When compiling this list, some names will be familiar, such as Phil Jones, Mario Gotze and Jack Wilshere.Some names, like Marquinhos, will not be as familiar. And no, Neymar will not be included, as he's already a global star.
Thanks to YouTube, professional scouts and Football Manager, I don’t have to go to Ivory Coast to find the next Drogba. Therefore, I’ll specify how I’m judging these players.
Besides my own inherent (and unintended) biases and preferences, my selection is based on four things:
- Recent Performances
- Current Squad (and thus chance to develop further)
- My gut feeling
Beginning with an honorable mention, the list will then progress from the least likely to become a star, to whom I feel will be a leading international player in the future.
Note that all players considered are either 21 years of age or younger. Also note that I classify players who have already established themselves as national team stalwarts and who have proved themselves at either the recent World Cup or Euros to no longer be “up-and-coming.”
I’d be happy to hear of any other youngsters who you believe will be the next global stars. Obviously, when dealing with a list of this nature, there is a vast pool to draw from. But, I hope I have done the soccer world justice.