances in his first season at PSV in 2011-12.

    With Holland looking for a new direction with the national team, Strootman could be a fixture in the Dutch lineup by the time the 2014 World Cup comes around.

Fabrizio Miccoli

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    Former Juventus outcast Fabrizio Miccoli has been having quite the career at Palermo since 2007 and not many people have noticed.

    Last season, Miccoli netted 17 goals for Palermo despite the 16th-place finish the club posted.

    However, the 33-year-old's goal total from 2011-12 was five short of his career high which he posted during the 2009-10 season.


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    No, the Washington Wizards power forward did not make a quick career change.

    This is another Brazilian named Nene, who had a stellar season for Paris St-Germain last season.

    The 30-year-old journeyman revived his career at the Parc des Princes and scored 21 goals for PSG last season, which tied him with Olivier Giroud for the Ligue 1 lead.

    Nene may not be in the French capital much longer, not because of his play but because of the big-money signings that the owners of PSG keep bringing in.

Terrence Boyd

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    Borussia Dortmund has produced some quality talent over the past few seasons in their back-to-back Bundesliga championship campaigns but one star young player never made it into the starting 11, at least for the first team.

    That player is 21-year-old American Terrence Boyd, who made a move this summer to Rapid Vienna to earn consistent playing time.

    Boyd has just started to make his way into the United States national team, already with four caps, and will look to stay in the picture by playing in Austria.

    The move to Rapid Vienna will also be the first time Boyd will be playing first-team football; he previously played for the reserves at Dortmund and Hertha Berlin.

John Guidetti

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    If there is one Manchester City youngster that can break into the star-studded starting 11, it is John Guidetti.

    Guidetti impressed on loan last season at Feyenoord as he scored 20 goals in 23 Eredivisie games, a performance that almost got him named to the Sweden Euro 2012 squad.

    No one is sure where Guidetti will play this season but wherever it is, count on the Swede to be scoring goals.

Stefan Kiessling

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    With the amount of depth in the German national team, it is easy to forget about certain players.

    Bayer Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling is one of them.

    Kiessling, 28, has been a consistent goal scorer for Leverkusen since 2006 but has rarely seen his name called for the national team rosters.

    With many of the old German guard being replaced by fresh young faces, Kiessling is caught in the middle of two generations and most likely will never be a member of his country's national team again.

    However, that factor may be the driving force behind all the goal-scoring he does for his club and they surely appreciate his talent.

Silvestre Varela

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    Silvestre Varela has seen his career revived ever since he moved to Porto in 2009.

    The Portuguese international made his mark on the world stage at Euro 2012 with his spectacular game winner against Denmark.

    But, before Varela was a substitute for Portugal, he was a journeyman stuck on loan from Sporting Lisbon as he left three times in four seasons to find first-team football.

    However, Varela's luck may have run out as last season, after the departure of manager Andre Villas-Boas, he did not see much playing time.

Toby Alderweireld

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    Toby Alderweireld is one of Belguim's top young talents and they have many of them.

    The 23-year-old Ajax defender will most likely be a wanted commodity in the next year by some of the world's biggest clubs.

    Alderweireld must be anxiously waiting his turn to leave Ajax as he saw former teammate and countrymen Jan Vertonghen leave for Spurs this summer already.

    The defender is one more reason that Ajax's academy is one of the best in the world at producing players as he has already made 17 appearances for Belgium and won two Eredivisie titles with his club.

Steven Caulker

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    Many people know about one of Tottenham Hotspur's great young defenders in Kyle Walker, but Steven Caulker is quite the talented defender as well.

    Caulker excelled while on loan at Swansea City last season and was rewarded with a new contract at Spurs and a spot on Team Great Britain for the London Olympics.

    The England Under-21 international should get a chance to compete for a starting spot in Andre Villas-Boas' lineup at White Hart Lane this season after spending the past three seasons out on loan.

Jefferson Farfan

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    Jefferson Farfan is a star player in the Bundesliga with Schalke, but he doesn't get as much attention as he should get.

    The reason for that was world-class superstar Raul being at the German club for two seasons and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's historic season in 2011-12.

    But, the one man who provided for the two goal-scorers from the wing was mainly the Peruvian.

    Farfan just signed an extension with the club and will look to repeat the magical Champions League run of the 2010-11 season as Schalke are back in the competition this season.

Sebastian Coates

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    Last summer, Liverpool took a gamble on bringing Sebastian Coates over to England from Uruguay.

    So far, it looks like that gamble will pay off for the Reds and new manager Brendan Rodgers.

    Coates only played 14 games last season for the club but the 2011 Copa America Best Young Player has been making improvements to find his way into the starting 11.

    This season will be a telling sign if the 21-year-old will make it in England and do not be surprised if he turns out to be a better player than fellow Uruguayans Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan.

Joe Allen

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    Joe Allen is about to be thrust into the national spotlight as the Welshman will be a part of Team Great Britain at the London Olympics.

    Allen, 22, had a great season for Swansea City in the Premier League and his fine performances got overshadowed by the unlikely success of Gylfi Sigurdsson at the end of the season.

    This season is sure to be a breakout one for Allen starting with the showcase of Team Great Britain at the Olympics and then with the Swans in the Premier League.

David Hoilett

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    There should be no questioning the fact that David Hoilett wants to leave Blackburn Rovers and play top-flight football.

    After being one of Rovers' best players while being relegated from the Premier League last season, it is time for the 22-year-old Canadian to go on and prove himself elsewhere.

    Hoilett is one of the few Canadians to ever find success across the pond and he will look to capitalize on his time at Rovers before his career turns downhill and is stuck in the lower tiers of English football forever.

Patrick Herrmann

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    Patrick Herrmann has the potential to be the next German breakout star.

    The 21-year-old will not have a spotlight on him like teammates Luuk de Jong and Granit Xhaka will have going into the 2012-12 campaign.

    Hermann has the potential to be a star player for Borussia Monchengladbach and could follow the same path as German youngster Marco Reus if he is successful enough.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

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    Herrmann's teammate at Borussia Monchengladbach, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, may turn out to be an even bigger star in German football.

    ter Stegen made his debut for the club last season and is looking to be the next great German keeper.

    The 20-year-old has already caught the eye of Germany manager Joachim Low as he was named in the provisional squad for Euro 2012.

Thibaut Courtois

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    Chelsea fans will have to wait another year to see Thibaut Courtois in a Blues uniform as he will spend another year at Atletico Madrid.

    Courtois had a successful year at Atletico by winning the Europa League in his first season outside of Belguim.

    Courtois could be out on loan for another year or so depending on how Petr Cech ages at Stamford Bridge, but one thing is for sure Chelsea have their keeper of the future in Courtois.

Kevin De Bruyne

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    Kevin De Bruyne is the other Belgian player that came over to Chelsea from Racing Genk last season.

    De Bruyne, just like Courtois, was sent on loan but in the midfielder's case he went back to Genk to finish out the season.

    The 21-year-old is another part of the Belgian revolution in world football, one that if all goes well could make Belgium one of the top European nations in the sport.

    At Chelsea, De Bruyne will be alongside fellow Belgians Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku as well as Courtois when he eventually returns from his loan spell.

Josh Gatt

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    Josh Gatt is one of the up-and-coming young Americans who is making a name for himself in the lower levels of European football.

    Currently, Gatt is playing for former Manchester United player Ole Gunnar Solskjær at Molde in Norway.

    Gatt and Molde won the Norweigan Tippeligaen and will be playing in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds to try and make it into the group stage in the fall.

    There is no doubt that Gatt is gaining valuable experience overseas and he could feature on the national team roster if he continues playing well in Norway.

Cristian Tello

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    Cristian Tello could be poised to be the next breakout star at Barcelona.

    The 20-year-old played in 22 total games for Barca last season and he could be the next young star developed by the Catalan club.

    Tello spent two seasons at Barcelona B before joining the first team last season and new manger Tito Vilanova, who was an assistant under Pep Guardiola, will know all about what Tello can do.

Nelson Oliveira

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    Nelson Oliveira is another player who broke into this club's first-team squad towards the end of last season.

    Oliveria, 20, is at Benfica in Portugal and will be looking to be a starter for the club this season after making 21 total appearances last season.

    Fans did get a glimpse of Oliveira at Euro 2012, as he was a substitute for Portugal, but he could be a more prominent figure for his country when World Cup qualifying comes around this fall.

Ross Barkley

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    Last season was supposed to the season for Everton's Ross Barkley to break out but that was not the case.

    Barkley only played in six games for the Toffees last season but this season should not be the same as last.

    Many people believe the 18-year-old has the talent to be a star player; it is just a matter of when he matures and becomes a top footballer.

    Everton may have to wait another year to gage the full potential of Barkley but there is always a chance he could make it to the big time this campaign.

Michael Bradley

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    Michael Bradley may be a household name in America but he sure is not one in Europe.

    Bradley revived his career at Chievo Verona in Serie A last season and now has a chance to show the world what he can do as he signed with Roma this week.

    Bradley is the anchor of the United States midfield and to play at a high level is key to his further development.

    Not only will all of Italy be watching Bradley play for Roma, but all of America will have a pair of eyes on him as well to track the success of one of their top players.