Football

Top five: Young playmakers in world football

Gotze attracting interest from Europe's elite. (©GettyImages)
Gotze attracting interest from Europe's elite. (©GettyImages).

Goalscorers tend to grab all the headlines, yet the importance of those providing these strikers with the ammunition to fire their way into the limelight cannot be underestimated.

In the modern day game, the role of the playmaker is pivotal. Take Chelsea for example. Their Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has spent big to bring the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard to Stamford Bridge in recent times, whilst players such as David Silva of Manchester City are regularly on the receiving end of widespread acclaim for their creative flair.

With such a plethora of playmaking talent in the footballing world, GiveMeFootball takes a closer look at five of the best young playmakers in world football. Players from Arsenal, Inter Milan and Barcelona all feature, but who would you have chosen as your top 5? Get in touch and let us know.

5. Philippe Coutinho

Age: 20

Teams: Inter Milan and Brazil

The Brazilian prodigy has risen through the ranks at Inter, and has gone on to establish himself in the first-team picture this season. Having made 10 appearances and scoring once, Coutinho will be looking to kick on and cement his spot in Inter's starting XI.

Last season, the 20-year-old playmaker was sent out on loan to La Liga outfit Espnayol, where he blossomed and really made a name for himself, scoring five goals in just 16 league appearances.

With rumours persisting that Inter are willing to listen to offers for their Dutch ace Wesley Sneijder, this suggests that the powers that be at the San Siro have a lot of faith in Coutinho's abilities.

4. Thiago Alcantara

Age: 21

Teams: Barcelona and Spain

This Spanish sensation is touted as a long-term replacement for Catalan legend Xavi Hernandez. No pressure then. Despite having to compete for a starting berth with established midfielders such as Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, Thiago made 27 league appearances last season, scoring two goals.

His excellent composure and increased maturity has impressed his manager, teammates and fans alike, with everyone at the Nou Camp excited by the 21-year-olds potential.

Unfortunately, this season Thiago has been plagued by injury, and has been restricted to eight first-team appearances, starting just three matches.

 

3. Jack Wilshere

Age: 20

Teams: Arsenal and England

Wilshere is widely regarded as one of the brightest prospects in English football. Blessed with a style of football comparable to Spain's finest, but with the work-rate, determination and grit synonymous with English players, Wilshere has the ability to play for any team in the world.

However, the 20-year-old England international has been struggling with injuries of late, having been forced to sit on the sidelines for the whole of the 2011/12 season. But Wilshere has finally put an end to his injury misery, returning to Arsenal's starting XI and making eight league appearances this season.

 

2. Christian Eriksen

Age: 20

Teams: Ajax and Denmark

Christian Eriksen is Denmark's most sought-after player, with his sensational form prompting comparisons to that of Danish legend Michael Laudrup.

Attracting admiring glances from Europe's elite after impressing with Dutch giants Ajax, Eriksen has become one of the hottest properties in world football.

His incredible range of passing is a joy to behold for such young a footballer, and he has already received international recognition having won Danish Player of the Year.

This season, Eriksen has already netted on six occasions, whilst his form in the Champions League, particularly against Manchester City, has seen the 20-year-old win plaudits from far and wide.

Manchester United and Barcelona are reportedly tracking Eriksen's progress, and he is yet another success story to come from Ajax's renowned academy.

1. Mario Gotze

Age: 20

Teams: Borussia Dortmund and Germany

In 2010, an injury to Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa resulted in an unknown German boy going by the name of Mario Gotze being given the unenviable task of filling the void left by the Japanese international.

Since then, Gotze has never looked back. The 20-year-old exceeded all expectations by scoring six goals in 29 starts, creating 11 assists.

This season, fans have been running out of superlatives to describe Dortmund's main man, having scored 11 times and assisted six goals in just 23 appearances.

Having gone from strength-to-strength since making the breakthrough, Gotze has become a top target for clubs all around the world and his ability to dribble, pick out a pass and score from long-range makes him the perfect playmaker.

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