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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ten Potential Breakthrough Stars For The 2010-11 Season

Mario Goetze

Club Borussia Dortmund
Nationality Germany
Age 18

The BvB starlet just turned 18 and has been heralded by some as the best player in the world in his age group. At the club since 2001, Goetze made his debut last winter in the Bundesliga but is expected to push Kuba for a place in Juergen Klopp's starting line-up this season. Goetze has a wide array of dribbling skills and trickery and showed Manchester City that money is not everything by providing two fine assists in his side's 3-1 friendly win on Wednesday. Another young German playmaker in the tradition of Toni Kroos, Marko Marin and Mesut Oezil, Goetze willgive  the youth-promoting Joachim Loew selection difficulties if his potential comes to fruition before 2012.

Dani Pacheco

Club Liverpool
Nationality Spain
Age 19

Spain's run to the final of this summer's UEFA European Under-19 Championships was thanks, in no small part, to the exquisite form in front of goal of Dani Pacheco. The former Barcelona cantera product primiarily worked the left-side of la Rojita's attack and weighed in with four goals, becoming the top scorer in the process. He also contributed a wonderful through pass  for Rodrigo to put the Spaniards ahead in the final against France. Pacheco is a pacy, technically adept attacker with a fearsome strike and good approach play around the opposition area with lightening quick dribbling capabilities.

James Rodriguez

Club FC Porto
Nationality Colombia
Age 19

'James Bond' has a style to match Cristiano Ronaldo and now plies his trade in the same league in which 'CR7' first took his steps onto the world stage. Porto acquired 70 per cent of his playing rights this summer, for a fee of around €5m, and immediately inserted a €30m buyout clause into his contract. The Dragons have a reputation for nurturing South American talent in Europe and Rodriguez could be set for a career at the highest level. The attacker helped former club Banfield to their first ever Argentinian title, the 2009 Apertura, and later flickered in the Copa Libertadores, scoring five times. Rodriguez can do damage on either side of the attack and can also pop up at key times in the box. Physically, he can look after himself too.

Phil Jones

Club Blackburn Rovers
Nationality England
Age 19

The Lancashire native was excluded from the England under-19s for the recent tournament as he is now viewed as an under-21 star in the making. Senior honours are surely not beyond the realm of possibility either. He made his Premier League debut at the tail end of last season against no lesser opposition than Chelsea and impressed his manager Sam Allardyce with his physically imposing style and burgeoning ability. 'Indiana' Jones has already earned comparisions with the Chelsea captain, John Terry, and could push for a starting berth at Ewood Park this term.

Gael Kakuta

Club Chelsea
Nationality France
Age 19

Many thousand words were written about the former RC Lens prospect before he had even kicked a ball in anger, such was the effect his 2007 move to Chelsea had on English football. However, the midfielder looks likely to prove the Pensioners were justified in their pursuit, legal or not, of one of France's greatest emerging talents. This summer gave Kakuta a chance to strut his stuff in front of an international audience, at the under-19 tournament, and he helped les Bleuets to the title with a series of mesmerising performances. He often looked like he was playing in an age group below his own; proving too fast, too strong and too intelligent for a whole host of his opponents. Kakuta is naturally gifted in the playmaker position but is also effective when stationed on either side of a forward; such adaptability will stand him in good stead at Stamford Bridge.

Son Heung-Min

Club Hamburger SV
Country South Korea
Age 18

The Korean youth international has been tipped as one of the Bundesliga's top 10 emerging talents for the season but HSV will have to make do without his services for the best part of two months. Son appeared as a late substitute during the pre-season win over Chelsea but sustained a metatarsal injury minutes from the end of proceedings. The forward, nicknamed 'Rocket', has impressed coach Armin Veh in the build-up to the 2010-11 campaign having been on the books of the club since 2008. Son is capable of coming from deep or from wide positions to cause destruction and is adaptable enough to find a spot in Hamburg's first team, fitness permitting.

Thiago Alcantara

Club Barcelona
Country Spain
Age 19

The son of the 1994 Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho has been at the Barcelona academy since 2004 and has already featured intermittently for the Barca first team. He scored against Racing last February in a 4-0 win. Thiago, as his shirt reads, has a style redolent of Deco in his Porto days with bravery and steel which belies his relatively small stature. He uses the ball quickly and efficiently and his keen sense of positioning means he is never far from the heart of the action. The Bari-born midfielder carries a deceptively quick shot and a subtle creative touch. His assist for Sergio Canales against England in the European under-19 semi-final was exquisite. Along with international colleague Oriol Romeu, Thiago can expect some first-team duties at Camp Nou this coming campaign.

Abel Hernandez

Club Palermo
Nationality Uruguay
Age 19

Possessed of searing pace and the build of a middleweight boxer, 'la Joya' is, perhaps, the primary reason why Palermo allowed Edinson Cavani to move onto Napoli this summer. And with Fabrizio Miccoli's fitness a corcern, the former Penarol player can expect more first team action this season. He is no stranger to first team duties having joined in February 2009 and has played close to 30 first-team matches since. Hernandez scored goals against both Inter and Milan last season as well as firing in a memorable brace against Fiorentina. In all he scored seven Serie A strikes, at a rate of one every 120 minutes. Turns 20 next week.

Jano Ananidze

Club Spartak Moscow
Nationality Georgia
Age 17

The 2010 Russian Premier League season is in full swing but 'Jano' could alert the world to his potential in the upcoming 2010-11 Champions League campaign. The Georgian teenager was used sparingly during the 2009 season but is rapidly becoming a key first-team player for The Meat this term, in spite of their on-field difficulties. Standing barely 1.72m and with the frame of a gymnast, 'Jano' has some problems holding off more agricultural opponents. However, with the ball at his feet, there can be no denying his passing capabilities and vision. He laid to rest rumours that he was considering a switch of international allegiance to Russia last summer by declaring for Georgia. Juventus, Milan, Sevilla and Arsenal have all kept tabs on Jano since he first broke into Spartak's first-team ranks.

Philippe Coutinho

Club Inter
Age 18

The Rio de Janeiro native has been described as 'the future of Inter', having been signed by the Italian club in 2008. Coutinho has spent two years in his homeland on loan at Vasco de Gama, where he has steadily increased his reputation as a teenage prodigy. Standing only 1.72m, the Vasco academy graduate is nonetheless sturdy on his feet and is possessed of solid balance. One of his greatest atrributes is his two-footedness; Coutinho's opponents have no idea whether he will go left or right and he is equally comfortable delivering shots off either side too. He cost i Biscione a sum in the region of €4m in 2008; he is worth many times more now after featuring in Rafael Benitez's pre-season plans. He scored his first goal for the club, a volley, in the 3-2 defeat to Panathinaikos earlier this week. With the expected departure of Mario Balotelli, Coutinho could well find himself thrust in at the deep end this term.

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