World Football Newbies Ready to Burst onto the Scene in 2012-13
It's time for a new crop of young stars to make headlines and burst onto the world football scene in 2012-13.
Starting with the Olympics, youth will be given its chance to shine on the world stage.
The under-23 tournament will provide a perfect platform for up-and-comers to showcase their talents and cement their places among the world's elite.
Fast-forward to mid-August, and the commencement of domestic leagues should also see an abundance of youngsters making bows for their respective clubs.
With that in mind, here are a few of the newbies being touted as potential superstars for the upcoming season.
Ian Walton/Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku is a monstrous 19-year-old who has strikingly similar attributes to those of ex-Chelsea compatriot Didier Drogba.
His bullish approach paired with a keen eye for goal has seen many tip him to become the next big thing at Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku made his first team debut for hometown club Anderlecht in 2009 as only a 16-year-old, and he has been making strides ever since.
In Chelsea's preseason tour of the United States, he netted twice in a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Sounders (his first goals for the club).
The Sun reports that the striker will be on his way to Fulham on a season-long loan to maximize his playing opportunities.
With Clint Dempsey being heavily linked with a move away from Craven Cottage, Martin Jol and Co. will likely look to the Belgian to pick up a significant chunk of the goal-scoring slack.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Dino Panato/Getty Images
Apart from having one of the more wacky haircuts on the list, 19-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy has proven to be a revelation at AC Milan.
He scored a vital goal in Milan's 2-1 win over Udinese (bringing an end to Udinese's home winning streak) and notched three more goals in 2011-12.
Before his move to the Rossoneri, Shaarawy made his first-team debut for Genoa at the age of 16 years and 55 days, becoming the fourth-youngest player in Serie A history.
Born to an Egyptian father and an Italian mother, Shaarawy is eligible to play for either country but will likely opt for Italy if his good form continues.
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Arsenal's Ryo Miyaichi had an impressive loan spell with Bolton Wanderers last season, and Arsene Wenger obviously took note.
The Japanese midfielder will be back for his first full season in North London and will provide some much-needed depth to the Gunners attacking line.
With new signings Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud ahead of Miyaichi in the pecking order, it is unlikely we will see him grace the starting 11 anytime soon.
If he is to burst onto the scene in 2012-13, he will have to make the most of short cameo appearances off the bench.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Raheem Sterling is a highly rated product of Liverpool's academy system.
He made his competitive debut for the Reds as a substitute against Wigan Athletic in March 2012.
At only 17 years and 107 days old, Sterling became the second-youngest player ever to represent the club at the first-team level.
His sound technical skill and his typical slalom runs constantly leave defenders tied in knots.
With a bit more experience (perhaps on loan?) and physical development, Sterling could turn into one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League.