* Soccer prospects rankings by leagues *
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09-06-2008, 01:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: London, England
OK, will post my list now.
Top 50 Youth Prospects in English Football - August 2008
Criteria: Differs from the usual as the EPL list was a bit full of players who were established. To be eligible for this list players must have been a teenager on August 1st, 2008, and without significant experience in a first team in world football. Therefore, someone like Freddie Sears at West Ham doesn't feature as he has played, and scored, in the Premiership with more than 5 start/sub appearances to his name.
Would also like to note that as a majority of my watching and knowledge is Premier League Academy based, this list is very very heavily biased in favour of that. I'm entirely open to being recommended players from outside of that, and indeed players I may have omitted who deserve to be in here.
(Will re-do a bigger version some time, I made it too small by accident)
1. Daniel Welbeck, Manchester United, England, FC, 26/11/1990
- A gangly-looking forward who doesn't have the immediate appearance of a natural striker, Danny looks more of a winger with his sublime dribbling, and whilst he can do a job there, he's absolutely most at home leading the line. Not yet 18, he's knocking on the door of the full Man Utd squad and playing at two age groups above his level for England, thanks to a prolific goalscoring record. A pure finisher.
2. Gael Kakuta, Chelsea, France, AM L/C, 21/06/1991
Pronounciation Guide: Ka-koo-ta
- A playmaker a little on the short side, Kakuta is a total magician. He plays in the mould of Okocha, standing around making all manner of flicks and tricks look easy, whilst having incredible end product. Relies completely on his left foot, but can strike a ball as clean as anyone with it. Is getting stronger and more intelligent to round out his fabulous technical game.
3. Miroslav Stoch, Chelsea, Slovakia, AM L/R, 19/10/1989
Pronounciation Guide: Stock
- Miro is absolute dynamite. He's tiny (barely 165cm) but has electric pace and dazzling dribbling skills. Can beat a man with a shift of the ball, strikes it viciously well for someone so small, and is at home on either wing and capable as a striker. Scores a lot of goals for a winger and isn't happy unless he does score.
4. Rodrigo Possebon, Manchester United, Brazil, MC, 13/02/1989
Pronounciation Guide: Poss-eh-bon
- Rodrigo signed from Internacional in January 2008 and immediately settled into a midfield role in which he basically dictates the game. Uses the ball superbly, runs the game with intelligence and a wide range of passing, and has developed a penchant for scoring from long range. Is not far from the first team squad (regularly) at all.
Note: Since time of writing, has featured in the Man Utd first team.
5. Jack Wilshere, Arsenal, England, AM L/R, 01/01/1992
- Jack has had a rapid rise, leading to his breakthrough into the Arsenal first team squad aged only 16. Typically played on the right, cutting inside to use his devastating left foot. He glides past players with ease, keeping his head up to bring team-mates into the action, and has a great goalscoring record. Has a slight frame which needs filling out, but he's not even 17 until January 1st, so that's expected. Wonderfully gifted with the ball at his feet.
6. Vladimir Weiss, Manchester City, Slovakia, AM L/R, 30/11/1989
Pronounciation Guide: Vice
- Weiss is similar to his compatriot Stoch, just a fair bit taller and more smoother with the ball at his feet. Has the same dynamic pace and eye for goal (doesn't score as many though), crosses very well, and scares the life out of defenders.
7. Jordan Spence, West Ham, England, DC, 24/05/1990
- Spence is a big, strong centre-back with impressive ability on the ball. An England Under 16 and Under 17 captain, he's expected to follow the likes of Rio and Anton Ferdinand into the West Ham first team, and has every chance of emulating their success. Has all the tools of a top class central defender - pace, strength, awareness - and doesn't have an apparent weakness.
Note: Since time of writing, has featured as an unused sub in all West Ham games this season.
8. Matthew Briggs, Fulham, England, DC, 09/03/1991
- Matthew has already made his professional debut, as a substitute for Fulham at the end of the 2006/07 season, becoming the youngest Premiership player in history. He's massive and, like Spence, has everything necessary to have an impressive career as a central defender.
9. Jake Thomson, Southampton, England, MC, 12/05/1989
- Since I made this list eligible under the criteria as of August 1st, Jake just sneaks in, because he's started the season as a regular fixture in Southampton's midfield. The latest product of an impressive academy, Jake can play at both ends of the pitch. He's probably best in a more defensive capacity where he can show his strength, tackling, and tenacity, but can get forward to useful effect too. If Southampton continue to struggle they won't be able to keep hold of a player who is destined for a long career in the top flight.
10. Jose Baxter, Everton, England, AML/FC, 07/02/1992
- Everton's academy produces it's fair share of talented attackers and has done over the years. Currently their squad has club-produced Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan, and Jose Baxter joins them. He's got a lovely left foot, and can play wide as well as up front. Bigger and stronger than his opponents at youth level, and a goalscorer as well as creator, he'll be making bigger impacts on a bigger stage very soon.
Note: Since time of writing, has featured in the Everton first team.
11. Nathan Delfouneso, Aston Villa, England, FC, 02/02/1991
Pronounciation Guide: Del-fonzo
- Tall, lithe, strong and quick, Nathan has all the attributes of a first-class modern day striker. He can dribble and sprint away from opponents, and his finishing is clinical.
Note: Since time of writing, has featured in the Aston Villa first team.
12. Rafael da Silva, Manchester United, Brazil, DR, 09/07/1990
- Man Utd signed up Rafael and his twin full-back brother Fábio some time ago, but international transfer rules decreed the duo couldn't move to England officially until this summer. Lightning fast with an amazing keen-ness to get forward, he has earned comparisons to Cafu because of his marauding nature.
Note: Since time of writing, has featured in the Man Utd first team.
13. Fábio da Silva, Manchester United, Brazil, DL, 09/07/1990
- Fábio is essentially a left footed version of his identical twin brother, right down to their talent. Rafael's had the first team competitive football advantage so far, suggesting he's rated higher, but Fábio has developed a penchant for absolutely stunning goals in pre-season. If his brother is the new Cafu, Roberto Carlos anyone?
14. Jeffrey Bruma, Chelsea, Netherlands, DC, 13/10/1991
Pronounciation Guide: Broo-mah
- Jeffrey was signed from Feyenoord as a 15 year-old, doubtlessly lured by the promise of money and fame at Chelsea, like so many foreign youngsters. Blues fans will be glad he decided to move, as he is quite a player. Tall, strong, composed, technically almost perfect, he's a star for Chelsea's Reserves as a 16 year old. A rock solid central defender who plays in the mould of Ricardo Carvalho, he can go a long, long way.
15. Kristian Nemeth, Liverpool, Hungary, FC, 05/01/1989
- Kristian finished last season as Liverpool's top goalscorer at Reserve level as the team won the national title. He's had first team chances in the following pre-season, using his pace and skill out wide more often, but it's his clinical form in front of goal that has so far served him well and will continue to do so.
16. Patrick van Aanholt, Chelsea, Netherlands, D L/C, 29/08/1990
- Patrick joined Chelsea in the same Dutch-raiding summer as Jeffrey Bruma arrived, but as he's two years older, pretty much skipped Under 18 level and slotted seamlessly into the Reserve team in his secondary position of left-back. He excelled there, which speaks volumes of his talent as his primary role is as a centre-back, where he was brilliant in the run to the Youth Cup Final. He's a bit short for centre-half, and suits left-back with his pace, drive, and long shooting, playing in a style similar to Wayne Bridge. Wherever he plays, he's an exceptional talent getting closer to the first team squad.
17. Federico Macheda, Manchester United, Italy, FC, 22/08/1991
Pronounciation Guide: Mack-ayda
- Man Utd's first real foray into the Italian youth market led them to Giuseppe Rossi. They'll be hoping their second, in Federico Macheda, produces just as good a player. His first season in England was brilliantly successful, edging 15 goals at just under one per game. He's tall and strong, skilled, displays a fine mix of link-up play and out-and-out scoremanship, and is good off both feet.
18. Davide Petrucci, Manchester United, Italy, AMC, 05/10/1991
Pronounciation Guide: Peh-true-chee
- Following Macheda's success, United went back to Italy this summer to take Roma's talented midfielder Davide Petrucci. Much to Roma's chagrin, Petrucci left for English shores to display his skills, which have led to comparisons to Francesco Totti. He maybe plays a bit deeper than Er Pupone, but has the same tall, powerful build and vision for just about anything. Said to be as talented as Totti at the same age, United may have pulled off quite a coup.
19. Sergio Tejera, Chelsea, Spain, AMC, 26/05/1990
Pronounciation Guide: Teh-heh-rah
- Sergio came to England as an attacking winger but has successfully converted into a highly accomplished central midfielder. Developing strength and build to go alongside his fabulous technical ability will help him progress in England, his prodigious left foot and vision offering a new dimension in midfield.
20. Jacob Mellis, Chelsea, England, MC/AMC, 08/01/1991
- Yes, another Chelsea player in this list who came from another club (Sheffield United) for a fee (potentially £2m). Jacob is a strong and powerful attacking mid a little in the mould of one he looks like and came through the same academy setup in Nottingham as - Jermaine Jenas. Has a great range of passing and a real desire to run through the midfield into the box and score goals.
21. Ben Mee, Manchester City, England, DC, 21/09/1989
- Ben lifted the 2008 FA Youth Cup as Manchester City's captain, then went on to be England's best player at the Euro u19 Championships in the summer. A true leader in the heart of defence, he's a no-frills, solid centre-back and is very strong in the air - at both ends of the pitch.
22. Nacer Barazite, Arsenal, Netherlands, AMR/FC, 27/05/1990
- Nacer has so far proven himself a prolific goalscorer at Under 18 level, and a useful Reserve player. He's had very brief time as a sub in the Arsenal team, and needs to refine his game to be a threat on different levels. He's tall and skilful with decent pace and can finish. There's a top talent there, he seems just to be in a bit of a comfort zone right now.
Note: Since time of writing, has gone on loan to Derby.
23. Barry Bannan, Aston Villa, Scotland, MC, 01/12/1989
- Bannan is tiny, and by tiny I mean smaller than pretty much any footballer you can think of (except Diego Buonanotte). He has a sumptuous left foot with which he sprays the ball around, and takes a mean set piece. His size hasn't held him back yet, but as he moves to the next level, it'll be interesting to see how he adapts.
24. Jordon Mutch, Birmingham City, England, MC/AML, 02/12/1992
- 07/08 was a huge year for Jordon. In the space of a few weeks he went from Under 18s to Reserves to being wanted for Birmingham's first team in the Carling Cup. Since he was still 15, that was denied, but it's an indication of the esteem in which he is held at the club. At home in most midfield roles, he's probably best in the middle of the park in a defensive mould, but can get forward.
25. Sam Hewson, Manchester United, England, MC, 28/11/1988
- Hewson has often been compared to Paul Scholes because of his laid-back, composed style in midfield, where he can arrive late in the box from and have the same goalscoring impact. He's neat and tidy yet accomplished and can play in most central roles in the middle of the park, whilst being best going forward.
26. Michael Woods, Chelsea, England, MC, 06/04/1990
- Chelsea signed Woods from Leeds in a controversial transfer worth a compensation fee of £2.5m. Within six months he was making his debut for the first team as a late FA Cup sub vs Macclesfield. He's not quite hit those highs since, but is a regular Reserve and England u19 player, again, like Hewson, in the mould of Paul Scholes (and not just because he's brilliantly ginger). He keeps midfields ticking over, getting forward well but also last season showing a real talent in the holding role.
27. Dani Pacheco, Liverpool, Spain, AMC, 05/01/1991
- Pacheco continued a growing list of players leaving Barcelona for potential glory in England, and whilst he's not there yet, he had an impressive pre-season in 2008. He's small but terrifically skilled in dribbling, and has so much creativity Liverpool could probably do with him in their first team right now.
28. Ciaran Clark, Aston Villa, England, DC, 26/09/1989
- Ciaran has long been captain of both his club and country youth teams. A tall and talented centre-back, he's close to the Villa first team squad, offering a complete game with no weaknesses and just a very refined game suited to modern football.
29. Matthew James, Manchester United, England, DC/MC, 22/07/1991
- Matty can play at centre-back or in midfield, and it's the latter where you'll likely see his ability at its best. There's something of Gareth Barry both in his looks and style (although he's right footed), combining a wonderful touch with maturity in his play - something which translates into his wearing of United's under 18 captain's armband.
30. Nathan Ecclestone, Liverpool, England, FC, 30/12/1990
- Ecclestone's primary weapon is his devastating pace. He comfortably trumps pretty much every defender at Youth level for speed, and then he's lucky enough to call upon his useful left foot (he does very little on his right) to finish chances - something he does very well from all angles and different distances.
31. Mikel San Jose, Liverpool, Spain, DC, 30/05/1989
- As part of Liverpool's casting of a massive net across most of Europe in order to snare tens of young footballers, Mikel San Jose was brought in from Bilbao. As you might expect of a Spanish centre-back, he plays a footballing game at the back rather than your typical English stereotyped game, and is one of the youngsters closer to Benitez' first team than the rest, appearing on the bench for a few games.
32. Keanu Marsh-Brown, Fulham, England, DR, 10/08/1992
- Keanu is an all-action full-back with great pace and strength, and very good in both attacking and defensive capacities. Has represented England at u16 and u17 levels.
33. Jack Rodwell, Everton, England, DC/DM, 11/03/1991
- Rodwell made his debut for Everton in the 07/08 UEFA Cup at the age of 16, showing the maturity in his game and physique which has impressed so many. At his best in midfield, he's a strong anchor who can occasionally chip in with goals.
Note: Since time of writing, has featured in all Everton league games to date.
34. Henri Lansbury, Arsenal, England, MC, 12/10/1990
Pronounciation Guide: Henry (English)
- Henri is a tall midfield playmaker with a fabulous range of passing and vision. He's best used inside with a defensive midfield partner but has been played wider, and in more advanced positions (notching a hat-trick in the FA Youth Cup last year). Suffered over the last year with mononucleosis and is now back and fighting fit again.
35. Gael N'Lundulu, Portsmouth, France, AM L/R, 29/04/1992
- Portsmouth, upon becoming a Premier League Academy team, have searched far and wide for talent to make their place a worthy one. This summer they went to France to pick up fleet-footed winger N'Lundulu, who has great pace and strength and quite sensational skill - perhaps comparable to Gael Kakuta.
36. Marvin Pourie, Liverpool, Germany, FC, 08/01/1991
Pronounciation Guide: Pure-e
- Probably the first thing that strikes you about Pourie is his resemblance to Fernando Torres. Has the same sort of build, same messy blond hair, and same white boots and ankle tape. He's also got some ability to go with this of course. The ex-Dortmund forward has good pace and finishing instincts, despite not appearing to always be composed, and shows occasional strength, but needs to work on that.
37. David Ball, Manchester City, England, FC, 14/12/1989
- In a season where Man City won the FA Youth Cup, Ball scored over 30 goals including one from the spot in the Final. He's not very big or strong but has very good pace, and the ability all top strikers have to just find the net regularly.
38. Rhys Taylor, Chelsea, Wales, GK, 07/05/1990
- Rhys has been a regular for Chelsea's youth teams since he was barely 15, and has progressed to the stage where a few weeks ago was called into the full Wales squad before making a senior appearance (he has been a sub). Kicking is his real strength, comfortably covering 60+ yards and is fine with the ball at his feet. He's a developing shot stopper of some talent, and whilst replacing Petr Cech is a big target, he's got the potential to be a very capable backup.
39. Richie Smallwood, Middlesbrough, England, MC, 29/12/1990
- Richie is a cental midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and has a very good engine, gets up and down well and is a threat on goal. Needs to maybe bulk up a little as he is probably a little too skinny, but his touch and knack of being in the right place at the right time are fantastic.
40. Alex Nimely, Manchester City, Liberia, AMC, 11/05/1991
- Nimely came to Man City as a teenager with African Champions League experience. He's strong, as you'd expect, with good speed and skill, and an eye for goal.
41. Jason Steele, Middlesbrough, England, GK, 18/08/1990
- The second of just three goalies in the list, Steele has long represented England's youth teams, showing himself as a fine shot stopper with command of his area. Middlesbrough don't have the strongest goalkeeping depth, don't be surprised if he forces his way through before the end of the decade.
42. Paris Cowan-Hall, Portsmouth, England, FC, 01/10/1990
- When Paul Hart went from Rushden to head up Portsmouth's academy, he brought with him Cowan-Hall, who had interested Chelsea and Man Utd. Good thing for Pompey too - he's an excellent, if slightly small striker, with fantastic pace, and is a hard worker, coming into wide positions and working well as a winger at times too.
43. Kieran Trippier, Manchester City, England, DR, 19/09/1990
- Trippier is a no-nonsense, unassuming right-back who gets on with his job, and does it well. Very secure in defensive capacities, he gets forward adequately, in a sort of Gary Neville-like way, and is someone you can very much depend on.
44. Robbie Mak, Manchester City, Slovakia, FC, 13/06/1905
- Mak is another of the recent breed of Slovakian young attackers to make waves in England. He's busy, exciting, with a rasping shot and real pace. Has two Slovakian team-mates at City, and has been a real influence in their youth teams.
45. Rhys Murphy, Arsenal, England, FC, 06/11/1990
- Rhys, whilst a bit arrogant and cocky, can typically back that up with prolific goalscoring. He missed much of 07/08 injured but he's got fine technique and pace, and scores a lot of goals.
46. Ben Amos, Manchester United, England, GK, 10/04/1990
- United's young stopper is strikingly tall without being a giant, and carries an authority with it. He's developing very quickly into a very well-rounded goalkeeper, with his best asset probably his ability to dominate in the air.
47. David Amoo, Liverpool, England, AMR/FC, 23/04/1991
- Amoo was snared in the 2007 summer raid on Millwall, moving to Liverpool to display his awesome pace and dribbling. He's probably more natural as a striker but is used best on the wing, where he can run at players. He's a big lad too, so combining his size with his speed makes him a frightening worry for defenders. Still a bit raw technically, mind.
48. Gerardo Bruna, Liverpool, Spain, AMC, 21/01/1991
- Bruna was signed from Real Madrid and touted as the new Messi, because of the physical similarities between the two short playmakers. Bruna hasn't really made many waves in England yet but is a top dribbler and can score goals.
49. Nathan Porritt, Middlesbrough, England, AML/R, 09/01/1990
- Porritt came to a lot of people's attentions in a TV documentary where Chelsea were accused of tapping him up. It might've gone to his head because his talent hasn't been consistent since then. Boro produce fine young wingers - Stewart Downing, Adam Johnson - and Porritt is very much in their style and mould.
50. Troy Brown, Fulham, Wales, DR/C, 17/09/1990
- Troy is eligible for England, Jamaica, and Wales, and it's the latter's youngsters I believe he's represented so far. He's tall and strong and another talented young Fulham defender - they're doing well in this department.
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