Ten youngsters to look out for at the 2022 World Cup

Four years ago, aged 19, Kylian Mbappe dazzled on the biggest of stages to be named Young Player of the Tournament at the 2018 World Cup, helping France to lift the trophy.

And as the 2022 World Cup edges closer, there are numerous youngsters waiting to make their mark in Qatar. Here is a look at ten young players who could light up the tournament

Charles de Ketelaere, Belgium
Starting with a more unfamiliar name, Club Brugge forward Charles de Ketelaere is on the fringes of the Belgium first team. But the ‘Golden Generation’ is not getting any younger and he could have plenty of chances off the bench in Qatar.

The 21-year-old is 6ft 3in tall but there is plenty of finesse to his game and he bagged 18 goals in all competitions for his club last season.

Josko Gvardiol, Croatia
Centre back Josko Gvardiol was not part of the Croatia squad who reached the final of the World Cup four years ago but he looks set to play a key role in future tournaments, starting in Qatar.

He was a first-team regular for Leipzig last season, racking up 26 appearances in all competitions and helping the club win the German Cup and reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Julian Alvarez, Argentina
Some punters like the look of Argentina to win the World Cup at 8-1 and they could do worse than pair that with Julian Alvarez, one of the nation’s brightest youngsters, to be the tournament’s top scorer at 66-1.

Forward Alvarez was snapped up by Manchester City on his 22nd birthday this year but returned on loan to River Plate, where he has scored 17 goals in 22 matches this year.

Pedri, Spain
After reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2020 and finishing as runners-up in the Nations League, Spain could be dark horses in Qatar at 8-1. And if they do, midfield cog Pedri is sure to play a part.

Pedri lit up the Euros for Spain, earning comparisons with national legend Xavi, and he will be key to Luis Enrique’s possession-based game.

Ryan Gravenberch, Netherlands
Bayern Munich captured Dutch star Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax for an initial £16m and that could prove to be one of the deals of the summer.

The 20-year-old box-to-box midfielder, who has earned ten caps for his country already, is one of the stars of Dutch football and helped Ajax to three Eredivisie titles.

Takefusa Kubo, Japan
Not everything has gone the way of Takefusa Kubo since he signed for Real Madrid in 2019 and the winger has since experienced four different loan spells.

But World Cups can often help players turn their careers around and the 21-year-old, who has made 18 appearances for Japan, could excel when given a chance by the Blue Samarai.

Vinicius Junior, Brazil
Although not exactly a hidden gem, Vinicius Junior is worth keeping an eye out for in Qatar, having already bagged the Champions League with Real Madrid this year.

He scored 22 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions for his club this season and the lively winger could well be the man to lead Brazil to a record sixth World Cup title.

His country are 9-2 to lift the trophy and he can be backed at 25-1 to be top scorer in the tournament.

Karim Adeyemi, Germany
A key issue that has been plaguing Germany since they lifted the World Cup trophy in 2014 has been the absence of a star forward following Miroslav Klose’s retirement.

Timo Werner has tried and largely failed but in 20-year-old striker Karim Adeyemi, they could finally have their man.

Having already been snapped up by Borussia Dortmund as Erling Haaland’s replacement, Adeyemi fired 23 goals in all competitions for Salzburg last season and is more than capable of spearheading Hansi Flick’s side.

Kai Havertz (33-1) is the only Germany player to rank above Adeyemi (40-1) in the top scorer betting.

Aurelien Tchouameni, France
Champions League winners Real Madrid acted quickly to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni for €80 million this summer and the 22-year-old could well be the heartbeat of defending champions France in Qatar.

An industrious box-to-box player, Tchouameni should be comfortable playing alongside admirer Paul Pogba in what could be one of the most formidable midfields in the tournament.

Jude Bellingham, England
England are arguably unparalleled when it comes to squad depth, meaning Gareth Southgate is not opposed to chopping and changing personnel, but there could be a fair few complaints if Jude Bellingham is not heavily involved in his team’s Qatar campaign.

Consistently linked with moves to the Premier League, Bellingham is thriving in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, having previously become their youngest ever goalscorer, and can contribute plenty to both defence and attack.

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