Young players have never been too shy to stand on top of the world. Pele guided Brazil to the 1958 World Cup by scoring in every knockout match and bagging a brace in the final when he wasn’t even allowed to help the country choose a president yet as he was only 17.
18-year-old Michael Owen “electrified the world” in 1998 netting one of the best goals ever in the World Cup, bursting through Argentina’s defense, past Serie A defenders Jose Chamot and Roberto Ayala before steering the ball to the far left corner of the net.
With the 2018 World Cup just one day away we take a look at the most promising youngsters who will fight for their spot on top of the world.
5. Ousmane Dembélé – France – 21 years young
Ousmane Dembélé is one of the most entertaining players in the world to watch. The winger’s touch is as neat as a new pin, he’s as explosive and elegant as a gazelle, and he possesses a ton of moves...with both feet. After just one terrific season in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, in which he was named Rookie of the Season, made the Bundesliga Team of the Season and the UEFA Champions League Breakthrough XI, Dembélé caught the eye of superclub Barcelona. Barca bought him for the third highest fee ever in football, acquiring the starlet for £96.8m from BVB.
However the Vernon native didn’t have his best season debut at the Camp Nou. Injury was the main reason behind that as Dembélé missed 27 games because of a muscle injury and a thigh muscle rupture. To add to his injuries, it took the young Frenchman a few games to adjust to Barca’s style of play (it’s not the easiest team to break into). But as the season went on he looked more and more like the wonderkid we saw in Borussia’s black and yellow jersey, scoring three goals in his last six games of the season. Expect him to make the highlight reels in Russia galloping down Les Bleus’ opponents’ wings.
4. Timo Werner – Germany – 22 years young
Timo Werner is the oldest player in this list and plays for the least successful club, RB Leipzig, but do not underestimate him. Gabriel Jesus is the only player to score more goals in fewer games at the international level than Werner in this list; the German has registered eight goals for his country in 14 games.
Werner won the Confederations Cup’s Golden Shoe award, putting himself in a list of players that includes Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry.
At the club level, the forward never shied away from scoring against the older defenders, holding the record of the youngest player to score two goals in a Bundesliga match.
3. Marcus Rashford – England – 20 years young
Marcus Rashford scored two goals in his debut for Manchester United at 18 years of age. Three days later, the Manchester native scored two goals and tallied one assist in his first Premier League match, which was a 3-2 win over Arsenal. Later on May 27th, 2016, despite the criticism of being too young to play for England, Rashford scored in his first game for his country in a friendly against Australia to become The Three Lions’ youngest goal scorer in an international debut. That’s a career start that screenwriters wouldn’t even dare to write.
Fast-forward to now, the English kid has slowed down a bit, racking just seven goals in the last Premier League season, but just a week before the World Cup the 20-year-old proved yet again that he’s more than capable of playing alongside and against the big boys in the World Cup. Rashford scored a wonder strike from a tight angle outside the box on Real Madrid’s number one keeper, Keylor Navas, in a friendly against Costa Rica. This goal showcased one of his top abilities: to hit dangerous shots on target from anywhere at any time.
The striker is also gifted with dazzling speed, tremendous strength and he’s able to fit in anywhere in the attack. However his playing time in the WC might be limited as he’s fighting for his place up top versus two of the best strikers in the Premier League, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy. Health might be an issue for the youngster as he picked up a minor knee injury in a training game on Tuesday and is reportedly sore from the pre-World Cup trainings, according to The Guardian.
2. Gabriel Jesus – Brazil – 21 years young
Anytime a Brazilian youngster wins the Campeonato Brasileiro’s best player award you know the kid is onto something; you’re in good company with Kaka and Neymar. Gabriel Jesus is the latest young Brazilian to win the Bola de Ouro, collecting the award in 2016.
Of course he moved to Europe after that season and it didn’t take too long to adapt to the football there, tallying 20 goals in 39 Premier League matches for Manchester City—quite scary. His goal scoring ratio for his country is even more frightening, as he recorded 10 goals in 17 appearances to go into the WC as the most efficient goal scorer in this list.
Watching Jesus play it would take you a minute to think of a more all-around forward. He can play winger, attacking midfield, center forward and so on, thanks to his blinding speed, wide vision, spotless positioning and other attributes.
1.Kylian Mbappé – France – 19 years young
Mbappé is this article’s most promising youngster going to the World Cup. If any website doesn’t have him on top of their list you should probably email them.
Mbappé is one of the few teenagers in the world who does not need an introduction, but in case you’re just getting caught up, here’s what you’ve been missing out on. While most 19-year-olds are playing for their country’s youth teams, Mbappé already scored four times for France. He started his professional career at 16 for Monaco, surpassing Thierry Henry who held the record for the youngest Monaco player to compete in a game (at 21) and the French prodigy made the UEFA Champions League Team of the Season at 18.
After the two first breathtaking seasons of his career, PSG gave Monaco buckets of money to loan Mbappé to them with an option to make the deal permanent. If the deal does end up being permanent it would be the second most expensive move in football’s history, behind Neymar’s transfer to Paris. It’s looking like PSG would get plenty of value out of the deal as the 19-year-old was the club’s third top scorer last campaign and second assist leader in his debut season.
The teenager is fast, strong, has an eye for goals and for his teammates and has more than enough tricks for the 31 days of the World Cup. As PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi put it, Mbappe is “without doubt the most promising in the world due to his immense technical, physical and mental qualities.”
The youngster’s first WC match is on Saturday versus Australia. Mbappe did suffer a minor ankle injury in training on Tuesday, but the teenager is good to go. Let’s see if he will electrify the world.
Author: Onz Chery