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Young Stars of Qatar 2022

Young Stars of Qatar 2022

The 2022 World Cup has drawn to an epic close, and what a tourney it was. To wrap things up, here’s my starting XI of young stars from the Qatar World Cup. What’s young? No hard and fast rule (see GK) but ideally 24 and under. Also I tried to avoid players who have previously broken out or are regular starters on a big Champions League club. Again that’s something I bend a bit, but this is more about the players who made a mark on this Cup that hadn’t alreadyy been pegged as huge stars (sorry Mbappe, sorry Álvarez). This is about the guys who will more than likely be making those big $$ transfers soon.

GK: Dominik Livakovic (Croatia) | Age 27 | Club: Dinamo Zagreb
Well 27 is young for a goal keeper… 3 saves in the shootout with Japan and a man of the match-worthy performance against Brazil, Livakovic was clearly a revelation of this Cup.

D: Jakub Kiwior (Poland) | Age 22 | Club: Spezia
A young talented center back is a hot commodity on the transfer market these days. So it’s no surprise that Kiwior, who started all of Poland’s matches including their 2 clean sheets, has already been linked with Atletico, Juve, AC Milan, Spurs, and West Ham.

D: Joško Gvardiol (Croatia) | Age 20 | Club: RB Leipzig
No brainer here. Gvardiol was one of the breakout stars of the World Cup playing every minute of the entire tourney and even getting a goal in the 3rd place match. He looked a bit behind the pace at times against Argentina, but that shouldn’t affect his surely impending huuuge transfer price to a top squad soon.

D: Ismail Jakobs (Senegal) | Age 23 | Club: Monaco
Jakobs was born in Germany but chose to play senior level for Senegal where he lit up the left side at the tourney, even nabbing an assist against Qatar. Smart decision choosing Senegal as they made it to the Round of 16 when Germany slinked home after the Groups.

M: Azzedine Ounahi (Morocco) | Age 22 | Club: Angers
One of the most confident controlling midfielders in the tourney. His talent doesn’t necessarily show up in the goal stats but with over 80% pass completion rate, Ounahi (along with 26-year old Firoentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat) was largely responsible for much of Morocco’s success.

M: Aurélien Tchouaméni (France) | Age 22 | Club: Real Madrid
So word may have already gotten out about Tchouaméni with his €100m move from Monaco to Real Madrid last June. But considering he’s yet to find the net for Los Blancos, this tourney announced his arrival on the world stage. His goal against England from outside the box was a thing of beauty. Of course he might most remember the penalty miss in the final shootout.

M: Tyler Adams (USA) | Age 23 | Club: Leeds
I’m not so sure Tyler Adams is going to be making a big money move out of Leeds anytime soon, but the way he controlled the midfield for the USA in the tourney, I feel confident that the USMNT have found our captain for a good while to come.

M: Jude Bellingham (England) | Age 19 | Club: Borussia Dortmund
Okay so if you follow English football you have probably heard of Bellingham. But considering he plays in Germany, maybe you hadn’t seen that much of him. The consensus pick for English player of the tourney, I can’t wait to see him make a move to the Premier League soon (but only if he comes to Liverpool).

M: Enzo Fernández (Argentina) | Age 21 | Club: Benfica
The only attacking player to rack up more minutes for Argentina was Messi and while he just found the net once, Fernández was a big part of the Argentina’s devastating offense (along with Alexis Mac Allister, who at 23 and playing for Brighton, would have been worth a shout on this list too). Having just made a move to Benfica from River last summer, it will be interesting to see if he moves on again soon or sticks around Portugal another year or two.

F: Cody Gakpo (Netherlands) | Age 23 | Club: PSV Eindhoven
With goals in all three matches in the group stage, Gakpo was the first young star of Qatar 2022. Having already been linked with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle, and pretty much every other club in Europe, expect to see Gakpo make a move right quick. Will the Ten Hag connection at United mean we’ll see him there…?

F: Cho Guesung (S. Korea) | Age 24 | Club: Chonbuk
A hipster’s pick perhaps, but after scoring 2 of S. Korea’s 5 goals at the tourney, Cho has rocketed to stardom at home and already been linked with a move to Celtic. His silky form could lead to Cho becoming the next huge Asian star in Europe.

Bench/Honorable Mentions:
D: Strahinja Pavlovic (Serbia) | Age 21 | Club: Red Bull Salzburg
M: Tim Weah (USA) | Age 22 | Club: Lille
F: Mohammed Kudus (Ghana) | Age 22 | Club: Ajax

Posted by enderzero at 11:25pm on Dec. 19, 2022