Who will stand out in Russia?
Below are 15 players we think will burst out on the football scene:
15. Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi, Nigeria
Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi, known as ‘Wilfred Ndidi’ replaced N’Golo Kante at Leicester City. The move was seamless as he fit in perfectly over the last 18 months. He has also become a key part of Nigeria’s senior set up. Not only does he break up play well in midfield, but he also has a slender attacking style to his play, and should not be counted out for the odd key goal.
14. Youri Tielemans, Belgium
Tielemans, the Belgian professional is labelled as a ‘real box of tricks’ player. His weight of passing and perception could make him one of the game’s great stars in the years to come. Tieleman first rustled things up when he played at Anderlecht adopting a deep midfield role. Since his move to Monaco, he has adapted superbly to the right side of the team’s midfield. Tielemans could well prove to be one of Roberto Martinez’s go-to players for Belgium in Russia.
13. Giovani Lo Celso, Argentina
Giovani Lo Celso, ‘the new kid on the block’. He plays midfield for Argentina and is poised to make an impact after scoring six goals and recording seven assists in 48 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain this past season. His strengths are passing, tackling and defensive contribution.
12. Andrija Zivkovic, Serbia
Zivkovic has the pace and skill to be an impact player for Serbia. His strengths are through balls and possession. Zivkovic forward scored three times and recorded seven assists in 30 appearances this past season. He is the youngest player to make a senior appearance for Serbia, as well as the youngest Partizan captain in the club’s history.
11. Goncalo Guedes, Portugal
Born in Benavente, Portugal, Guedes started his professional career with the B-side of Benfica in 2014, but it wasn’t long before he was promoted to the senior side. He has spent the past season collecting admirers on loan at Valencia from Paris Saint-Germain and his time in Russia could be a significant shop window for the 21-year old. With an ability to keep the ball under his spell, a keen awareness of an off-ball and being able to deliver a killer ball which splits defence apart, it’s easy to see that his inspiration is Cristiano Ronaldo.
10. Hwang Hee-chan, South Korea
Hwang Hee-chan was one of the reasons Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg made the semi-finals of the Europa League. He is now hoping to make a similar impact with South Korea in Russia in hopes to return to the knockout stages of the World Cup.
9. Aleksandr Golovin, Russia
Aleksandr Golovin is the hometown hero in Russia. Coming from the Kemerovo region, Golovin is already a midfield regular in CSKA’s Moscow team, and Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov will need him to play a key role this summer.
8. Ousmane Dembele, France
Dembele has already made himself know when he moved to Barcelona last summer in a €105m deal. He can boast two great feet, a fantastic body swerve and superb finishing ability. Dembele is a joy to watch as his natural desire to have the ball even in the tightest of spaces makes him a joy to watch. While a thigh injury ruined his first season in Catalunya, we can anticipate that the best is still to come from the 21-year-old.
7. Hirving Lozano, Mexico
Hirving Lozano’s strengths are crossing, and taking set-pieces Lozana made his splash when he scored 17 goals and recorded 11 assists for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch first division last season. Now, Lozano has to translate that production to the Mexican national team in Russia.
6. Timo Werner, Germany
Timo Werner is clinical, fast and unlike many German forwards who wear the national team shirt. Werner had taken a step back this season following his breakout in 2016-17, but he will likely be the forward Joachim Loew counts on in Russia.
5. Rodrigo Bentancur, Uruguay
Rodrigo Bentancur has recruited a number of followers from his promising displays for the Bianconeri. The midfielder’s strengths include passing and getting in those key passes. He is concentrated and able to intercept a ball well. HE only has five Serie A starts under his belt, but his footwork can easily fool an experienced defender. If Uruguay go far in Russia, he could very well have a significant role to play.
4. Marcus Rashford, England
Rashford believes the Euro 2016 failure will motivate England in Russia. The young star is an integral part of the squad and seems to be on the verge of a breakout after two full seasons under his belt, and it could very well happen in Russia.
3. Marco Asensio, Spain
Marco Asensio is one of the few Spanish youngsters to become a regular at Real Madrid. The attacking midfielder led Spain to the U21 European Championship final last year, and he will be likely to play an important role for Spain this year.
2. Gabriel Jesus, Brazil
Gabriel Jesus scored 17 goals and recorded 5 assists for Manchester City this past season, at just 21-years-old. He is already a veteran despite his young age. His instinctive movement off the last tile and flamboyant play in the channels make him one of the most eagerly anticipated players. With over 150 appearances to his name and a Premier League title winner’s medal, he looks primed to play a huge role for Brazil in Russia.
1. Kylian Mbappe, France
Kylian Mbappe’s strengths include; key passes, through balls, dribbling, and finishing. The €180m teenager looks primed to make a real impact in Russia. He helped Paris Saint-Germain to regain their Ligue 1 title alongside Neymar in 217-18, and his mesmeric footwork will surely prove to be too much for any defender.