5 Youngsters to light up World Cup 2018

Ring, ring….ring, ring…”Hello?”,

“Morning Theo!”

“Morning Gaffer, is everything okay?”

“Yes, everything is fine, I’m just calling to let you know that you’re in my 23 man squad for this year’s World Cup, so cancel your holiday plans and call your parents, you’re coming to Germany…”

Okay, so that’s not how the actual conversation went when Sven Goran-Eriksen decided to call the un-fancied and, untried 17-year-old, Theo Walcott to the World Cup in 2006. Yet for every eyebrow raised about the Walcott’s of this world, the World Cup usually unearths some exciting and unquestionable talent that really lights up the tournament. In Sweden 1958 a certain Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele, then a 17-year wonder kid striker making his World Cup debut completely blew the tournament away with is athletism, guile, intelligence, creativity and youthful enthusiasm. Going as far to score an unbelievable goal in the Final against the host nation Sweden.

No one player has really hit those heights at such a young age, but many have had memorable World Cups. West Germany’s 20-year-old libero Franz Beckenbauer made it all the way to the 66′ cup final. Cabrini, Amaros, Prosinecki and Overmars all had notable impressions until Micheal Own, an 18-year-old English striker exploded onto the world’s greatest stage to score one of the goals of the 1998 tournament.

Here, FootballWonderkid identifies the ones to watch this summer in football’s most prestigious Cup competition.

Marcus Rashford – England and Manchester United, 20, Striker

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Gareth Southgate’s wonderful dilemma lives in the hugely talented but often inconsistent Marcus Rashford. The England frontman is the only player in England’s 23 man squad that can genuinely play in all of the front 3 positions, and as a number 10 with consummate ease. However, Rashford’s versatility also means that he is behind the first choice Kane, Alli and Lindgard triumvirate.

England’s recent friendly win against Costa Rica demonstrated Rashford’s unquestionable skill, vision and brilliant eye for a goal. Drifting off the front line collecting the ball 35 yards from goal, spinning on a 2 pence piece, and unleashing a dipping, swerving shot with arrow-like precision past Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas. That wonder strike coupled with his Brazilan style flair and British aggression could well mean that Rashford becomes the unsung hero of this youthful England team.

Herving Lozano – Mexico and PSV Eindhoven, 22, Wide forward

Lozano

If Mexico is to escape the World Cup’s group of death then they are going to need Lozano’s speed, battling spirit and eye for goal to help them along the way. Lozano’s 19 goals and 11 Assists in 34 games for PSV, saw the Dutch giants wrestle the Eredivisie from Ajax. His ability to drift in off the wide right position will be pivotal in formulating the attack for Mexico in Russia, and with a record at International level of 7 goals in 27 appearances for a 22-year-old is very respectable. The world stage awaits the fiery Mexican.

Timo Werner – Germany and RB Leipzig, 22, Striker

Timo Werner

It was always going to be hard to fill Miroslav Klose’s striking boots and World Cup goalscoring record, but it looks like Werner has timed his form to perfection to be the first choice striker for Germany at this year’s World Cup. 12 games and 7 international goals don’t give the youth talent justice enough. His quick feet, ability to link play and play off the last defender has German fans reinvigorated that they can quite conceivably retain the World Cup in Russia. Another player from the list that isn’t an archetypal centre-forward, with speed to burn, and a real ability to find the back of the net, Germany now have an alternative style than previously held at championship level tournaments.

Giovani Lo Celso – Argentina and Paris St. Germain, 22, Central Midfield

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It’s hard to imagine a world cup without Argentina, and a certain Lionel Messi, the expectation this year to go one better than four years ago is quite conceivable. Four years more experience, four years more hunger and four more years of Messi, Aguero, Higuain and De Maria expected to lead the attacking lineup.

But sitting in the Anchor position, should he get his chance, will be PSG starlet Lo Celso. The Left footed deep-lying playmaker is the metronome that sets the pace of the attacks for Argentina. Never has another Argentinian player mirrored Fernando Redondo’s languid, skilful and attacking play, coupled with adventurous verve, flair in the final third and an eye for a killer pass. Equally adept at breaking up the opposition attacks, Lo Celso is also a classic “give and go” midfielder, which could be the perfect foil for Messi in tight games. Likely to deputise for Banega, the youngster may have to bide his time to earn a starting spot for one of the favourites for the cup.

Youri Tielemans – Belgium and Monaco, 21, Central Midfield

Friendly match"Belgium v Mexico"

Belgium, 3rd in the FIFA world rankings is encountering it’s Golden Generation at the just right time…never has a team outside of the classic 6 Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain (minus Italy and Netherlands) France and England had a better chance to win the World Cup. They are going into this year’s tournament with a squad brimming with world-class players. Hazard, Kompany, Courtois, Lukaku, Vertonghan and De Bruyne.

Amongst the talented individuals is 21-year old Tielemans, Monaco’s gifted central midfielder who is pressing hard for a starting spot in Roberto Martinez’s side. An accomplished passer and shrewd reader of the game often belies his young age. Fully established in Monaco’s swashbuckling team that won Ligue 1 in 16/17 the Belgian youngster will aim to get some much needed minutes amongst his superstar teammates, hoping to win Belgium their first major piece of silverware.

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Rhian Brewster – Liverpool’s very own WonderKid

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Brewster had an amazing 2017, breaking goalscoring records for the Liverpool Academy team, helping his Country win the U17 World Cup, scoring a hat-trick a piece in both the Semi-final and Final against Heavyweights Brazil and Spain respectively. Brewster finished the tournament as the winner of the Golden Boot, netting an impressive 8 times.

The youngster is clearly earmarked as a potential kop favourite by Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp, and is close to knocking on the door of the first team.

Brewster’s is not your typical centre-forward, he is a fox in a box,  he can play off the last man, can score with both feet outside the box, and loves a header, it’s clear that he has worked on all aspects of his finishing to mix it with the opposition defences.

At the time of writing news filtered in that Brewster had sustained a major cruciate ligament injury that will keep him out until the summer. Extremely bad luck with such a talent. Here at Football WonderKid we hope Brewster makes a swift and healthy recovery.

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Nelson makes Arsenal debut in Arsenal win

Riess Nelson provided Arsenal fans with a glimpse of his talent by making his professional debut for Arsenal on Thursday night, introduced as a substitute for the disappointing Theo Walcott.

Nelson was given his chance by Wenger after his impressive performances in the U23 where he bagged the player of the month award for August, capped by scoring his 6th goal of the season away to Manchester United.

Clearly, the player is not afraid of the big stage, Nelson was brought on in the 83rd minute to a warm reception and immediately provided contrast to Walcott’s style of play by immediately making himself available for passes in tight areas.

His quick feet is matched by his quick passing tempo and brought back the old style Tika-Taka 1-2 passes which Wenger has tried to instil in the Arsenal style of play with many of the youth team graduates.

Nelson started out wide-right but was comfortable taking the ball inside and linked up the play well with his teammates. One glaring mistake was an attempt at a long-range ball from just inside his own half to Sanchez which was snuffed out by the Cologne defence and resulted in a quick Counterattack.

However, that was easily forgotten when he linked up beautifully with Wilshire and Sanchez at the edge of the box only for Sanchez to chip wide from an acute angle.

The signs are there, and as a debutant at 17 there seems to be enough to suggest that Nelson has the temperament to succeed and the hunger, skill and determination to push for a starting place soon. And despite all the turmoil off the pitch and within the first team at Arsenal fans live in hope that they have a potential wonderkid in their ranks.

 

Top 7 transfer wonderkids that will light up the Premier League 2017/18

The close of this year’s summer transfer window saw Premier League clubs spending a staggering £1.7 Billion. And whilst neutral football fans will recognise established names such as Lukaku (£70m), Oxlade-Chamberlain (£35m) and Kyle Walker (£50m), club fans will be excited to see more of their new, lesser known youth gems. FootballWonderKid highlights the top 7 youngsters that can make a real difference for their teams this season.

7. Dominic Solanke, 19, Liverpool, Striker

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Striker Solanke rose through the ranks at the Chelsea, winning and scoring twice in the FA Youth cup final in the 2014/15 season, and consistently bagging 20+ goals in the U23s. Liverpool signed him when the transfer window opened in July, with a view of fast tracking him to the first team. Solanke’s striking ability and knack of scoring crucial goals saw England win the U20 World Youth Cup this summer. Liverpool fans will certainly be hoping he can transfer that strike rate into the first team when called upon.

Transfer fee: £3m

Likelihood of becoming the next Harry Kane: 6/10

Five rising stars from Arsenal’s Youth Academy

Arsene Wenger has been renowned for unearthing some of the best young talent in world football, from Patrick Vieira and Nicholas Anelka, to Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin. Wenger pulled on his vast knowledge of the French league,  and loopholes in the youth academies across Europe to offer youth players a chance at playing first team football in the most exciting league in the world.

Nowadays, however, every single Premier League club (and arguably some Championship clubs) have local and international scouts scouring the grass routes and schools to find the next big talent. Here Football Wonderkid analyses the top 5 youth players that we expect to see in an Arsenal first team soon.

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