5 Up-and-Coming Pass Masters in World Football
Who are the finest up-and-coming pass masters and playmakers in world football?
We've had our say in suggesting five, profiling and highlighting their strengths as they continue their rise to stardom, but who else could we add to the list?
You won't find established stars like Marco Verratti and Thiago Alcantara here, we're looking for fresh-faced prospects who are on the cusp.
Dubbed "the new Luka Modric," Alen Halilovic has already made massive strides toward replicating his countryman's successes despite being just 17 years of age.
He plays largely as an attacking midfielder, preferring to free himself into positions where he can use his wondrous left peg, and has already broken into the Dinamo Zagreb first team.
The Croatian club will be resigned to losing him at some stage—they nearly lost him at the age of 12 to Real Madrid—but stand ready to collect a huge payment in exchange for his services in the near future.
In the words of Bleacher Report's Tre Atkinson, Sergi Samper is "an unbelievable talent—if there's a player to make people forget about Thiago Alcantara, this is him."
Samper was also picked out by Graham Hunter, in his book The Making of Barca, as one of the finest individual talents ever to grace the corridors of La Masia.
High praise indeed.
The 18-year-old is currently rolling with the "B" team. By most accounts, he needs to learn to stamp his authority on games better, but looks to be on the fast-track to first-team stardom.
Co-owned by Genoa and Roma, Andrea Bertolacci put together a rather solid season with the Grifoni in 2013 and was rewarded with a call-up to the European U-21 Championships.
He was used sparingly by Italy, but coach Devis Mangia's willingness to throw him in off the bench in some exotic roles points toward the player's immense intelligence.
He's incredibly reliable in both the short and long passing game, possessing the burst to get away from markers and the cool head to deliver the simple pass.
He needs to break into the ranks of Italy's first team, and to do so he must displace a host of talented individuals—he has a big season ahead.
Here we have another Spaniard—this time a product of Atletico Madrid—who lit up the FIFA U-20 World Cup with some assured performances.
His diminutive figure makes him look a push-over on paper, but in reality, he combines x-ray vision with immense balance and awareness to pull the strings in the midfield.
He was a real shock performer in Turkey with much of the analysis and focus on Gerard Deulofeu and Jese, and perhaps thanks to very little expectation and pressure, wasted no time in proving he belonged in the same conversation as his compatriots.
Diego Simeone has a talent on his hands. He now needs to decide how best to nurture it: another season with the "B" team, a loan or an induction to the first team?
Danny De Silva
Danny De Silva became the youngest-ever player to represent Perth Glory this season, then featured for Australia in the FIFA U-20 World Cup to good effect.
In their opening game, the Socceroos set up a stifling 4-5-1 formation, which allowed De Silva to roam forward and get on the ball and utilise the space behind Colombia's holding pivot.
His confidence was unparalleled, and at 16 years of age, he dominated many three or four years older.
In Australia's second game, El Salvador decided the way to win was to man-mark De Silva and take him out of the game, such was his impact on the team's playing style and shape.