40 Months Later: Man United's Ravel Morrison And 9 English Wonderkids

Approaching four years since this article was written, we look back at what was predicted of these English youngsters. It's fair to say some have progressed more than others.
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Approaching four years since this article was written, we look back at what was predicted of these English youngsters. It's fair to say some have progressed more than others.

10. Jordan Graham (Aston Villa)

The youngest player in this list, Graham is a lanky, quick left-winger with plenty of skill, a venomous delivery and he has already represented the England Under 16 side. Has been at Villa since he was 9 and is highly rated by the club who see a touch of the Tony Daleys (except he can run and cross at the same time) about him. One slight problem is that he qualifies for the Republic of Ireland who have already called him up, and it is likely that he will be part of a tug of war as he progresses.

9. Benik Afobe (Arsenal)

Part of the England Under 17 side that won the recent European Championships, Afobe has already been given a pro contract by Arsene Wenger. A natural born goalscorer, he has been prolific for Arsenal youth sides for the best part of a decade. A real number 9 with power and pace, Afobe can also play wide in a 4-3-3 where he uses his directness to prove a real menace. He is currently on loan at Huddersfield, playing a handful of games and scoring the first of many goals in the senior ranks.

8. Ross Barkley (Everton)

The next Steven Gerrard. Or is it Wayne Rooney? Either way this boy has got real talent and dominates midfield with his athleticism, driving runs forward and excellent technique. Also part of the England Under 17 side that defeated the famed Spanish youngsters in 2010 and is apparently being lined up for a first team debut when he returns from a broken leg. Sir Trev Brooking is known to be a fan and he seems to be the heir apparent to Steven Gerrard in the England team.

7. Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon)

Yes, that’s right, Sporting Lisbon. Dier moved to Portugal as a boy when his mum got a job there in the run up to Euro 2004. The tall centre back has since captained Sporting Lisbon at every age group and plays like a combination of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho; comfortable on the ball and a commanding presence at the back. Dier has not represented England yet (despite pledging his allegiance) and only appeared on the FA’s radar when he was part of an Umbro advertising campaign. Sporting often act as a feeder club to Manchester United and don’t be surprised if the Cheltenham boy ends up at Old Trafford at some stage in his career. For the moment though his club are blooding the 16 year old in higher age groups; a sure sign that Pedro Cardoso’s famous academy rates him highly.

6. Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal)

Is this the man England have been waiting for ever since Owen Hargreaves’ career was ruined? Squat and powerful, Frimpong is a defensive midfielder in the Essien mode who loves a tackle, has plenty of drive and also possesses the trademark technique and passing ability of Liam Brady’s academy graduates. Excelled in pre season and would have made several appearances this season if it were not for a serious injury which rules him out for most of the season. Another one at the centre of an international dispute as he, despite representing England at youth level, initially indicated that he wished to play for Ghana before seemingly doing a Nick Clegg and opting for England. Will be a priority for Stuart Pearce to give him a competitive under 21 cap as soon as possible and consign him to the inevitable heartache and mediocrity of our national team for the rest of his career.

Ravel Morrison is a seriously talented attacking midfielder blessed with searing pace and that indefinable quality of gliding past defenders as if they were going in slow motion

5. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton)

Following in the footsteps of Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott, the wonderfully named Southampton wonderkid has all the top clubs drooling over him with Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all tracking his progress. Has made around 20 appearances for the Saints, has already scored several times and looks a class above League One with his speed and impeccable technique. Will obviously draw comparisons with Walcott and Saints fans are already resigned to losing their prodigy. It is quite possible he will fire them to promotion as a leaving present (along with a hefty transfer fee from whichever club he ends up at). Thankfully Motty will not be around when this kid hits the big time as he would stumble over his name every time he touched the ball.

4. Ravel Morrison (Manchester United)

Seriously talented attacking midfielder blessed with searing pace and that indefinable quality of gliding past defenders as if they were going in slow motion. Made his debut in the Carling Cup for Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand singled him out for praise trough his awful tweet feed. The only question mark is his temperament which Sir Alex will undoubtedly manage in order for him to fulfil his potential.

3. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

Signed from QPR in 2010 for a fee that may end up being in excess of £5m, Sterling is lightning quick and plays either as an attacking midfielder or striker. Has scored plenty of goals for the Liverpool Academy, and Roy Hodgson saw enough in him to give him a run out in a pre-season friendly in Germany. Has also appeared in England youth teams and was courted by everyone before being signed to the Melwood Academy. With Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli looking to blood youngsters rather than spend in the transfer window, do not be surprised to see Sterling in the first team soon. He can’t do worse than Jovanovic or Maxi Rodriguez.

2. Josh McEachran (Chelsea)

The talisman of the victorious England Under 17 side, McEachran is the antithesis of the classic English midfielder. Carlo Ancelotti describes as being very similar to Andrea Pirlo - high praise indeed. The 17 year old has been a regular on the bench for Chelsea this season and has made several appearances including the honour of being the first player to play in the Champions League to be born after its creation. Possesses a fearless temperament, is strong in the tackle despite his small stature and is sure to be the mainstay of a very different England midfield alongside Jack Wilshere and others.

1. Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea)

Remarkably for a club that hasn’t really produced any of their own youngsters since the emergence of John Terry, Chelsea players hold the top two spots in this list. A central defender who is athletic, technical and comfortable on the ball, Chalobah is destined for a glittering career if his progress is not stunted by foreign imports. Was extremely impressive in defence for England in the Under 17 Euros despite being a year younger than his team mates and opponents, Chalobah has already appeared on the bench for Chelsea this season and is known to be, alongside McEachran, the jewel in the crown of both Chelsea’s academy and the England youth set up.

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