Leo Messi’s one-man demolition of Arsenal confirmed one thing: that he is undoubtedly the best player in the world right now, ahead of the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. The fact that Messi is only 22 is scary, as he hasn’t even reached his peak yet.
Last week, I wrote about the Top 10 Brazilian starlets who could take the Premier League by storm . Now I’m going to focus on the other South American wonderkids from the likes of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, some of whom have the potential to be the “next Messi”. None of the following are established stars like the Higuain’s, Aguero’s, Di Maria’s or Falcao’s of this world, but are certainly on the cusp of big things in the game and certainly have the potential to make a name for themselves in the Premier League if given the chance.
Described as a cross between Messi and David Silva, Gaivan is the 22 year old Argentine prodigy that has already made his debut for the Argentinean national team and is a key player for Boca Juniors, alongside former Villarreal star Juan Roman Riquelme. “Nico” is a player with big potential: blessed with superb technique, great dribbling ability and the ability to score spectacular goals, Gaivan is left footed but can play on the right wing and as an attacking midfielder.
The 21 year old Uruguayan prodigy has been labelled the “new Messi” and broke into the Nacional team at 16 and has earned rave reviews since. Liverpool were linked with a move for Lodeiro last year, before he signed with Ajax in January. Two footed, Lodeiro is an excellent prospect: he is quick, a dead ball specialist, possesses a lethal left foot and has great control, dribbling ability and can glide past players with ease. Since joining Ajax, the midfielder has played in 6 games (all as a substitute), and scored one goal. If he continues his development in Holland, we could very well see Lodeiro in the Premiership in the future.
The Argentine playmaker burst onto the scene last season for Huracan, where he obliterated River Plate in one game and was linked with a move to Manchester United. Creative and stylish, the 20 year old Pastore has excellent link up play and can play behind the striker or on either wing. He is capable of scoring goals from long range and joined Palermo last summer for £8 million, as he wanted regular first team football. This season for Palermo, Pastore has played in 28 games, scoring 2 goals and providing 4 assists. If he continues his fine form, it won’t be long before United or another Premiership club comes calling again.
The 21 year old Chilean winger has been likened to both Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and is known as “El Nino Maravilla” or “The Wonder Boy”. Possessing a vast array of tricks, an abundance of pace, great dribbling skills and the and the ability to provide great assists, Sanchez was heavily linked with a move to Man United last year. This season, Sanchez has played in 26 games for Udinese, scoring 2 goals.
(Juan Aurich, on loan from PSV)
The 19 year old Peruvian prodigy rose to prominence in the 2007 South American Under 17 Championship, where he was named player of the tournament. The likes of Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid were linked with a move for Manco before he joined Dutch side PSV. A natural goalscorer, Manco is a fine dribbler and can set up goals as well as scoring them and has already made his debut for the Peruvian national team.
The 21 year old Argentine playmaker is tiny yet super skilled (he is only 5 foot 2) and the latest in a long line of small, talented Argentine playmakers who have gone on to great things, like Messi, Diego Maradona and Pablo Aimar. Buonanotte has represented Argentina in the 2008 Olympics and has a low centre of gravity, excellent dribbling skills which allow him to ghost past defenders and has a penchant for spectacular goals.
The 20 year old Defederico rose to prominence by playing in the same side as fellow prodigy Javier Pastore for Huracan. Now at Corinthians, Defederico has been lauded as the new Messi because of his explosive dribbling, similar height, unpredictability and ability to cut inside on his left foot. Defederico has been chased by numerous clubs, with Liverpool, Tottenham and Barcelona all reported to be interested in the Argentine prodigy.
The Uruguay youngster is one of the best defensive prospects in South America and is tipped to be part of Uruguay’s World Cup squad. Coates, 19, is a tall, elegant defender that is hugely composed, quick, tall (he is 6 foot 4) and strong in the tackle. The likes of Juventus and Inter Milan have registered their interest in the defensive prodigy, but his strength and speed would be suited to the Premiership.
(Gimnasia La Plata)
The 22 year old Argentine midfielder has been labelled as the “new Mascherano” and was linked with a move to Everton last year. Aggressive and tough tackling, Rinaudo likes to get forward more than Mascherano and has bags of potential. He made his debut for Argentina last year against Panama.
The 19 year old striker is one of Argentina’s hottest commodities and is tipped for a big future. Operating primarily as a striker, Salvio can play on the wing and has a low centre of gravity, is a good finisher and skilful with the ball at his feet. Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were linked with a move for Salvio, before he joined Atletico Madrid for £10 million in January.
Any glaring omissions that you wish to add to the list?
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