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Part 1 of 3: The top 35 soccer phenoms

By Miles DeGrazia
On October 10, 2012

Managers all around the world are constantly searching for young players to turn into global icons. With the implications of financial fair play looming, teams have begun a shift from buying well-established stars at the peak of their power to creating the best players of tomorrow. These 35 players, all under the age of 22, have the ability to become the next crop of Xavis, Messis and Ronaldos.
PART 1 of 3
35. Josh Gatt, right wing (Molde FK / USA) - Josh Gatt is currently playing for Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjær and is blessed with blistering pace that will surely see him play for the US national team one day.
34. Romelu Lukaku, striker (On loan at West Bromwich from Chelsea / Belgium) - Romelu Lukaku tore up the Belgian League before his big money move to Chelsea two summers ago. At 6' 3", Lukaku is still surprisingly fast and mobile for a forward.
33. Nélson Oliveira, striker (On loan to Deportivo La Coruña from Benfica / Portugal) - Nélson Oliveira is a striker blessed with good dribbling and heading ability. Oliveira made three appearances at last summer's European Championships for Portugal.
32. Joel Obi, center midfielder (Inter Milan / Nigeria) - Joel Obi is the center midfielder for Inter and has been looking to replace the aging Dejan StankoviÄc and Esteban Cambiasso.
31. Fabio Borini - Striker (Liverpool / Italy) - Fabio Borini had a strong 2011-12 season with AS Roma in Italy but since his move to Liverpool has moved to a wide position.
30. Erik Lamela, right wing (AS Roma / Argentina) - A traditional tricky speed demon winger, Lamela established his name at the famous River Plate in Argentina.
29. David Alaba, left back (On loan to 1899 Hoffenheim from Bayern Munich / Austria) - David Alaba is already Austria's established left back, and his dribbling ability will make him a Bayern first teamer for years to come.
28. Kyriakos Papadopoulos, center back (Schalke 04 / Greece) - Kyriakos Papadopoulos made himself an important member of Schalke's team last season, playing in 29 of 34 Bundesliga matches.
27. Kevin De Bruyne, attacking midfielder (On loan to Werder Bremen from Chelsea / Belgium) - One of many talented Belgians, Kevin De Bruyne possesses a passing ability unseen in others.
26. Gastón Ramirez, attacking midfielder (Southampton / Uruguay) - Southampton's most expensive player ever, at £12m, Gastón Ramirez established himself last year at Bologna and even played at the Olympics for Uruguay last summer.
25. Jack Rodwell, defensive midfielder (England / Manchester City) - Jack Rodwell is a throwback to an older generation, as a tough-tackling midfielder that looks like he could have played in the 70s.
24. Isaac Cuenca, right wing (Barcelona / Spain) - A similar player to Alexis Sánchez, Isaac Cuenca is a graduate of the famous La Masia academy, which produced Cesc Fàbregas, Xavi and Iniesta.
23. RaphaÃl Varane, center back (Real Madrid / France) - A 6' 3" center back with a strong heading ability, who moved to Real Madrid in the summer for €10 million after a recommendation from former France and Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane.
22. Cristian Tello, left wing (Barcelona / Spain) - Another pacey winger with tricky dribbling skills, Cristian Tello recently won Man of The Match in Barcelona's 3-2 comeback win against FC Spartak Moscow.
21. Marco Verratti- central midfield (Paris Saint-Germain / Italy) - Marco Verratti is a traditional center midfielder more interested in keeping the ball for his team than beating a man with a trick. He is a similar player to his hero, Andrea Pirlo.
20. Coutinho, central attacking midfield (Inter Milan / Brazil) - A dribbling wizard who has been likened to a much faster Kaká.

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