From the All Stars Cup to the best leagues in the world23.11.2018
One of the charms of youth tournaments is discovering new prospects and then following their career paths. During the last ten years the All Stars Cup has seen several players that already have played matches in the best leagues in the world or have featured for their national teams. And other talented players will surely follow them in the next years.
It was the year 2013 when Timothy Fosu-Mensah played at the All Stars Cup. The Dutch defender or defensive midfielder finished the tournament in third place with Ajax and also took home the prize for the best defender of the tournament. Just a year later he switched the team from Amsterdam for Manchester United. In 2016 he got his debut in the Premier League for the English club and went on to play a total of 12 league games for the Red Devils. He added another 28 matches in the English top flight on loan spells at Crystal Palace and Fulham. He has been successful on the international scene as well by representing Holland at almost all youth levels and to this date he has also played three times for the Dutch senior side.
This Croatian winger came to the All Stars Cup a year after Fosu-Mensah. At that time he played for Dinamo Zagreb but in 2016 he moved to Germany as Wolfsburg paid 10 million euros to get him. A loan move to Stuttgart followed during which he helped the club with promotion to the Bundesliga. After returning to Wolfsburg he made the left wing his own and hasn’t missed a single league match this season. And Brekalo, who is only twenty years old, has already managed to play twice for the Croatian national team.
At least two names that are now known by football fans appeared at the All Stars Cup in 2015. Arne Maier was voted the best defender of the tournament. He came to Prague with Hertha Berlin where he plays to this day. But still, a few things have since changed for Maier. He plays as a defensive midfielder instead of a defender now and he went from being a young prospect to becoming an established member of the starting eleven at Hertha. Last season Maier featured in 17 Bundesliga matches and during this campaign he hasn’t missed a single minute in the blue and white shirt. He has achieved all this as a nineteen-year-old.
In the same year that the All Stars Cup featured Maier, we could also see Diogo Dalot in action. The Portuguese right-back finished the tournament in second place with Porto and just three years onwards he is a player of Manchester United. He was brought to Old Trafford by his compatriot José Mourinho for 22 million euros despite the fact that at the time of the transfer Dalot was still recovering from a knee injury. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay injury free after his move to England but he has still managed to play for United in the Champions League and in the EFL Cup. The Portuguese youngster was praised in particular for his performance in the Champions League and he has all the right characteristics to dominate on the right side of Manchester United’s defense for years to come.
The All Stars Cup has during its ten years of existence discovered also a lot of quality Czech players. The most talked about at the moment is Jan Matoušek who played in this international tournament three times for Příbram. In the colors of this club he also began his senior career and in the 2017/18 season he scored eleven goals and was voted the best player of the Czech second division. He won promotion with Příbram and his good performances continued with four goals in the Czech top flight. Matoušek started to be linked with the best clubs in the Czech Republic which resulted in a transfer to Slavia Prague for approximately 1.5 million euros. He was supposed to move to Slavia only after the winter break but due to an injury crisis, the team from Prague fast-tracked his transfer and Matoušek started to play not only in the Czech league but also in Europa League matches. And it was the Europa League where he scored his first goal for Slavia, his strike sealed an important away win against Copenhagen.
The biggest prospects of the All Stars Cup 2018
All the above-mentioned players have already left a footprint in the senior game. On a path to do the same are also the ones that shone for their teams at the All Stars Cup 2018. We have seen a lot of prospects and it is difficult to say who is going to make a real breakthrough. But the spotlight is surely on Kenny Nagera who bagged five goals for Paris Saint-Germain or Andy Villar Carneiro Melo from Barcelona who also scored five times during the tournament. The assists for his goals often came from Moriba Kourouma who is now already playing in the UEFA Youth League. Pablo Moreno Taboada also features in this prestigious competition with the difference that after the All Stars Cup he switched Barcelona for Juventus. Another interesting transfer that happened after the All Stars Cup was Roberto Navarro’s move from Barcelona to Monaco. All Stars Cup 2018 has offered some interesting stories that are definitely worth following. And in this aspect, next year’s tournament surely won’t be any different.
Diogo Dalot, FC Porto