The World Cup in South Africa will play host to most of the world’s best players, some of which ply their trade in Serie A. But beyond the big names, there will also be a new generation of young stars – playing in Italy – who may use this summer’s showpiece to break through as household names.
Mario Bolatti (Fiorentina and Argentina)
Diego Maradona’s often bizarre choices for his Argentina team have benefitted young unknowns such as Bolatti. The Fiorentina midfielder scored the goal that sent Argentina to the World Cup after a difficult qualification campaign, and Maradona has kept faith in him for his 23-man squad.
Dominic Adiyiah (Milan and Ghana)
Six months ago Milan signed Adiyiah after he dominated the Under-20 World Cup for Ghana. The dynamite striker is regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in the world, and although he’s yet to debut for Milan, a promising World Cup should see him involved next season.
Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio and Serbia)
The left wing-back was one of the rare shining lights in an otherwise terrible season for Lazio. Kolarov has been linked to both Inter and Real Madrid due to his potential, and a transfer this summer may depend on his performances for Serbia in South Africa.
Edinson Cavani (Palermo and Uruguay)
Cavani arrived in Sicily aged 20 just three years ago, and has since grown better every season. This season he has particularly impressed as Palermo narrowly failed to secure Champions’ League football, but that disappointment will be behind him as he looks to carry Uruguay through the World Cup.
Samir Handanovic (Udinese and Slovenia)
Handanovic spent a few seasons as back-up goalkeeper to Morgan De Sanctis at Udinese. But, he has now established himself as first-choice and hasn’t looked back. The 25-year-old could really burst onto the scene playing in a Slovenian team that isn’t fancied to go far in the World Cup.
Simon Kjaer (Palermo and Denmark)
The central defender’s performances for Palermo have led many of Europe’s biggest clubs to be linked with him. Kjaer already has nine international caps, but a knee injury in a pre-World Cup friendly has threatened not only his participation in the competition, but also a big-money transfer this summer.
Takayuki Morimoto (Catania and Japan)
The 22-year-old striker has caught the eye playing at the unfashionable Catania in recent seasons. He has earned rave reviews from those who see him regularly in Serie A, and will add to his two international caps this summer.
Marek Hamsik (Napoli and Slovakia)
Hamsik is undoubtedly the single hottest young property in Serie A. His value has sky-rocketed with every season that has past, and a solid World Cup could finally see the creative midfielder move to one of Europe’s big clubs.
Edgar Alvarez (Bari and Honduras)
Bari were shoo-ins for relegation this season, but their fantastic overachievement led to players like Alvarez attracting interest. Honduras are similarly unfancied at the World Cup, but the midfielder will be hoping to replicate his unexpected season with his club.
Alexis Sanchez (Udinese and Chile)
Despite being just 21-years-old, Sanchez is relatively experienced at international level. In his two seasons with Udinese he has been thoroughly impressive as a winger, and playing in an attacking Chile team could see him excel.