Sunday, March 27, 2011

Five Youngsters Who Starred Over The International Break

Neymar1. Juan Agudelo- Discussed before on this blog, Red Bulls youngster Juan Agudelo has been brilliant for both club and country over the last few months. Following up his first national team goal, the winner against South Africa, Agudelo scored his first goal in MLS, a solo effort which propelled the Red Bulls past Seattle. However, both those strikes were topped last night as Agudelo, called upon as a second half substitute for Jermain Jones, gave the USA a precious equalizing goal in their friendly match against Argentina. That goal serve to further enhance the youngster's burgeoning reputation, and with the youngster starting to catch the eye more and more,  it's only a matter of time before some of Europe's finest come calling.

2. Ashley Young- In the past Aston Villa winger Young has been overshadowed by the likes of Theo Walcott, David Bentley and Adam Johnson, but it seems that now the former Watford man has finally found a place for himself on the international stage. Young scored the winner in England's recent friendly against Denmark, and yesterday he was at it again, setting up both of England's goals in a 2-0 away victory against Wales. In recent weeks, the Villa man has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, and the general consensus seems to be that this season will be Young's last in Villa's claret and blue.

3. Aaron Ramsey- Before a terrible injury sustained against Stoke curtailed Ramsey's season in 2010, the Welsh midfielder had taken the Premier League by storm, tipped by many to be the leader of Arsenal's next generation of young players. However, that injury stymied his progress, and only recently has the twenty-one year old been able to reestablish himself on the club stage. Nevertheless, Wales manager Gary Speed presented him with the captain's armband following Gareth Bale's injury, and Ramsey acquitted himself well in a difficult game for the Welsh national team. Ramsey showed terrific poise in midfield, as well as the eye for a pass which characterized his play last season, play made all the more remarkable by the inept supporting cast which surrounded him.

4. Neymar- In Brazil, there are as many players with the prefix "next Pele" attached to them as there are new dawns and eras in England. As we all know, new dawns and eras in England will always inevitably end in failure, and more often than not Brazil's army of "next Pele's" have failed to live up to their home country's ludicrously high expectations. However, the feeling around Brazil is that this time they may actually have a player capable of emulating the achievements of footballing legend Pele. Since his arrival on the world stage in 2009, Neymar has gone from strength to strength, producing performances good enough to attract attention from the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona. But only in the last few months has the Santos youngster had the opportunity to play for the Brazilian senior side, with the attacker making his debut last summer against the USA. Neymar scored in that game, an achievement topped earlier today when, while making his third appearance for the national team, Neymar finally showed the world what he is capable of producing on the international platform, as his two goals inspired Brazil to a 2-0 victory over Scotland. Certainly, if he keeps up the form he displayed in this latest game, then many more caps will be coming his way.

5. Leandro Damiao- The least well known of this quintuple, Leandro Damiao was terrificly impressive in Brazil's win over Scotland. The striker looks to be highly athletic, and his ability in the air caused Scotland all sorts of problems, especially in the first half. The striker is only twenty-one, but he has already nailed down a place in the Internacional first team, no mean feat considering Internacional are the current South American champions. Damiao looks to be a perfect fit for Premier League football, tough and aggressive, but capable of producing traditional Brazilian silky skills. I must admit, I'd never heard of this player before today's match, but the profound impact he made on me during his seventy minutes on the pitch looks to indicate a bright future.

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