In the vein of World Soccer’s Top 50 Exciting Youngsters and Ives Galarcep’s comments on it – I figured I’d take it one step further. This is mostly because I live for the challenge of scouting from my computer chair – looking up obscure results, finding as much information as possible about the future of each football country, and even e-mailing their equally obscure teams to get some sort of profile on the kid (not that most of this stuff couldn’t be found on Wikipedia). Generally, it’s the international tournaments that bring these kids to the forefront and I’d like to put it all in one list. I will use the top 50 teams in FIFA’s November rankings.
50. Slovakia – Marek Hamsik (Napoli)
A testament to the youth movement happening within Slovakian soccer these days – Hamsik, a central midfielder, is said to rival a young Pavel Nedved. He made the jump from Slovakian domestic leagues to the Italian Serie A (not an easy transition) when he was 17 years old, signing with Brescia. Their subsequent relegation to Serie B was the best thing that could have happened to Hamsik – upping his playing time and allowing him to develop against managable competition. It paid off as he appeared 40 times the next year, scoring 10 goals and earning him after several seasons, a profitable transfer to newly promoted Serie A side Napoli. In four appearances this year, he netted twice and earned himself a call-up to the Slovakian national team. His sights are set on one day moving to the EPL with Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham all keeping tabs on him.
Others: Lubomir Michalik (Bolton), Dusan Svento (Slavia Prague)
49. Belgium – Marouane Fellaini (Standard Liege)
Picked by World Soccer, he is born to Moroccan parents and had often entertained the idea of playing for Morocco. That never materialized as Belgian head coach Rene Vandereycken was smart enough to bring him into the fold when he became coach in 2006. Fellaini has 8 caps and a lone goal to his name but at 20 and surrounded by such potent young talent like Vandenborre, Vertonghen, Defour, Dembele, and Kompany the future of the Belgian national team looks extremely bright.
Others: Vincent Kompany (HSV), Anthony Vandenborre (Fiorentina), Steven Defour (Standard Liege)
48. Australia – Matthew Spiranovic (Nurnberg)
A bit of a pleasing surprise to all Australian faithfuls. This 19-year old central defender broke through the ranks of Nurnberg this year – a significant German Bundesliga contender – to start in several games. Known to some as the Australian ‘Vinnie Jones’, Spiranovic is big, imposing, and physical – the “enforcer”. The Socceroos need someone like that. He has already announced his intention to play for the Aussies even though his parents are English and Croatian. He has appeared several times at the youth levels (U-20s) for Australia and at some point the Aussie coaching staff should wise up.
Others: Nathan Burns (Adelaide United), Adam Federici (Reading)
47. Tunisia – Yassine Chikhaoui (FC Zurich)
His play has already warranted 2 caps for the Tunisian national team – which sadly has been losing its form as of late. Zurich fought heavy interest from Marseille and Racing Lens for the striker and even though the Swiss club just brought him in, Ajax has already expressed their intention to sign the 21 year old at some point in the near future.
Others: Nour Hadhria (Club Africain), Youssef Msakni (Stade Tunisien), Mohamed “El Rojo” Karoui (Carthage Eagles)
46. Mali – Mohamed Sissoko (Liverpool)
Seemingly a seasoned veteran to some, many forget this kid is only 22 years old and doing a stand-up job at the heart of the Reds’ midfield. He is big, strong, and to many, his biggest weakness, is his attitude. Many remember one of the big reasons he was shipped out at Valencia was due to training absences, late night excursions. Sissoko has found a happy medium at Liverpool and is beginning to come into his own. In three seasons of play, he has amassed 60 appearances for the Reds often fitting nicely into the rotation of Gerrard, Mascherano, and Xabi Alonso. At one point he was excelling in the French youth system only to represent his true heritage – Mali – but even since that decision, his international caps have come sparingly.
Others: Sidi Yaya Keita (RC Lens), Adama Tamboura (Helsingborgs)
45. Chile – Matias Fernandez (Villareal)
‘Matigol’ is a 21 year old who has already won the title of South American Footballer of the Year. ‘Nuff said, right? There’s more. Fernandez grew up under the watch of Colo Colo, youth hotbed of Chilean soccer. There he won the 2006 Apertura and Clausura and attracted interest from Chelsea and Real Madrid – it was Villareal that swooped in first shelling out a whopping $12 million to get his services. Less than year after his arrival in La Liga, Fernandez is a regular in his Villareal squad (30 caps) as well as breaking through on the international forefront (18 caps, 4 goals). Known within Chile as the Peruvian killer – as 3 of his 4 goals have been against Peru. Watch for Matias to make a big splash during the 2010 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers.
Others: Alexis Sanchez (River Plate), Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen), Mauricio Isla (Udinese)
44. Switzerland – Eren Derdiyok (FC Basel)
Turkish-born but committed – it seems – to the Swiss national team, this forward has lit up the U-21 international age group with 7 goals in only 5 caps so far. At 6’2″, he is powerful in the air even at a young age. He also scored 7 in 7 caps for the U-19 team. His domestic career has been put on hold as inconvenient injuries have popped up during the preseason keeping him out. The Swiss national team is currently trying to find a way to cap-tie him, but the choice to play for Turkey is still a very real one. The Bundesliga will most likely be his first step in the coming years once consistency sets in.
Others: Johan Djourou (Birmingham), Julian Esteban (Rennes)
43. Ghana – Ransford Osei (Kessben FC)
Also picked by World Soccer, Osei was one of the most exciting talents at this past summer’s U-17 World Cup in South Korea. He was second on the scoring charts with six but showed a prowess and tenacity that will likely get snapped up in the coming months. At the age of 16, however, the chase for teams will be a long and arduous one. Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool Bayern Munich, and Hamburger SV have all lodged at bids at one point. He was close to Chelsea before Jose Mourinho stepped down. Just recently, Osei received his first international call-up giving Theo Walcott a run for his money. One of many to come. As a striker, Osei highlights the newest and most exciting crop of young’uns to come from Ghana.
Others: Daniel Opare (AshantiGold), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Yahaya Mohamed (Nice)
42. Korea Republic – Young Rok Shin (Suwon Bluewings)
Impressed at U-2o World Cup in Canada, scoring 2 goals in three appearances for an extremely tough Korea Republic squad. Along with Young Sum-Shim, he is part the most promising offensive duo that South Korea has possessed, in terms of youth. Labelled the “S-Line Duo”, both feature for their respective K-League squads with Young Rok-Shin getting the brunt of the praise due to his teams increased global exposure. Rok-Shin has scored 5 for the K-League giants and played well during Suwon’s friendly trip to America a couple months ago.
Others: Young Sum Shim (Jeju United). Lee Keun-Ho (Daegu FC)
41. Egypt – Mahmoud Abdoul-Razeq “Shikabala” (Al-Zamalek)
A controversial figure in the youth ranks of Egyptian football. This 21-year old is contracted ot PAOK of the Greek Super League but had to return to Egypt for military duty which put him back with his youth team – and Al-Ahly’s biggest rival – Al-Zamalek. The controversy is with his international career, however, as behaviorally he earned himself a one-year ban from the Egyptian federation. None of this takes away from the fact that he is one of the fastest and most skilled attacking midfielders in Egypt’s youth ranks, but most are going to have to wait until July 23rd 2008 – when the ban is lifted – to find out. For now, you can find clips on YouTube.
Others: Hossam Ashour (Al-Ahly), Shikabala , Ismael Saleh (Al Esmaily)
Teams 31-40 will come next week. Stay tuned!!
Filed under: CHI's Top Prospect List | Tagged: Eren Derdiyok, Marek Hamsik, Marouane Fellaini, Matias Fernandez, Matthew Spiranovic, Mohamed Sissoko, Ransford Osei, Shikabala, Young Rok-Shin | 2 Comments »