With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than a month away, here are 6 players to look out for this summer.
Thibaut Courtois (21)
Everybody wants a piece of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, currently on-loan at Atletico Madrid. The Champions League finalist is set to make his FIFA World Cup debut with the Belgian national side, their first major tournament qualification since the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Recognized for his size (6 ft 6 – 1.99m) the Belgian has 64 saves and 20 clean sheets in 35 matches for his current season with the Madrid side.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (25)
Colombian international and Fiorentina midfielder Cuadrado is known for his versatility and chameleon-like abilities on the pitch. The skillful dribbler can play both an attacking and defending role, easily adapting to the situation at hand – making him a special kind of midfielder. The 25 year old joined Fiorentina on loan in 2012 and has since scored 6 goals for the Serie A side.
Alessio Cerci (26)
The 26 year old Torino striker has captured the attention of Italian manager Prandelli and is set to make his debut for the Azzurri this summer. A product of the A.S Roma youth system, Cerci had spells with Brescia, Pisa, Atalanta, and more notably, Fiorentina – where his party boy attitude led to a fall-out with the Florence based club. At his current home in Torino, fierce rival to Old-Lady Juventus, Cerci seems to have found his niche, scoring 8 goals in the 2012-13 season, and 13 goals for the 2013-14 season.
Diego Costa (25)
Courtois’ teammate also makes the list due to his fantastic season with the “Colchoneros” as well as the controversy surrounding the decision to snub his homeland Brazil for a shot with Del Bosque’s Spanish-side. Brazilian born Costa began his career with Braga, followed by a short spell with Real Valladolid, where he scored 6 goals in 8 matches before the club’s fall to the second division. After moving to Atletico Madrid in 2010, Costa has transformed into a powerhouse, scoring 27 goals in 34 matches this season, as well as 8 goals in 8 Champions League matches, bringing Atletico Madrid to the Lisbon 2014 Final.
Paul Pogba (21)
The 21 year old French midfielder already has the attention of powerhouse clubs like Paris St. Germain, F.C Barcelona, and Real Madrid, who have all joined the race in an attempt to pry him away from three time Serie A champions Juventus. Chelsea most recently lined up a reported £50 million bid for the Frenchman. Nicknamed, “Il Polpo Paul” or “Paul the Octopus” for his long, tentacle-like legs, the 21 year old has had two great seasons in Turin, with 7 goals and 7 assists in 34 appearances this year. Moreover, the young talent has earned the respect of manager Antonio Conte, who stated that Pogba will be a “great future talent” in the world of football.
Adnan Januzaj (19)
Januzaj is a 19 year old winger currently playing for Manchester United. The Belgian was born to Albanian immigrants from the autonomous region of Kosovo, and grandchild to Turkish nationals, which made him eligible to play for Albania, Serbia, Belgium, Turkey, and, perhaps, a future with the Kosovo national team. Januzaj wisely chose Belgium, a team packed with young talents including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Adnan began his career with F.C Brussels and later joined F.C Anderlecht at the age of 10. After an impressive start in his homeland Belgium, he captured the attention of Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson promoted Januzaj to the first-team at the end of the 2012-13 season. The 19 year old scored twice in his premier league debut, displaying a combination of technical talent and speed. The young attacker can play anywhere across the final third, averaging 1.9 dribbles to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2.1 – and has won the admiration of Robin Van Persie and fellow teammates.