Top 30 European Football Breakout Stars for 2013-14 Season
Who are the top 30 potential breakout stars for 2013-14 European football season?
We aim to predict prospects who will transition into stars this season.
Only European-based footballers who have yet to attain the status of being a "star" will be considered.
Don't hesitate to comment below with your views.
Last 5 Long-List Cuts and Notable Omissions
David Ramos/Getty Images
The purpose of this list is to give you a rough idea of potential breakout stars for the 2013-14 European football season.
It will be ranked in terms of players most likely to break out this season and will only include players I’ve seen.
Invariably, with this requirement, there will be oversights from the Russian Premier League, Turkish Super Lig, Ukrainian Premier League, etc.
So feel free to comment below with your own examples of players you believe will break out this season.
To shed some light on the selection process for this article, a 2012-13 European football breakout stars list would have included the likes of Adrien Rabiot, Ben Davies, Dani Carvajal, Inigo Martinez, Juan Quintero, Kevin Trapp, Koke, Kurt Zouma, Leo Baptistao, Luke Shaw, Marco van Ginkel, Marquinhos, Mateo Kovacic, Matija Nastasic, Matthew Lowton, Mattia De Sciglio, Paul Pogba, Pedro Obiang, Raphael Varane, Sebastian Rode, Stephan El Shaarawy, Tonny Vilhena, Viktor Fischer et al.
Last Five Long-List Cuts: M'Baye Niang (AC Milan), Moritz Leitner (Stuttgart; on loan from Borussia Dortmund), Leonardo Bittencourt (Hannover 96), Richairo Zivkovic (Groningen), Fabrice Olinga (Malaga).
Alvaro Morata, Casemiro and Jese (Real Madrid): Morata has scored 15 times in 18 combined U-19 and 21 games for Spain, but he’s unlikely to force a way into Real’s loaded attacking lineup.
Casemiro had a strong debut against Real Betis last season; however, his progression is blocked by Asier Illarramendi, who will be afforded every opportunity to justify his significant transfer fee.
Real can either blindly start Jese and trust his world-class talent or loan him out to a bottom-tier La Liga club where he’s guaranteed to start 30-plus league games.
Given how inept their management is—a trait they share with Barcelona—Real are likely to do neither and keep Jese in the first-team squad, which delays him from breaking out into a La Liga star.
Bruma (Sporting Lisbon): Possibly Sporting’s most hyped prospect since Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruma has burnt his bridges at Sporting due to a contract dispute, so he can’t make this list with his future in limbo.
Sporting winger Bruma is tired of training on his own: "All I want is to play football again. I don't care if it's Sporting or another club.— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) August 17, 2013
Contract dispute with Sporting still going through courts. Going nowhere for now. RT @LeoFernandes_7 What happened with Sporting's Bruma?— Tom Kundert (@Portu_Goal) August 9, 2013
Gerard Deulofeu (Everton; on loan from Barcelona): He’s potent as an inside-out wide threat, but this limits him to the left flank, and who started there against Norwich City? Steven Pienaar, a player who wins free-kicks, creates chances, tracks back and has played Premier League football since 2007.
Lack of first-team opportunities is the reason why Deulofeu, who spent the Norwich game warming the bench, has been excluded from the main list.
Jack Butland (Stoke City): He’s already represented England at U-16, 17, 19, 20, 21 and senior level. The 20-year-old chose Stoke presuming Asmir Begovic would be sold. Begovic made 15 saves—yep, 15—against Liverpool, so as long as Begovic is at the club, Butland will have to be content with League Cup football.
Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Dortmund): May end up like Ivan Perisic—shows promise but will never fully kick on.
Max Meyer (Schalke): He has the highest upside of all players on this notable omissions list. He’ll be eased into occasional first-team football this season unless Christian Clemens suffers a long-term injury, forcing Julian Draxler, who’s started Schalke’s first two league games in a central attacking position, to the left and therefore giving Meyer an opening.
Neal Maupay (Nice): The French Chicharito wasn’t going to displace Dario Cvitanich as the starting No. 9, but Maupay snapping his anterior cruciate ligament in April curtails his upward trajectory. Nice manager Claude Puel looked on the bright side saying, via Ligue1.com: "At least now he'll be able to prepare for his school exams in peace."
Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid): Using one of Ray Hudson’s buzz words—majestic—is a fitting way to describe Oliver, a brilliant passer who hasn’t been able to force his way into Atleti’s starting XI. According to Guillem Balague, Barcelona secured the first option on Oliver in return for relinquishing David Villa at such a low transfer fee to Atletico.
30. Juan Bernat, Valencia LB, Age: 20
Valencia manager Miroslav Djukic started Juan Bernat at left-back in the 1-0 win over Malaga, and he had no issues dealing with Duda.
There were several good passing interchanges between Bernat and left-sided attacking midfielder Jonathan Viera, which should be expected given Bernat's comfort in the attacking half.
In recent memory, Valencia have had some fantastic left-footed players: Juan Mata, David Silva, Jordi Alba and Vicente.
Add Bernat to the list.
The two kids, Fede and Juan Bernat, did well—especially the latter. Ran well, and very aware positionally tonight. Good news for Valencia.— David (@davidjaca) August 17, 2013
29. Pajtim Kasami, Fulham DLF, Age: 21
Pajtim Kasami must have been tearing it up in training to make a surprise start against Sunderland.
Playing behind Dimitar "keep calm and pass me the ball" Berbatov, Kasami scored the game's only goal.
This was the chance Kasami had been patiently waiting for.
Fulham manager Martin Jol has Bryan Ruiz and Darren Bent as options to partner Berbatov, so Kasami has given himself one more start.
28. Suso, Almeria LAM (on Loan from Liverpool), Age: 19
On loan at Almeria, a team with journeymen footballers and modest pros looking to stay in the game, this is an ideal situation for Suso to be the man.
Almeria's management allowed Suso the freedom to roam because, on paper, he started on the left, but he was all over the place trying to make something happen in the 3-2 loss to Villarreal.
Suso regularly cut inside to dictate play, making the second-most passes for Almeria.
His superb cross for Rodri to score was created on the right side.
Mind you, he did mishit nine of his 10 crosses and struggled in a one-on-one matchup against Villarreal right-back Mario.
On loan LFC midfielder Suso has got an assist and a 'hockey assist' (pass before assist) on his league debut for Almeria. 3-2 down.— Michael Sweeting (@M_Sweeting) August 19, 2013
27. Divock Origi, Lille CF, Age: 18
Divock Origi—oh my, another Belgian.
If you're not Lille-centric, you would have been thinking "Divock, who?" when he started in the 1-0 win over Lorient.
He led the line trying to deflect attention away from Salomon Kalou and Marvin Martin.
Not only did Origi prove a difficult task for Lorient's Bruno Ecuele Manga, Lille's No. 27 scored the winner.
Earlier this year, Kenya unsuccessfully tried to bind Origi to the senior team.
Coach Adel Amrouche has failed to convince Belgium youth international Divock Origi,17, to play for Kenya in a WorldCup qualifier v Nigeria.— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) March 16, 2013
26. Memphis Depay, PSV LF, Age: 19
PSV Eindhoven have shot 58 times in their first three league games, yet Memphis Depay, who's started all the games, has only scored once and hasn't created a goal.
Instead of making a routine pass to an open teammate, he prefers to run the gauntlet, desperately trying to repeat his outrageous solo goal against Groningen.
Depay is more style than substance, so it remains to be seen if he can live up to the standards set by Dries Mertens.
Mertens been a good servant for PSV; right time to move, it's Memphis Depay's time. And what a talent he is. Phillip Cocu his biggest fan.— Mohamed Moallim (@jouracule) June 24, 2013
25. Nathan Redmond, Norwich City LW, Age: 19
Nathan Redmond, Wes Hoolahan and Elliott Bennett were able to escape their markers with trickery against Everton in the opening game of the season, but it was Redmond who stood out.
He's swift, he worked diligently without possession in making four tackles and he took care of the ball.
He completed 82 percent of his passes whereas teammate Bradley Johnson routinely passed the ball straight back to Everton.
Last season, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling showed great potential only to fizzle out. Will this be the same with Redmond?
If he can play with such intensity every week, he'll be one of the best English footballers in the league.
Nathan Redmond is named as Anglian Home Improvements Man of the Match.— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) August 17, 2013
24. Layvin Kurzawa, Monaco LB, Age: 20
Monaco have opted for seasoned professionals at centre-back (Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abidal) and very green full-backs (19-year-old Fabinho and 20-year-old Layvin Kurzawa).
With Monaco skyrocketing, Kurzawa's profile will be on an upward trajectory should he hold down a starting position.
In the 2-0 win over Bordeaux, he held his own against skillful Polish international Ludovic Obraniak.
For all the talk of Monaco's star signings, academy products Kurzawa and Ferreira-Carrasco highly impressive on their League 1 debuts— Tor-Kristian Karlsen (@karlsentk) August 11, 2013
23. James Ward-Prowse, Southampton CM, Age: 18
Luke Shaw broke into the Southampton first team last season and displayed maturity beyond his years.
This season, it could be James Ward-Prowse's turn
He had a taste of first-team football last season, but this season Ward-Prowse has the potential to play a Leon Britton-esque role in Mauricio Pochettino's first XI.
I think Wanyama's a bit too good for us! Ward-Prowse looking fantastic as well, we should win this. #saintsfc— André Pusey (@andrepusey1) August 17, 2013
22. Lucas Piazon, Vitesse LAM (on Loan from Chelsea), Age: 19
Vitesse's attacking midfield three (Renato Ibarra, Valeri Qazaishvili and Lucas Piazon) aren't just electric, but their average age is only 20.3 years.
Piazon is playing at a club with a wonderful background in nurturing players with examples such as Wilfried Bony, Marco van Ginkel, Roy Makaay, Mahamadou Diarra and Sander Westerveld.
Piazón displayed inventiveness in the 1-1 draw against Roda, but there was no end product and he lost the ball several times.
It's up to him to take advantage of the attack-heavy Eredivisie environment.
21. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Monaco LAM, Age: 19
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is the reason why Emmanuel Riviere looks like the second coming of David Trezeguet.
Carrasco draws multiple players towards him, therefore leaving Riviere open.
Montpellier right-back Mathieu Deplagne struggled to contain Carrasco, who created a goal, completed six dribbles and had the most key passes in Monaco's 4-1 win.
Lucas Ocampos has the bigger reputation but hasn't been as explosive as Carrasco.
Kyle Walker and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco battle for the ball pic.twitter.com/OW9HHOpM5u— The Spurs Web (@thespursweb) August 4, 2013
20. Matthias Ginter, Freiburg CB, Age: 19
When Matthias Ginter was linked with Arsenal, it was so weird seeing him referred to as a midfielder because he has played the large majority of his games at centre-back.
He was ruled out for an extended period last October, which quelled suggestions of him being the next Mats Hummels.
Ginter was mediocre at the Euro U-21s and has had a woeful start to the season.
He's currently ranked as kicker's 188th-best player.
So why is he ranked here? World-class potential.
He's an immaculate passer, reads the play well and you'd like to think he'll find a way out of this funk.
The Gunners have planted the seeds for a possible transfer next summer by loaning the German club Francis Coquelin, who could be involved in a packaged deal for Ginter should the 19-year-old centre-back regain his form.
Ginter: decent prospect, very cultured and good athlete. Untested at the very top and will need time. Fee a little bit on the high side.— raphael honigstein (@honigstein) August 4, 2013
19. Nemanja Gudelj, AZ CM, Age: 21
Nemanja Gudelj is a well-built midfielder with good technical attributes. He was a run-of-the-mill player at NAC Breda, but AZ saw something in him.
In a 2-1 win over Waalwijk, Gudelj registered two assists, commanded the centre of the pitch and you began to understand why classy footballers like Willie Overtoom and Maarten Martens have to be content with starting on the bench.
Man Of The Match is Nemanja Gudelj, hij heeft twee assisten. #RKCAZ— OnsAZ (@OnsAZAlkmaar) August 17, 2013
18. Piotr Zielinski, Udinese DLF, Age: 19
Piotr Zielinski is a creative, two-footed footballer and energetic.
He'll be looking to go from bit-part squad player to a regular first-team starter.
Last season in a 1-0 win over Lazio, he created a goal, accumulated three key passes and dribbled past an opposing player five times.
Piotr Zielinski (born 94) just scored his first goal for Poland´s A national team - 3-2 against Denmark. Congrats, Piotr!— Patrick Mörk (@AgentMork) August 14, 2013
17. Fabinho, Monaco RB (on Loan from Rio Ave), Age: 19
Fabinho is 6'2", fearless in the tackle and can charge past players.
No wonder Rio Ave shopped him to Real Madrid and are now hoping Monaco will pay a significant transfer fee for a right-back with elite upside.
In the 4-1 win over Montpellier, he overpowered Anthony Mounier, who didn't complete a single dribble.
Interesting that much-derided former Madrid Castilla RB Fabinho started for Monaco in weekend's 4-1 win v Montpellier.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2013
16. John Brooks, Hertha Berlin CB, Age: 20
John Brooks made Bild's Matchday One Team of the Week over Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and other seasoned pros.
Brooks, a former German youth international, has prototypical size for a centre-back, is calm in possession and could be a mainstay in the United States national team setup.
"I don’t have that much experience yet as it’s my first year in the Bundesliga, so I have to learn a lot," Brooks said, via USsoccer.com. "The U.S. really wanted me, so it was not a hard decision to play for the USA."
Klinsmann on John Brooks: "He's 20 years of age and this was his first cap but he looked like he has been with us for 9 or 10 years"— roger bennett (@rogbennett) August 14, 2013
15. Ruben Pardo, Real Sociedad DM, Age: 20
Is Ruben Pardo a like-for-like replacement for Asier Illarramendi?
No. Pardo hasn't shown any tendencies to be a prolific ball-winner, but he is one of the most accurate passers in the league.
He made 41 of 45 passes against Getafe and he's only going to get better.
In Rubén Pardo, Real Sociedad have a capable replacement for Illarramendi. Very talented, should fit in perfectly within their double-pivot.— The Tactics Room (@TheTacticsRoom) August 17, 2013
14. Yassine Benzia, Lyon RAM, Age: 18
Starting on the right, Yassine Benzia was involved in all three goals during the 3-1 win over Sochaux.
He opened the scoring, latching on to Clement Grenier's pass and calmly finishing it past Simon Pouplin.
Benzia then provided goals for Alexandre Lacazette and Yoann Gourcuff.
Even though Benzia had a great game as a right attacking midfielder and was given the green light to cut in, his playing style is more suited to a deep-lying forward role.
Though Corentin Jean has little in common with Strasbourg legend Corentin Martins, Yassine Benzia does have airs of Karim Benzema #names— FFW (@FrenchFtWeekly) July 29, 2013
13. Daniel Ginczek, Nurnberg CF, Age: 22
Daniel Ginczek has Andy Carroll's presence in the air and can conjure up something out of nothing like Alexander Meier.
Ginczek was instrumental in the 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin as he created a goal, hit the woodwork and won eight headers.
Nürnberg have finally given star playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake a No. 9 who's a goal threat.
Great to see #2BL old boy Daniel Ginczek tearing things up for Nürnberg. Having no problems stepping up a division.— Tom Watson (@FRfussballTomW) August 18, 2013
12. Saul, Rayo Vallecano DM (on Loan from Atletico Madrid), Age: 18
Saul is learning, watching and playing alongside former Barcelona player Roberto Trashorras.
Rayo Vallecano, a team whose identity used to be very rugged, has been playing some beautiful possession-based football in past memory and is a great fit for Atletico Madrid loanee Saul.
Both of them started in the "2" of a 4-2-3-1 against Elche, a match of significant interest to the Niguez family with Saul's brother, Aaron, playing for Elche.
He was okay, but Saul took over the game, completing the highest percentage of passes (92) for a starting outfielder and registering an assist.
If he's so at home in La Liga, it bodes well for fellow Atleti prospect Oliver Torres, another pass-master, who needs to be playing 90 minutes every week.
Magnificent performance from Rayo, emphatic in attack and well organised defensively(!!!). Bueno brace great, but Saúl best player tonight.— David (@davidjaca) August 19, 2013
11. Karim Rekik, PSV CB (on Loan from Manchester City), Age: 18
Karim Rekik doesn't get caught out, rarely dives into risky challenges and generally always jockeys opposing forwards.
What's been surprising is his vision and passing ability.
You want your centre-back to offload the ball to the closest midfielder, which Rekik can do, but he takes it a step further and initiates counter-attacks with his amazing long passes.
He leads PSV in long passes per game, completes 90.9 percent of his passes and he made more successful long passes than AC Milan's Riccardo Montolivo in the UEFA Champions League qualifier.
Karim Rekik, who has been superb marking Balotelli, had a great opportunity to put the hosts 2-1 up but missed his free header from 6 yards— EredivisieUK (@Eredivisie_UK) August 20, 2013
10. Kevin Volland, Hoffenheim RAM, Age: 21
Kicker magazine habitually overrated Kevin Volland last season, even inexplicably giving him higher player ratings than Heung Min Son, who scored and created more goals than the German.
Son was on another level, but Volland is projected to reach that level this season.
Volland draws a lot of fouls, he routinely goes for defence-splitting passes and his combination play with Roberto Firmino is a productive one.
Exciting young forward Kevin Volland scored 2 as TSG Hoffenheim beat Olympiakos 4-1. pic.twitter.com/fvsLpDzUxq— Football Cam (@FootballBlog16) July 28, 2013
9. Felipe Gutierrez, Twente B2B MF, Age: 22
At first glance, Felipe Gutierrez looks like a demure player, but he puts in some heavy tackles.
His defending isn't even his most noteworthy trait because he can orchestrate play, create goal-scoring chances for his teammates and dribble his way past opposing players.
Barring unforeseeable circumstances, he and Dusan Tadic will be playing for a major club within three years.
8. Haris Seferovic, Real Sociedad CF, Age: 21
There was a time where Haris Seferovic was a bigger talent than Neymar—look at how things have changed.
Seferovic's career suffered a slump after winning the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup as he failed to become a regular at Fiorentina.
Several loan spells later, he's looking for redemption with Real Sociedad, knowing there is an opening in the No. 9 position.
To play alongside gifted players such as Gonzalo Castro, Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela will only benefit Seferovic.
GIF: Real Sociedad is at it again. This time it's Haris Seferovic with a 30 yard wonder strike. http://t.co/8YxmAljeGh— theScore (@theScore) August 20, 2013
2 - Haris Seferović has scored two goals in his first two competitive games for Real Sociedad (Getafe and Olympique Lyon). Hit— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 20, 2013
La Real picking up exactly where they left off. I think they only score saucy goals. The impressive Haris Seferovic dinking this time.— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) August 17, 2013
7. Jurgen Locadia, PSV CF, Age: 19
Deep down Jurgen Locadia is ruing Christian Abbiati's fumble which presented Tim Matavz with a cheap goal.
Matavz is the player denying Locadia the chance to start week in, week out.
How good is Matavz? A serviceable forward, his talent level is nowhere near that of Locadia, who'll form a potent and exciting attacking trident with Zakaria Bakkali and Memphis Depay.
PSV's front three: Depay (19-years-old), Locadia (19-years-old), Bakkali (17-years-old).— Peter McVitie (@PeterMcVitie) August 10, 2013
When Locadia created three goals against NEC Nijmegen, it was his statement of intent in proving how complete a striker he is.
6. Valeri Qazaishvili, Vitesse DLF, Age: 20
A few years ago, when Chelsea loanee Ulises Davila was playing for Jong Vitesse, he scored, but his goal was created by Valeri Qazaishvili, who ended up netting a hat trick.
Ulises Dávila scored for Jong Vitesse this week against Jong PSV in a 4-2 win. Georgian Valeri Qazaishvili scored three and made the other.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) November 24, 2011
Davila's career is still in limbo whilst Qazaishvili hasn't just surpassed his compatriot Giorgi Chanturia, but the 20-year-old deep-lying forward is making a real name for himself.
Qazaishvili has registered either a goal or an assist in three straight games.
5. Johannes Geis, Mainz CM, Age: 20
Johannes Geis has been a pleasant surprise for Mainz as he aims to solidify a starting position.
Geis is a powerful tackler with an eye for a pass, so he could be Thomas Tuchel's answer to Sebastian Rode.
In a 2-1 win over Freiburg, Geis made five tackles and created a goal.
Tuchel used a 4-4-2 diamond in that match with Julian Baumgartlinger at the base of the diamond and Geis to his right.
When Mainz beat Stuttgart 3-2, Geis was in a double-pivot partnership with Baumgartlinger in a 4-2-3-1.
Goretzka, Geis, Younes, Yildirim and Shawn Parker amongst those new faces for Hrubesch's team. Only 31 caps amongst those 20 players.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) August 12, 2013
4. Cedric, Real Betis LAM, Age: 21
Real Betis' Cedric was a constant menace against Real Madrid with rapid bursts of energy throughout the game.
"I am happy that a club like Betis came calling," he said, via UEFA.com. "This move represents an important step in my career."
Smart career decision, Cedric.
This is either a one-off or a sign of things to come.
I have a feeling that Real Madrid will be signing Cedric from Betis at half time #explosive— Joe Morrison (@joefooty) August 18, 2013
He's so positive in possession, and his natural pace, combined with his sleek ball control, is the reason why he was so potent against Real.
Cedric is one of the many explosive players Betis have had recently: Denílson, Joaquin, Jefferson Montero, Dorlan Pabon.
3. Zakaria Bakkali, PSV RF, Age: 17
Zakaria Bakkali has accomplished something Memphis Depay has yet to do in 46 games for PSV: score a hat-trick.
This was against NEC Nijmegen, a game where Bakkali completed 93 percent of his passes, made eight dribbles and had a 100 percent shooting accuracy.
Statistics aside, he passed the eye test with flying colours the week before against ADO Den Haag by consistently finding space and being a threat.
Bakkali yet another Belgian star in the making. Dunno what they're putting in the waffles there— James Porteous (@JamesPorteous) August 11, 2013
2. Ross Barkley, Everton CM, Age: 19
Ross Barkley's passing prowess is on the same level as Josh McEachran and Tom Carroll, but what make the Everton midfielder special are his physical attributes.
It's even more impressive when you factor in the injuries Barkley has suffered.
Roberto Martínez is giving Barkley a chance and he was phenomenal against Norwich City.
Some player Ross Barkley is going to be— Lee Peltier (@Pelts_86) August 17, 2013
1. Roberto Firmino, Hoffenheim CAM, Age: 21
Roberto Firmino, are you finally going to break out and become a household name?
It didn't happen in the 2010-11 season, the 2011-12 season or last season.
Firmino is a world-class tackler, world-class passer, world-class dribbler, but he isn't world class in one category—consistency.
11 - Hoffenheim's Roberto Firmino is the Bundesliga player who had a hand in most goals in competitive matches: 11 (4 goals). Eager.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) August 17, 2013