10) Geoffrey Kondogbia
Who is he?: Geoffrey Kondogbia is a 20 year old midfielder who plays for AS Monaco. He is a regular for the French U-21 side and has already made his debut for the senior team.
Back in 2013: He started the campaign at Sevilla in Spain and despite his tender age, he was a regular starter for the Spanish club. He started 23 times in the previous season and made a further 8 appearances off the bench putting in eye catching performances in heart of midfield. He even managed to get on the score sheet in 3-0 win over Granada. After featuring for Sevilla in the first 2 games of the season, Kondogbia was snapped up by Monaco. He hasn’t enjoyed as much game time as he’d have liked thus far with 5 starts and 7 appearances off the bench. He did start in last weekend’s win over Toulouse setting up a goal in their 2-0 victory.
Kondogbia was an integral part of the impressive U-20 side that won the World Cup last summer. He started every game and even scored 2 goals for his side. He’s been a regular fixture of the U-21 squad and has started all 3 of their qualifying games thus far. He was an unused substitute in a World Cup qualifier against Belarus and played just more than an hour in a friendly against Belgium.
Looking to 2014: Kondogbia has seen limited opportunities at Monaco and will be hoping to force his way into the Ranieri’s plans sooner rather than later and play a role in their pursuit of table topping PSG. As for his World Cup aspirations, he finds himself in the same situation as many of the players on this list, should make the squad but the isn’t a starter as of now.
Who is he?: Januzaj is an 18 year old who plays for Manchester United. The left-footed player is eligible to represent a number of countries at the International level including the likes of Belgium, Kosovo and Albania but hasn’t made a decision yet.
Back in 2013: Januzaj spent the first half of the calendar year featuring in the U-21 Premier League as Manchester United went on to be crowned Champions at that level beating Spurs in the final. He was an unused substitute in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game as Manager against West Brom. It’s this season under Moyes that Januzaj has got his chances and he’s certainly taken them well. He continued to play for the U-21 side at the start of the season, he got his chance with the senior side. After 2 substitute appearances, he got his 1st start for the club against Sunderland scoring a brace in 2-1 win. He’s made a total of 10 starts and 6 substitute appearances in the league thus far and has become an important member of the side.
Looking to 2014: While the team have endured a very disappointing season, Januzaj has been one of the positives for Manchester United. There’s no reason for him not to kick on and have a good 2014 campaign as well.
Who is he?: Rafinha is a 20 year old who currently plays for Celta Vigo on loan from Barcelona. He has represented both Spain and Brazil at different age groups. He is of course the younger brother of Thiago.
Back in 2013: He spent the first part of the year at parent club Barcelona playing for the B side in the Spanish Segunda. He enjoyed a successful season for them scoring 10 goals and 8 assists in 36 appearances. While older brother Thiago was the subject of much transfer speculation in the summer, Rafinha made the comparatively low key switch to Celta Vigo on loan. After 2 substitute appearances in the first 2 games, he got his first league start against Granada and duly obliged with a goal. He also scored a brace albeit in a losing cause against Real Sociedad. He’s also registered 3 assists in 15 starts and 4 substitute appearances in the league.
Looking to 2014: Rafinha has thrived in the La Liga given a regular run of games and has lived up to much of the hype surrounding him. However the disparity between Celta’s first team and that of Barca is quite large and it remains to be seen whether the Catalan giants will deem it fit to send him out on another loan.
7) Davy Klaassen
Who is he?: Klaassen is a 20 year old midfielder who plays for Ajax. The youngster also plays for the Dutch U-21 team.
Back in 2013: The 2012-13 season was supposed to be Klaassen’s breakthrough season but a groin injury and a series of set-backs meant that he spent almost the entirety of the season on the sidelines. He was eased back at the start of the season appearing for the Jong Ajax in the Eerste Divisie before finally being integrated into the first team towards the end of September. Following Christian Eriksen’s departure, Ajax needed someone to step up and Klaassen did just that. He scored in his 1st start of the season against Utrecht and hasn’t looked back since with 7 goals and an assist in 8 starts and 3 substitute appearances including a hat-trick against NAC Breda. He also started in 3 of Ajax’s group stage games.
Following his lengthy absence, Klaassen has been called up to the Dutch U-21 team and has appeared 4 times thus far mainly off the bench.
Looking to 2014: The youngster has made a great comeback and has established himself as an important part of Ajax’s title challenge. Hopefully he can stay injury free and continue to impress. There’s plenty of talk about giving him a run out for the Dutch senior team before the World Cup. Whether he does make the trip to Rio remains to be seen.
6) Florian Thauvin
Who is he?: Thauvin is a 20 year old midfielder who plays for Marseille. The left footed youngster is regular for the French U-21 squad.
Back in 2013: Thauvin started the year as a Bastia player but joined Lille in January. Lille sent him back to Bastia on loan for the remainder of the season. Thauvin enjoyed a successful season at Bastia with 10 goals and 3 assists in 32 league games including an impressive run of 6 goals in 3 games in March. Thauvin agitated for a move to Marseille in the summer and got his move having made no appearances for Lille. He’s had a good start to his time at Marseille notching up 5 goals and 4 assists in the league thus far. He also scored a goal and set up another in their recent loss to Nice in the Coupe de France in a game that incredibly finished 5-4.
Thauvin is yet another member of the French U-20 World Cup winning side to feature in our list. He started all 7 of the games impressing throughout the tournament and came to the fore against Ghana in the semifinal scoring both goals in a 2-1 victory. He’s part of the U-21 squad and has been in fine form in the qualifiers thus far with 5 goals in the 3 games.
Looking to 2014: 2013 was certainly an eventful year for Thauvin and 2014 should be the same (except the club hopping hopefully). Marseille are off the Champions league spots in Ligue 1 currently and will be looking to move up the able in 2014, something that a player like Thauvin could have a say in.