The Future, 2015-16

A new addition to the site, every season The Blog FC will be selecting 11 youngsters from around the world of football and profiling them, how they’ve got to where they are, and where they could go in the future.

Every year, new stars emerge. A 16-year-old debuts in the cup; a teenager nets his first goal; someone you’ve never heard of puts in a performance way beyond his years. The flashes of brilliance are spectacular, though often quite rare. As quickly as a reputation is forged it can evaporate – just ask Freddy Adu.

And yet, there is nothing more exciting than a product from the academy making his mark; the fanbase dreams of their own Zizou, Messi, Cristiano, Maradona or Roy of the Rovers breaking into the first team and leading them to glory. We live in an age with unparalleled access to information around the world, with U18 games streamed on club channels and the U17 World Cup broadcast around the world on television, so everyone has their eye out for The Next Big Thing.

Partly inspired by In Bed With Maradona’s annual list, The 100 – who in turn were inspired by Don Balon’s annually published list of the 100 best players under 23 in world football – we present to you our XI of The Future for 2015-16.

We have tried to cover a variety of nations, while also including a couple of Australians to keep a local flavour. Some of the below are obvious, having already made big-money moves, while others are not so obvious. Some may go on to be superstars, others may never be seen again. They are all at different stages of their footballing development, and they are treated so. They aren’t necessarily the best under-23 footballers in the world, but they may become one of the best performers in their country or in their position.

A new player will be profiled every few weeks, with the XI spread out across the 2015-16 season – some featuring interviews with the players themselves, while others may include quotes from those who aided their development, or those who have watched them closely.

The Blog FC presents: The Future.

Gianluigi Donnarumma
16 years old
Goalkeeper
AC Milan
Italy

Joshua Kimmich
20 years old
Full-back
Bayern Munich
Germany

John Stones
21 years old
Central Defender
Everton
England

Joe Gomez
18 years old
Central Defender
Liverpool
England

Alex Gersbach
18 years old
Full-back
Sydney FC
Australia

Ruben Neves
18 years old
Defensive Midfielder
FC Porto
Portugal

Leon Goretzka
20 years old
Central Midfielder
Schalke 04
Germany

Hakan Calhanoglu
21 years old
Attacking Midfielder
Bayer Leverkusen
Turkey

Anwar El Ghazi
20 years old
Winger
Ajax
Netherlands

Chris Ikonomidis
20 years old
Winger/Attacking Midfielder
SS Lazio
Australia

Santi Mina
19 years old
Striker
Valencia
Spain