By Tyler Ruby on June 2, 2014
If a country wishes to win the World Cup, they need to get production from both young upstarts and experienced veterans alike. This year, there are a number of young players who are poised to make an immediate impact on their country's squad.
With that in mind, who are this year's young stars who are destined to make a surprising impact?
Already drawing interest from Manchester United, the 20-year-old Dutchmen had a stellar year with PSV, scoring 11 goals in 30 appearances. Since Netherlands is already loaded up front, Depay probably won't get many starts unless an injury happens, but he will be a key substitute who has the ability to change play late in the game.
The 19-year-old Belgian National played this past season with Manchester United, and he is expected to even have more of an impact next year for the Red Devils. He's a possession midfielder who could thrive in the No. 10 role behind attack, and he is one of the many young talents who make Belgium a serious dark horse contender.
He's not a pure goal-scorer, but the 20-year-old Croatian is a versatile midfielder. He played his last two seasons with Inter Milan, and in Brazil, he pairs up with Luka Modric, which could be one of the best midfield duos in the entire field. He has an unbelievable amount of potential, and he will certainly turn heads on the national stage.
The 23-year-old German is the oldest player on this list, but he has the potential to be a game-changer in Brazil. He scored eight goals this season for Chelsea, but he has even more success on the international side of things with 12 goals in 32 appearances. He's just another weapon for an already loaded German squad.
Many would expect Julian Green to be on this list, but Aron Johannsson will have the biggest impact between the two for the Americans. He's a goal-poacher, and he is great in the air. Jurgen Klinsmann will turn to Johannsson late in games when he needs a big goal.
Luke Shaw may be the most sought-after defenseman on the transfer market right now. The 18-year-old has all sorts of potential, and he leads an English youth revolution into Brazil for 2014 World Cup. His attacking style, coupled with his world-class speed, will make him a dangerous offensive threat pushing the ball up the pitch.
He's the only goalie on this list, and it is for good reason. Thibaut Courtois leads a talented Belgium team into Brazil after a strong season with Atletico Madrid. In the last two seasons with Atletico, Courtois won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy, which is given to the goalie who allowed the least amount of goals in the world.
Ross Barkley has been highly touted ever since his early teens. Now at 20 years old, he finally gets his opportunity to showcase his talents on the senior squad. He has the potential to become one of the strongest midfielders in the world, but it will be tough to find any sort of consistent playing time on this English team.
The 21-year-old right back is on his way to Arsenal next year, but Serge Aurier is one of the most talented players on a dangerous Ivory Coast squad. Aurier's speed on the outside makes him an extremely dangerous player as his stretch passes and crosses can cause havoc on the other end of the pitch.
Another talented, young defenseman, William Carvalho will play a vital role on Portugal's back line. He is big and physical, which could cause serious problems for some of the smaller strikers in group play.
Raheem Sterling really began to come into his own this season with Liverpool, giving them a third talented goal-scorer behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. I'd imagine that he'd be used a similar way with England off the bench. He has the ability to change a game with his speed and scoring prowess. Sterling has the potential to be England's "Super Sub" this year.
You know a player is talented when he is the starting center back for Real Madrid, and the 21-year-old Frenchman is just part of the influx of young talent for France. He has dynamic speed, but his positioning is what makes him a dominant defenseman. France's back line is in good shape for years to come.
Romelu Lukaku has turned himself into one of the more dangerous goal-scorers in the world. The Belgian team will rely heavily on his ability to score goals and be a constant threat up front. In the past two seasons, he has scored 32 goals, so he definitely has the potential to be that impact player.
It's really just an embarrassment of riches for Germany. They already have a ridiculously talented midfield, so what's one more potential superstar? The FC Schalke midfielder is only 20 years old, and he is one of the most promising players not only in Europe, but in the world. Draxler could be in more of an attacking role with the German squad, and he has the skill to net a number of goals for Germany this year.
Paul Pogba is one of the players behind the French renaissance, if you will. The 21-year-old has spent the last two seasons with Juventus, and he has turned into one of the best young midfielders in the world. His speed and size make him a matchup nightmare for any defender who tries to get in his way. In 2013, he was named the Golden Boy award winner, which is given to the best young player in Europe.
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