The World Cup here and many young players will be jetting off to their first ever international tournament in the hope that they can raise their profile and showcase their talents to the world.
However, many of these players are some of the most talked about athletes in the world at such young ages. Can they cope with the pressure of a nation resting on their shoulders? These youngsters have already achieved so much in their young careers that the World Cup is just another opportunity for them to place themselves on the tips of tongues of millions.
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Bellingham – 5/1
Ever since his move to Germany, Jude Bellingham has been very impressive in the Dortmund midfield. Not only is he a tidy player on the ball, capable defensively and a great passer, this season he has added goals to his game. 9 goals from 22 appearances from a central midfielder is impressive and especially considering he is only 19. England are backed to make it far and are amongst the favourites to lift the trophy in Qatar so if Bellingham can translate his club form to the international stage, notch a few goals and help guide England deep into the tournament, he stands a good chance of walking away from the Middle East as the Young Player Of The Tournament.
Pedri – 6/1
Pedri of Barcelona started to turn heads at the age of 17 when he burst on to the scene as a diminutive midfielder. Years later he is one of the first names on both Xavi’s and Enrique’s team sheets speaking volumes of the ability the Spaniard has. Sergio Busquets’ torch has been passed on and it has landed in the hands of a player many predict to be one of the best in the world in a few years’ time.
The 2019 Golden Boy is a key part of the Spanish team already and is one part of a young new-look Spanish side. Luis Enrique clearly has a lot of trust in Pedri and with Spain having a strong chance of getting out group E, its likely Pedri will be influential in their deep progression in the tournament.
Jamal Musiala has not just been one of the best u21 players in the world, he’s been one of Bayern Munich’s best players this season. Many thought a Lewandowski-less Bayern would struggle to produce the numbers they’ve previously posted but the midfielder has stepped up to the plate. 9 goals in 14 league games for a midfielder is unheard of for a 19-year-old and he is showing no signs of slowing down as Bayern Munich top the Bundesliga four points clear. Not only can he contribute to the national team by scoring, but he can also turn playmaker as he has registered 7 assists this season domestically and 21 goal contributions by November is not just Golden Boy standard but Balon d’Or voting standard.
Musiala is showing no signs of slowing down and is already an established member of the German national side. He is widely regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the sport and we see no reason why he can pick up this award in Qatar and add to this fine season he is having.
Gavi – 8/1
Similarly, to Pedri, Gavi has already established himself in the centre of Barcelona’s midfield. Having racked up over 50 appearances for Blaugrana aged just 18, the central midfielder has already adopted comparisons to Andres Iniesta and Xavi. His ability to initiate counter attacks, anticipate and get out of tight spaces means he will be a vital cog in the Spanish engine room and the 2022 Golden Boy has all the tools to shine in Qatar.
Saka – 8/1
Bukayo Saka has been at the heart of everything good that Arsenal have done for a few seasons now. His attitude, ability and versatility are among the reasons he is so relied on at such a young age. His response to the heart break at Euro 2020 has been admirable and his performances in an England shirt have always been impressive and if England hit the ground running, it’s hard to see how Saka won’t be involved in most of their attacks. His pace, trickery and intelligence for the game at such a young age is the reason why he has been chosen by Gareth Southgate and he should get plenty of game time because the England manager is clearly a fan of the 21-year-old.
Moukoko – 25/1
Due to be the one of the youngest players to appear at the World Cup, Youssoufa Moukoko has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season. He has taken advantage of the opportunity presented to him at Dortmund and has gone from strength to strength. He has only made one appearance for Die Mannschaft that number is expected to increase in Qatar as Germany hope to better their poor World Cup showing in Russia.
The teenager is just shy of his 18th birthday and is set to become a household name once the winners’ ceremony has finished. With 6 goals in 14 Bundesliga appearances, the youngster has plenty to offer to his national side and the faith is clearly there from Hansi Flick as Moukoko is the 4th youngest player ever to be called up for Germany.
Our pick – Bellingham – 5/1
We had to go with the English boy, Jude Bellingham. He is playing exceptionally in Germany and is on the shopping lists of many European giants. With England having a favourable group on paper, it’s easy to see Bellingham impressing and if he can emulate his form for Dortmund and get on the scoresheet for the Three Lions, he’ll be a contender to lift the award.