Although the World Cup is widely regarded as the ultimate stage for the experienced seasoned veterans of modern day football to not only prove their worth and show their experience, but also to leave their own legacy on the international stage, it can also offer a wondrous platform to some of the fine young talent around the world. It goes without saying that the build up and pre tournament analysis before every World Cup centres solely on those who repeatedly do it for their domestic club at the highest level with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi already repeatedly touted as potential players of the tournament before it’s even begun. But beneath the surface and away from the tabloid headlines and news reports are a crop of promising, highly-driven, young talented players for whom it’s just a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, they will make their mark and mirror their experienced counterparts in achieving success in the World Cup competition.
Joachim Low and his youthful bunch of Germans in 2010 typify this very example. Once again the press focused on the likes of Robben, Pirlo and Iniesta as Germany, although largely seen as a threat, got on with their business quietly. In hindsight it could be said that the likes of their fellow group members and Fabio Capello’s England, who were on the receiving end of a quarter final defeat to Low’s side, underestimated the impact such a vibrant young team would have in such an enormous cup competition as Germany marched convincingly to the semi finals before a defeat to eventual winners Spain ended their 2010 World Cup dream. Yet for the likes of Toni Kroos and young player of the tournament Thomas Muller they certainly made the most of the opportunity the World Cup offered and in seizing the moment like they did, not only did it stake their claim as the future of German international football but it also ensured both players pivotal roles ever since 2010 for their league team Bayern Munich.
So who do we think will be this year’s got prospects who we’ll all still be talking about weeks after the tournament finished? Watch this space to find out!
Raheem Sterling (England)
With a squad selection in which Roy Hodgson sends a clear message that England are looking to the future, there are several young candidates that arguably deserve articles about themselves. For England it is out with several of the veterans such as Ashley Cole and Jermain Defoe who have both been indispensable at times and in come a brand new set of hungry lions who Roy Hodgson, Greg Dyche, his commission and anyone remotely interested in England’s success and development internationally, hope can shape the national team going forward. But which England representative have I plumped for in my first ever Selby’s one to watch?
Although the likes of Luke Shaw and Fraser Forster stand out as obvious candidates for the coveted accolade after a season full of impressive performances at such very young ages, for me personally my one to watch it is a clear toss up between two players who’s attacking presence have been causing chaos on Merseyside; Raheem Sterling of Liverpool and Ross Barkley of fellow city rivals Everton. After progressing through the youth ranks at their respective clubs, both found themselves very quickly representing the first team in the 13/14 season rather than the youth team they’d been so used to. And after adjusting and settling every quickly, both rightfully deserved their call-ups with a number of influential and stand out performances. But who out of the two is my one to watch this summer?
Although Ross Barkley offers something different to both an ageing Frank Lampard and a slightly defensive minded Jack Wilshere in the current England setup, for me Raheem Sterling is the one who’ll have more of an impact this summer and this is my one to watch. Not only does the Liverpool winger have both flair and pace but he also offers a creativity different to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the omnipresent James Milner for England. Also not forgetting how well he has linked up with Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool, for me Sterling is a certain starter for England this summer.
Whether or not he goes on to fulfil his full potential this summer will surely unravel during the tournament itself but if Sterling can go on to replicate even just a shade of the league form which nearly led Liverpool to title success contributing with 9 goals in over 30 appearances, there is no reason why he can’t be a key player not just for Hodgson’s men this summer but also for England in the future.