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Under 21s

Under-21s vs The World

They say that the kids are our future. But what if the future has already arrived?

Some people say that our generation is witnessing some of the best football ever seen. With stars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, it’s certainly a special time for the world’s most beautiful game.

Our current standard of football is impressive, but I can be almost certain that the next few years will see the best football the world has ever witnessed.

Some of the world’s current Under-21 players are already full internationals and have cemented their places in their respective club and international sides.

They already have the reputation as some of the best players in the world and are being slapped with multi-million pound price tags.

So if eleven players, all under-21, took on the world’s best eleven, you’d think they’d be crushed by the shear ability of these players?

I beg to differ. I believe if a group of the world’s best under-21 players took on a fantasy world eleven, it would be a very tightly contested match, and here’s the team that could hold any side given the chance.

 Goalkeeper – David de Gea (Atletico Madrid, age 20)

David de Gea’s sensational performances this season have prompted the attention of a host of top European clubs. It’s no secret that Manchester United have been a huge admirer of the 20-year-old, searching for a suitable replacement for Edwin Van Der Sar. In 35 appearances this season, de Gea has made 12 clean sheets which has seen Atletico Madrid mid-table in this season’s La Liga.

Left Back – Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur, age 21)

Inter Milan are terrified of who one might argue to be the world’s best left sided defender. Gareth Bale crushed the reigning European champions with his magical left foot. He made some mesmerizing runs, using his blistering pace to tear apart the best side

Gareth Bale ran rings round the Inter Milan defence

 in Europe. He has been slapped with a £50 million price tag which completely justifies his unrivalled ability.

Centre Back – Mamadou Sakho (Paris St Germain, age 21)

Sakho recently made his international debut for France, and he will undoubtedly become one of the country’s best centre backs of all time. This boy has a tireless heart and passion for the game. His leadership credentials and hard tackles make him stand out as one of the best upcoming defenders on the globe.

Right Back – Davide Santon (Cesena (on loan from Inter Milan), age 20)

Davide Santon has played in the shadow of Maicon for much of his Inter Milan career. Despite this, he has racked up fifty-one career appearances for Internazionale and has six international caps for Italy. Santon is known as an attacking full-back and will terrorize clubs with dangerous runs up and down the right wing.

Left Wing – Eden Hazard (Lille, age 20)

Creativity. Speed. Technical Ability. These are all qualities of one of the world’s best left wingers. He has already played 17 times for his national side, Belgium, and is ever-increasingly becoming the subject of speculation linking him to a big-money move abroad. Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid are all contenders to land one of the most promising youngsters of today’s game.

Bojan Krkic is already a first team regular at Barcelona

Centre Midfield – Jack Wilshere (Arsenal, age 19) 

The 19-year-old English midfielder tore apart Barcelona in Arsenal’s recent Champions League tie, proving he can perform against the best players in the world. Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets were mystified as Wilshere ran rings round them and snatched the ball off them at every opportunity. Despite his height, Wilshere’s tackling and ability to “take a knock” will help him become one of the most highly-regarded players on the planet.

Centre Midfield – Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich, age 21)

He may not have received as much praise as Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, but Toni Kroos played an integral part in Germany’s successful World Cup campaign. He already has 12 major trophies to his name, including a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich. This season he has become a regular at the German side and has established himself as a regular for his country since the World Cup in 2010.

Right Wing – Alexandre Pato (AC Milan, age 21)

AC Milan’s number seven has always been labelled as ‘one to watch’. From a very early age, Pato was widely regarded as one of the most promising upcoming talents of this generation. With 46 goals in 89 appearances for Milan, Pato is definitely living up to his name. In addition to this, the 21-year-old has scored 4 goals for Brazil in 12 appearances. Right wing may not be his usual position, but Pato is a versatile player that’s able to play in a range of attacking positions.

Attacking Midfield – Javier Pastore (Palermo, age 21)

Palermo’s attacking midfielder has been on red-hot form this season in Serie A. Although missing out on Argentina’s World Cup squad, he has since been a regular for the South American nation. He has grabbed eleven goals this season for Palermo and assisted five. His surge to fame in recent years will definitely see him become a household name in years to come.

Striker – Mario Balotelli (Manchester City, age 20)

£24 million doesn’t just buy you an average quality striker; it buys you one of the best strikers in the world. Mario Balotelli’s move to Manchester City gave him a huge price tag to justify, and so far this season his record is immense. Eight goals and one assist in eleven appearances is an impressive statistic, and one that Balotelli is sure to brag about. The Italian has been known for his loud mouth and petulant attitude.

Striker – Bojan Krkic (Barcelona, age 20)

Bojan Krkic’s buy-out clause in his contract is now £100 million. Barcelona know it when they see talent and they will nourish this potential all the way until Bojan is a world superstar, and he’s not far from that. Lionel Messi is one example of how Bojan could develop, and that would be a dream for the young Spaniard. He already has ten major trophies to his name including a Champions League winners medal and two La Liga titles.

Javier Pastore is looking to establish himself as an Argentina international

As you can see, there is a wealth of talent and potential in today’s world. And if they are this good now, imagine how unbelievably brilliant they could be in three years time?

The World Cup in 2014 is sure to be one of the greatest spectacles the world has seen in years, and so fittingly in the home of football, Brazil.

I predict these players will be highlights of the tournament and will contribute to the many reasons why our generation of football is the best we have ever seen.

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About Tom Bennett

I'm a 21-year-old Multimedia Journalism student at Bournemouth University aspiring to be one of Britain's top sports journalists. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for contact and further information.

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