10 Young Guns That Fans Might Not Know About Yet
For every famous teenage footballer, heralded as "the next big thing," there are scores of others, quietly going about their business and waiting to break onto the scene.
In an age of wall-to-wall coverage, endless internet ratings, skill clips and of course, Football Manager, finding unknown talent is not as easy as it used to be.
Over the next 10 slides, we give you the lowdown on some young guns who aren't well-known by the average fan.
To be considered for the list, all the players must be aged 20 or below.
Club: Maccabi Netanya
Olarenwaju Kayode is a powerful centre-forward who has represented Nigeria at under-17 and under-20 level.
Currently plying his trade in Israel, the 20-year-old is on loan from ASEC Mimosas, who are the most successful side in Ivorian football.
The striker's parent club have produced the likes of Didier Zokora, Emmanuel Eboue, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure in the past.
Kayode impressed at the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup and if he continues scoring golazos like this effort against Uruguay, we may see him move to a more prominent club before long.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Neymar was not the only one making a move from Santos to Europe over the summer. So too, was Felipe Anderson.
After repeated attempts to sign him, the Brazilian under-17 and under-20 midfielder was finally snapped up by Lazio for £7.2 million.
The 20-year-old made 61 league appearances for Santos, scoring seven goals as well as featuring in their 2011 Copa Libertadores-winning squad.
Anderson has impressed since coming to the Stadio Olimpico, although injury has limited his time on the pitch somewhat.
He opened his goalscoring account for Claudio Lotito's side last month, with this strike against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club: Boca Juniors
Expect to see Leandro Paredes playing in Europe before long. The 19-year-old has made 29 appearances for Boca Juniors, with five goals scored for Carlos Bianchi's side.
According to Transfermarkt.co.uk, Paredes has a market value of £3.1 million and there have been rumours that Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini has been tracking the youngster's progress, as seen on football-italia.net.
On Inbedwithmaradona.com, Paredes is described as such:
It is impossible to be an elegant attacking midfielder playing for Boca Juniors without making a heart or three flutter. After all, the pedigree is enough to make anyone with more than just a passing interest in the game feel a bit fizzy. If you couple that with a nice touch, some lovely goals, some even better assists and the ability to occasionally pull off the extravagant, you may as well accept the lad’s carrying a weight of expectation 99% of footballers could never hope to live up to.
Hit by injury in 2013, 2014 should be a big year for the young No. 10.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club: Sao Paulo
Gabriel Boschilia is yet another highly-rated young Brazilian who enjoyed an impressive U17 FIFA World Cup this year.
Alongside international teammates Mosquito and Nathan, the Piracicaba-born midfielder shone—notching six goals and three assists in four games.
As you can see in the clip above, Boschilia oozes confidence. The 17-year-old is good at set-pieces, likes to shoot from distance and possesses excellent ball control.
2013 was his breakout year, it looks like we should expect much more from Boschilia in years to come.
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Manchester United
Only those with a keen interest in Manchester United will know much about their highly-rated Belgian wonderkid.
And we are not talking about Adnan Januzaj.
Formerly of PSV Eindhoven, Andreas Pereira signed for United at the age of 15. 11 months younger than Januzaj, he could be the next academy product to make a big impact at Old Trafford—especially if he keeps scoring goals like this.
The midfielder was at PSV from the age of nine and was rumoured to be a target for a number of Premier League clubs, before putting pen to paper with United, as reported by Ewan Murray in the Guardian in 2011.
Excellent at set-pieces, strong and wise beyond his years, Pereira captained United's 2013 Milk Cup-winning team and was also voted Player of the Tournament.
Pereira has represented Belgium at youth level but is eligible to play for Brazil, telling Manutd.com "My heart is Brazilian."
Club: Rumoured to be joining Udinese in January
Kelechi Iheanacho was one of the standout players in the 2013 U17 FIFA World Cup—his six goals crucial in the Eaglets' route towards lifting the trophy.
However, if Isaac Success had not picked up an injury after just two games, he would undoubtedly have been one of the stars of the tournament.
In his two games for Manu Garba's side, he scored twice, made two assists and had seven shots on target. Enough, it seems, to attract interest from Europe, and it looks like he will be making a move to Serie A side Udinese next month to continue his development.
When MTNfootball.com broke news of the transfer deal, they suggested that the youngster would be loaned out to La Liga side Granada to gain experience and playing time.
With a name like Success, surely he's destined for greatness?
Position: Defender/Defensive Midfielder
Riechedly Bazoer is on the brink of becoming a household name. The Holland under-19 international, who cites Thiago Silva and Andres Iniesta as his role models, is a versatile player—highlighted by his performances at left-back, centre-back and attacking, central and defensive midfield for Jong Ajax.
Yet to make his first-team debut in the Eredivisie, Bazoer has made 13 appearances for the club's reserve team, since making the switch from PSV Eindhoven as a 16-year-old in 2012.
At the time, it was reported that Manchester City had shown the youngster around their facilities, in a bid to bring him to England, but Bazoer opted for Ajax.
Marc Overmars told the Ajax website, via Skysports.com:
Riechedly is seen as one of the biggest talents in the Netherlands, he has enormous potential to be a very good player.
And it's very good to see that this top talent - as happens a lot - does not move on to England but made a conscious choice for Ajax.
Rated as one of the best young prospects to come out of PSV's youth system, Bazoer already has silverware to his name, after winning the 2012 UEFA European U17 Championship in Slovenia. At 15 he was the youngest player in the squad.
Bazoer may not be well-known at the moment, but expect him to be one of Europe's top players in years to come.
Neal Maupay started his career at US Valbonne, before being signed by Nice in 2007.
He made his debut for Claude Puel's side aged just 16 and went on to score three goals in 15 games for Les Aiglons in 2012/13—his first strike for the club, against Evian, made Maupay the second-youngest goalscorer in Ligue 1 history.
A Skysports.com scouting report described the youngster's play as "in a similar manner to the likes of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. It is easy to see the likeness, and you could also throw in Wayne Rooney. Physically he is beyond his years in terms of upper-body strength."
Injury curtailed Maupay's season with a ruptured cruciate ligament that has kept him out of the side since May. When he makes his return, expect him to head into the mainstream.
The Versailles-born forward has represented France at under-16 and under-17 level, but is also eligible to play for Argentina.
Club: Football College Academy
Dele Alampasu's assured performances for Nigeria's under-17 squad at the tender age of 16 suggest that he could be an incredible goalkeeper in years to come.
Winner of the Golden Gloves award at this year's tournament in the United Arab Emirates, Alampasu kept four clean sheets and conceded five goals en route to the Eaglets' final win against Mexico.
According to Nigerian newspaper Tribune, the commanding keeper has been attracting interest from Europe—with Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City all named as potential suitors.
Agent Olusola Orelaja said that "We don't want to rush into taking decision on his next move because what is important to us is how he can continue to develop as goalkeeper. We need to look at the best possible move that will impact on his career."
Nathan Allan De Souza
Position: Left Winger
Club: Atletico Paranaense U19
Nathan looks like a genuine star of the future. He marauded onto the scene during the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup, scoring five goals and winning the Adidas Silver Ball award as Brazil made their way to the quarter-finals. Quite a way to mark your debut for the national team.
At 17, the winger has a technical ability that looks way beyond his years—and can boast, from what we've seen of him so far, excellent decision-making, vision and pass accuracy.
Nathan's link-up play with Mosquito has been a joy to watch for both club and country, the latter has been linked with clubs in Europe this season and it won't be long before Nathan is being linked with a move away from the Curitiba side.
Mosquito told FIFA.com, "One day we might be like Bebeto and Romario or Ganso and Neymar, but right now our only job is to develop and grow because we are still young."
Nathan Allan de Souza—remember the name.
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