Future Soccer Phenoms: 10 Players Under the Age of 23

Justin PedersenCorrespondent IIAugust 26, 2011

Future Soccer Phenoms: 10 Players Under the Age of 23

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    Like it or not, the kids are taking over.  A new age of footy is dawning upon us, as youngsters are gradually taking over the beautiful game.  Long gone are the days where a squad is reliant on older veterans during clutch situations.  More and more young talent are becoming the go-to players on squads, and almost every domestic league is littered with fine young prospects.

    Although it is difficult to break into any first team at such a young age, we are seeing an epidemic in drastic proportions. 

    Big name clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich are all seeing youngsters contribute.  Such clubs are starting to really take notice of young talent, and snapping up players aged as young as 18 is not far fetched anymore.

    Here I have compiled a list of players under the age of 23 who are certainly tipped for success this upcoming season.

1. Philippe Coutinho, 19yrs Old/Brazil/Inter Milan

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    Coutinho is a young Brazilian who has seen his playing time increase dramatically at Inter Milan. 

    Expect him to be a lynchpin in Inter’s midfield for years to come, as his technical ability, dribbling, and crossing skills are exceptional for a youngster. 

    With the aging Esteban Cambiasso on the decline and the future of Wesley Sneijder in the air, the young Brazilian should fit in seamlessly for the Nerazzurri.

2. Mario Gotze, 19yrs Old/Germany/Borussia Dortmund

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    During last season’s title run with Borussia Dortmund, Mario Gotze introduced himself to the world by turning in dazzling displays throughout the Bundesliga campaign.  While teammate Nuri Sahin took a lot of the load off the youngster’s shoulders, he has moved on to Real Madrid. 

    That being said, the German international is looking to put Dortmund on his back and be their clutch performer.  Look for Gotze to establish himself as an elite force in European football, and stake claim as the heartbeat to Borussia Dortmund.

3. Aaron Ramsey, 20yrs Old/Wales/Arsenal

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    Aaron Ramsey’s promising career was stalled when he suffered a horrific broken leg against Stoke in 2010.  He went through an excruciating rehabilitation, and found himself back playing for Arsenal after loan spells at Cardiff and Nottingham Forest. 

    Arsene Wenger has shown confidence in the young Welshman by tying him down to the club and hailing him as an ideal replacement for the departed Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.  Expect Ramsey to form a solid partnership with Jack Wilshere in the center of Arsenal’s midfield.

4. Andy Carroll, 22yrs Old/England/Liverpool

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    Arriving as the most expensive British transfer in history is not the easiest way to dispel any pressure or expectations. 

    Andy Carroll did just that as he made the move from Newcastle to Liverpool, and while he has limitless talent, he did not start the way he anticipated at his new Merseyside club.  Having struggled to find the back of the net, the tall Englishman looked as if he found his stride towards the end of last season. 

    Don’t be surprised if you see Andy Carroll atop the EPL scoring charts this season, as he is looking to validate his hefty price tag.

5. Erik Lamela, 18yrs Old/Argentina/Roma

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    River Plate’s season was dismal last year, as the Buenos Aires club saw themselves shockingly relegated for the first time in their cherished history. 

    A bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season was the emergence of Erik Lamela, a talented Argentine midfielder.  His performances for River caught the eye of many European clubs, and AS Roma was able to sign the talented midfielder for 12million Euros. 

    With a fresh start in a different league, Lamela is poised to break into Roma’s first team and put in the some spectacular displays.

6. Eden Hazard, 20yrs Old/Belgium/Lille O.S.C.

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    Seemingly on every team’s wish list, Eden Hazard is touted as the “Belgian Cristiano Ronaldo”. 

    Hazard was the most important aspect to Lille’s title winning campaign last season, and for his mesmerizing performances he was voted Ligue 1’s best player.  His dribbling skills and ball control are heralded as being some of the best in the world, a lot of hype is surrounding this kid. 

    Whether he stays at Lille or not, expect him to pick up right where he left off last season.

7. Lucas, 19yrs Old/Brazil/Sao Paulo FC

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    There seems to be plethora of young Brazilian talent nowadays.  Lucas is a different mold though, as the young creative midfielder has been linked to big clubs throughout the summer. 

    Lucas has opted to stay put in Sao Paulo for the time being, hoping to mature as a footballer before he moves to a bigger club.  The playmaker was essential to Sao Paulo’s last campaign, so prepare to see him elevate his game and his transfer fee, to a new level.

8. Romelu Lukaku, 18yrs Old/Belgium/Chelsea

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    Recent Chelsea signing Romelu Lukaku experienced the most meteoric rise out of the youngsters listed. 

    At Anderlecht, he was dominant and lethal with his goal scoring and caught the eye of many top clubs at the tender age of 17.  With his move to Chelsea, he is suiting up for a team he has supported since youth, and also gets to line up with his idol in Didier Drogba. 

    If all goes as planned, Lukaku will become a first team regular and the future of Chelsea.  Watch for Lukaku to start off this campaign strong, and fight for a spot in the starting XI instantly.

9. Thiago Alcantara, 20yrs Old/Spain/FC Barcelona

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    Relatively unknown until this summer’s Under 23 European Cup, Thiago put on a clinic as Spain waltzed their way to another title.  His crucial goal helped Spain advance to the finals, where he again was orchestral in their victory. 

    A graduate of Barcelona’s B squad, Thiago translated his excellent form to Barcelona’s first team during preseason.  He was spectacular once again, and Pep Guardiola has definite plans for the youngster.  Thiago is going to continue his fine form and stake claim in Barcelona’s talented midfield.

10. Shinji Kagawa, 22yrs Old/Japan/Borussia Dortmund

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    Shinji Kagawa started off last Bundesliga campaign in such fine form, experts were writing him off as player of the year. 

    Unfortunately he suffered a serious injury at the turn of the year, keeping him from completing the season. 

    Freshly recuperated, the Japanese midfielder is looking to replicate his form from last year, and put together a complete string of performances for Borussia Dortmund.  Partnering Mario Gotze will prove too much for Bundesliga defenses, as Shinji Kagawa will run wild and solidify his worth to the German club.