In today’s footballing world the term, “wonderkid,” seems to be thrown around as often as a Crisitano Ronaldo step over. Most of these so-called 16-year-old phenoms come along and shock the world for a couple of months before going into relative obscurity for the rest of their life.
But for a small group of “wonderkids” — and the list is small — the title sticks and said player becomes something special. But it doesn’t happen that often. Currently there are more than enough young footballers out there to make your head spin — but like in any league, there are a couple of gems that are worth keeping track of.
Here are four young talents that could make some noise over the next 10+ years.
Eden Hazard, Lille
Not only does this 18-year-old have a really cool name, he also has a bright future in the world of football ahead of him. Hazard is Belgian born and plays primarily as an attacking midfielder for French Ligue 1 side Lille.
He has attracted attention from Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea amongst others but signed a contract extension with the French club until 2012 despite the high-profile interest. So far Hazard has been primarily used as a substitute by Lille but I can see him stepping up and cementing his place in the first team next season, if his head isn’t turned by a larger club first.
Federico Macheda, Manchester United
17-year-old Macheda hit the headlines a few weeks ago with a fantastic goal against Aston Villa and is surely a player to watch. He scored in his second appearance for United as well with a reflex strike against Sunderland, which proved to be the winner.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has a decent record of bringing through young talent and in Macheda it looks as if he has found another gem. The Italian joined United from the youth set-up of Serie A side Lazio and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more from this youngster in the future.
Mark Davies, Bolton Wanderers
Davies started his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers but was loaned out to League One side Leicester City during the 2008/09 campaign. His performances from midfield were a massive part in Leicester’s rise to the top of the table and led to interest from Bolton Wanderers.
The 21-year-old joined Bolton in January 2009 for a fee believed to be around the £1million mark and quickly established himself in the side. Unfortunately for Davies and Bolton he suffered an injury which has kept him out of action but Davies should be a major player for the Wanderers next season.
Fabian Delph, Leeds United
Fabian Delph has been named in this season’s League One PFA team of the year and has already attracted interest because of some excellent performances for Leeds. In a league game against Brighton he scored with a drive into the top corner after running the entire length of the pitch and has been compared to England international Steven Gerrard by fans and pundits alike.
Rumours have circulated that Leeds have turned down bids in excess of £5million for the 19-year-old and he is tipped as one of England’s future talents. Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill is reportedly lining up a bid for the gifted midfielder in the summer and it seems more a case of when not if Delph will play in the Premier League.