Soccer is an ever changing game. New faces are constantly making names for themselves and proving their worth against the game’s elite. Unlike other sports, 25-year-old soccer players are considered veterans and are expected to be major contributors to their squads, demonstrating their talent on a regular basis. By the age of 25, most world class players have emerged, shown their quality, and are preparing to help their teams win. It is rare that elite talents emerge after reaching the age of 25, although some do still sneak through the cracks.
Many of the players on this list have already impressed at this summer’s World Cup, while others have joined new clubs in search of fame and fortune. Some are already considered to be among the very best at their respective positons. Approaching a new cycle of domestic campaigns and Euro 2016 qualification, these players are household names for football fans. Included in this list are World Cup and Champions League winners as well as domestic titles from leagues around the world.
These players represent the future of world football. They are the players to watch for their club and international teams. The combined value of their contracts would total over a one billion Euros. Just this summer, James Rodriguez’s transfer to Real Madrid from AS Monaco cost them €80 million, a sum that the club eagerly paid to acquire his talents. As money pours in from around the world to elite football clubs and their players, these players could soon be setting record transfer fees to contribute to the world’s richest squads.
25 Stephan El Shaarawy - Forward/Winger, AC Milan
24 David de Gea – Goalkeeper, Manchester United
23 Marco Verratti – Central Midfielder, Paris Saint-Germain
22 Isco - Attacking Midfielder, Real Madrid
21 Lorenzo Insigne - Winger, Napoli
20 Eliaquim Mangala – Defender, Manchester City
19 Julian Draxler – Midfielder, Schalke 04
18 Raheem Sterling – Winger, Liverpool
17 Mattia De Sciglio - Full back, AC Milan
16 Xherdan Shaqiri – Winger, Bayern Munich
15 Oscar – Midfielder, Chelsea
14 Andre Schurrle – Forward/Winger, Chelsea
13 Mario Gotze – Midfielder, Bayern Munich
12 Paul Pogba – Midfielder, Juventus
11 Romelu Lukaku – Striker, Everton
10 David Alaba – Left back, Bayern Munich
9 Daniel Sturridge – Striker, Liverpool
8 Toni Kroos – Midfielder, Real Madrid
7 Mario Balotelli - Striker, AC Milan
6 Raphael Varane – Defender, Real Madrid
5 James Rodriguez – Midfielder, Real Madrid
4 Thibaut Courtois – Goalkeeper, Chelsea
3 Eden Hazard – Attacking midfielder, Chelsea
2 Thomas Muller – Forward, Bayern Munich
1 Neymar – Forward, Barcelona
Neymar is a controversial, yet undeniable talent. This summer during his World Cup campaign with Brazil, he scored four goals, which earned him the Bronze Ball award. Unfortunately, his tournament was cut short due to a fractured vertebrae, which he suffered thanks to a Juan Zuniga flying knee. After moving to Barcelona for a fee of €57 million, he attracted controversy because of the circumstances surrounding his move from Santos. His first season with Barcelona he contributed 15 goals, but it was not enough to earn them a title. At only 22 years of age, he still has a long time to recoup Barcelona for their considerable investment.
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