The World Cup, less than 24-hours away, has always been a breeding ground for world-class players. It is a chance for some young players to lead their nation to glory and propel their own careers.
From Maldini and Owen in the nineties to Mesut Özil and James Rodriguez in more recent times, the World Cup has been a platform for young players to establish themselves among the world’s elite. Expect it to be no different in Russia.
A lot of countries are expected to field very young teams this summer, with a number of top teams in periods of transition. Brazil, Spain, France, England and even the holders Germany are all bringing very different teams to Russia than they brought to Brazil four years ago.
With the stakes high and the quality higher, the ingredients are there for a host of promising young players to make a name for themselves on the world stage this summer.
Here are five to watch out for:
Niklas Süle (Germany)
You could say that Süle shouldn’t be on this list given that the 22-year-old has already impressed enough to gain the interest of Bayern Munich before signing for the Bundesliga heavyweights for a reported €25 million last summer, but the imposing centre half is yet to make an impression on the world stage.
In an ever-evolving German side, the former Hoffenheim star will surely get plenty of minutes of football under his belt to make an impact, especially given Jérôme Boateng’s fitness concerns. Süle looks to have settled in at Bayern, appearing in most of their league games this season.
As if the Germans needed more defensive options.
Piotr Zieliński (Poland)
With over 120 Serie A appearances and 31 caps, the Polish have a 23-year-old veteran in the centre of midfield. Zielinski has been instrumental in Napoli’s push for domestic success in Serie A this season.
In a group with Japan, Senegal and Colombia, Zielinski can be key for Poland if they are to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
He also loves getting on the scoresheet, with nine goals last season for club and country.
Timo Werner (Germany)
He finished among the top scorers in last year’s Confederations Cup and has scored an impressive seven goals in just 12 appearances for Germany. Werner is likely to be in Joachim Löw’s plans as Germany go about the bold task of retaining a World Cup.
Mirrors the rise of Thomas Müller in 2010, doesn’t it?
Marco Asensio (Spain)
He has a thunderous left foot and is a big contender for the young player award this summer. He’s a star in Spain, and already has two Champions League medals, but this could be his time to truly announce himself as one of the elite.
Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
An exciting winger, Lozano has been electric for PSV in the Eredivisie this season, scoring a massive 17 goals and creating 11 in just 29 appearances, making him one of the most sought after young talents in football.
The Mexican ace has already scored seven in 25 appearances for his country and if ‘Chucky’ can bring that form to Russia, Mexico will fancy their chances of getting out of a tough group.
Source: The 42