16 Unknown Stars Ready to Take the Football World by Storm
Everybody loves to see a youngster getting a chance at his club, especially when that particular kid has been tipped to reach the top since he was 14, 15 or 16 years old.
It doesn't always work out quite the way you'd expect it too; some players just don't manage to reach the heights they had hoped to—be that for reasons of injury, attitude or just being over-hyped.
On those occasions that they do, however, they become quickly some of the most talked about players in the game due to their great ability and even higher promise.
Here are 16 top youngsters looking certain to take the football world by storm over the coming years.
Note: "Unknown" is a bit of a misnomer these days given the extensive youth coverage available, so we'll be judging players, by and large, with three or less first team league appearances for their current club as being eligible for inclusion. Certain exemptions may apply.
Lucas Piazon, Chelsea
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One of several young stars at Chelsea, Lucas Piazon is an attacking midfielder who can also play as a second striker.
Quick, good with the ball at his feet and creative, Piazon will look to have an impact at first team level this season; while he may have to bide his time to become a regular he certainly has all the attributes to become a real success.
Odisseas Vlachodimos, VfB Stuttgart
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Odisseas Vlachodimos is an 18-year-old goalkeeper currently with Stuttgart in Germany.
He has yet to break through for the first team but has played for Stuttgart II already, and was the national team goalkeeper (for Germany, though he has Greek heritage too) in 2011 for the Under 17 World Cup and the Under 17 European Championships.
Tall, imposing and with a good command of his area, Vlachodimos is one of the highest-rated young 'keepers in Europe at present.
Emre Can, Bayern Munich
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Bayern Munich's impressive midfield youngster Emre Can has yet to debut in the Bundesliga but certainly has the talent to go on and do so this season.
In fact, this year he should be looking at having a real breakout season.
Can is a good passer, a solid tackler and can dribble with the ball at his feet too. He can also play from the left side, but is more effective centrally.
Ryan Tunnicliffe, Manchester United
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A relatively-locally born midfielder, Ryan Tunnicliffe has just made his Manchester United debut following a loan spell last season.
Tunnicliffe is a strong player, good on the ball and at 19 years of age will be looking to feature more regularly for United this season. He is also a fan favourite of many of those who have followed their youth and reserve teams over the past few seasons.
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Suso is an attacking midfielder who has broken into the Liverpool first team early this season, and looks set to play a big part in the club's reform.
Excellent technical skills and very composed on the ball, Suso can play either centrally—where he prefers—or from the left side of the attack.
He has made one Premier League appearance so far.
Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid
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At 19 years of age and just three La Liga appearances to his name, a huge amount of expectation is already placed on Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.
The young striker has been in the Castilla side for a few seasons and has a good goalscoring rate, but has yet to make the real breakthrough for Real's first team.
Morata is strong, tall and has good movement. He will hope to have an impact on the full side this season despite heavy competition from established stars.
Serge Gnabry, Arsenal
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Fans of the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will soon have a new hero to admire with Arsenal's German attacking midfielder Serge Gnabry on the verge of regular first-team involvement.
Formerly at Stuttgart, Gnabry is powerful and quick and has impressed at reserve-team level, prior to his first team debut this week against Coventry City.
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Thiago Alcantara has won fans and admirers for his on-the-ball talents playing for Barcelona—and his younger brother, Rafinha, is not too far behind treading the same path.
Rafinha plays in a similarly attack-minded midfield position to his brother and has a great range of passing to his game.
He has been part of the Spanish youth teams from the under 16s upwards and has played in the Champions League for Barça's first team.
Jonas Ramalho, Athletic Bilbao
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Staying in Spain, and now with Athletic Bilbao's first ever mixed-race player, Jonas Ramalho.
The young defender is an athletic and powerful presence from right-back and made his La Liga debut for the Basque side a little under one year ago.
With Andoni Iraola in his way he faces a real battle for minutes on the pitch for the first team, but he has arguably already overcome an even bigger obstacle in his career by simply appearing competitively for Bilbao.
Sergio Araujo, Boca Juniors/Barcelona
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Here's one of those exceptions—Sergio Araujo has appeared in competitive league action for his parent club, Boca Juniors, on over a dozen occasions—but he is on a two-year long loan spell at present with Barcelona, with whom he has yet to play for the first team.
Lightning pace and good movement are two key facets of Araujo's game, both of which allow him to find goalscoring chances with regularity.
He has already been tipped for international inclusion, but is not likely to see much playing time just yet with Barcelona, who have secured an option to buy him.
Angelo Henriquez, Manchester United
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Manchester United's summer signing, Angelo Henriquez, has been tipped as a real star in the making.
He has played almost 20 times in Chile's Primera Division, but will likely spend most of this season in the U-21 side at United.
Another forward with good natural movement and an ability to finish off chances, Henriquez is very much one of the up and coming Chilean players.
Gerard Deulofeu, Barcelona
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Perhaps Barcelona's most promising starlet not yet a regular in the first team, Gerard Deulofeu has been marked for super-stardom from an early age.
Playing either up front or from the left of the front three, Deulofeu has extraordinary dribbling skills and certainly knows where the goal is.
Question marks remain over the young forward's extreme preference to travel the solo route, but there is no doubting his on-the-ball ability.
Jerome Sinclair, Liverpool
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The newest member of Liverpool's golden youth generation, Jerome Sinclair made history by becoming the youngest ever first team player at 16 years and six days when he appeared as a late substitute in the League Cup this week.
Sinclair is a fast, tricky striker with a good strike rate. He has already played for England's youth teams and also in the Next Gen series, a Champions League style youth tournament.
Paco Alcacer, Valencia/Getafe
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Paco Alcacer is a 19-year-old forward who plays for Valencia, currently on loan at Getafe, where he will spend this season.
Alcacer has racked up three league appearances for his parent club already since making his debut at the beginning of 2012.
He is also a regular player for Spain's U-19 side. For Getafe he has so far been used as a forward and a wide attacker.
Jese, Real Madrid
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Jese Rodriguez is, along with Alvaro Morata, one of the next youngsters tipped to make the breakthrough at Real Madrid.
He has already made his first team bow, coming on as a late substitute last season, and will be looking to add further appearances to his name this year.
Jese is an all-action style winger who loves to run at defenders at pace, and has a good scoring record for Spain's under-19 team. He was top scorer at the recent U-19 European Championships.
Andy Polo, Universitario
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A 17-year-old forward who can also play on the wing, Peruvian starlet Andy Polo is tipped for a breakthrough at full international level over the coming months and has already had an impact at club level.
Polo made his debut at just 16 and is by far the most experienced player on this list with almost 50 first team appearances to his name.
Another quick and tricky player who has clearly got talent in front of goal, Polo will likely make the move to Europe within a year or two if he continues his excellent progress.