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Fifa's ones to watch in 2009


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With a host of young players poised to make it big over the next 12 months, FIFA.com introduces you to a clutch of the stars set to shine in 2009.

Jozy Altidore, 19, forward, Villarreal (Spain)

Having just started to make his way in the US national team with two goals in five appearances so far, Altidore could come into his own in the final phase of the CONCACAF qualifying competition for South Africa 2010. The powerful striker is also something of a pioneer, becoming the first American player to join one of Spain's leading clubs.

Michel Bastos Fernandes, 25, midfielder, Lille (France)

The hugely versatile Brazilian has established himself as a firm favourite with the Lille fans this season. Capable of slotting in as a right or left-back, in left midfield or as a centre-forward, Bastos can do the lot and do it with style. Thanks in no small part to his perfectly executed free kicks, he has become the undisputed leader of the Lille pack, amassing nine goals and seven assists in 19 games so far this season. Should he continue that form, LOSC could scale new heights in the year ahead.

Scott Brown, 23, midfielder, Celtic (Scotland)

2009 begins with this dynamic box-to-box midfielder widely regarded Celtic and Scotland's most important and valuable player. Direct, athletic and combative, Brown has thrived after successfully curbing a reckless streak that blighted last season, his first at Celtic since winning a £4.5 million move from Hibernian. So influential has the 23-year-old become, in fact, that the Scottish champions have reportedly turned down a £9 million bid from Portsmouth to take their midfield general south of the border during the January transfer window.

Jaime Cordoba, 20, midfielder, America de Cali (Colombia)

Having made his debut in July 2007, American de Cali's physically imposing youngster went on to become the star turn in the club's championship triumph, his sterling work in the midfield holding role lending balance to the side. After serving an eight-year apprenticeship with local rivals Deportivo Cali, Cordoba was on the point of giving up the game when he was released two seasons ago. However, Deportivo's loss has proved to be America's gain.

Douglas Costa de Souza, 18, midfielder, Gremio (Brazil)

Having drawn comparisons with Ronaldinho and Robinho, the left-footed free-kick specialist is already attracting the attentions of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. Equally effective as an attacking midfielder or as an out-and-out striker, the Brazilian tyro should be appearing at a major European club near you before too long. First up for Douglas, however, comes the South American U-20 Championships in January, where he will team up with fellow midfield sensations Marquinhos (19, Palmeiras) and Rafael Carioca (19, Spartak Moscow) as the Auriverde go in search of a place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009.

Pedro Tonon Geromel, 23, defender, Cologne (Germany)

The towering Brazilian has impressed so far in his first term in the Bundesliga, helping his recently promoted employers into the relative comfort of 11th place. Should he continue to impress at the RheinEnergieStadion, it will surely not be long before the members of the German and European elites come calling.

Guillaume Hoarau, 24, forward, Paris St-Germain (France)

The second-top scorer in Ligue 1 before the winter break with 11 goals in 19 matches, the man from the island of Reunion has wasted little time in adapting to life in the French top flight. Formerly with Gueugnon and Le Havre, the rangy centre-forward learned his trade exclusively in the second division, where an impressive haul of 28 goals last season earned the modest Hoarau a close-season move to the Parisian giants. His selfless play and finishing skills have made him a worthy successor to the newly retired Portuguese front man Pauleta, and his partnership with 24-year-old midfielder Stephane Sessegnon, another promising recent acquisition, is flourishing fast.

Keirrison, 20, forward, Coritiba (Brazil)

The main architect of his club's return to Brazil's Serie A in 2007, this versatile striker has since confirmed his potential at the highest level. Keirrison netted 21 times in the Brasileirão last year, finishing joint-top scorer along with Washington of Fluminense and Santos' Kleber Pereira and was named Emerging Player of the Season by the Brazilian FA.

Marko Marin, 19, midfielder, Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)

This gifted offensive midfielder has belied his youth with some mature performances for Gladbach in the Bundesliga. With 49 appearances in the German first and second divisions already behind him, not to mention four outings with the national team, the Bosnia-Herzegovina-born midfielder has proved his worth with a number of assists during the current campaign. It can only be a matter of time before Marin secures a permanent place in the Mannschaft.

Martin Morel, 28, midfielder, Club Atletico Tigre (Argentina)

It was only three years ago that the No10 was plying his trade in the depths of the Torneo Argentino, the country's fifth division. After joining Tigre in 2006, where he turned professional at the relatively late age of 25, Morel was a regular sight on the bench before gradually forcing his way into the starting XI and making a major contribution to Tigre's promotion to the first division. A key component of the side, the chances are he will be bidding farewell to Argentinian football within the next few weeks.

Carlos Darwin Quintero, 21, forward, Club Santos Laguna (Mexico)

The young Colombian learnt the ropes at Deportes Tolima, for whom he scored 24 goals in 52 games, before heading off to Russia for a short spell with Krylia Sovetov, based in the city of Samara. Failing to adapt to such chilly climes, Quintero decided to return home at the start of 2008, signing for perennial first division strugglers Deportivo Pereira. But after finishing the season as the second-highest scorer in the league with 13 goals, the striker was snapped up by Santos Laguna of Mexico, a move that should allow him to serve further notice of his finishing prowess.

Rafael Pereira Da Silva, 18, defender, Manchester United (England)

Rafael arrived from Fluminense last winter with the sole intention of making the United right-back slot his own. And with Wes Brown struck down by a serious knee injury and the stalwart Gary Neville now well into his 30s, the multi-faceted Brazilian has already made eight appearances this season and got his name on the scoresheet once. Boasting the flair for which his countrymen are renowned and a desire to get forward at every opportunity, the teenager seemingly has what it takes to become an Old Trafford legend.

Aaron Ramsey, 17, midfielder, Arsenal (England)

The Welsh prodigy was a major factor in Cardiff City's surprise run to the English FA Cup final last year, and his invention in the heart of midfield has been rewarded by Arsene Wenger with a number of first-team outings this season, five of them in the UEFA Champions League. Destined to become the linchpin of the Wales team, Ramsey - for whom Arsenal paid £5 million during the summer - can expect more opportunities at the Emirates following Cesc Fabregas's recent injury.


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