With the inaugural UEFA Youth League kicking off on 17 September we thought it was the perfect time to pick out the best players from the academies of the British teams participating in this season's competition.
Thanks to the NextGen series being a huge success over the last two years we have managed to see a number of players progress through the youth ranks into the first team. Two years ago Raheem Sterling was playing in the Under-19 competition, while last season he enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in the first team and a was subsequently rewarded with a first England cap.
Celtic's Tony Watt went from scoring against Barcelona in the NextGen competition to helping Neil Lennon's side overcome the Spanish giants in the Champions League with another superbly taken finish.
This season the British teams competing in the Youth League are the same sides that qualified for the Champions League, so we have Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Celtic.
Below we pick out the one player from each academy that is likely to excel on the European stage and show their manager just why they deserve an opportunity in the senior side.
Name: Adnan Januzaj
Club: Manchester United
Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as "a beautifully-balanced player who has good acceleration and is a very good technical player", Januzaj was snapped up from Anderlecht and has become a regular member of the Manchester United U21 side. A creative force who always looks to open up defences with penetrating passes, the Belgian youngster made his competitive debut for United in the Community Shield victory over Wigan. A gifted individual with the ball at his feet, the 18 year old demonstrated his versatility last season by even performing as a lone striker in United's youth team. He will likely be the man pulling the string for the U19 side this season and will hope he can catch the eye of David Moyes after earning the number 44 shirt and a place in the first team squad under Ferguson.
Name: Islam Feruz
The 17 year old was signed by Chelsea in September 2011 after carving out a reputation as one of the finest talents in Scotland while playing for Celtic in various youth competitions. Having spent six years with the Hoops, Feruz was convinced to make the move to west London and he has been excelling ever since. Described on the Blues website as 'short but sharp with an electric turn of pace and able to get a shot in early', the forward starred in the NextGen series firing seven goals and helping Chelsea make the final of the competition. Despite his diminutive stature he is physically strong and lethal when presented with an opportunity. He has already demonstrated his ability on an international stage, scoring a hat-trick for the Scotland U19's before moving up to the U21 side and firing two goals in just four appearances.
Name: Hector Bellerin
Position: Right Back
A former member of the famed La Masia academy, Bellerin made the decision to leave Barcelona and join Arsenal in the summer of 2011. For the last two years he has excelled while playing for various youth teams, and is renowned for his ability to support attacks thanks to his blistering pace. Having previously been deployed as a winger, he has been converted into a marauding right back and has steadily improved the defensive side of his game. Still just 18 years old he has represented Spain at various youth levels and will be hoping to catch the eye of Arsene Wenger. With Bacary Sagna in the final year of his contract he could well find himself competing with Carl Jenkinson in the near future for a spot in the first team.
Name: Jose Angel Pozo La Rosa
Club: Manchester City
Signed from Real Madrid at the start of 2012, Pozo made an instant impact at Manchester City and went on to be nominated for the Academy Player of the Year award in 2012/13. Having only turned 17 this March, the Spanish striker was the top scorer for City at U21 level last season, despite regularly coming up against players some five years his senior. In his final season with Madrid he scored 34 goals and turned down Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in order to move to Manchester. As well as his ability in front of goal, Pozo is renowned for his supreme vision and sharp movement. His partnership with Barcelona striker Sandro has seen him excel for Spain at U17 level and he has often spoken of his desire to emulate the great Zinedine Zidane.
Name: Liam Henderson
Celtic have yet to announce their final squad but it seems likely that 17 year old midfielder Henderson will be handed an opportunity to impress. Having joined from Hearts in 2008 he quickly caught the eye of the Neil Lennon who picked him to play alongside Kris Commons against Sevastapol during pre-season. With an impressive ability to find space, Henderson effortlessly makes time on the ball and has demonstrated an eye for goal. Celtic believe he could be a star of the future with development coach John Kennedy describing the midfielder as a 'very talented player, he's someone that we have high hopes for'. Far from overawed in his first game for the senior side, Henderson will look to make a major statement on the European stage and emulate fellow youngster Tony Watt's epic rise.
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