Top 100 World Football Players to Watch in 2012

Thomas AtzenhofferCorrespondent IIDecember 22, 2011

Top 100 World Football Players to Watch in 2012

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    As the Holiday fixtures start to stack up along with January Transfer rumors we can take just a moment to reflect on a great year in World Football and start to think of what is to come next.

    This season saw a lot of young player burst onto the radar for club and country as well as some players that have been around awhile that are still worthy of watching for their skill, class or all around greatness.

    With 2012 right around the corner, here is a look at 100 players that you truly should follow next calendar year.

Brek Shea

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    MLS and FC Dallas star Brek Shea is starting to build a reputation both in the United States and now abroad as has been spending some time training the Arsenal over the winter months.

    The Texas born winger scored 11 goals and provided six assists in 44 appearances last season in the MLS and has made nine appearances for the US Men's National Team.

Paulo Henrique Ganso

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    Santos attacking midfielder Ganso is making a splash as one of the next South American's that could eventually move to Europe with great success.

    Since being a first team player he has 125 appearances with 36 goals and 40 total assists. He also was part of the 2010 World Cup squad for Brazil and also nearly scored his first national team goal against the United States.

Phil Jones

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    Many people may have thought going from Blackbrun Rovers to Manchester United at the age of 19 would see Phil Jones not yet ready to step up.

    However, the youngster has been phenominal for the Red Devils and should only get better in the next year.

Lucas Moura

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    Another young Brazilian attacking midfielder to watch is 19-year-old Sao Paulo youngster Lucas Moura.

    So far his career has produced 16 goals and 12 assists in 68 appearances as well as one senior International goal in 10 games.

Medhi Benatia

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    Moroccan international defender Medhi Benatia is making a name for himself with Udinese in the Italian Serie A and is becoming a hot transfer target as his play continues to improve.

Leandro Damião

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    Leandro Damião has made 86 appearances and scored 52 goals for Brazilian club Internacional. The 22-year-old is sure to be a stand out in the next year once more and could become a hot transfer target of either the January or Summer windows in 2012.

Eduardo Vargas

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    Eduardo Vargas of Universidad de Chile is a hot transfer target for Liverpool FC as well as Chelsea and other European clubs.

    The 22-year-old midfielder made a name for himself as a goal manufacturer in 2011 with 28 goals in 45 appearances for his club in the calendar year.

Thiago Silva

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    AC Milan's 27-year-old defender Thiago Silva is becoming one of the most revered young defenders in the game.

    His consistency and continued success is making him a highly valued player that could develop his game even further.

Daniel Sturridge

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    Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge has been sensational when given the chance this season, and he is quickly developing into their most important striker for the clubs extended future.

    Full of pace and with great ball skills he has already managed eight goals and four assists in 17 games for the Blues in the first half of their current campaign.

Danny Welbeck

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    It is hard to mention one young Daniel with out the other and Manchester United's Danny Welbeck is proving to be top class as well.

    Welbeck has already chipped in five goals for United in 15 games this season and is likely to be a huge part of the clubs continued success in 2012.

Luuk De Jong

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    FC Tewnte starlet Luuk de Jong has already put up nine goals in the Dutch Eredivisie this season and the 21-year-old looks to be a great prospect for the future.

    Although he was born in Switzerland de Jong is a member of the Dutch national team and has already scored his first goal in six appearances for the Oranje.

Nicolas Anelka

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    Nicolas Anelka may be in the twilight of his career but the fact that he just became the Asian version of Samuel Eto'o he merits at least a look once or twice in 2012 to see just what he is producing in China with Shanghai Shenhua.

Nani

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    Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, Nani has been the Portuguese presence of Manchester United. However, it has not been truly until the year of 2011 that he has taken that step up to be extremely influential in the Red Devils Attack.

    Nani has so far collected 16 goals and 16 assists in the calendar year of 2011 from all competitions combined which is the best season of his career and looks set to take 2012 by storm if he maintains his form.

Alexandre Pato

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    AC Milan's young Brazilian center forward Alexandre Pato continues to improve season after season. The current Serie A campaign has seen him get off to a rather slow start with only three goals and three assists in 11 appearances, but 2012 should be another break out season for the youngster.

Oriol Romeu

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    Oriol Romeu formerly of Barcelona has spent his current time so far with Chelsea managing to break into the first team for nearly a regular starting role. He has adapted well to the Barclay's English Premier League as a defensive midfielder far out performing their current healthy position player John Obi Mikel.

    He has managed to make a major impression on Andre Villas-Boas in London and has made 12 appearances for the Blues and it is likely that AVB will try to make him a permanent addition in either the January or Summer transfer window of 2012.

Christian Eriksen

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    Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Christian Eriksen is only 19-years-old but he made 2011 a career year by winning multiple awards. The most impressive was 2011 Young Player of the Year in the Eredivisie as well as the Danish Footballer of the Year and the AFC Ajax Talent of the Year.

Aaron Ramsey

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    One of Arsenal's youth midfield contingent that has been more impressive each passing season is Aaron Ramsey. It is no doubt that the 20-year-old is determined to be one of Arsenal's best and has already beaten the odds by coming back from a career threatening broken leg to claim a regular spot in Arsene Wenger's first 11.

Dries Mertens

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    PSV Eindhoven midfielder Dries Mertens has been making a meal out of Dutch Eredivisie defenses since his move from FC Utrecht in the summer. So far he has scored 15 goals and notched two assists in 19 appearances for PSV. His haul so far is only three shy from the 18 he scored his entire career at FC Utrecht from 72 appearances.

Jack Wilshere

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    You cannot mention the likes of Aaron Ramsey and forget to mention his partner in crime, Jack Wilshere. While Ramsey has made his way back from a long injury lay off in his career, Wilshere is currently battling to return from his own.

    The young midfielder is one of the brightest English talents in the game right now and 2012 could be another banner year for him.

Fabian Frei

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    FC Basel and Switzerland U21 midfielder Fabian Frei was hugely influential in the Swiss teams triumph to reach the UEFA Champions League Knockout stage.

    He scored three goals and assisted another in six European matches of the group stage.

    Frei was also part of the U21's runner-up squad to Spain over the summer at the UEFA U21 European Championships.

Didier Drogba

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    Didier Drogba is most definitely an interesting story for the coming year as it is almost 100 percent certain that he will be leaving Chelsea. The only toss up is just where he will end up signing with, but we do know it is who ever offers his ego the biggest cash boost.

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel

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    Ten goals in 16 games have seen Sporting Lisbon's 22-year-old Dutch forward Ricky Van Wolfswinkel make quite an impact in the Portuguese Liga.

    His efforts have helped raise his side to third in his domestic league and into the first Knockout Stage of the UEFA Champions League.

Andreas Bjelland

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    Another FC Twente and Danish star is Andreas Bjelland. The 23-year-old defender has made a name for himself as a versatile member of the back line with the ability to play all across the board as well as occasionally being utilized as a defensive midfielder. The young star is certain to be a part of Denmark 2012 European Championship side in the coming summer.

Thiago Alcantara

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    Barcelona's Thiago Alcantara is building upon his performances week after week and has established himself as a regular with 20 starts so far this season with one goal for the Blaugrana.

    His continued development should be a key factor in building towards continued future success for Barca.

Tim Matavz

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    PSV Eindhoven's 22-year-old Slovenian starlet Tim Matavz already has 15 goals between 24 appearances across all competitions with FC Groningen, the Slovenian National team and his newest club, PSV.

    His experience even at the age of 22 is deep and already at his age he has amassed 164 career appearances with 72 total goals between the Slovenian Prvaliga and the Dutch Eredivisie.

Raheem Sterling

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    Liverpool's young winger Raheem Sterling only turned 17-years-old this month of December 2011 and he is perhaps the hottest young talent in the Reds youth program.

    He is likely to get a cameo or two at some point this season as he starts working his way up through the final years of his youth career at the club and should always be worth checking up on.

Miralem Sulejmani

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    Ajax Amsterdam's 23-year-old Serbian Miralem Sulejmani has already scored 11 goals out of 20 appearances in all competitions that includes the six games of Ajax's UEFA Champions League group stage campaign.

    Last season he scored 13 goals in 52 appearances and with a significant increase already in his production he could become a sought after transfer target by the summer of 2012.

Hulk

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    FC Porto's Brazilian forward Hulk has picked up where he left off last season with 11 goals and nine assists in 19 appearances this campaign. His outlandish price tag of £88 million is enough to keep eyes wondering if he will even make a move somewhere this January.

Steven Gerrard

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    Steven Gerrard's injury issues have forced much time away from the pitch in recent seasons. As he returns to training near the end of December 2011, Liverpool can only have, "Hope in their Hearts," as the famous lyrics of the Reds anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone," by Rogers and Hammerstein states.

    With Lucas Leiva out for the season and Luis Suarez in the middle of English FA controversy the Reds need the return of Captain Fantastic to be more than fantastic.

Javi Martinez

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    Spanish midfield talent Javi Martínez of Athletic Bilbao is one of the Spain's most promising young talents.

    He helped to lead the Spanish U21's to the youth UEFA European Championship in both 2007 and 2011 while also having made appearances during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

    Increased speculation is growing that he could be on the move in January or in the summer of 2012.

Admir Mehmedi

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    FC Zurich striker Admir Mehmedi scored three goals for Switzerland in the UEFA U21 European Championships and continues to improve with his club despite them being dumped out of the Europa League.

    The calendar year for Zurich he has 25 appearances with six goals and is likely to be the foundation of his clubs future if not sold on in the summer of 2012.

Michael Simões Domingues

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    During the FIFA U-20 World Cup 575 minutes is what Portugal U20 and Benfica keeper Mika went without conceding in Colombia. His time comfortably broke the tournament record held by Chilean Christopher Toselli’s which was 492 minutes.

    One of the youngsters greatest performances was on March 19th, 2011 while on loan to Uniao Leiria where he saved eight shots by Sporting Lisbon to lead his team to a goalless clean sheet and a draw.

Juan Mata

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    Since moving to Chelsea in the summer from Valencia Juan Mata has been influential all over the offensive side of the ball for the Blues.

    If any player can be expected to get the best out of Fernando Torres on the pitch it is Mata, however, the forward has been frozen out and leaves Mata to work his magic for everyone else but his talented countryman.

    Mata is sure to be a force for the Blues in their race to hold onto a top four spot and will be a great asset to Spain off the bench in the UEFA 2012 Euro's next summer.

Alexander Frei

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    A distant cousin of young midfielder Fabian Frei, Alexander Frei has been a sensational veteran striker since returning to FC Basel two seasons ago. In that time he has 47 goals in 57 appearances.

    Frei is expected to have another big year for the club and already helped send them to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

Bas Doost

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    Heerenveen 's 22-year old forward Bas Dost has 14 goals in just 13 appearances this season. The youngster burst onto the Dutch Eredivisie scene in his last three games as he has scored 10 goals in his last four outings.

    His first goal came against FC Utrecht and then he followed it with a hat trick against ADO Den Haag. He continued from there with a one goal performance against AZ Alkmaar, however, his crowning achievement was a five goal haul on December 10, 2011 against Excelsior.

Fernando Torres

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    Love him or hate him, 2012 is going to have to be a major year for Fernando Torres as he has to find a way to save his career. His issues at Chelsea since moving from Liverpool have been one after another and he may be forced into another move to make things right on the pitch.

Olivier Giroud

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    Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud leads France's Ligue 1 Oranje with 12 goals plus an additional five assists with the 25-year-old paving the way for himself to get major pay day at some point in the future if he continues his pace.

Eden Hazard

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    The Belgian Starlet is the hottest prospect to come out of his nation in recent years and his stock continues to rise as his performances for French club Lille show more and more promise.

    Six goals and seven assists so far in all competitions has seen him only raise his value even more.

Edinson Cavani

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    Uruguay and Napoli forward Edinson Cavani is one of the worlds top talents and has been of great help to the Neapolitan quest for a shot at both a Serie A title and a UEFA Champions League trophy.

    Cavani has produced 11 of his clubs goals during only 16 appearances between both competitions this season and is likely to be a key figure throughout all of 2012 for the club.

David Luiz

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    Bleacher Report's featured columnist Will Tidey expressed his enjoyment of Luiz in one of his most recent articles, Why Chelsea's David Luiz Has Been My Favourite Premier League Player This Season.

    The Blues marauding central defender is certainly a building block for the future of Chelsea's defense but he has to be able to keep himself in check to avoid costly errors.

Gareth Bale

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    Tottenham's welsh star Gareth Bale continues to show his great skill this season. The reigning PFA Player of the Year is already off to a great start with six games and five assists in 15 appearances for Spurs.

    Bale is on pace for the best season of his career once again and is attracting major interest from outside of England. The coming year of 2012 calls for a close watch on Bale as it could be a huge year for him.

Josip Ilicic

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    Palermo midfielder Josip Ilicic has been sensational for the Sicilian based club since joining their ranks at the start of the 2010-11 season.

    Since the departure of Javier Pastore to Paris Saint Germain, Ilicic has taken a leap forward in the midfield as one of the clubs go through players in the middle and will be key to his clubs chance of finishing in the Europa League places of the Serie A.

Arda Turan

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    Arda Turan's move to a major European continental league has been anticipated for a long time. So far his move to Atletico Madrid has seen him provided two goals and five assists and it looks like his abilities could become more fully noticed now that he is in Spain.

Angel Di Maria

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    Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria leads La Liga with 11 assists so far this season and his distribution in the midfield alongside of Xabi Alonso will be key to Los Blanco's holding off Barcelona to finally reclaim their La Liga title.

Mario Goetze

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    This season Borussia Dortmund's Mario Goetze has already produced six goals and seven assists in 17 appearances and he could be in line for a big money move in January or next summer.

    The playmaker was inspirational in Dortmund's title run in 2010-11 and could be equally as important to their challenge to retain their domestic league title in 2012.

David Beckham

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    David Beckham finally fulfilled what was expected of him when he joined the LA Galaxy as the club finally lifted the MLS Cup in the final season of his contract.

    It is still up in the air as to where he will end up in January, but it is certain he is still hoping to return to the English National team in the 2012 for the Summer Olympics.

David Silva

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    Spanish midfield maestro David Silva is perhaps the best in the EPL at the moment and has led the creative charge of Manchester City all the way to the top of the table.

    The second half of the EPL season will prove if the Citizens are the real deal and Silva will hope to parlay his success in England into as much first team time with the Spanish National team at the 2012 UEFA Euro's as possible.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

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    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has so far had a season to remember as he has scored 25 goals in 24 games for Schalke 04 this second half of 2011.

    He looks set for a great 2012 and should be one to follow through the rest of the German Bundesliga season and the 2012 Euro's.

Adam Lallana

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    Southampton's 23-year-old English midfielder Adam Lallana has been majorly instrumental in the Saints rise to the top of the English Championship in their first year of promotion from League 1.

    In 17 appearances he has produced seven goals and six assists and looks to keep producing. If he continues upon his current path it could be hard for the Saints to keep hold of him next season as his midfield abilities are sure to be noticed.

Gabriel Torje

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    Udinese's little forward Gabriel Torje could be one of the next players to impact football in both Italy and Europe. He has been labeled the, "Romania Messi," and his skill proves he has the talent to be worthy of the name.

    The coming year of 2012 is most likely to prove if all the hype for the player is sound or just exactly what it is called, hype.

Gary Cahill

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    Gary Cahill has endured a torrid 2011 with Bolton Wanderers. A current run of 19 league games with only four wins dating back to the end of 2010-11 season has his stock lowering each game.

    He was thought to be making a massive money exit over the summer of 2011 but it never happened, now Wanderers will be forced to take a much reduced amount for him as he hopes to get out of dodge.

Sergio Aguero

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    Sergio Aguero has been a massive signing for Manchester City after joining this summer from Atletico Madrid. With 15 appearances the Argentine has 11 goals and four assists as the Citizens leading striker.

    His efforts will be key to maintaining the clubs pace at the top of the table.

Lukas Podolski

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    At the age of 26 Forward Lukas Podolski looks to finally have figured out how to score in the Bundesliga on a regular basis. The German international and FC Koln forward has 13 goals in 14 appearances this campaign so far he has made a rapid return to the lips of the media.

    2012 could be the biggest year of his career as an already high octane league campaign leads into the 2012 Euro's and if he is playing like this in the league he could be the key to Germany surviving the Group of Death, Group B, and making another run for the European championship.

Rodrigo Moreno Machado

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    Benfica U21 forward Rodrigo Moreno Machado is Brazilian born but ply's his samba heritage towards the betterment of Spain. His time in the ranks of the U21's and lower for Spain have seen him total 16 goals in 21 appearances, of those 16, four have been scored as braces and six as two hat tricks.

    The 20-year-old spent time on loan last season with Bolton Wanderers scoring once in 17 appearances. Currently in the Portuguese Liga, Rodrigo has four goals in 12 appearances between both the league and the UEFA Champions League.

Gaston Ramirez

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    Bolonga and Uruguay 21-year-old midfielder Gaston Ramirez looks a major prospect in Europe and depending on how Bolonga finish in the Serie A.

    If his club fail to stay up he is certainly set to be on the move in 2012 with his growth potential looking very high.

Mario Gomez

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    Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez is another German striker that is on top form this season. The 26-year-old attacker has scored 22 goals for the Bavarian club between the 15 league appearances for his club and another six in the Champions League as well as one in the German Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Arguably the best or second best player in the world at the moment, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is on another planet as far as talent compared to many others.

    He and his biggest rival, Lionel Messi, are currently tied at the top of the La Liga goal charts on 17 apiece and CR7 will be one of the most important parts of Real Madrid possibly finding a way to reclaiming their place at the top of Spain's elite.

Neymar

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    Brazil's 18-year-old Santos starlet Neymar is perhaps the hottest tracked striking prospect in the world at the moment. Without a doubt he was his clubs inspiration for making it to the Final of the FIFA Club World Cup on Sunday December 18th against FC Barcelona.

    This calendar year alone Neymar has scored 33 goals and created eight more for his club and country combined over 54 appearances. Having been linked with massive moves with price ranges anywhere from £50 million to £150 million he is going to be the most watch attacker outside of Europe's elite leagues in 2012.

Frank Lampard

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    Chelsea's veteran midfielder Frank Lampard has been great when given the chance this first half of the 2011-12 season.

    In 2012 it remains to be seen if Andre Villas-Boas will force him out of Stamford Bridge, and if so Lamps could be in for a new lease on life somewhere outside of a Blues kit.

Kyle Walker

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    Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker is yet another talented young English defender making waves in the EPL. Walker has been the answer to what has been a question for Spurs in the full back position for some time on the right side and his presence allows Harry Redknapp some stability to focus on enhancing other parts of his defense.

     

Landon Donovan

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    After leading the LA Galaxy in scoring with 15 goals Landon Donovan finally helped to deliver another MLS Cup to the Los Angeles fans.

    Now that that has finally been accomplished he is set to return to England and Everton for another two month loan spell that will see him play more than likely every Toffees match between the start of January and the end of February.

Xherdan Shaqiri

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    FC Basel and Swiss National Team winger Xherdan Shaqiri has been a fixture in the clubs starting 11 since he was 18-years-old. Now at the age of 20 he is consistently improving year after year.

    In 21 appearances so far this season he has four goals and four assists, including one against Manchester United when Basel dumped them out of the UEFA Champions League.

Ryan Giggs

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    The legend of Ryan Giggs only proves to grow with each passing season, and while 2012 could very well see his retirement, everyone should enjoy as much of his mastery as they can before his time is done.

Marco Reus

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    Borussia Monchengladbach's 22-year-old starlet Marco Reus joined in 2009 on a four year contract. The youngster began his career with Borussia Dortmund before moving to German 3rd Liga side Rot Weiss Ahlen where he scored five goals and provided four assists in 44 appearances.

    So far this season, he has scored 11 goals in 16 appearances for his side this season. But, he is fast approaching his buyout clause in the summer of 2012 and is set to be a hot prospect in the coming year.

Loïc Remy

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    Marseille forward Loic Remy has been on the radar of many big European clubs in the last six months. The French international already has scored eight goals across the board for Marseille and continues to be linked with a move away and could leave as early as January if the price is right.

Tim Ream

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    Tim Ream came onto the MLS scene in the 2010 season where he established himself as one of the New York Red Bulls best young players. Throughout 2011 he again proved his talent and consistency with 32 appearances to follow up his 33 appearances the previous year.

    His skills have led to much speculation that Arsenal could be looking to sign the youngster and he was being scouted in October according to the Independent and has been training with the Gunners during the MLS offseason.

Stephan El Shaarawy

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    AC Milan attacking midfielder and winger Stephan El Shaarawy looks to be the clubs next major youth talent. The 19-year-old Italian has featured in seven games scoring once so far this season but in every instance he has oozed ability and will be one to watch develop over the next 12 months.

Lionel Messi

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    Barcelona's Lionel Messi is world class and one of the greatest attackers that Spain and the world will see for decades.

    He is without a doubt a constant highlight reel to follow whether you love or hate him and Barcelona.

Javier Aquino Carmona

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    Cruz Azul of the Mexican Premiera Division is tied for the league lead in assists with seven so far this season and has a total of 10 for the year and has also chipped in a goal for his clubs cause.

    The 21-year-old has great things expected of him as his stats his the fact that 36 of his 57 appearances have come off the bench and still he has proven this affective.

Wayne Rooney

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    Manchester United's leading frontman has had a controversial season so far with his UEFA ban that was recently reduced to two matches. He looks to have returned to business in the league after scoring a brace against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend following the reduced penalty.

    However, the stage is now set that he will more than likely go into the Euro's on a good run for his club, and be put in the place to have to save his nation in their last group game which will challenge the Three Lions ability to not choke.

Rafael Van Der Vaart

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    Netherlands and Tottenham midfielder Rafael Van Der Vaart is one of Tottenham Hotspur's most dangerous weapons. The Dutchman can score at any moment, but can also provide the pass to set up anyone.

    If Tottenham want to make a push for a shot at the EPL title, then they will need Van Der Vaart on top of his game behind Emmanuel Adebayor all season as they chase United and City.

Marek Hamsik

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    SLovakian National Team captain and Napoli attacking midfielder Marek Hamsik is one of three members of the squads attacking group that has been deserving massive attention.

    Hamsik has four goals and four assists so far in the campaign and continues to be the backbone of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi's attacking partnership up front.

Demba Ba

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    Despite Newcastle United's recent dip in form Demba Ba has continued to keep knocking home the goals.

    His 11 so far for the Magpies has been a huge part of their major run of success in the early part of the season, but his continued performance into 2012 will be even more important.

Mario Balotelli

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    The greatest show on and off the pitch in the game at the moment has to be Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, see the following article, Why Balotelli Is Football's Best Entertainment.

    Since moving to England Balotelli has scored 21 goals in 45 appearances for City and continues to show his skill, but his major flaw is that his immaturity and lack of composure causes him to make to many costly mistakes.

    Never the less, he will be followed in 2012 and every year after because he is just an interesting soap opera waiting to happen.

Mats Hummels

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    Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels is another of the major defensive talents in world football that is on many teams wish list.

    He has the ability to make his presence felt all over the pitch with his great forward passing skills and his excellent positioning and tackling.

Xabi Alonso

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    Xabi Alonso is the best midfielder at Real Madrid when it comes to tactical vision and passing precision.

    The Spaniard is the heart of whatever Los Blanco's do from the center of the park and will be key to their chance of beating Barcelona to the La Liga title in 2012.

Mostafa Abdellaoue

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    Norwegian side Valerenga forward Mostafa Abdellaoue led the Tippeligaen goal scoring charts with 22 from 30 appearances while on loan with Tromso IL, also of the Tippeligaen.

    He is the younger brother of Mohammad Abdellaoue from the Bundesliga's Hannover 96 and if he continues his scoring exploits the 23-year-old could find himself in the German League or another more prominent side in Europe.

Javier Hernandez

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    Manchester United's Chicharito is one of the best in the business when on the pitch or off the bench.

    I look to continued success for him in 2012 as he cements his place in the Red Devils lineup for years to come.

Jan Vertonghen

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    Ajax Amsterdam and Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen has been linked to many major clubs across Europe in anticipation for the first transfer window of 2012.

    Vertonghen will need to have a great 2012 as he is pushing to find a spot on a major club outside of the Netherlands that will value his skills.

Miralem Pjanic

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    AS Roma's 21-year-old midfield star Miralem Pjanic is making waves for the Wolves as he leads them with five assists and a goal from the middle of the park.

    The former Lyon player could become one of the leagues best and perhaps one of Bosnia and Herzigovina's greatest if he continues this type of progression through the coming years.

Luis Suarez

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    Liverpool forward Luis Suarez has become the center of controversy in England, and that is likely to continue through the beginning of 2012.

    Without going into the current FA proceedings regarding the Uruguayan, he is one of the most electric forwards in all of the EPL and attracts as many fouls as he gives in return tracking back to support his team on both sides of the ball.

    He is perhaps the most integral part of the Reds new attack and is a delight to watch for both fan and neutral.

     

Steven Fletcher

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    Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Steven Fletcher may seem like an odd inclusion for a list with many top players, but the Wolves striker is a budding talent of the game for both his club and his country of Scotland.

    At only 24-years-old, Fletcher has taken the reigns of Wolves attack by storm and could earn himself a trip up the ladder if he keeps up the form he has displayed to consistently score in double digits his entire career.

Joe Hart

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    Manchester City and England shot stopper Joe Hart is a class act from start to finish. People may rave about the Citizens many attacking weapons and at times forget the level of skill their young goal keeper possesses.

Javier Pastore

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    Paris Saint Germain were the winners of the Javier Pastore sweepstakes that seemed to have wrapped up as many clubs and rumors as possible in the summer transfer window of 2011.

    The 22-year-old Argentine looks to have been a great pick up so far with six goals and four assists in the campaign for PSG.

Roberto Soldado

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    Valencia forward Roberto Soldado is experiencing the best run of his career since moving to the Mastalla from Getafe. Since the move he has scored 39 goals in 66 games.

    Soldado is pushing for a place in the Spanish national side, and the injury to Barcelona's David Villa plus Fernando Torres's continued struggle for form could give him a possible window of opportunity for the summer of 2012.

Ezequiel Lavezzi

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    Napoli star Ezequiel Lavezzi has been a major part of Napoli's revival in the last few years with 40 goals scored in 163 appearances so far for the club.

    Lavezzi is also a key part of the clubs three pronged attack that includes previously mentioned Edinson Cavani and Slovakian national team captain Marek Hamsik.

Cesc Fábregas

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    Barcelona finally returned Cesc Fábregas home in the summer of 2011, and so far Cesc has been great for the Blaugrana.

    This coming second half will judge how much time that the youngster will cement in the center of the midfield along with Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

    Having already slotted home eight goals as the clubs second leading scorer since his return home it is likely that he will be a permanent fixture along with the other two.

Luka Modric

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    Luka Modric is best midfielder in a Tottenham kit and continues to prove his innate ability to lead the push up the pitch.

    His name is constantly in the transfer ramblings of other major clubs and he will again be on the scene of a European Championship come this summer as he returns to UEFA's biggest National competition where he rose to prominence four summers ago in the 2008 Euro's.

Luc Castaignos

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    Dutch starlet Luc Castaignos burst onto the Eredivisie scene last season with 15 goals in 34 appearances for Feyenoord Rotterdam. The 19-year-old Castaignos actually agreed to join Inter Milan in March of 2011 before the 2010-11 season was concluded and has yet to look back after signing a four-year contract in the summer.

    Castaignos only has five appearances for Inter with one start and four substitutions, his new manager Claudio Ranieri praised him for his first goal at the club having been the match winner against Siena back on November 27th, 2011.

    With January's transfer window coming up Tribalfootball has reported that Serie A clubs Siena and Novara could be lining up to fight to secure a loan deal for Castaignos during the second half of the season.

Xavi Hernandez

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    Xavi is the best midfield passer in the world, and as he continues to enjoy the prime of his career there are few others that are more amazing to watch.

    His pin point accuracy and tactical skill are the backbone of Barcelona's excellence.

Andres Iniesta

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    But mention Xavi alone would not do justice to him nor his partner in the Barcelona midfield, Andres Iniesta.

    Always there in support or to take the reigns and drive the game himself is another amazing Spanish maestro in the Blaugrana's midfield heart.

Robin Van Persie

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    Arsenal's Robin Van Persie has been nothing short of sensational in the calendar year of 2011. With 36 goals the record held by Alan Shearer in England, Van Persie is only a few goals away from breaking it.

    With matches against Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers left before the end of 2011 he has the time and the opponents for the taking to make the new record his own.

Shinji Kagawa

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    Borussia Dortmund's Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa has drawn much attention with his play in the Bundesliga.

    The value of high quality Asian players is rising and Kagawa could be one of those on the watch list for 2012. So far in the 2011-12 campaign he has four goals and four assists in the league.

Alain Traoré

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    AJ Auxerre midfielder Alain Traore is one of the lower half clubs bright spots and the 22-year-old may be cashed in on before the next year is through.

    With seven goals and two assists in the league he has proven he is dangerous and capable of driving the attack at even a young age while he continues to progress year after year.

Gonzalo Higuain

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    In the moments when Cristiano Ronaldo is not lighting up the back of the La Liga net for Real Madrid Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain is becoming one of the best in the business.

    He suffered from an injury earlier in the year that kept him out for a time but has come back stronger for the 2011-12 campaign with 12 La Liga goals to be the second leading scorer on his team.

Claudio Marchisio

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    Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is coming into his own this season as Juventus look to finally have found their way back to the top of the Serie A. So far he has six goals and one assist in the league and is a driving force in the center of the park.

    Recently form Juventus player and club legend Pavel Nedved tipped Marchisio to become one of the best in the world.

Lacina Traore

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    Kuban Krasnodar of the Russian Premier League boasts one of the best young Ivorian talents in 21-year-old Lacina Traore.

    The massive 6'8" framed attacker began his career with CFR Cluj-Napoca of Romania where he scored 20 goals in 63 appearances before moving to Russia.

    He then took the league by storm with 15 goals in 27 appearances during his first season.

Alessandro Matri

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    Alessandro Matri has been sensational since moving from Cagliari to Juventus last January.

    With a total of 21 goals and three assists in 36 Serie A appearances for Juve, he is well on his way to helping the Old Lady achieve her full attacking capabilities.

Seydou Doumbia

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    CSKA Moscow's Seydou Doumbia lead the Russian Premier League with 23 goals and helped keep CSKA in the top four of the league and only missed out on Champions League qualification by a hair.

    The 23-year-old Ivory Coast forward could parlay his Russian fortunes into a major money move before the year of 2012 is over.

Keisuke Honda

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    Keisuke Honda of Russian side CSKA Moscow is another highly rated Japanese midfielder that could be on the move in the coming season. He scored seven goals for his club in the Russian League and has been a star for his country as well.

    Last summer he was linked with a move to Juventus and several other major clubs but his price tag kept him out of being able to make any of them happen.

Conclusion

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    This coming calendar year is expected to be exciting with all the transfer rumors already in the heat of action as there is little time before clubs start wheeling and dealing in January.

    If you feel there are more to add to this list please add them to the comments below.

    Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out more on Bleacher Report and at the links below. You can follow me on Twitter @thedailyatz and Facebook or visit my website.