At the start of the year FIFA outlined their players to watch in 2012. The list was 13 strong and contained talents from around the globe under the age of 23-years-old. So a year on just how did they do?
Thiago Alcantara - Barcelona
What they said: ‘Seems certain to become an increasingly influential player for club and country.’
While no means a failure 2012 has not gone exactly to plan for the young Spaniard. He suffered ruptured knee ligaments in October which has not helped but he has also struggled to earn a place in the Barca first-team. In terms of international advancements he has not made a single appearance for Spain in 2012.
Karim Ansarifard - Saipa
What they said: ‘This elusive and athletic centre-forward is one of Asia’s brightest talents.’
FIFA were not the only ones singing the praises of the Iranian forward at the end of 2011. Described as ‘one of the most versatile goal-scorers in the game’ and declared one of the world’s top talents he was the subject of a bid from Borussia Dortmund; and we know they can spot a player. Issues with conscription mean he could not go but he did move to Persepolis
Ross Barkley - Everton
What they said: ‘Seems set for Premier League stardom.’
He has not quite hit the Premier League stardom just yet but still at just turned 19 there is a long way to go in this boy’s development. His recent loan with Sheffield Wednesday was a sure success and he was recalled to Everton as a result. 2012 may have come round a tad too soon for him but 2013 really could be his break-out year.
Dede - Vasco da Gama
What they said: ‘Earned the nickname ‘Dedeckenbauer’ for his ability to orchestrate play from the back, and looks certain to be a Brazil star of the future.’
The oldest player on the list and he has come on again this year. Featuring four times for Brazil he has seen his name linked with AC Milan and Juventus.
Julian Draxler - Schalke 04
What they said: ‘Greater things are likely to lie in store this year.’
2012 saw the midfielder win his first cap for Germany against Switzerland in May and he has since accumulated three caps. Overall it has been another great year for the youngster and this season he has been an undoubted regular featuring 20 times for the German outfit. If 2013 follows the same trend he could be the most successful on the list.
James Forrest - Celtic
What they said: ‘A light in the darkness in Scottish football.’
Signed a new contract with The Bhoys earlier in the year and has continued to be a regular in the squad. While he may never set the world alight there is certainly a solid career in the making.
What they said: ‘One of the division’s hottest prospects.’
Hoilett had a great time at Blackburn Rovers even as they were relegated to The Championship. A transfer tug-of-war ensued in which QPR won out and the best was predicted. He has struggled in London so far and needs to improve greatly in 2013.
Stefanos Kapino - Panathinaikos
What they said: ‘One of the most promising goalkeepers in world football.’
2012 has not been as progressive as 2011 for the talented stopper. Linked with Inter Milan and Manchester United last year he has since only played two games in 2012 as he struggles to usurp more senior keeper Orestis Karnezis from the side.
Zakaria Labyad - PSV Eindhoven
What they said: ’Likened in playing style to his idol, Ibrahim Afellay.’
Unfortunately 2012 has been a year blighted by a transfer saga between PSV and his new employers Sporting Lisbon. He has had a mixed start to his career in Portugal being used more in the Europa League and as a sub in the league for a struggling Sporting Lisbon side.
Ahmed Musa - CSKA Moscow
What they said: ‘One of Africa’s most exciting young talents.’
He had just signed for the Russian side from VVV-Venlo when this list was compiled. This season he has cemented his place as a regular in the side; the Nigerian scoring eight goals in 18 games since July.
Lucas Ocampos - River Plate
What they said: ‘Dynamic wide man – likened in style and physique to Cristiano Ronaldo.’
Another of the names who made a move in 2012 the young Argentine signed for AS Monaco in August for £12 million. Still improving he will hope to be showcasing his talents in Ligue 1 next season.
Gaston Ramirez - Bologna
What they said: ‘Boasting power and panache in equal measure.’
One of Europe’s most wanted this summer he surprised everyone by agreeing to sign for Southampton. He had previously been on top form in Serie A and despite suffering with injuries since arriving in the UK he has shown real glimpses of his class on the South Coast.
Hiroki Sakai - Kashiwa Reysol
What they said: ‘International recognition and growing interest from abroad are inevitable and fully merited.’
That interest from abroad grew into a transfer and he agreed to sign for Bundesliga outfit Hannover 96 this summer. Still finding his feet in Europe 2013 could be his year.
All in all only a handful truly had a significant impact in 2012. The likes of Dede, Draxler and Martinez continued to develop while Thiago, Labyad and Kapino have taken a slight backward step.
With 2013 upon us there will undoubtedly be many a similar list appearing across the web and both inspiration and warning can be found among the 13 names above.
How do you think these players got on in 2012?
image: © jikatu