International Champions Cup 2013: Players to Watch During Intriguing Tournament

Tim KeeneyContributor IJuly 29, 2013

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JULY 25:  Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea celebrates scoring a goal during the match between Chelsea and Indonesia All-Stars at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on July 25, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.  (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Replacing the World Football Challenge, the inaugural International Champions Cup is a one-of-a-kind tournament that showcases several European giants on American soil. 

Unsurprisingly with such a tantalizing exhibition like that, there is an abundance of compelling storylines.

Perhaps the most intriguing narrative resides in the first round, as Inter and Chelsea will battle it out with Jose Mourinho at the center of it all. 

However, in a tournament like this that features some of the world's best squads still trying to figure things out before the start of the season, it's the players—most notably, the youngsters and the newcomers—who are worth watching above all else. 

Let's take a look at this tournament's most compelling individuals. 


Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan

Fresh off a home-country resurgence, Mario Balotelli is unarguably the most talented player on this squad. 

And when you consider his propensity to attempt unnecessary back heels during exhibitions, take his shirt off during celebrations and buy trampolines, it's almost impossible not to include him here.

Still, Stephan El Shaarawy is extremely crucial to this team. 

The 20-year-old got off to a blazing start last season, scoring 14 goals in Milan's first 17 Serie A contests and quickly establishing himself as one of the most tantalizing young playmakers in Europe:

In his final 15 Serie A matches following Balotelli's Milan debut in early February, however, he scored just one meager goal. 

Still, 16 goals and four assists in a major European league from a player who started the season as a teenager is impossible to overrate. This scintillating star is a great talent, and if he can form a better partnership with Balotelli, Milan will be incredibly dangerous. 

He came on as a substitute in Milan's first-round win over Valencia, but he should be used more in the semifinal against Chelsea or Inter. 


Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea

It's well documented that Chelsea has been after another forward this summer, but with Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge, many have wondered if it's really a position that needs to be addressed. 

Of those three, Lukaku is easily the most enticing. 

Although Torres looked much better last season after an atrocious debut campaign with Chelsea, Lukaku has the talent to overtake him as a consistent choice for the starting XI. 

Blessed with Hulk-like strength and solid pace, the 20-year-old scored 17 goals while on loan with West Brom. The most impressive moment came late in the season when he tallied a hat trick against Manchester United:

Hopefully the youngster will get a chance to shine in the exhibition against Inter, because he easily has the most potential of Chelsea's goal-scoring trio.


Carlos Tevez, Juventus 

Carlos Tevez had a prolific career at Manchester City, but when a separation seemed inevitable, Juventus was quick to nab the veteran forward. 

Tevez scored 11 goals and tallied eight assists in 34 Premier League appearances last season, at times proving he can still be a dynamic force.

After nearly a decade in England, however, it will be intriguing to see how the Argentinian handles his move to Italy.

Although we may not see that question answered with an exhibition against Everton in the first round, we will see how he links up with Andrea Pirloand that's something that could easily determine the outlook at the top of the Serie A table.