Esteban Alvarado – Costa Rica
There haven’t been too many stand-out performers at the tournament between the sticks, but one who has made a good impact is Costa Rican custodian Esteban Alvarado. The Saprissa-based 'keeper is a notable exception, showing himself to be a strong and commanding. In addition, he pulled off a number of fine saves, most notably against Brazil in the semi-final. Alvarado deserves credit for playing his part in helping Costa Rica bounce back from the mauling in the first group match against the young Selecao, when they went down to a 5-0 defeat.
Samuel Inkoom – Ghana
The attacking right-back probably spent more time in the opposition half than his own, and looked equally comfortable on the right-wing as in defence. Inkoom is the embodiment of the modern full-back; aware of the defensive demands placed on him, but also more than happy to raid forward and get crosses in. On the books of Swiss side Basel, Barcelona have already added him to their scouting notes if rumours are to be believed, and during this tournament he certainly looked a player capable of replacing Dani Alves on day.
Michelangelo Albertazzi – Italy
Yet to really make the break-through with his club side Milan, Albertazzi, 18, showed that he has the potential to become another great Italian centre-back. Italy struggled to put a side together, with many of the team who got to the final of the UEFA Under-19 Championships in 2008 not made available by their various club sides. That gave many lesser known Italian youngsters the opportunity to shine, and Albertazzi was one of many to take his chance with both hands.
Rafael Toloi – Brazil
The Goias defender, 18, looks like an excellent prospect at the heart of the Brazilian back line - good in the air and strong in the tackle. Like many Brazilian sides playing the traditional 4-2-2-2 formation preferred by the Selecao, the centre-backs can at times become stretched. With so little cover available in front of Toloi, positional awareness is an absolute essential for any centre-back who wishes to flourish in such a system. Rafael Toloi certainly looks to have this, despite his tender years, and may well become something of a household name over the course of the next few seasons.
Kim Min-Woo – Korea Republic
The Korean Republic have produced several exciting attacking full-backs such as Lee Young-Pyo, and Min-Woo looks to be another in the same mould. The attacking left-back grew into the tournament, delivering his strongest performance in the quarter-final against Ghana, ultimately his final game. Whilst collectively the Koreans may have conceded three, Min-Woo caught the eye with a strong performance, getting forward down the flank and forcing Samuel Inkoom into some tricky positions. Still based with his collegiate side in Korea, Yonsei University, Min-Woo will be available to sign a professional contract in the near future.
Alex Teixeira – Brazil
Despite his diminutive stature, Teixeira certainly showed that he has all the skills needed to flourish in a creative midfield position or in the hole behind a striker. Under contract to Vasco da Gama, he has already forced his way into the first team reckoning at the Sao Januario, and his performances are thought to have attracted the interest of both Everton and Manchester United. His best game came against Uruguay in the round of 16, where for 30 minutes Brazil played some outstanding football, racing into a 3—0 lead. Teixeira scored two in seven minutes in that game, giving a glimpse of his immense potential, which will no doubt leave many European clubs salivating at the prospect of adding him to their squad.
Vladimir Koman – Hungary
Already on the books at Sampdoria, whose youth side he led to national glory in Italy last season, Koman continued to add to his glowing reputation with some fine performances in central midfield as Hungary surprised by finishing as the best placed European team. A controlled passer of the ball with excellent vision, Koman also adds work-rate and positioning to his game. The 20-year old looks to be a marvellous prospect. It would be no surprise to see Koman called into the full national side for Hungary as they look to build on their recent promising World Cup campaign.
Andre Ayew – Ghana
It’s never easy being the son of a legend, but as the son of Abedi Pele, Ayew has a massive amount to live up to. Having made some fleeting appearances for Marseille last season under Erik Gerets, plenty of pundits tipped Ayew to shine in Egypt, and he didn’t disappoint. Able to play through the middle or from a wider position on the left, Ayew has a wonderful left foot and blistering acceleration, making him the ideal candidate to fulfil either position.
Richard Sukuta-Pasu – Germany
It’s hard to find much fault with Sukuta-Pasu’s overall game. Lightening quick and agile in possession, the Bayer Leverkusen forward is also deadly accurate in front of goal. Having served notice of his potential last summer in the 2008 European U-19 tournament, helping Germany to glory then, the forward with Congolese heritage added to his burgeoning reputation in Egypt. He’s already had a couple of substitute appearances for his club side at the BayArena, and certainly on the evidence of the tournament deserves more chances to shine.
Alan Kardec – Brazil
Another who came to the tournament with a big reputation after scoring plenty of goals in his homeland for Vasco da Gama, Kardec’s career has wilted after going on loan to Internacional, where he hasn’t featured. Nevertheless he had an excellent tournament, playing up front for a side creating plenty of chances, helping himself to several goals. His defining moment came in the semi-final against Costa Rica, when he managed to hook the winning goal from an impossibly tight angle to settle the tie. With talent and confidence in abundance, if Kardec can find some regular first team football, it would be no surprise to see him making the same impact on the Brasileirao that ex-Palmeiras striker Keirrison made.
Dominic Adiyiah – Ghana
Arguably the break-out player of the tournament, the Ghanaian striker burst onto the scene, scoring goals freely after forming the partnership of the tournament up front with Ransford Osei for the Black Satellites. Blindingly fast and an immense physical presence, Adiyiah is more than just a lumbering target-man, but also a lethal forward. After moving to Norwegian football in the summer, precisely how long Adiyiah remains in Scandinavia is open to debate, as there certainly will be no shortage of clubs interested in his signature based on his performances in Egypt.
Walter Townsend, Goal.com