Article By Constantinos Marcou
Club: Paris St Germain
Kylian Mbappe is seen by many as the next superstar of world football, and eventually when global superstars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo retire, Mpabbe is seen as the new superstar of the beautiful game. During his break-through season with Monaco, fans around the world were often left stunned as to what this kid could do. In the summer window, PSG signed Mbappe on loan with the option to sign him on a permanent basis next summer, beating a whole host of top European clubs in the process to sign up footballs next big thing. Mbappe is a player who has quick pace, and is also versatile, with him being able to play on either flank as well as up front. Not only has he proved himself in Ligue 1 where people could argue has not quite got the same quality and intensity as the Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga, he often impressed on the grandest of all stages in the Champions League and Internationally. With the World Cup fast approaching next summer in Russia, Mbappe will be hoping to carry on where he left off last season with Monaco and playing alongside global superstars Neymar and Edinson Cavani will only further enhance his reputation that he has what it takes to make it at the top, going to PSG could have been seen as a risk, but if it works out for him at PSG long and short term, it will be the most risked free success ever to be seen in history. Kylian Mbappe, is often compared to legendary former Arsenal, Barcelona and France striker Thierry Henry, there are some similarities between the pair. Both of them are graduates from France’s Clairefontain academy, both then started their respective careers for AS Monaco, and coincidentally both of them won France’s Ligue 1’s title when they were teenagers. Mbappe like Henry, is also a player that possesses blistering pace, he often likes to cut inside from wide positions and when through on goal, has that calmness and collectiveness to slot it away. Like Henry, he has attracted the attention of many top European clubs and prior to his departure to Paris St Germain in the summer, and unlike Henry, he is set to become the world’s second most expensive player, and he is still in his teenage years.
Club: Manchester United
Position: ST / LM / RM
Marcus Rashford, is a player with the football world very much at his feet, after coming through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, he was given his debut by then Dutch manager Louis van Gaal two season ago in the Europa League tie against Danish side FC Midtjylland and has not looked back ever since. After an unfortunate injury picked up by Manchester United’s Anthony Martial in the warmup before the game, Rashford had come in to deputise and he scored on his debut, which he then impressively followed it up with a brace against at the time high flying Arsenal who were going for the title at Old Trafford. Rashford, still only 20, has masses of true potential to unlock, and that will eventually come with age as he plays more football which will lead to him being a more all rounded experienced player. Rashford brings many quality credentials with him, he is blessed with lightning pace, and often uses it to great effect when in a 1v1 situation in a match. Along with his lightning quick pace, he also goes about his business on and off the pitch very professionally, and at 20, looks a very mature player considering his delicate and inexperienced age. Rashford also has great dribbling skills, and works very hard off the ball as well as he does on the ball, and this is why he is a big fan favourite, and a big favourite of club manager Jose Mourinho as well as country manager Gareth Southgate, if he carries on in this manner, he can accomplish anything in the game. Rashford is also a natural born striker, full of pace and energy, has a great shot on him, and is versatile in a sense where he can play in a number of attacking positions, so this makes him an attractive option for both club and country manager. He is a player who puts in a shift for the team, and never stops working. Manchester United’s youth team coach Paul McGuiness stated of Rashford “He put some exciting parts of his game together and we saw some exciting things. He’s emerging and starting to do more.”
Club: Real Madrid
Marco Asensio is a player who Real Madrid and manager Zinedine Zidane value very highly. Ever since Zidane’s appointment as manager, Real Madrid have a gone about their business in a very different manner, the management model now at Real Madrid is certainly a whole lot different to the managerial model that was at the club prior to Zidane taking charge where every summer millions of pounds were being thrown in order to find the next Galactico. Players such as Marco Asensio are certainly benefitting from this whole new approach, at only 21, Asensio is another young player from Spain who possesses true quality credentials, he can pick out a pass with sublime quality, he can dribble with the ball to great effect, and also has a goal in him, he looks a true threat often when carrying the ball forward and is not afraid of taking on a shot. Playing with world class players such as Cristiano Ronaldo et al certainly helps, but when you wear the famous Madrid colours you have to be up to the task no matter if you are an experienced player or a young player, and Asensio has done very little if anything wrong since being handed his debut from Zidane. Zidane is very much a manager who likes to give youth a chance and appreciates what they can do, and when Modric and German midfielder Toni Kroos hang up their boots, they will be very much equipped in that central midfield position. At 21, Asensio can be the next Andres Iniesta for sure in the near future if he keeps working hard and keeps producing the goods, he is that good. As well as playing with maturity on the pitch, Asensio is very confident off it and he stated ” I’m just enthusiastic and eager to do the best I can” Asensio has taken full advantage of the opportunities handed to him from manager Zinedine Zidane for much of last season, pre-season and the current season, something that Asensio appreciates and values highly “Zidane has always shown confidence in me”.
When Dele Alli joined Tottenham from MK Dons, there was much hype around Alli, and was seen as a player with the potential to be Tottenham and England’s new star, Alli has so far shone in the Premier League, forming a formidable partnership with fellow compatriot Harry Kane. Spurs over the past two seasons have sustained a good challenge for the Premier League title, with only a few points separating themselves with champions Leicester in the 2016/17 season, and current champions Chelsea last season. The next stage for Spurs is to go on step further and win the league, and with players such as Alli, Kane, and Eriksen they can do just that, with an effective attack, Spurs’s recent successes have been based around a solid foundation around the team, and a solid spine from keeper Lloris, to their star man Harry Kane. Dele Alli on the other hand, is also seen as the star of the team, and has everything at his disposal, Alli, can be seen as an effective box-to-box player, as well as working very hard off the ball, being the link between defence and attack, whilst also carrying a threat up front. England over the years, have often failed in major tournaments despite qualifying with ease, but with this young bright side, with Kane and Alli spearheading the attack, it could bring them much success and compete with the likes of Spain and Germany and look to close the gap on them. Alli is a player who is very talented, and needs to keep his temperament in check, and keep focused throughout the game. Alli is making the transition from a talented and temperamental young player to a ruthless world class performer, and with some more consistency in his game, he could be a world beater. When Alli won player of the month early this year, his teammate Harry Kane was quick to reject comparisons with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard and instead telling ESPN of Alli is “his own player,” and will go on to be “one of the best in the world.”
Club: Manchester City
Gabriel Jesus, is quite possibly one of the best recruits Manchester City have spent money on in recent times, although there has been a fair share of disappointments of signings by City, Jesus is definitely the exception. Coming into the Premier League from the Brazilian league could have been seen as a slight gamble, but ever since coming to England, he has looked every penny, Jesus looks as if he can work with and one day replace Argentine striker Sergio Aguero. He looks the part, possesses great pace, and his goalscoring record so early on in his Manchester City career is mightily impressive. Guardiola is a manager who certainly puts his total faith in younger players, as long as they have the quality, it does not matter how young they are. Take his time at Bayern Munich for instance, when he put his faith in Joshua Kimmich in midfield, it was seen after a match with Borussia Dortmund how Guardiola went up to Kimmich, showing how content and satisfied he was with his performance. Jesus is certainly benefitting from Guardiola’s man management, and is putting in real high quality performances for his club as well as his national team when called upon. Jesus is another Premier League import along with the likes of Manchester United’s Anthony Martial who really look the part and their natural gifted talent certainly sets them aside from the rest. if Jesus continues in the same manner, then for sure Manchester City will be very successful. Since when a record of an impressive 12 goals in his first 15 appearances for Manchester City and the extraordinary subsequent inflation in the current transfer market has made his 27 million transfer from Palmeiras a bargain. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus has also benefitted main striker Sergio Aguero’s overall game, and the pair have certainly formed a formidable partnership together so far this season which has seen Manchester City reach the top of the table, currently five points clear of their closest rivals Manchester United.
Ousmane Dembele, can he be the man to fill the boots of Brazilian superstar Neymar? When Barcelona splashed out a record 150m on French international youngster Ousmane Dembele much was said by people in and out of the game. Could he be the player who could take the place vacated by the recently departed Neymar? of course it is early stages in his Barcelona career but seeing glimpses of his talent for France and for his previous club Borussia Dortmund, you can see why Barcelona were so eager to snap him up in the summer transfer window. Dembele, like many past gifted mercurial wingers can take a man on and is very effective in a 1v1 situation, he has a great eye for goal, and possesses many unique types of skill to help him beat an opposing player and more importantly has the credentials of a player wanting and looking to succeed at a club the size of Barcelona. Dembele, in the early summer produced a high-quality performance for his country against England, where quite arguably he was his country’s best player on the night, he looked a constant menace with his direct running at the England defence. It could be stated that the impressive performance against England went some way for Barcelona to decide to spend a big fee on Dembele. Life at Barcelona did not start well for the attacker as he is currently sidelined with an injury, but when he returns, will look to show everyone his true worth. One of the most important aspects with the arrival of Dembele is that Neymar has gone and Barcelona need a player who can rise to the occasion and not go missing on the big stage. Barcelona will hope that Dembele is not as desperate for the limelight like the Brazilian was and with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez not getting any younger and cannot do it all on their own for so many occasions that they have, need to be able to switch it up and needs to be a leader not only on the pitch but off the pitch. Luckily for Barcelona, on many occasions for previous club Borussia Dortmund he showed on countless occasions that he is a skilled protagonist – taking total control, and being the focal point and reference point for his side’s attacks.
Club: AC Milan
Andre Silva, could he finally be the man to finally awake the sleeping giant of European football after out so long in the cold? Milan certainly splashed the cash in the summer in the recruitment drive of the club in a bid to return to the top of the Italian and European game. Adrien Silva has been tasked as the player to bag in the goals throughout the season, particularly now with former star striker Carlos Bacca having left the club. A Portuguese international, having represented his country at youth level, will look to be the main man in firing his country to further honours and successes, and his club to win their first Serie A title since the 2010/11 season. Silva is a player who bags a high level of talent, and his goal scoring exploits at previous club FC Porto were quite remarkable, which is why Milan spent so much on him, as they view him as the spearhead to lead attacks and score the goals, particularly domestically where so often over the past few seasons where so often they have underachieved on so many occasions. Silva is also a player who likes to link with his fellow attacking striker where they often interchange and interlink, which is why so far this season they have looked very impressive in front of goal compared to other seasons where they have looked very static, and out of sorts. At this rate, Silva will be Portugal’s new talisman, firing them potential further glory. Silva who scored 21 goals in 43 appearances for Porto last season prompted AC Milan to spend such a hefty fee on him, as part of a huge squad overhaul for the Rossoneri.
Club: Manchester United
Position: ST, LM
Anthony Martial arrived in Manchester as a player who was unknown to say the very least, he came with a hefty price tag which at the time saw him labelled as the most expensive teenage import ever to arrive on English shores. The transfer from Monaco to Manchester United also saw him at the time be the most expensive teenager in world football. Currently he is playing in his third season and after an up and down start to Old Trafford career, Jose Mourinho resisted offers for him in the summer, and instead gave him a full preseason to show what he can do to which he is now very much benefitting from. It was his second season where he was most successful so far in his time at the club, but it could be stated that he was doing it all himself and no other player was helping with the goals and overall work load. Despite his difficult first season he endured under Mourinho where so often he was completely overlooked, he is now very much in Mourinho’s first team plans. Starting the season mainly coming off from the bench to great effect, where Manchester United dominated much of the game they could only show a 1-0 scoreline for it, came on and often adding to the scoreline so often that they see the game out for title chasing Manchester United. Martial has to keep his head down, and he could be potentially one of the best imports the Premier League has ever seen. Martial is also another young French player who is often compared to legendary former Arsenal, Barcelona, and France striker Thierry Henry. Martial finished the 2015/16 season as top scorer for his club accumulating 17 goals from 49 appearances, which included a dramatic last minute FA Cup semi final goal against Everton. In that season, Manchester United won the FA Cup and capped off a great personal season for him. Martial then followed up his mightily impressive first season with like the rest of the team in laboured fashion, however on various occasions there were glimpses of his true potential to leave fans very excited and optimistic for what was to come in the near future.