As pre-season schedules are kicked into action, many players will be looking ahead to the 2013/14 season with excitement as they seek to establish themselves as first-team regulars.
However, it's no easy path and over the course of the season Jack Butland and Kevin de Bruyne will face the challenge of securing their position on the team-sheet.
Here, we look at the difficulties they each face, and the likelihood that this year will represent something of a breakthrough for these talented youngsters.
Bought for £4 million under previous Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, Jack Butland must now prove to Mark Hughes that he is worthy of the being Stoke’s number one 'keeper next season.
Having turned down a move to Chelsea to secure regular football, Butland will be hoping that he can mount a serious challenge to Asmir Begovic. Indeed, with Liverpool confirming the signing of Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, it looks like Begovic will be at the Britannia Stadium this season. Begovic was fans and players choice of Player of the Year 2012/13 - it's certain that Butland will face a real test if he is to replace the Bosnian as Stoke’s first choice shot-stopper.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne made the decision to stay at Chelsea and fight for his place in the first team, having previously been loaned out to Werder Bremen last year. That the Belgian attacking midfielder is a talent is unquestionable – he scored 10 goals and assisted nine during his 33 league appearances last year.
However, he faces fierce opposition at Chelsea, who arguably boast one of the strongest attacking line-ups in Europe; Juan Mata, with 12 goals and 17 assists in the league last year; Eden Hazard, with 9 goals and 13 assists; Brazilian playmaker Oscar, famous for that spectacular strike against Juventus; newly signed German talent Andre Schurrle, who commanded a sizeable price tag, believed to be around £18 million. The challenge for De Bruyne is a tough one, but there is little doubt that this is a player with huge potential.
As we draw ever closer to the start of the season, it will be fascinating to see how these two future stars perform if, and when, they are given the chance to under their new managers.
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