Who has the mettle to make it big at a tender age? We, here at TheHardTackle, have kept in mind player performances over the course of the season, individual roles, overall impact and influence on their teams across their yearlong performances and shortlisted five young prodigies for our End of Season Awards.
Who do you think should win it?
Mario Götze(Borussia Dortmund)
It took the Borussia Dortmund academy product just one year to cement his place into the first eleven. Touted as the future of German football, the three time winner of the Fritz Walter medal has showed his class throughout the campaign, earning a couple of national call ups as well. Manager Klopp backed him , “From the first time I saw him, I was just counting down the days until I could promote him to the first team squad without acting irresponsibly.” When Kagawa got injured for almost the entire 2nd half of the season, Götze was summoned to replace him as the team’s playmaker. The diminutive playmaker exceeded expectations and notched up goals and assists with great aplomb, finishing his season’s tally with eight goals and fifteen assists in 38 games in all competitions making him one of the prime candidates to win this award.
Jack Wilshere became the youngest ever league debutant for Arsenal, when he came on as substitute against Blackburn Rovers in September 2008, a record previously held by Cesc Fabregas. A loan spell at Bolton presented him with a chance of playing at the highest level, a chance he excelled at so well that Bolton wanted to take him on loan for another season. Arsene did not budge and quite rightly so. In this breakthrough season, Wilshere was made to play in more of a holding role, but soon he became the cynosure of Arsenal’s midfield with solid tackling, defense-splitting passes and intelligent off the ball movements, enough to earn him national team call-ups and win him PFA’s Young Player of the Year award.The young midfielder has scored a couple of goals and raked up 4 assists, two each in the domestic league and Champions league respectively, making him one of the prime contenders to win this award as well.
Rafael da Silva(Manchester United)
Following his debut a couple of seasons back, Rafael Da Silva has only gotten better as a player. In his debut season only, the then 18-year-old played in 28 games, scoring a goal at the Emirates of all places. The lesser of the twins, in terms of quality, had an uphill task of stepping into the shoes of Man United legend Gary Neville in right-back. He was not expected to meet the high standards right from the word go, but the maturity he has displayed so far is way beyond his age. A tricky fullback with tremendous speed, acceleration, uncompromising tackles and never-to-give-the-ball-away attitude has made him an unstoppable force down Man United’s right flank this season. If the volatile rookie can manage to curb his feisty temper to an extent and keep working on his crossings, he could very well develop as the team’s biggest asset.
Following injuries to Legrottaglie and Chiellini, the 18-year old and 1.93m Dane starlet was handed his first ever Serie A start against Cesena, a game they ended up winning 3-1. His versatility came into the foray when the centre half was asked replace injured rightback Marco Motta’s place against Roma. The young one took the challenge in his stride and impressed instantly, keeping opposition winger Riise quiet for a large period. Sørensen’s best Juve game came in a crunch match against Lazio, in which he was pitted against an in form Mauro Zarate, but the Danish dynamite bottled his Argentine opposition throughout the game. Sørensen is a very physically developed player even at the age of 18 and has good heading abilities and rarely loses an aerial duel. If presented with more playing time, he could very well make Juve’s right-back slot his prerogative.
Andre Schürrle(Mainz 05)
Season 2010-11 was the breakthrough year for Mainz and its youth graduate Andre Schürrle. Schürrle played a positive part in Mainz’s fairytale run of seven successive victories right from the season kickoff, scoring goals in three successive games, coming off the bench. The winger has scored 15 goals in all competitions and notched up 5 assists as well, earning him a couple of national team call-ups as well. In the friendly against Australia he even managed to set Mario Gomez up for Germany’s only goal in the game. The lanky and pacy trickster’s long range shooting efforts have been phenomenal – his goal against Uruguay in last night’s friendly is a fair testmony to that. His efforts were not overlooked as he attracted interest from all over the globe. Finally Leverkusen won the race to acquire his services. Leverkusen’s good domestic form ensured that we will be able to see Schürrle in action in next season’s champions league.
We have a clear winner here – Jack Wilshere, and quite deservingly so. In this breakthrough season, Wilshere was made to play in more of a holding role, but soon he became the cynosure of Arsenal’s midfield with solid tackling, defense-splitting passes and intelligent off the ball movements. At the age of 19, he has already established himself in the Arsenal first-team and is carrying the hopes of not just Arsenal fans but also of the entire nation on his young shoulders. We hope he realises his potential.