With young talent being so sought after in the modern game, we take a look at some of the hottest young prospects in football at the moment. I've put together a number of different reports from a variety of different sources to give you a wide range of writing. Make sure you check out some of the writers as this is only a flavour of their work! I've also included an edited picture of each player, hope you like them!
Stephan El-Shaarawy (20)
El-Shaarawy likes to play from the left into the centre, quick on his feet and spontaneous, he can be stubborn on when and where he wants the ball. Defence-wise he is fairly weak but he blends well with team mates on counter attacks and has a good execution rate with his deadly finishes, he only needs one chance to convert. He is a forward who likes to terrorise his opponents.
One criticism of him is that he can get carried away at times and become slightly cocky when his team is winning. It has been his breakthrough season at AC Milan this campaign and he has shown himself to be a skilful player with an eye for goal .For such a young player, Shaarawy has come of age and in recent games, put in some very mature performances, whilst building a formidable club and country partnership with his eccentric compatriot Mario Balotelli. With 19 goals in all competitions El-Shaarawy has established himself as one of Milan's main men this season and he presents an unwelcome challenge for most defenders.
Written By: @OmarMangeli
Christian Eriksen (21)
Dutch icon and connoisseur of 'total football', Johan Cruyff when asked about the 21-year-old Danish playmaker once said: "He's a player I really like with all my heart" "You can compare him with Brian and Michael Laudrup." and when watching the Ajax number 8, it's difficult to disagree.
Standing at 5'9", Eriksen isn't an imposing figure on the pitch. But as soon as he gets that ball at is feet, everyone takes immediate notice. With mercurial vision, inch perfect passing, balance and ambidextrous ability, Eriksen is the perfect number 10. Despite being bought from Danish outfit Odense, his composure on the ball and decision making in the final third oozes that of Ajax, and comparison to fellow Ajax academy gradates Rafael Van Der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder have been common.
In terms of stats, the Dane has 20 goals in 103 appearances for Ajax, with 7 in 27 already this season. With Eriksen's range of passing and the role he most commonly features in (Centre attacking midfielder) assists are his real game. He currently has 10 league assists this season which sees him 3rd overall and last season he finished with an impressive 20 league assists which saw him finish 2nd overall only to Heerenveen winger Luciano Narsingh. He was also only 2nd to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in assists in this seasons Champions League group stages with 4. Not bad for a 21-year-old.
With 2 Eredivise and 1 KNVB cup under his belt at Ajax, Eriksen knows what it takes to win. His individual accolades also stand him in good stead with a Danish player of the year (2011), Danish talent of the year (2010), Dutch talent of the year (2011) and Ajax talent of the year (2011) to name but a few. With numerous murmurings of a transfer away from the Amsterdam Arena already beginning, it won't be too long before we see young Eriksen up there with Europe's elite.
Written By: Oisin Mcqueirns (@Ois_19)
Thibaut Courtois (20)
Having graduated from the prestigious Genk academy – alongside fellow Chelsea team-mate Kevin De Bruyne and Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke – it seems Thibaut Courtois was always going to be a big part of Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, after becoming a key figure in the title-winning Genk team when he was just eighteen years of age.
Now, at twenty, he’s added a Europa League and UEFA Super Cup medal to his Belgian title, after becoming a pivotal part of the Atletico team whilst on loan – and has become Belgium’s #1 ‘keeper in the process. Thibaut Courtois is one of the best young talents in the world, and is arguably the best under twenty-one ‘keeper in the world, contesting the ‘title’ with Gladbach’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Courtois, however, seems to have no outstanding weakness. He’s a terrific shot-stopper with great reflexes, whilst also being able to control his area well, towering over attackers with his lanky 6’6” frame. His distribution may not be as good as his Atleti predecessor David De Gea, but it is still more than adequate. He’s incredibly well-rounded and should go on to have more success at club level, and possibly even international level if this Belgium squad can live up to their potential. However, it seems another loan to Atletico may be best for his short-term future and progress, as it’s unlikely he’ll take the #1 shirt off Petr Cech just yet, but it won’t be too long before he does, he truly is one of the most exciting prospects in football, at the moment.
Written By: @PlayedOfThePark
Wilfried Zaha (20)
Recently snapped up by Manchester United, Zaha has been the subject of much attention in the last year or two. The speedy Palace winger has earned himself a reputation as a quick and skilful player. The deal involved Zaha being loaned back to Palace for the remainder of the season and although at first he gained critics upon his return, they have now died out as he has hit form once more.
Zaha is technically very astute and loves a skill or two. As most players similar to him do, he often lacks discipline and proceeds to showboat or sometimes do too much. However, as again is the case with many top players the rewards make up for the failures. The Palace man has very quick feet and often leaves defenders standing as he dances his way past. Another of his main assets is his pace and when combined with such skill, it can be a deadly combination. So far this season, Zaha has 8 assists but with 6 goals too he has shown that he's got an eye for goal as well.
Zaha is a player who uses his body very well, like Eden Hazard does and this works massively in his favour, making it hard for the defender to dispossess him. As a young and growing player there is still a long way to go for Zaha and he needs to work on maintaining performances for the whole game as sometimes he has a tendency to drift in and out of games. However the years are on his side so in the future I'm sure he will only improve.
Written By: Me! (@Latest_Footy)
Thanks to all the writers who got involved. If you liked any writer in particular then be sure to leave a comment or follow them on twitter! I do requests on photo edits of players so if you liked the pictures then get in touch on twitter (@Latest_Footy)
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!