The wait is almost over. The 2022 World Cup starts on November 20 with the great and good of international soccer in Qatar for the sport’s biggest tournament. This is where legends are made and several players will make themselves icons over the coming weeks with their performances.
Every World Cup produces breakout stars and this one will be no different. Gone are the days when unknown quantities became household names overnight, with knowledge of the sport much deeper now than it was decades ago. Still, a number of young players will reach new heights in Qatar. Here are five such candidates to do this at the 2022 World Cup.
5 Young Players to Watch at World Cup 2022
Some might look to Pedri as Spain’s best young player right now, but there’s a strong argument that Gavi will be even more important to his national team at the 2022 World Cup. The 18-year-old will be one of the first names on Luis Enrique’s team sheet in Qatar, and with good reason. He offers so much in so many different areas.
At their worst, Spain can be predictable and easy to defend against when they move the ball too slowly and play it safe with possession. Gavi, however, gives them a physical edge He is intelligent with his movement, knows how to exploit space, is good with the ball in tight areas and is direct with his running. The teenager gives Spain a different dimension.
Charles De Ketelaere (Belgium)
Much was expected of Charles De Ketelaere when the 21-year-old made the €36m move from Club Bruges to AC Milan this season. While the Belgian has so far taken time to adjust to his new surroundings in Italy, he could be a threat for his national team at the 2022 World Cup. The youngster’s talent is obvious.
De Ketelaere is at his best when he is allowed to attack from a central position. He might find that Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard are favoured in that area of the pitch in Qatar, but with fitness questions hovering over the latter it’s entirely possible that the AC Milan attacker could enjoy a breakout tournament.
Jamal Musiala (Germany)
Still only 19 years old, Jamal Musiala has flourished as a key figure for club and country in 2022, with Hansi Flick expected to build his Germany attack around the Bayern Munich teenager at the 2022 World Cup. Musiala has registered nine goals and four assists in just 13 Bundesliga appearances this season and could carry that form into the World Cup.
Musiala is the perfect modern attacker in that he can play in almost every position across the frontline. This will be valuable for Germany who have still to settle on a formula in the final third of the pitch. Musiala will be expected to link the lines of midfield and attack while also providing a threat of his own.
Yunus Musah (USA)
The USA have endured a difficult build-up to the 2022 World Cup. Expectations have been lowered after the September friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia, in which Gregg Berhalter’s team struggled to impose themselves. Yet there’s still some optimism that Yunus Musah could change the complexion for the USMNT in Qatar.
Musah is crucial to the way the USA play through the lines, with the midfielder already a key player for Valencia at the age of just 19. The teenager is an energetic presence in the centre of the pitch and while he could do with refining his final product, the 2022 World Cup could be where he takes the next step in his development.
William Saliba (France)
William Saliba was preparing for a World Cup campaign spent on France’s bench until Raphael Varane suffered a recent injury on club duty for Manchester United. Now, the 21-year-old could be a central pillar of Didier Deschamps’ team. He has all the qualities to deputise for Varane and give France a chance of retaining their 2018 title.
Saliba has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season, giving the Gunners physical presence at the back and someone who can construct attacking moves from deep. The 21-year-old could perform a similar role for France at the 2022 World Cup with some reports stating Deschamps could switch to a back three.