The World Cup is just around the corner and elite players from all around the globe are pushing hard to try and get themselves included in the upcoming squads for their respective nations. World renowned talents such as Messi and Ronaldo are sure to be there (barring any injuries) and will try and outdo each other in the skill department once it all kicks off.
But there will also be a few unfamiliar faces. This will be because many of them are youngsters. In this article I’ll list five that I expect will have a significant impact when it all kicks off early in June. Players such as Alexandre Pato and Mesut Ozil are excluded because this list is for the youngsters that haven’t yet announced themselves on the world stage. This summer could change all that.
The 21 year old has almost guaranteed himself a place in the Black Stars squad already after being one of their most consistent players in the African Cup of Nations. The Central Midfielder is beginning to establish himself in the Udinese first team and don’t be surprised to see him line up alongside Michael Essien in South Africa.
Gregory van der Wiel-Holland
Yet another product of the Ajax youth academy. This 22 year old right back is arguably already on everyone’s lips back in the Netherlands but in terms of his global image he’s still relatively unknown. Ajax have already made him a regular in their first team and after gaining 8 caps in the past year for Holland he should be at least on the plane to South Africa if not in the team.
This guy is the oldest on my list and will turn 23 in September. Despite this he is still relativley unknown. This shouldn’t be the case though because he made 70 appearances for Fiorentina before his summer move to Stuttgart. The central midfielder has made an impressive start in Germany with a 25 yard goal against Sevilla in the Champions League being a highlight. He will be one of the first names on the Serbian team sheet.
It is unusual for a centre back to be so prominent at only 20 years old but Simon Kjær has done just that at Palermo. He has established himself in the starting lineup this season with some mature appearances that belie his age. At the moment it looks like he will just pip Per Kroldrup to a starting spot alongside Daniel Agger for Denmark in the World Cup.
Lee Chung-Yong-South Korea
Fans of Bolton Wanderers didn’t credit Gary Megson with a lot during his time at the Reebok but surely they will acknowledge the fact that he found a gem in Lee Chung-Yong. The 21 year old has been in brilliant form on the right wing for the Premier League side and has terrorised left backs all season. Expect him and Park Ji-Sung to combine well and make South Korea the surprise package at the World Cup.
Written by Dominic Fleming