The World Cup has alway been a platform on which up and coming talent has shone. Here’s a look at 5 Premier League youngsters that could light up this year’s tournament in Brazil.
Name: André Schürrle
Due to Jose Mourinho’s persistent squad rotation and the multitude of players capable of occupying the so called ‘Number 10’ role at Chelsea, Schürrle has failed to nail down a regular place in the starting eleven in his debut season with the club. He is perhaps more highly rated in his home country and has already racked up an impressive 31 international caps. Schürrle looks set to play a key role in Germany’s push for World Cup glory. He has demonstrated a calmness in front of goal this season and his versatility makes him the perfect squad member for tournament football. He has proved that he can be effective as a winger but can also play through the middle. Many consider Germany to be serious challengers for the 2014 World Cup and if Schürrle is at his best in Brazil, it will be even harder for opposition defences to contain Germany’s vast array of attacking talent. At the age of 23, it won’t be long before André Schürrle is no longer considered a ‘young player’. This summer’s World Cup could be the perfect platform for him to make the transition from a promising youngster to a world class forward.
Name: Nabil Bentaleb
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
No player has benefited more from the managerial change at White Hart Lane this season than Nabil Bentaleb. When Tim Sherwood was promoted from youth team coach to manager of the first team, he wasted no time in handing Bentaleb his Spurs debut and has consistently selected the Algerian international ahead of more experienced members of his squad. Bentaleb possesses composure comparable to that of a player who has been playing at the top level for a number of years. He is extremely confident with the ball at his feet and strong in possession. His tenacious tackling and work rate are also noticeable qualities. His style of play will also suit the hot conditions perfectly in Brazil; guaranteeing to bring a calming influence to the side. Having represented France at Under 19 level, Algerian’s must be excited at the prospect of having such a gifted and competent young player at the heart of their midfield. The North-African side have a tough group, facing Belgium, Russia and South Korea. If they are to stand any chance of progressing to the knock out phase, Bentaleb must impose himself on games and look to control the midfield.
Name: Eden Hazard
Having recently scooped the PFA Young Player of the Year award, big things are expected from Eden Hazard at this year’s World Cup. Truth be told, big things are expected from the entire Belgian squad this summer. Although they have not qualified for the past two World Cups, the so called ‘golden generation’ are considered by many to be genuine contenders to go all the way this time around. Despite other top quality Premier League Belgians including Vincent Kompany, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku, Hazard will be the player expected to provide goals, create chances and ultimately change games. He is certainly more than capable. Hazard has flourished under José Mourinho’s guidance and has combined goals and assists with a desire to track back and defend for his team. He has an impressive 14 league goals and 7 assists to his name this season and is now considered one of the best in the business. His low centre of gravity makes him particularly difficult to shrug off the ball and his ability to beat his marker with either trickery or sheer pace could make him one of the stand out players of the tournament.
Name: Raheem Sterling
There are few players in the Premier League that can rival Raheem Sterling when it comes to pace and acceleration. He is undeniably one of the most improved players this season and still has years of development ahead of him. His close control and dribbling could cause real problems to some of the best defences at this years tournament. In contrast to last season, Sterling has also become assured in front of goal and has netted 9 times for Liverpool in the league this campaign. He has benefited from Brendan Rodgers showing great faith in his ability and this has enabled him to play week in, week out and progress as a player. After making his first start for England in a recent friendly against Denmark, the teenager has come on leaps and bounds and must be in contention for Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad; perhaps even a place in the starting eleven. England face tough challenges against the likes of Italy and Uruguay if they are to advance from their group, but Sterling’s agility and his no-fear approach to games could be just what is required to unlock their defences.
The pressure will be well and truly on for the host nation at this years World Cup. Brazil supporters always expect their team to win, but on home soil that expectation will undoubtedly be greater. Oscar isn’t a player that feels pressure however. At the age of 22, he has already established himself as one of the top attacking midfielders in world football. Due to his slight frame, many doubted that Oscar had the physicality to compete in the Premier League; he proved his skeptics wrong however and has adapted seamlessly. His movement behind the striker makes him incredibly difficult to defend against. His intelligence and creativity will be imperative to Brazil’s campaign this summer and he will be surrounded by no shortage of top quality players. Neymar, Hulk and fellow Chelsea colleague Willian are just a few players that will relish the opportunity of feeding on Oscar’s imaginative style of play. He was pivotal to Brazil’s Confederations Cup success in 2013, where they blew away current world champions Spain 3-0 in the final. Oscar has since become a firm favourite of Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and is set to play a starring role at this year’s tournament.