Rants and musings from the magazine team
In the November 2012 edition of FourFourTwo - out now - we reveal twenty of the players who are about to move on up to football's A-list. Some of them are already on the verge of being househole names, while others are going about their business a little more quietly.
Here, we give you the chance to see a few of them in action - with moving pictures and everything...
Nick Powell - Manchester United & England U19
It didn’t take Crewe Alexandra fans long to realise Powell would be the latest young talent fly the nest destined for greater things. Similarly, it didn’t take Manchester United long to realise the player they had on their hands.
Powell, still just 18, shone in League Two with Crewe after breaking into the first team at just 16. YouTube is a haven for the classy midfielder’s stunning goals from last season, in which he scooped the Football League’s coveted Apprentice of the Year award, firing an unstoppable strike in the play-off final against Cheltenham to earn the Railwaymen promotion in the process.
A well-taken goal on his United debut against Wigan was a taste of things to come. Now he must continue to provide Sir Alex Ferguson with further food for thought.
Raheem Sterling - Liverpool & England U21
Not too many things appear to excite Roy Hodgson, but Raheem Sterling is clearly one of them.
Eyebrows were raised when the nimble 17-year-old was called up to the senior national team after just a handful of appearances for Liverpool, but it’s likely that few will be laughing by the end of the campaign.
We’re fairly sure that Stewart Downing’s inability to conjure anything of use for his team-mates last season is the reason behind his extended spell on the bench, although his cause has certainly been done few favours by the Reds’ emerging wing whippet.
Goals like the below, scored last year at the Under-17 World Cup, are what the Anfield faithful can expect soon enough.
Younes Belhanda - Montpellier & Morocco
French-born with north African roots? Pretty good in midfield? We’ll stop ourselves from stumbling over the thought of the next Zidane, but Younes Belhanda was Montpellier’s very own ‘Zizou’ last season.
The intelligent attack-minded playmaker was a shining light of the Ligue 1 side’s historic title success last season, firing 12 goals (including the storming goal-of-the-season howitzer below) as Montpellier lifted the crown.
This season the Moroccan international has the chance to strut his stuff in the Champions League. The 22-year-old stuck with Montpellier despite reported interest from several high-profile clubs, but it seems only a matter of time before greater things come his way.
Lorenzo Insigne - Napoli & Italy
This pint-sized prodigy may stand at just 5ft4in, but so far there is no talk of him falling short in Italy.
The explosive 21-year-old has risen through the ranks at hometown club Napoli and, after a string of successful loan spells, is now mixing it up with the likes of Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik in the first team.
The loss of Ezequiel Lavezzi’s was Insigne’s gain, with the youngster now slotting into PSG-bound forward's berth on the left. It’s a position which perfectly suits the silky starlet’s key traits; namely dribbling ability and an intricate style which leave Serie A defenders cursing and, frankly, rather dizzy.
Cristian Tello - Barcelona & Spain U21
These days it’s hardly a surprising when Barcelona unearth another next gem and slot him seamlessly into their front three. But with plenty of established ammunition ahead in the pecking order, it’s perhaps not a given that the latest La Masia youngsters will spill into the first team at will.
That, however, was exactly how things went down for flying forward Cristian Tello. The talented 21-year-old made his Barcelona league debut in January this year and followed that with a neat goal on his full debut against Real Sociedad.
Tello’s Champions League debut against Bayer Leverkusen – a 7-1 win - was drizzled in Barca brilliance. While pesky Argentine Lionel Messi stole the show with a nonchalant five-goal haul, Tello was on hand with the other pair to announce himself to Europe with a roar.
Premier League clubs circled in the summer, but the early signs this season suggest a prominent role for the nimble star.
Isco - Malaga & Spain U21
This season looks perfectly poised to be Isco’s in the spotlight.
The Spain under-21 international watched with joy as Malaga sold star man Santi Cazorla to Arsenal in the summer, paving the way for an even more prominent role for the supremely talented dribble wizard this season.
After being snapped up from La Liga rivals Valencia the previous summer, Isco enjoyed an outstanding campaign as Malaga qualified for the Champions League in fourth place.
The 20-year-old, who boasts impeccable vision, awareness and bags of confidence to boot, cracked a wonderful brace in a scintillating man-of-the-match display against Zenit St. Petersburg last month.
Watch out, Europe.
Oscar - Chelsea & Brazil
Brazilian midfield maestro Oscar has made a swift impression in Chelsea’s playmaker-packed midfield since his summer arrival from Internacional.
Perhaps it was a blistering full debut in the Champions League against Juventus that made Roberto Di Matteo’s mind up. "Whenever I have the ball at my feet I know exactly what to do," Oscar declared to FFT earlier this month. After seeing his wonderful brace against the Serie A champions, we’re not doubting that.
Blessed with a keen eye for goal, fancy footwork and a dazzling catalogue of tricks, the 21-year-old has already cemented his place in Brazil’s senior squad. A brace against Iraq, plus goals against Argentina and China, have certainly done his future chances no harm.
Ganso - Sao Paulo & Brazil
Paulo Henrique Ganso, otherwise known simply as Ganso, might have a rubbish Brazilian name (Goose) but his abilities on a football pitch go without ridicule.
Once labelled as 'the greatest revelation Brazil has produced in the last decade' by late Selecao legend Socrates, Ganso disappointed European scouts by joining homeland giants Sao Paulo this summer.
A glittering presence in midfield, the 23-year-old has drawn comparisons with an early Kaka after bamboozling Brazilian Serie A defences for almost four years at former club Santos.
It seems only logical for Europe’s finest to come calling sooner rather than later.
Radamel Falcao - Atletico Madrid & Colombia
OK, the prolific Atletico Madrid striker is hardly a new face – but isn’t it time he started regularly competing for the game's major honours?
The deadly 26-year-old set la Primera alight with a sensational debut season at the Vicente Calderon, firing 36 goals in only 49 league and European matches for Diego Simeone’s troops last season.
He was, of course, pivotal in their Europa League success and subsequently sunk Champions League winners Chelsea with a breathtaking hat-trick in the Super Cup final.
Need we go on? We could, but in essence all you really have to do is take a look at the Colombia international’s dreamy goal below...
Eden Hazard - Chelsea & Belgium
By now the new Chelsea fans’ favourite has already made his abilities known in the Premier League – but this is surely only the beginning.
An inspirational 2011/12 campaign with Lille in Ligue 1 was the product of four season’s worth of hard work and now is the Belgian’s time to bring his talents to England.
In 38 league games he scored 20 goals and conjured 15 assists from the wing. Essentially he was supremely deadly, productive and a downright pain in the backside for opposition defences.
The gifted 21-year-old has already netted twice and laid on six goals for his team-mates at Stamford Bridge this season. Now the only way is up from here.
For the full list, check out the November issue of FourFourTwo, OUT NOW!
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