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Best Young Players to Bet on at the World Cup 2022


Top Candidates For The FIFA World Cup Young Player Award

With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar just a few days away, one player is going to get his hands on the FIFA World Cup Young Player Award for a standout performance. Historically, the award hasn’t exactly been won by “unknowns” with a larger percentage of its winners already making a name for themselves at club level. However, winning this award almost always means the acceleration of a player from promising to world-class. The legendary Pelé is the award’s first and youngest (17) recipient, while other notable icons of the game like Franz Beckenbauer, Michael Owen, and Thomas Muller have also won the award.

FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award Winners II 1958 - 2018 II - YouTube

As a general rule, the award is only given to players who are 21-years-old or below, so some of the world’s most exciting young players like Vinicius Jr. and Phil Foden – both of whom are 22 – are deemed ineligible for the award. Here are the top 11 contenders for the prestigious award.

Jude Bellingham (England) – 19

Dortmund’s wonderkid was given very limited time at last year’s EUROs, but this time around, he’s expected to play a big part for England. Over the last 12-months, the midfielder has become a more mature and consistent player. He makes better decisions on the ball and has surprisingly become a goal threat. Given Kalvin Phillips’ lack of fitness and form, Gareth Southgate will likely use him in midfield alongside Declan Rice as he looks to become only the second Englishman to win this award since Michael Owen in France, 1998.

Jamal Musiała (Germany) – 19

Bayern Munich: Jamal Musiala shines for Germany against Israel

No country has won this award more than the Germans (3) with Franz Beckenbauer winning it in 1966 while Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller won it in consecutive FIFA World Cups in 2006 and 2010, respectively. If a German is to win it for the 4th time, it’ll have to be Jamal Musiala. At just 19, he’s been capped 17 times for Germany, played 100 times for Bayern and has won 8 titles with the German giants. This season, he’s scored 12 goals and created 10 assists and under Hansi Flick, the man who gave him his debut while at Bayern, Musiala will be key in Qatar.

William Saliba (France) – 21

Report from France details the big flaws in Arsenal defender Saliba's game

The young Gunner has followed up a successful loan spell at Marseille – where he was named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year – with a solid season with the North London side as they sit on top of the English Premier League. With starting center-back, Varane still out injured, Didier Deschamps might turn to Saliba. In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Deschamps gave another young star (Kylian Mbappé) a well-earned chance as a starter in France, and it paid off; they won the tournament while Kylian Mbappé was named Young Player of the Tournament. Why not give an equally tested and trusted Saliba a chance?

Bukayo Saka (England) – 21

Who is Bukayo Saka? England and Arsenal winger in profile | The Independent

Saka has bounced back from a disappointing penalty miss in the final of last year’s EUROs to being a key player for the Gunners’ Premier League title charge. This season, he’s scored 5 goals and created 6 assists as Arsenal sit on top of the EPL having already won their Europa League group. While his stats and contribution are all good, it’s his mental resilience that has impressed the most. In Qatar, he’ll be expected to be a starter rather than a substitute like he did in the EUROs and if he plays like he’s doing for the Gunners over the past few months, he could get his hands on this award.

Pedri (Spain) – 19

He can tell you to jump off a cliff" - Pedri lauds convincing Luis Enrique - Football España

Pedri is one of the heavy favourites to win this. In last year’s EUROs, he was the Young Player of the Tournament as he helped Spain get to the semi-final. He went on to win the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy awards to cap off an incredible 2021. In a short period, the Spanish national team and Barcelona have both become dependent on this teenager, and he’s carried this responsibility better than anyone could have expected. In Qatar, more will be asked of him and barring an injury, he’ll deliver. He always does.

Eduardo Camavinga (France) – 20

Camavinga becomes youngest France player since 1914 with Croatia cameo |

The absence of Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante from the French squad almost guarantees a starting spot for Eduardo Camavinga. The 20-year-old is no stranger to pressure and played a role in Real Madrid winning the Champions League and La Liga double last season. Under the tutelage of some of the best midfielders of this generation (Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos), Camavinga has improved further this season and should carry over this form to the World Cup.

Gavi (Spain) – 18

Barcelona teenage sensation Gavi becomes Spain's darling - AS USA

Just like his teammate Pedri did last year, Gavi completed a double sweep of the Golden Ball and Kopa Trophy awards for 2022. Just like Pedri, Gavi is a key part of both the national team and Barcelona. This season, he’s missed just one game for the Catalans – the 3-0 loss at home to Bayern – but has played all 6 games for Spain in the Nations League. Gavi’s intelligent movement, knowledge on how to exploit spaces, direct running and physicality sets him apart from his peers. The kid is so good and so consistent, Luis Enrique had no problem leaving Thiago Alcántara off the squad for the World Cup in Qatar, and there’s no doubt he’ll be aiming to repay the faith shown in him.

Nuno Mendes (Portugal) – 20

Chelsea join the race for Portuguese sensation Nuno Mendes

At just 18, Nuno Mendes played a key role in Sporting CP winning the Portuguese Primeira Liga and last season, he followed that up with an impressive debut for PSG as he played 40 games across all competitions en route reclaiming the Ligue 1 title. He faces stiff competition for the Left Back spot from Dortmund’s Raphaël Guerreiro but if given the nod, Nuno Mendes has shown just how capable he is to contribute significantly in the attacking and defensive phases.

Ansu Fati (Spain) – 20

Barcelona star Ansu Fati on summer Euros with Spain: "I hope I can be there" - Football España

It feels like just yesterday when Ansu Fati burst onto the scene and left the football world in awe. He was heralded as the heir to Messi’s throne in Barcelona – just like the Argentine had been to Ronaldinho – and he even had the prestigious number 10 jersey passed to him. Sadly, a series of long-term injuries over the past 18 months have stalled his development as he’s found it hard to string together consistent performances. The good thing about the World Cup is that it’s a tournament where players have bounced back from adversities, and Fati will be looking forward to doing just that under a manager in Luis Enrique who has shown a willingness to give the kids a chance.

Xavi Simons (Netherlands) – 19

Xavi Simons: Things to know about PSG's rising star

The young Dutch is enjoying a fantastic debut season for PSV, where he has found the back of the net 10 times and created 4 assists – not bad for a 19-year-old attacking midfielder. Xavi Simons might be a strange inclusion on this list seeing as he’s never been capped for the Dutch senior team, but anyone who knows Louis van Gaal knows he believes if a player is good enough, he’s old enough to play. Louis Van Gaal also strongly believes in playing players that feature heavily for their clubs, which is why an uncapped Xavi Simons was preferred to more established duo, Ryan Gravenberch and Donny van de Beek who have struggled for time in their respective clubs. Xavi Simons and Cody Gakpo have been sensational with PSV this season and Louis van Gaal might be tempted to replicate that partnership in Qatar.

Yunus Musah (USA) – 19

Yunus Musah explains why he picked USMNT over England and closes door on international switch -

Exactly 20 years ago, Landon Donovan became the first and only non-South American/European to pick up this award as the United States reached the Quarter-Final in the Korea/Japan World Cup and now, Yunus Musah will be hoping to emulate him. At just 19, the midfielder has picked up 19 caps for the USMNT and is very integral to the way they play. He’s also a key part of Valencia’s midfield and was instrumental to them reaching the final of the Copa del Rey last season. Though Christian Pulisic and Leeds United duo, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson are some of the biggest stars for the USMNT, Yunus Musah is arguably their most valuable player.

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