We constantly seem to rate young players based on talent or potential. But that means very little in football, or in any sport for that matter. At this level, talent is almost a given - its what you do with it that is important.
Parameters of Evaluation:
I think we (and Inter) should focus on 4 parameters (with equal importance) when judging a young player:
1. Talent: This is not just about ball skills, bit also presence of mind and vision.
2. Work Ethic: This is not just about working hard during the game, but also a lot of do with discipline in life and in training. This is evaluated by things like does a player ALWAYS arrive early for training, professionalism in contracts, how well he listens to to coach's directions, etc.
3. Attitude: Not just someone who isn't a spoilt brat, but also someone who is a team player, has a winning attitude and willingness to learn. This is partly the easiest thing to evaluate - at least the spoilt bit. Behaviour in training is usually a good indicator of the rest - does the player listen to the coach is another good indicator.
4. Passion to perform: Someone who strives to improve everyday, wants to be the best, has a big desire to win every game and break records. Plays every game like a final, and wants to make his mark in each game. This can be evaluated by things like high intensity during games and training, etc.
When you look at any great player, he would most likely score highly in at least 3 of these 4. That is what is needed in modern football.
Balotelli is a perfect example. Great talent, average to shite in other 3 parameters. On the other end of the spectrum, we had Zanetti - not the most talented player on the planet, but he was so good in the other 3 parameters that he became a legend.
In fact, sports scientists argue that talent can limit the development of a player. Balotelli is again a perfect example. He never had to work hard to be the best at youth level, his immense talent was good enough to make things easy for him and open doors for him. He stopped developing and never learnt to work hard... so when at the top level he was found wanting, he just didn't know what to do. At Liverpool now he looks clueless - his stunted growth and skill-set as a player are no longer enough, and he is finding it hard to deal with that.
We must evaluate young players on all 4 parameters, or at least the first 3. The order above also indicates the level a player is going to achieve. Talent at this level is almost a given - there are so many talented young players these days. But talent alone will only open a few doors for you at best. Combined with work ethic, you got yourself a decent career. With the right attitude as well, you can become a key player for a top club. But if you want to be the best in the world, you also must have a passion to perform and continuously strive for improvement - very few players have that kind of drive.
Sorry for the lecture, but I think sometimes people here seem to think talent is the only thing that matters. That couldn't be further from the truth. Next time you evaluate a player, think of all 4 parameters.