Top five most promising youngsters in Europe
1. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
If you hadn’t heard of Raphael Varane before the double El Clasico and the Champions League tie against Manchester United then no doubt you seriously took note of his performance. Aged just 19, he looks so incredibly comfortable yet so unbelievably reassuring in defence at one of the greatest clubs on the planet.
He has been a rock at the heart of the Real defence and showed his maturity in the big games against Barcelona and United, taking his place alongside Sergio Ramos, upon whom who Varane appears to model his game.
Recently called into the France squad for their World Cup qualifiers after his dazzling form, he can become an all-time great if he continues to show the class he is currently displaying. He also netted two beautiful headers against Barcelona and celebrated with Jose Mourinho, who has been an absolute catalyst to Varane’s development.
Mourinho was planning to loan Varane out but realised during pre-season that the 19-year- old had the class to make an immediate impression. Mourinho probably feels quite happy with that decision now.
2. Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
He’s not just a guy with a great back catalogue of dodgy haircuts. El Shaarawy is a hot prospect in the footballing world and has proven to be a bargain when AC Milan paid £12 million to Genoa after he’d played just three games for them. A season-long loan at Serie B side Padova appeared to convince Milan to splash the cash on him and they haven’t looked back since.
This season he has been in top form, impressing with his dribbling and a good goal return of 19 strikes in 35 appearances. Drawing comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo can only mean you must be able to produce something absolutely dazzling and El Shaarawy seems to be able to deliver this.
The 20-year-old can play on the left wing, up front or in a free role, and is a tricky customer. He impressed in the Champions League against Barcelona recently and has three Italy caps to his name. The world really is at this lad’s feet. He needs to sort his barnet out first though!
3. Marquinhos (AS Roma)
Now this kid is special. Before he joined Roma from Corinthians, he was largely unheard of in Europe. Now, a mere 22 appearances later, he appears to be one of Europe’s hottest talents, attracting interest from Manchester City and Barcelona (who reportedly lodged a €25 million bid for him).
In his fledgling career with Roma he has a ridiculously impressive 93 per cent tackle success rate, which is mind boggling for someone so young.
He is also famed for his coolness on the ball as well as some distinctly Brazilian skills. Will he just be a one-season wonder or will he kick on next year in the pursuit of joining a European giant? He could even make a late surge for the 2014 World Cup squad. With a lot of interest and the media claiming he is the best defender in Serie A right now, he just needs to focus on keeping his feet on the ground.
4. Marco Verratti (PSG)
Varratti is another promising central midfielder. At only 5ft 5in tall, he has always admired his compatriot Andrea Pirlo for his ability to ping a ball 70 yards with absolute precision and appears to be modelling his own game around his idol’s style. Aged 20, he has three caps for Italy (with a goal), more than 100 senior appearances and an £11 million transfer to the oil-rich P$G.
Verratti appears to offer it all in a time in which deep lying playmakers are continually used to great effect in the popular 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formations. The baby-faced midfielder will continue to benefit from the tuition of Andrea Pirlo on the international scene and appears likely to become a top player.
5. Paul Pogba (Juventus)
When Paul Pogba left Manchester United for Juventus, many were expecting him to sit on the bench for the Old Lady. However, he has emerged into an absolute machine in the middle of the park for Juve , playing 27 games for them so far this season and netting five goals in the process, including an absolutely stunning 40-yard strike against Genoa.
Considering he turned 20 just a few days ago and has Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, Kwadwo Asamoah and Claudio Marchisio for competition, he appears to be giving Antonio Conte a rather pleasant headache.
Pogba is versatile and offers strength as well as a high deal of composure and if he continues this form, he will surely be the heir to the massive Pirlo throne and add to his recent call-up for the France national team.
Have we got it wrong? Tell us your top five by leaving a comment below…