As a new year begins, we take a look at five midfielders who are on the path to become the next sensation in the world of football.
Choosing only five players for this list is basically ‘Mission Impossible’. There was a huge pool of talent to pick out of, so we had to establish some additional criteria. We decided to present you with five players who have just rose to fame and haven’t yet asserted themselves as footballing stars. Check the list below to get to know some relatively unknown youngsters who have a bright future ahead of them.
5. Thiago Almada – Velez Sarsfield
Perhaps you’ve heard about this player before, as he was included on The Guardian’s Next Generation of 2018. A shorter Argentinian kid who glues his feet to the ball and slides past defenders like butter on bread. Where have we heard that before? As the only player on the list outside of European football, Thiago has been linked with several top clubs from the old continent. The player is quick with his feet and can actually shoot and cross perfectly with both of them, making him highly unpredictable. Moreover, the midfielder already has five goals and one assist in just nine appearances.
4. Ferdi Kadioglu – Fenerbahce SK
This Dutch midfielder is relatively unknown, but his potential is off the charts. Kadioglu began his career at NEC Nijmegen, where it was already clear he was meant for higher flights. The Under 21 international’s talent didn’t go unnoticed as he completed his move to Fenerbahce at the tender age of 18 on a low-cost deal. Last season, he quickly asserted himself in the squad. In fact, Kadioglu made 31 appearances for the Turkish side, scoring six goals and providing three assists. We chose this young midfielder due to his impressive crossing skills and all-around resourcefulness on the pitch. Capable of scoring screamers outside of the box, the 21-year-old has the ability to change the game with his speed and vision.
3. Florian Wirtz – Bayer 04 Leverkusen
The heir to Kai Havertz’s position at Leverkusen, young Florian had big shoes to fill and high expectations surrounding him. However, the 17-year-old hasn’t let the pressure affect his performance. Wirtz began this season by breaking several records and being a key piece to the German side’s title efforts. The youngster has netted the goal five times since the summer and provided one assist as well. The German midfielder shows impressive steadiness on the pitch for his age. His calm behavior is accompanied by good decision making and terrific passing skills.
2. Rayan Cherki – Olympique Lyon
This 17-year-old wonderkid is the youngest entry on the list, but don’t dismiss him for his age. When Cherki is on the pitch, he does not look like a teenager at all. This midfielder makes everything look easy: passing, dribbling, and shooting. The only thing that isn’t easy at all? Stopping this player from raising havoc on the pitch. Cherki got his Lyon debut when he was only 16-years-old and his talent has been undeniable ever since. The French player reminds up of a young Adel Taarabt for his dribbling skills and ability to move the game forward. However, he surpasses the Benfica player on one important aspect: his passing accuracy.
1. Pedro Goncalves – Sporting CP
This 22-year-old midfielder arrived at Sporting this season with a very difficult task: make the Sportinguistas forget about how much they were missing Bruno Fernandes. After a terrific last season at the impressive Famalicao, the Wolves outcast arrived at Sporting for a low fee of €6.5 million. Pote, a nickname the player received for being a chubby kid, exceeded all expectations with his incredible performances in the Portuguese league. Goncalves has scored 10 goals and assisted his teammates five times on just 12 occasions. Moreover, he scored braces in three consecutive matches. This attacking midfielder has got above-average passing skills and an impressive eye for goal. In fact, Pote’s finishing touches make scoring look easy. We chose this player for first place because if he continues performing at this level, there is no way he won’t end the year playing for a top European club.