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10-12-2006, 02:44 PM
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Juni's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: London, England
Country: England
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OK, my first proper list, this will be the list I update from whenever I get the time. I've discussed the list with some friends, there may be disagreements with positions or grades, that's what discussion is for


1) Wayne Rooney - (FC, Manchester United, 24-10-85, England) 10A
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England’s brightest young talent for a generation is perhaps already at the top of his game. Everything seems to have happened so fast since he made his mark just about four years ago. Rooney is now an integral player for club and country, a leading striker who is asked to both score and create goals. A physical beast, Rooney’s pace isn’t elite but he is quick and combined with his physical stature is capable of beating players with sheer drive. His finishing off either foot is clinical and he strikes a ball extremely well. The question is, where can he go from here? As a 21 year old he’s already an experienced international and has a 30m transfer fee to his name. Whilst he can refine his game and become a fine rounded footballer and become a more disciplined performer (he has well publicised issues with temperament), can the best English prospect for many years go on and be a dominant footballer for the next decade and more? Everything points to yes.

2) Francesc Fabregas – (MC, Arsenal, 4-5-87, Spain) 9A
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A man of precocious talent, Fabregas is still a teenager until the end of this season but even at this age is one of the finest midfielders in Europe. After initially breaking into the Arsenal team due to a shortage of fit midfielders, ‘Cesc’ has simply become undroppable. From a 17 year old newcomer, he has progressed to Arsenal and Spain regular. The attributes Arsenal saw in him to entice him from Barcelona as a 15 year old are already coming to the fore in big fashion. Fabregas shows an assured touch and plays with a maturity belying his age. His passing off both feet over various distances is competent and he always wants the ball. Over the last 12 months he’s also added goals to his game, including a fine goal at home to Juventus. The sky really is the limit for him. Already one of the finest in his position in England and for a team who were the second best in Europe last season, Fabregas can continue under Wenger’s excellent tutelage and cement his place at the very top of the game.

3) Arjen Robben (AML, Chelsea, 23-1-84, Holland) 8.5A
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Manchester United’s ‘loss’ was Chelsea’s gain. Robben’s proposed move to Manchester United in the 2003/04 season fell through and Chelsea pounced, snapping up one of Europe’s hottest prospects. An electric performer in the Eredivisie since the age of 16, Robben’s progress at Chelsea has been fantastic, to the point he should now be considered amongst the finest wingers in the game. A winger who plays to the true definition of the position, Robben’s finest attributes are probably his lightning quick feet, which he uses to twist defenders inside out before taking off and beating them. He also shows a keen eye for goal and has added defensive qualities to his game under Mourinho. In a Chelsea team congested in midfield, Robben continues to earn selections through his highly consistent performances. Playing dominant football for one of the best teams in Europe has seen his name linked with Real Madrid more than once, but for now Robben is at Chelsea, where he’s well on his way to a continued starring role.

4) Cristiano Ronaldo (AMR, Manchester United, 5-2-85)9B
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When Manchester United replaced David Beckham with a teenage winger from Sporting for an 8 figure fee there were feelings of excitement and anticipation, but not many could’ve expected the impact Ronaldo has had in such a short time. From his exhilarating debut at home to Bolton, Ronaldo has tricked and turned his way to becoming one of the most dangerous young talents in Europe. Occasionally his end product has been questioned, both concerning his crossing and his finishing, but after a tumultuous 2006 summer where he was vilified by the English gutter press for his ‘involvement’ in Wayne Rooney’s red card and England’s subsequent World Cup elimination, Ronaldo’s start to the 2006/07 season has shown a maturity in both the person and the player, as he has become United’s go-to guy, providing goals and highly consistent performances. An established player for club and country, he should become one of football’s hardest players to face, and one of the most consistent threats.

5) Carlos Tevez (FC, West Ham United, 5-2-84, Argentina) 8.5D
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Another player labelled ‘the new Maradona’, Tevez has been one of Argentina’s hottest commodities for a few years. A surprising move to Corinthians suggested a move to one of Europe’s elite was on the cards, and dissention close to the transfer deadline indicated such a move was imminent. Well, the move was, but the location was as unexpected as they come. West Ham United ‘acquired’ Tevez and #6 ranked Javier Mascherano in mysterious circumstances amidst talk of a takeover by MSI. Tevez remains as one of football’s biggest potential talents, a fact further enhanced by impressive cameo appearances at the World Cup. Blessed with a deft touch, low centre of gravity and impressive strength for a player of his stature, Tevez is a goalscorer and an extremely hard worker. Quite what his move to West Ham will mean for his development isn’t clear yet, but the likelihood of him moving on to a bigger and better European team has never been higher, and if that happens, expect Tevez to take his game to the very top.

6) Javier Mascherano (DMC, West Ham United, 8-6-84, Argentina) 8C
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Like Tevez, Mascherano left Corinthians for the unexpected location of West Ham in August, and also like his Argentinian colleague, he represents the very best of the future of football. Composed, Mascherano likes to break up attacks with strong play and launch attacks with driving runs or expansive passing. A regular in the national side already, Mascherano is already one of the most dominant midfielders in the game and has few weaknesses. His future is uncertain in terms of location and development, as the West Ham situation is still to play out. What seems certain is that he’ll progress to one of the biggest clubs in the game, and strut his stuff on the highest level. Because he’s good enough to.

7) Aaron Lennon (AMR, Tottenham Hotspur, 16-4-87, England) 8C
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Everything has happened so quickly for Lennon, which is unsurprising for a player of ridiculous speed. Since making his debut for Leeds as a 16 year old, he’s joined Tottenham in a 1m transfer and has become an England international, even playing some time at the World Cup. He’s only 5’5”, very very small, but his diminutive size enables him to beat defenders and evade challenges. His elite speed combined with trickery allows him to be one of the most dangerous players on the pitch. Still only 18, the future is entirely ahead of him. A Spurs regular, he should look to securing the right wing spot on the England team as he develops his game. He’s not particularly strong (as he’s that short), but he enjoys a challenge and is constantly working on his game to devise new ways of using his abilities to maximum advantage.

8) Salomon Kalou (AM/FR, Chelsea, 5-8-85, Ivory Coast) 8C
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After a fantastic season with Feyenoord in 2005/06, Chelsea signed one of the brightest talents of the Eredivisie. Kalou has spectacular speed and a real eye for goal, whilst not shying from creativity, adding assists in double figures each of the last two seasons. His finishing is very good if not yet elite, and he is fairly versatile – he can play wide or up as a striker. He faces a battle to secure regular playing time at Chelsea but his development should continue and he has all the tools to become one of the most dangerous players on the team. An uncertain international future still sees the possibility of playing for either his natural Ivory Coast, or his naturalised Holland, who were prepared to select him for the World Cup. Whoever he plays for will get a valuable asset who can score and make goals, and burn opponents with his trickery and speed.

9) Giuseppe Rossi (FC, Manchester United (on loan at Newcastle United), 1-2-87, Italy) 8D Zola
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An Italian of American birth, Rossi is a small striker who initially appears to be the sort of Zola-type player you’d expect to link between midfield and the lead striker. However whilst he is capable of playing such a role, he truly thrives in being a goal threat, and his goalscoring record in youth and reserve teams at Parma and Man Utd suggests it’s his natural position. He is blessed with a fine left foot and terrific dribbling skills, whilst he shows an awareness of the play around him and brings others into the game. Impressive performances for United’s senior team has as yet failed to yield a more permanent breakthrough so he has been allowed out on loan to Newcastle, where his playing time should increase due to a lack of fit strikers (as yet it hasn’t, however). Rossi has international-level potential but there’s some way to go before he can realise it. He needs to get regular action at a top-level team, something that hasn’t been forthcoming. If he gets it, expect him to progress, but until then, it’s not a certainty.

10) Gael Clichy (DL, Arsenal, 26-7-85, France) 8C Ashley Cole

The 2006/07 season should see Clichy make more progress than he ever has. With the sale of Ashley Cole to Chelsea and Arsenal’s intentions to use William Gallas as a centre back, Clichy should make the left back spot his own for years to come. In previous seasons during duty covering for an injured Cole, Clichy has performed at a level at least similar to Cole and occasionally better. A quick and strong player, Clichy is solid in the tackle and is capable at both ends of the pitch. He has the potential to be one of the best fullbacks in football, perhaps even challenging for a national team spot in future years. That said, he is ridiculously injury prone and needs to work on his fitness to become a player who can play 35+ games a season without getting injured. If that occurs he should progress well. If not, his potential may never be fully found.

11) Theo Walcott (AMR/FC, Arsenal, 16-3-89, England) 9D Henry
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A high value transfer to Arsenal after a very small number of first team appearances for Southampton and a surprising World Cup selection for Theo Walcott saw the English hype machine go into overdrive over the 2006 summer. Walcott didn’t end up playing a second at the Finals but the belief that he could’ve been a game-breaker for England was partially well founded. Walcott has speed which can’t be matched by many defenders, he’s faster than Thierry Henry over short distances. He combines it with fearless dribbling and fairly good finishing. He is still quite raw, and is barely 17 years old. A product of Southampton’s increasingly successful youth academy, Arsenal signed what they saw as fantastic potential. Early cameo appearances for them this season suggests he’s most useful now as a substitute who can take advantage of tired defenders with his electric speed, and as he works closely with Thierry Henry, the hope is that he develops into a similar player. If that’s the case, England have one hell of a prospect.

12) Mark Gonzalez (AML, Liverpool, 10-7-84, Chile) 8C
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Nicknamed ‘Speedy’ for more than the obvious Gonzalez link, the young Chilean winger has exciting potential for his all action, high-speed performances along the left flank, and propensity for spectacular goals. A problematic transfer to Liverpool was finally sealed in the 2006 summer after the player spent a season on loan at Real Sociedad in Spain. His performances further enhanced his reputation and despite a spat with his national FA, he’s started his Liverpool career very well. His dribbling and speed allow him to be a versatile performer on the left of the Liverpool team with Riise or Aurelio, and he’s already shown he’s a capable finisher. He should get enough first team appearances this season to continue developing, and confirm his status as one of Chile’s best prospects for many years.

13) Anton Ferdinand (DC, West Ham United, 18-2-85, England) 8C Rio Ferdinand
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The younger brother of Rio Ferdinand is following in his footsteps just as quickly as Rio introduced himself. Anton is a very similar player, from his appearance to his style. Very comfortable on the ball, Anton is tall and is a stereotypical ‘footballing centre-half’. He’s not afraid to put himself about, is decent in the air and is rarely beaten for pace. He has fine technique and has scored the occasional goal. He is still fairly inexperienced and slightly raw, issues which can be addressed with playing time at West Ham, where he is a regular, and then perhaps refined should he move on (he was linked with Liverpool this summer). As far as the England team goes, centre back is the most congested position with a number of world-class performers currently unable to muscle their way in. Anton is behind these currently, and may have to be very patient to even get in the squad, let alone the first team.

14) Vassiriki Abou Diaby (DMC, Arsenal, 11-5-86, France) 8D Vieira
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A product of Auxerre’s youth system, the tall and strong Diaby was another hot prospect identified by Arsene Wenger and signed in the 2005/06 winter transfer window. Touted as the natural successor to Patrick Vieira, Diaby shows many of his qualities – strength, tenacity, a confidence, and a bustling attitude to midfield play. Diaby is perhaps more attacking than Vieira but has the potential to be the same dominant force in the middle of the park for club and eventually country. Being at Arsenal should allow him to develop both a natural position and defined role, things he’s yet to truly do, and become another dominant and athletic destructive midfielder. A broken ankle from a horrific tackle has hampered his short term progress, hopefully it won’t hinder his long term potential.

15) Collins John (FC, Fulham, 17-10-85, Holland)7.5C
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The young Dutchman (of Liberian parentage) has a scoring record better than a lot of people realise. He averages better than a goal every other start for Fulham, a fairly impressive feat for a man who isn’t always a regular at a club who flirted with relegation the last two seasons. John has shown versatility in being able to play up front in a traditional striker’s role or wide in a three man forward attack, mainly due to his speed and physical strength. He possesses high qualities in these areas, which are increasingly desirable for managers, and combined with an innate ability to finish clinically he has a bright future. On occasion he has been accused of not working as hard as you might like, but if he can cut this out with maturity and maybe progress from Fulham to a team playing regular continental football he should play his way into consideration for national team selection, where he has already earned a cap. Mind, with Van Basten in charge, that could come any time.

16) Nigel Reo-Coker (MC, West Ham United, 14-5-84, England) 8A

A driving box to box midfielder, Reo-Coker has won major plaudits for his all action style at West Ham, where he captains an improving side at a young age. Subject of transfer speculation surrounding a move to Manchester United or Liverpool, he’s strong and quick, and a natural leader. His passing is above adequate and he occasionally contributes with goals, although it’s not his forte. With an interesting time coming at West Ham he’ll have to maintain his very high (personal) standards to keep his development going and keep knocking on the England door – he’s close.

17) Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor (FC, Arsenal, 26-2-84, Togo) 8C Kanu
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Adebayor immediately strikes you as a clone of Kanu. Right down to his number 25 Arsenal shirt, his tall, gangly demeanour and general style are reminiscent of the Nigerian veteran. He also scores goals. He’s a beast of a man, quite a physical specimen, and is hard for opponents to play against due to his size and his unpredictability. He scored lots of goals in the French league and his first 9 months at Arsenal have yielded half a dozen goals, but his play has been generally good. His move to Arsenal should in theory develop the mental side of his game, which reportedly suffered at times in France. Wenger has the track record, Adebayor has the ability. If the partnership hits it off, ‘The Albatross’ can become as dangerous a performer as Kanu was at his peak.

18) Philippe Senderos (DC, Arsenal, 14-2-85, Switzerland) 7B
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Another Arsenal player, and another who was signed and used in the first team at an age certainly unexpected of a player at the top level. Senderos stepped up and played some solid football for Arsenal at the age of 17 and 18. From there he’s developed into a rock solid performer for club and country, and a player who scores the odd goal. He’s tall and strong, composed, and very good in the air. He should be expected to be a starting central defender for Arsenal or whoever for the next 10-15 years, having established himself before the age of 21 at one of Europe’s top teams. I’ve added ‘or whoever’, since Arsenal’s signing of Gallas brings Senderos’ future into question. Gallas and Toure comes to mind as the best pairing Wenger has at his disposal, and whilst Senderos can still expect to play in rotation/injury replacement, there may come a time he would look at moving on to get first team football, something his abilities deserve.

19) Darren Bent (FC, Charlton Athletic, 6-2-84, England) 7C
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Darren Bent is a product of Ipswich Town’s successful youth academy. A very quick and strong striker, he’s scored goals since breaking into the professional game and a 20 goal debut Premiership season signalled his arrival in the big time. An England callup followed, and whilst he didn’t go to the World Cup, many believed he should have, and in hindsight his selection would’ve helped alleviate injury problems. He can finish off either foot and with his head, and is at his best when he can use his pace to get away from defenders. As a result, his one on one finishing is generally clinical. He needs to prove his first season at the top level wasn’t a fluke, and to his credit he has started on the same path. He remains in England contention and there’s no better time than the present to make his impact as one of England’s top forwards.

20) John Obi Mikel (MC, Chelsea, 22-4-87, Nigeria) 8.5D
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Subject to one of the weirdest transfer dealings of the last few years, there was a time when Mikel was a Manchester United player. However, he decided it wasn’t for him and fought for a move to Chelsea. 16m later and he was introduced as a Chelsea player, and there’s clear reasons why there was a fight for him. For a teenager he has incredible size, and his physical attributes suggest he can dominate in midfield for some years to come. He has a silky shot and is comfortable passing, but needs to develop real technique in his play and define his true role – he’s currently quite versatile and can play around the midfield. Playing time at Chelsea is also a clear problem – he’ll get time when the established stars are resting, and it’s clear his time will come. He has the potential to be the best Nigerian footballer for the next decade, and Chelsea is a fine place to develop it, even if he may not realise it there.

21) Johan Djourou (DC/DMC, Arsenal, 18-1-87, Swizterland) 7.5D
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A young Swiss of Ivorian birth, Djourou’s versatility has enabled him to start his Arsenal career ahead of schedule, much like many of his team-mates. He has good size and strength, and is equally at home in defence as he is in his natural midfield. A tidy enough player, very capable in the air, he’s extremely athletic and assured in his role. He has the potential to be a long term starter some day but for now he’s generally excelling in his roles when asked to fill in for injury, for at times unspecified amounts of time. As with many youngsters at Arsenal, whether he finally fulfils his destiny at the club is a different matter, but he has everything going for him.

22) Tom Huddlestone (DMC, Tottenham Hotspur, 28-12-86, England) 8C
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Huddlestone is like Djourou in his versatility, he can play in central defence as well as his more defined role of defensive midfielder. When Tottenham signed him in 2005 from Derby, Frank Arnesen described him as one of the best in his age group in the country, and indicated his passing over short and long distances was incredible for a player of his age. His size and strength make him ideal for the defensive roles he fulfils. Huddlestone is an intelligent footballer making progress in his career at a club who have shown a real effort to develop the best young English talent. Some loan spells outside the Premiership has given him a grounding and good experience, and he has all the tools to become a regular in the Spurs team sooner rather than later.

23) Daniel Agger (DC, Liverpool, 12-12-84, Denmark) 8B
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One of the brightest Danish prospects in years (by their own admission), Agger moved to Liverpool in early 2006 and has already established himself as a key performer at the heart of their defence, no mean feat considering they held the league’s best defence from last season. He has all the hallmarks of a classy defender – composure, balance, aerial ability, and comfort off both feet, although his first goal for Liverpool (in the clip) shows his left foot is quite comfortably the most dominant. He has very few noticeable flaws, he doesn’t often get beaten for pace despite not being particularly quick, and is sharp and aware most of the time.

24) Nicklas Bendtner (FC, Arsenal (on loan at Birmingham City), 16-1-88, Denmark) 8.5D
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A tall Danish striker, Bendtner is an imposing figure. Without being particularly well built, he moves effortlessly and oozes class in his general style of play. Oh, and he scores goals too. Lots of them. He scored freely for Arsenal’s youth and reserve teams, and made early impacts when given opportunities for the first team. Loaned out to Birmingham for the 2006/07 season, he quickly became their top scorer, and one of the league’s top marksmen too. He has also made his Denmark debut, and has two goals for the national team already. Everything about him screams that he’ll be one hell of a talent for many years, and he’ll bring goals with him wherever he goes.

25) Micah Richards (DR/C, Manchester City, 24-6-88, England) 8D
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Richards is an absolute monster of a man. Well over 6ft tall, he’s as athletic as they come and uses his power effectively. Has only recently broken into the Man City first team on a full time basis but already he’s being talked about as a potential England right back of the future and has been linked heavily with Chelsea. His physical stature alone makes him hard to play against for opponents, and he’s shown his value offensively with a couple of very late and very dramatic goals for his team. Could still be considered a little raw, something which he’ll need to work on as he develops.

26) Daniel Sturridge (FC, Manchester City, 1-9-89, England) 7.5D

Nephew of journeyman striker Dean Sturridge, there are very high hopes for Daniel. A striker blessed with pace and natural finishing ability, he has progressed rapidly through the youth ranks for club and country, scoring goal after goal along the way. Only just 17, he is expected to make his first team debut this season, and continue in his development for England’s youth teams. At a club who have shown a willingness to give youth a bow early in their careers, he could taste the big time soon, and many believe he’s ready for it.

27) Charles N’Zogbia (ML, Newcastle United, 28-5-86, France) 7.5B
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A product of the renowned Le Havre football academy, N’Zogbia joined Newcastle in a protracted transfer where the English club were accused of underhand tactics. They got their man, and they’ll be glad they got him. A versatile player who can play anywhere on the left, he is most at home going forward where he is allowed to use his majestic left foot to full creative allowance. Is very much a part of Newcastle’s first team squad, to get a regular place in the team he needs to show his talent consistently as he has done for their reserve team, and perhaps needs to become more physically capable. He has top end talent.

28) Giorgios Samaras (FC, Manchester City, 21-2-85, Greece) 7.5C
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When Manchester City spend a considerable fee (a potential 6m) on the Greek striker they were making a statement. Samaras had been linked with Arsenal amongst others, but in signing a player who averaged better than a goal every three games in the Eredivisie, Man City were placing their future in the hands of the precocious Greek talent. Tall and fairly well built, Samaras has settled well in English football, scoring freely at the end of the 2005/06 season and opening his account this season with a fine volley. He has great technique and can score with either foot or his head. He works hard and leads the line well – capable of playing a lone role if needed. English fans of all teams have been impressed with his play and the general style he carries it out with. He has the potential to be one of the leading lights of the Premiership and should be a regular for his country too.

29) Manuel Fernandes (DMC, Portsmouth, 5-2-86, Portugal) 8C Makelele
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Likened to Claude Makelele by many sourcesbecause of his position, smallish size and physical resemblance to the Frenchman, Fernandes is a creative influence as well. A fluent passer with fine positional awareness and a toughness complimenting his defensive role, Fernandes on paper has everything needed for the modern midfielder. His resume also includes some fine long range goals. He has represented Portugal at every level from u15, and has had no shortage of suitors. So a move to Portsmouth shows a perceived lack of ambition. Sure, a large fee will be paid, and Fernandes will be rewarded, and will most likely be the star player in the team, but the move did surprise many people. Once he gets over a troublesome injury, Fernandes should show his true class to a whole new audience in England.

30) Ricardo Vaz Te (AML/FC, Bolton Wanderers, 1-10-86, Portugal) 7C
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A young Portuguese forward on Bolton’s books for some years, Vaz Te has broken through impressively in the last twelve months. Always fairly highly thought of, Vaz Te is beginning to justify those opinions. He has a good left foot and a keen eye for goal, and when a chance falls to him he can put it away clinically. His pace and physical play makes him useful in Bolton’s 4-5-1 formation as a left sided forward, but he’s just as capable as a main striker. Bolton expect him to make a real progression this season and their projection is a player who can contribute with 10-15 goals a season as a leading striker in the league.

31)Gerard Pique (DC, Manchester United (on loan to Real Zaragoza), 2-2-87, Spain) 8D
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A tall and rangy Spanish central defender, Gerard Pique has had a lot expected of him since his signing from Barcelona. He is a stereotypical Spanish footballer in many ways – his playing style is fairly relaxed and composed, and he never looks particularly rushed. His height allows him to be influential in the air and he’s a capable tackler. Opportunities at Man Utd proved rare, so he was loaned out to Zaragoza to continue his development in native climbs. He’s doing well there, but in all honesty, few expect to see him back in Manchester. Pique has the talent to eventually become a Spanish international, but his development over the last couple of years has stuttered a lot, and approaching the age of 20, he needs to get firmly back on track.

32) b]Gabriel Agbonlahor[/b] (FC, Aston Villa, 13-10-86, England) 8D
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Agbonlahor has only recently broken through to first team football after some prolific years for Aston Villa’s youth teams, and his impact on the senior team has been marked. He has blistering pace, arguably the quickest player in this list, and is a capable finisher, racking up 40+ goals in a season of reserve football. His early forays into Premiership football have been as a right sided winger in a 4-3-3 and his pace has allowed him to terrorise opponents, in particular Chelsea’s Ashley Cole. He works incredibly hard off the ball and has great stamina. Can fade out of games at times and needs to work on refining his game for the step up to the top level, but he has a future at this level.

33) Stewart Downing (ML, Middlesbrough, 22-7-84, England) 6.5B
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In his fourth season of football at Middlesbrough, Downing has made the progress many expected of him, only ahead of schedule. A semi-regular in the England squad, Downing has started all of England’s 2008 qualifiers to date (Oct 2006), although only because Joe Cole is injured and his former club manager is now his national manager. Downing is a rare breed in English football in that he is a left-winger with the pace and skills to beat a man wide, and then cross with his left foot. The left side of midfield has been a problem for generations of England teams and not even Joe Cole is certain there for the team right now. Downing has an opportunity to step up, his club form is consistent for the most part, although he does go through patchy spells, but it can’t be denied that his talented left foot gives him opportunities he can take full advantage of.

34) Luke Moore (FC, Aston Villa, 13-2-86, England) 7C
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The younger brother of Stefan Moore, the pair came through the Aston Villa youth academy with much expected of them. Whilst Stefan has ended up at Port Vale, Luke is shining in the Premiership. Already with a top level hat-trick to his name, he is currently lining up on the left of a front three for an improving Villa side, where he can take advantage of his pace, which is a lot quicker than people realise, and that says something, as people realise he’s speedy. He’s very much a goalscorer and has 15+ a season potential at the top level. He may miss the rest of this season after damaging a shoulder he’s previously damaged, an injury which could be problematic throughout his career unfortunately.

35) Mohamed Sissoko (DMC, Liverpool, 22-1-85, Mali) 7B
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A young defensive midfielder developing well at Liverpool, Sissoko performs an important role at Liverpool, in a midfield where Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard have desires to get forward. Sissoko is the typical modern day defensive midfielder. Strong as an ox, with the stamina to get around all day, he breaks up attacks often and drives forward with the ball. He does pick up a lot of cards which brings about the possibility of regular suspensions, but in the main his high tempo game compliments Liverpool’s midfield well. He may be close to his potential already, he should concentrate on being dominant for long stretches against the very best. He has time on his side.

36) Niko Kranjčar (AMC, Portsmouth, 13-8-84, Croatia) 8E
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A talent who has been mass hyped for the last five years, Kranjčar may yet prove otherwise, but for now there’s an argument to be made that he’s stagnated in his footballing progress. A player of undeniable technical ability, he showed in patches at the World Cup the strengths that saw Portsmouth finally sign him, when in previous years he may have been expected to join a better team. He has fantastic skill and vision but inadequate pace and strength, and has often been accused of ‘static’, slow play. He has the opportunity to resurrect his full potential at Portsmouth, but don’t count on it.

37) Darren Fletcher (MC/R, Manchester United, 1-2-84, Scotland) 7B
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A tall midfielder with astute passing and the ability to gauge the tempo of a game, Fletcher is starting to fulfil his potential. He can play both centrally and on the right, although isn’t yet a master of either role. He runs tirelessly and shows up with some important goals – when given a chance he usually takes it. His performances for an improving Scotland team have at times been better than his Man Utd games, suggesting he may thrive in an environment he has some responsibilty, but he’s starting to become more consistent and as such a more useful performer.

38) Steven Davis (MC, Aston Villa, 1-1-85, Northern Ireland) 7B
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Davis is a talented and very hard worker in the centre of Aston Villa’s midfield. Already with international honours, his box to box displays have earned plaudits far and wide, and he’s one of the brightest Northern Irish prospects for some time. A little on the short side, he’s combative and has the assured temperament needed for his position. Finishes chances well when he gets them.

39) Benoit Assou-Ekotto (DL, Tottenham Hotspur, 24-3-84, France) 7C

One of the finest left backs in France the last couple of years, and one of the quickest developers, Tottenham continued their drive to acquire some of the best young talent in football when they signed Assou-Ekotto over the 2006 summer. A steady player with very few weaknesses, he filled an immediate problem for the team at left back and looks assured enough to spend many years in the role at the team.

40) Lassana Diarra (DMC, Chelsea, 10-3-85, France) 7.5D [I]Makelele[I]

Lassana strikes you as a complete clone of Claude Makelele. Near enough identical build, facial features, position, and style, it’s not hard to see why Chelsea signed the young Le Havre product. Diarra has been touted as the defensive midfielder of the future at Chelsea, and whilst he played very well when given the opportunity last season, his appearances this season are expected to be sparse, and as such his development will slow. He is still working with the Chelsea first team squad on a daily basis and is capable of coming in at any time and doing a solid job, and whilst he won’t ever be a superstar, he’ll do a fine defensive job for any team.

41) Michael Mancienne (DC, Chelsea, 8-1-88, England) 7D Rio Ferdinand

I was tempted to place him higher as I’m REALLY high on him as a Chelsea prospect, but in short there’s no telling what his future holds. He’s been at Chelsea since he was 12, he’s a member of the first team squad now after progressing through youth and reserves very quickly, and the club has held high hopes for him for some time. He’s not particularly tall but is very athletic and brings the ball out of defence well. He’s not a full blooded, hard as nails defender like you’d maybe consider John Terry, but he plays much more like Rio Ferdinand, as his appearance immediately lends itself to suggesting. He has the potential to be an England international some time, and with the depth at centre back at Chelsea currently quite thin, he may get his chance to shine this season. Whether he becomes another John Terry or another Robert Huth (in terms of use at Chelsea) is really unknown right now though.

42) Robert Huth (DC, Middlesbrough, 18-8-84, Germany) 6.5B
Picture and Clip

Speaking of Huth, it surprised me he was still eligible for this list. A tall, aggressive, and uncompromising central defender, Huth’s progress at Chelsea from a 16 year old raw defender into an international stopper was quite impressive, and he showed his capabilities in some runs at Chelsea. However, he left to get regular football at Middlesbrough, but has struggled with some injuries recently. His height gives him an advantage over most strikers, and he’s very very strong and broad. He’s cut out some nuances in his game, and has matured in his play. After not playing at the World Cup he should aim to be establishing himself for club and country, as he’s close to his potential now I think.

43) Arturo Lupoli (FC, Arsenal (on loan to Derby County, 24-6-87, Italy) 6D
Picture and Clip

Lupoli left Italy for England at the same time as former team-mate Giuseppe Rossi, but it’s the Arsenal striker’s stock that appears to be dropping the most. Whilst he may end up a Premiership striker it’s no certain thing right now, especially as other Arsenal strikers out on loan are impressing far more than the small Italian. He has finishing ability in spades and shows it at Derby, which is about the level he’s at right now. He doesn’t always work hard and fades from games often, and despite a prolific youth run at Arsenal last season, you do at times question whether he has the potential to be a top level goalscorer. I doubt he’ll ever play for the Italian national team, his potential isn’t that great, he’s not been called into a single u21 squad yet either.

44) Liam Rosenior (D/MR, Fulham, 9-7-84, England) 7D
Picture and Clip

Rosenior has proven a delight for Fulham staff and fans the last 18 months. Breaking into the team in versatile left and right sided roles, he’s settled as the first choice right back and has turned in considerable impressive performances. He’s fairly strong and quick, and doesn’t get beaten easily. He’s committed and hard worker, and his aforementioned versatility includes a drive to get forward and cause problems at the other end of the pitch. His manager has touted a possible England future, and whilst it might currently be ambitious, it could be somewhere on the horizon, although some years away yet.

45) David Bentley (AML, Blackburn Rovers, 27-8-84, England) 8E
Picture and Clip

An Arsenal product, Bentley struggled to make it there, often accused of a lackadaisical style and a low work ethic, despite having good technical ability and a weapon of a left foot. A loan spell at Blackburn became permanent and it is under Mark Hughes’ reign Bentley has become a more complete player who is performing consistently. The potential he once had – considered a definite England starter of the future – has gone, when he believed his own hype, but he’s turned into a very useful tool for Blackburn, and seems to be enjoying his football.

46) James Milner (AMR, Newcastle United, 4-1-86, England) 7.5C
Picture and Clip

When James Milner first made an impact in football he stole some of Wayne Rooney’s thunder. With his first career goal coming at Sunderland in December 2002, he broke Rooney’s record for youngest goal by a Premiership footballer which was only set two months before. Progress with Leeds saw them relegated, but Newcastle signed the talented winger and loaned him to Aston Villa. He shined there, showing dribbling and crossing skills, with some goals added. He’s not particularly quick or tricky but works hard and does what’s expected of him very well and to a professional standard. He was apparently gutted his return loan to Aston Villa this season fell through, but has buckled down at Newcastle and is set to be an important player for a team who will need him this season.

47) Luis Antonio Valencia (AMR, Wigan Athletic (on loan from Villarreal), 4-8-85, Ecuador) 8D
Picture and Clip

Valencia was one of the brightest young emerging talents at the 2006 World Cup, winning the Young Player of the Tournament award for his dynamic displays for the ever improving Ecuador side. Moving to ‘unfashionable’ Wigan on loan may have been seen as a dangerous move for him, as the previous two Ecuadorian internationals to play in England (Agustin Delago, Klebler Chala), flopped as quickly as they arrived. However, Valencia has settled well and his pace and trickery along the wing is serving Wigan well. A permanent transfer probably won’t occur but he is performing better than a lot expected of him already, and his contributions to Wigan all season as a team player will be valuable.

48) Jonathan Evans (DC, Manchester United (on loan to Royal Antwerp), 3-1-88, Northern Ireland) 8C
Picture and Clip

A tall central defender progressing through the Man Utd youth team, he was loaned to Belgian feeder club Royal Antwerp this season to continue his development with the air of making the first team squad next season. Since the loan he has made his debut for Northern Ireland in a defensive midfield position, where he has impressed for a team who are turning heads after some very poor years. He’s composed and good in the air, as you’d expect from him at his fairly good height. Needs to have a good year in Belgium to continue developing at an impressive level.

49) Lee Martin (AML, Manchester United (on loan to Glasgow Rangers), 9-2-87, England) 7.5D Cristiano Ronaldo
Picture and Clip

A tricky left winger signed from MK Dons by Manchester United, after a loan spell in Belgium he’s been given time at Rangers to develop at a top club. His early performances have earned the rave reviews his potential suggests. He can dribble and beat people with a high level of skill, and has a very impressive left foot. Needs to work on all areas of his game to play at the next level.

50) Phillip Bardsley (DR, Manchester United (on loan to Glasgow Rangers), 28-6-85, England) 7D Gary Neville
Picture and Clip

A promising young right back who broke into the Man Utd first team on occasion last year with injury problems at his position, he played impressively enough to warrant a full season on loan at Rangers to continue his play and hopefully develop the potential that one day replaces Gary Neville and puts another home-grown right back into the United team for years to come. Solid and defensively sound, he has the occasional moment of glory, as shown by the free kick in the clip. Has been rumoured to have let the success go to his head a little but it seems to be an isolated incident so we’ll let him off until it becomes a problem, which it shouldn’t.

51) Lee Cattermole (MC, Middlesbrough, 21-3-88, England) 6B
Picture and Clip

A very young lad local to Middlesbrough, Cattermole has immediately earned the hearts of his fans with bustling displays in the middle of the park at such a young age. Already trusted with the captain’s armband in some small situations, Cattermole’s box to box style and endless drive should make him a local hero for years to come, because he won’t want to leave.

(Cattermole write-up stays, Reo-Coker added)

List breakdown:

By Club:
Arsenal – 9
Manchester United – 8
Chelsea – 5
West Ham – 4
Aston Villa – 3
Liverpool – 3
Manchester City – 3
Tottenham Hotspur – 3
Fulham – 2
Middlesbrough – 2
Newcastle United – 2
Portsmouth - 2
Blackburn Rovers - 1
Bolton Wanderers – 1
Charlton Athletic – 1
Wigan Athletic – 1

By Country:
England – 18
France – 5
Portugal – 3
Argentina – 2
Denmark - 2
Holland – 2
Italy – 2
Northern Ireland - 2
Spain – 2
Switzerland - 2
Chile – 1
Croatia – 1
Ecuador - 1
Germany - 1
Greece - 1
Ivory Coast – 1
Mali - 1
Nigeria – 1
Scotland - 1
Togo – 1

On the fringe:

Scott Sinclair (FC, Chelsea, 26-4-89, England) – Very hot prospect but has barely a full season of youth under his belt. Should go far and might make the next update of this list.
Leighton Baines (DL, Wigan Athletic, 11-12-84, England) – Assured left back with a fine shot, potential England international.
Nedum Onuoha (DR, Manchester City, 30-11-86, England) – lightning quick right back, can be exposed at times.
John Ruddy (GK, Everton, 24-10-86, Everton) – nice goalkeeping prospect, still young and developing in a team with a lot of goalie prospects.
Scott Carson (GK, Liverpool, on loan at Charlton, 3-9-85, England) – occasional number 3 England goalkeeper, saves penalties well, is suspect in other situations.
Glen Johnson (DR, Chelsea, on loan at Portsmouth, England, 23-8-84) – was once a very high prospect, then had two years of awful play. Is getting back on track this season.
Iain Turner (GK, Everton, 26-1-84, Scotland) – Another fine young goalkeeper at Everton, Scottish, high hopes for him.
Tim Krul (GK, Newcastle, 3-4-88, Holland) – Dutch goalkeeper considered very well, has no opportunities at Newcastle right now to prove his development.
Ishmael Miller (FC, Manchester City, 5-3-87, England) – rapid striker with strength and stamina, early showings on left wing hint at versatility.
Darren Ambrose (MC, Charlton Athletic, 29-2-84, England) – At his third club already, an attacking goalscoring midfielder who struggles for consistency.
Mathieu Flamini (MC, Arsenal, 7-3-84, France) – useful and versatile French midfielder who can’t get in the team because he’s not great at any one role, just very useful in many.
Paul Anderson (AMC, Liverpool, 23-7-88, England) – attacking winger with very high hopes.

Last edited by Juni: 10-12-2006 at 04:43 PM.
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