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The timer is parting with its final few grains now over in Brazil, as the world’s greatest sporting event etches ever closer. The 2014 World Cup is poised to be one of the finest in living memory, providing an exhibition of the titans of the beautiful game colliding on the biggest stage of all, in search of the sport’s most coveted trophy and the subsequent status of world domination.
The stars of global football are well known and even more eagerly anticipated to bare their mark upon Brazil, however, here at SCAN we have delved into lower echelons to identify the young protégées heading to South America who really could burst onto the scene.
William Carvalho – Portugal
The Sporting Lisbon starlet has courted a whole host of top European clubs over the previous twelve months – and rightly so. The versatile Portuguese defensive-midfielder certainly has a lot to draw from in his locker, standing as a natural athlete who commits strongly to the tackle, all the while exhibiting quite a contrasting fluid and accurate passing range. Carvalho could be utilised as a lynch-pin for Paulo Bento’s Portuguese XI, acting as the all-important cog in breaking up play and dictating possession to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. Already the owner of a €45 million release clause in his contract, the age-old cliché of the ‘tournament shop window’ could realistically be the case for Carvalho in Brazil, as a fine spate of form will indubitably leave parent club Sporting Lisbon clutching in vain to remain the proprietors of the exceedingly talented youngster.
Heung-Min Son – Korea Republic
The 21 year old left attacking midfielder is certainly one of the brighter talents to come out of Asian football over the previous couple of years; his first season alone with club team Bayer Leverkusen seeing an impressive return of twelve goals and seven assists. Standing as one of the most potential-laden players of the Korean side, Son will be carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders in attempt of showcasing his Bundesliga form on the world’s biggest stage. A strong crosser of the ball and somewhat of a tactician in the one-on-one situation, Son could not only provide an artistic spectacle, but also aid his somewhat underdog of a nation’s progression out of a tough, yet manageable group H.
Diego Reyes – Mexico
Defenders, often overlooked when considering potential stars, can provide the momentum with which the metronome of a team can tick. This is the case with 21 year old FC Porto defender Diego Reyes, whose intelligent positioning and tranquil comfort in possession have earned the Mexican high appraisal over the past season. Lying in the heart of the Mexican defence, the youngster will be vital in assisting the fast pace and ball-retention of which his nation will look to play when in the neighbouring territory of South America. Under the guidance and leadership of compatriot and national icon Rafael Marquez, Reyes has the potential to follow suit, winning the hearts of the ‘El Tricolor’ fans and simultaneously catching the attention of the world.
Christian Atsu – Ghana
Ghanaian winger Atsu will be heavily relied upon by his home nation to extensively capitalise upon his trademark attributes of raw pace and direct nature of attack. With African nations often heavily criticised for makeshift defending at major tournaments, Atsu will certainly be out to prove that this clearly isn’t the case with regards to their attacking prowess. With the likes of Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng in accompaniment amongst the ranks, Atsu’s talents are assuredly in good hands to be utilised to full effect. Should the Chelsea starlet hit the ground running, Brazil’2014 could be a major point of establishment for the wide-man.
Ross Barkley – England
No shortlist would be complete without at least some home blood. With Ross Barkley however, this evidently is not a case of addition via sympathy. The born-and-bred scouser has enjoyed a fine season at his local Everton, commanding play from midfield and exhibiting a style of attack which has led some of the most decorated pundits to compare his style to ‘the modern-day European midfielder’, incorporating a rare concoction of flair, composure, steel and panache into his play, consequently taking his whole game to the next level. With a very diverse, accomplished and most importantly ‘in-form’ midfield at Roy Hodgson’s disposal at the World Cup, Barkley may find his work cut-out in breaking the starting XI. Nevertheless, should the opportunity arise, the Merseysider will undoubtedly throw his entire being into procuring victory for the Three Lions. Brazil could well be the incubator for one of the most exciting youngsters in European football.