Oscar, Coutinho, Courtois and five of football's finest young players

Oscar has sparkled in Chelsea's playmaker role this season. Photo: PA

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho described his Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard as "the best young player in the world" after the 23-year-old brought his tally for the season up to 14 with a match-winning hat-trick against Newcastle.

Should FIFA start listening to the Portuguese's praise while the young winger continues to dazzle at Stamford Bridge, he could soon be rivalling Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the annual Ballon d'Or prize.

He is not, however, the only prodigious talent making a name for himself in world football and here Press Association Sport's James Cann looks more closely at five other 'next big things'.


When in search of a rival, Hazard might perhaps need look no further than at his partner-in-crime at Chelsea. The 22-year-old Brazilian has formed an effective alliance with the Belgian, scoring nine goals in all competitions this season. Oscar has drawn comparisons to Kaka, with whom he shares enormous creative talent and superb dribbling skills, and his playmaking talents were essential to Chelsea as they clinched the Europa League trophy last summer.


Another Belgian prodigy on Chelsea's books, Courtois is currently enjoying a third successful season on loan in Spain with Atletico Madrid. The talented shot-stopper has marshalled the best defence in the Primera Division as Atleti make a convincing bid for their first league title since 1996. At only 21 years old he is closing in on 200 career appearances, meaning Chelsea have a high-quality long-term replacement for the experienced Petr Cech waiting in the wings.


The brightest prospect in the German Bundesliga is arguably Bayern Munich's Austrian left-back. Alaba, who has made Philipp Lahm's former slot at full-back his own since the Germany captain moved into midfield, was a key part of Bayern's treble-winning squad in 2012-13 and continues to improve his all-round game under the supervision of new coach Pep Guardiola. He will not strut his stuff at the World Cup, though, with Austria failing to qualify.


Borussia Dortmund were understandably distraught when they realised there was nothing they could do to convince Gotze to resist a move of Bayern last summer. The announcement came shortly before the clubs met in the Champions League final - which Bayern won - and towards the end of a season in which Gotze scored 16 goals and made 13 assists from midfield. He has since been converted to a striker under Guardiola and continues to blossom.


Operating just behind Liverpool's lethal strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho has been a revelation in Brendan Rodgers' resurgent Reds side. Blessed with Brazilian flair, trickery and invention that has seen him light up the Premier League with defence-splitting passes, the 21-year-old has been compared to Ronaldinho. Coutinho earned his one cap for Brazil four years ago but should collect a few more at his home World Cup.