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Edgar picked as one to watch for U-20 worlds


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I just found this article on soccernet about the 12 best propects for the U-20s. Scroll to bottom.

Updated: June 27, 2007

Stars of tomorrow ready to shine

Jen Chang


Editor's note: Part 2 of the U-20 World Cup preview will run on Thursday, focusing on the teams and story lines to look for.

In what continues to be a busy summer for international soccer, those of you needing a World Cup fix need look no further than the FIFA U-20 World Cup, formerly the FIFA World Youth Championships, which is set to kick off across Canada this weekend and runs from June 30-July 22. Here's a look at my pick of the top dozen players in the tournament (and no, Freddy Adu isn't among them).

Players To Watch

1. Alexandre Pato, Forward, Brazil -- Touted as the next big thing in Brazil and tracked by a host of clubs across Europe. Chelsea and AC Milan are said to be heavily in pursuit for Internacional's 17-year-old wunderkind, who has been valued in the $30 million region and nicknamed "The Duck" (which stems from the city, Pato Branco, where he was born which translates as "the white duck"). Pato has it all -- speed, skill and finishing skills. He was Brazil's leading scorer in the 2007 South American Youth Championship with five goals.

2. Sergio Aguero, Forward, Argentina -- Aguero became the youngest player ever to debut in the Argentine First Division, when at only 15 years and 35 days he played for Independiente against Club Atletico San Lorenzo on July 7, 2003. Aguero broke the record previously established by Argentine legend Diego Maradona. Consider him a souped-up, faster version of Javier Saviola. After a promising debut season in La Liga with Atletico Madrid (who bought him last year for about $31 million), Aguero will be keen to make his mark in this tournament.

3. Lucas, Midfielder, Brazil -- The captain of the Brazilian U-20s and the driving force behind Gremio's success this past season, Lucas anchors the Brazilian midfield with his box-to-box prowess (he's headed to Liverpool later this summer). In 2007, Lucas also became the youngest player ever to receive Placar magazine's Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball), given to the best player in the Campeonato Brasileiro -- an honor previously won by the likes of Zico, Falcao, Careca, Romario, Kakà and Carlos Tevez.

4. Mauro Zarate, Forward, Argentina -- Zarate's shiftiness off the dribble is reminiscent of Leo Messi, but he's more of an out-and-out goal scorer than the Barca phenom. Zarate shared the top-scorer award for the Apertura 2006 with Boca's Rodrigo Palacio (12 goals each). Despite interest from top European clubs, Zarate surprisingly opted recently to join Qatar league side Al Sadd on a two-year contract, citing the financial stability the deal would give his family.

5. Giovanni Dos Santos, Forward/Midfielder, Mexico -- Dos Santos is the son of former Brazilian football player Gerardo dos Santos, better known as "Zizinho," who played in Mexico in the late 1980s. He's also the creative inspiration behind Mexico's U-17 World Cup triumph last year and is on the fast track at Barcelona (he's expected to be on the first-team squad for the 2007-08 season).

Icon Sports/WireImage

Sergio Aguero has already made his senior debut with Argentina.

6. Juan Manuel Mata, Forward, Spain -- Hero of Spain's U-19 European Championship triumph, Mata has evoked comparisons with Raul with his ability to play as a lead striker or as a withdrawn secondary striker/attacking midfielder. One of the jewels in Real Madrid's youth system, Mata recently signed with Valencia.

7. Edinson Cavani, Forward, Uruguay -- Cavani is the latest great young hope of Uruguay, which has yet to produce a truly world-class player since the days of Enzo Francescoli. Cavani shone in the recent South American Youth Championship, finishing the tournament as the top scorer with seven goals in nine games and helping Uruguay finish in third place. He earned a move to Serie A side Palermo earlier this year and scored in his debut against Fiorentina on March 11.

8. Carlos Vela, Forward, Mexico -- Along with Dos Santos, Vela helped inspire Mexico's title, finishing as the top scorer in the U-17 tournament with five goals -- a performance that helped him earn a move to Arsenal. On loan this past season in the Spanish Second Division, at UD Salamanca, Vela showed glimpses of the goal-scoring prowess that first drew coach Arsene Wenger's attention.

9. Marcelo, Defender, Brazil -- If you're wondering why Real Madrid didn't re-sign Roberto Carlos this offseason, look no further than Marcelo, whom they signed from Fluminense last October for about $9 million. Originally intended as Carlos' future replacement, Marcelo's time has arrived. He's long been considered Carlos' heir at the national team left back spot, exhibiting a similar skill set, with marauding runs and long-range strikes.

10. Bruno Gama, Midfielder, Portugal -- Porto's Gama is the latest in a long line of creative Portuguese attacking midfielders; he is similar in style to Sporting's brilliant young midfielder, Joao Moutinho. Gama helped Portugal win the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 championship on home soil.

11. Jozy Altidore, Forward, U.S. -- The 17-year-old Altidore reminds U.S. observers of the way former phenom Eddie Johnson first broke onto the scene in 2003. Like Johnson, Altidore has an impressive combination of size and speed, particularly for his age. Unlike Johnson, however, Altidore has better touch and technical skill, superior instincts, and a better all-around game. He's already a key part of the Red Bulls, and a solid performance in this World Cup will put him in the shopping window for many of Europe's top clubs, if he isn't already there.

12. David Edgar, Defender, Canada -- Edgar is a product of Newcastle's academy system and is held in high regard. He's an imposing physical presence in central defense for the Canadian back line, and he made a huge impression against Manchester United earlier this year when he made his EPL debut.

Jen Chang is the U.S. editor for ESPNsoccernet and also writes a blog Armchair Musings.He can be reached at: armchairsweeper@gmail.com.

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