Young Rising Stars In Football Today

Young Rising Stars In Football Today

The World Cup has always provided the ideal platform for budding football talents to proclaim their debut on the global scene and demonstrate their abilities to the rest of the world. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is an excellent chance for today’s rising stars to emerge from the shadows of the Messi-Ronaldo rivalry and have a significant impact on the game at the highest level.

Five players have differentiated themselves from the rest of the pack among the numerous kids vying for the coveted Messi-Ronaldo championship. They have delighted the world’s attention with their playing abilities and displays of brilliance on the field.

The following are the rising stars in football projected to take centre stage in the 2022 World Cup and who may hold the aces in world football for many years to come.

Ansu Fati

On August 25, 2019, a happy Ansu Fati entered the action in the 78th minute of a La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Betis. He became the club’s second-youngest debutant before 1941. 

The then 17-year-old kid was one of the major discoveries of the 2018-19 season, being strong, fast on the ball, and exhibiting self-confidence and agility above his age. He was sometimes compared to Messi and is highly expected to succeed the Argentine when he retires.

Despite just 20 matches since his debut, Fati, the son of a Guinean immigrant, has already amassed excellent career figures for his age.

Fati became Barcelona’s youngest striker ever and the third-youngest scorer in La Liga history in his professional debut year. He netted against Osasuna in August 2019 at 16 years and 304 days.

He was the youngest player in La Liga history to score and assist in the same game in the same year. Fati scored and assisted Frenkie de Jong’s goal in the seventh minute. He aided Barcelona to a 5–2 home triumph against Valencia.

He became Barcelona’s youngest player in the Champions League when he made his debut in a 0–0 away draw against Borussia Dortmund in 2019. He smashed Bojan Krki’s previous record of 17 years and 22 days by playing at 16 years and 321 days. He was the third-youngest player in the competition’s history.

Fati also became the youngest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history in December of that year, at 17 years and 40 days. He scored the winning goal in Barcelona’s 2–1 triumph against Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Fati and his sparkling performances will play a more significant role as Spain starts their quest for a second FIFA World Cup crown.

Frenkie De Jong

FC Barcelona won the race to capture AFC Ajax’s most wanted midfielder, Frenkie De Jong, in January 2019. The five-year deal at an initial sum of €75 million ended one of the most contentious player transfer sagas of the 2019 season.

He got the attention of four of Europe’s biggest clubs – Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Barcelona. All of them were willing to fund the money to get him on their side, demonstrating the worth and value put on him.

De Jong’s ball control capabilities are only rivalled by his lethal passing and playmaking ability, making him one of the top midfielders. Simply told, the Gorinchem native was made to play football.

De Jong rose to prominence during the 2018–19 season, leading Ajax to their first domestic double (league and cup) since the 2001–02 season. During his last season with Ajax, the midfielder recorded a 91.4 per cent pass accuracy in all competitions, helping the side complete the last five weeks at the league’s top.

The midfielder was also the standout performer in his team’s UEFA Champions League campaign. Ajax advanced to the competition’s semi-finals for the first time since 1997. With De Jong’s assistance, the squad defeated Juventus in the quarterfinals and Real Madrid in the Round of 16, only to be eliminated on away goals by Tottenham Hotspur. De Jong had the most touches of any player on the field (87) and an 86.2 per cent pass completion rate.

After debuting for Ajax in 2016, the versatile player has garnered several individual awards. These are the 2018-19 Dutch Football Talent of the Year, 2018-19 UEFA Midfielder of the Season, and 2018-19 Eredivisie Player. He was also nominated to the UEFA Champions League Season 2018–19 Squad of the Season and the 2019 FIFA FIFPro World 11.

The Dutch midfielder made his international debut in September 2018, replacing Georginio Wijnaldum at halftime during a friendly (2–1) victory over Peru. He was poised to be a pivotal player coordinating the Netherlands’ midfield push.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Goalkeepers are believed to peak with age because they combine experience with innate abilities and agility. Thus, the world’s most renowned goalkeepers were at their peak when they were 30 or older.

The exception to the trend is Milan’s 20-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is defying all expectations in goal with his exceptional talents and quick reflexes.

His physical strength and technical ability, as well as his mental fortitude and decision-making abilities, distinguished him from the competition. These abilities, and others, led to his selection to Italy’s national team. At 17 years and 189 days, he became the team’s youngest goalkeeper in September 2016.

Donnarumma made his professional debut in 2015 as a goalkeeper for AC Milan, becoming the second-youngest goalkeeper in Serie A history at the age of 16 years and 242 days. He came into the starting lineup, beating off other outstanding goalkeepers like Diego Lopez and Christian Abiatti for the club’s starting place. His exploits at the club earned him recognition as one of the world’s most promising young goalkeepers. He set a new record by being Italy’s youngest under-21 player ever, 17 years and 28 days in March 2016.

After the retirement of Gianluigi Buffon in 2018, Donnarumma officially became Italy’s first-choice goalkeeper. If Italy qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the six-footer from Castellammare di Stabia will almost certainly be in goal for the Azzurri.

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho left Premier League winners Manchester City in 2017 to join Borussia Dortmund in Germany. The 17-year-old became one of Europe’s most highly regarded strikers and an established England international.

Although English-born players have traditionally struggled to establish themselves in leagues outside of England, the London-born player has unexpectedly become one of the exceptions to the norm.

In a spectacular 2018/19 season for Dortmund, the ex-Watford Academy starburst into the forefront. He has a league-high 17 assists and 12 goals, more than any other player in the Bundesliga other than Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.

Rising star Jadon Sancho

With practically all of the desired attributes in a great striker – passing, dribbling, critical passes, ball possession, finishing, and so forth – the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup champion with England seems to be improving with age.

The Dortmund No. 7’s goal against Cologne on Match Day 2 of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season was his 15th in the league. He became the youngest player in German ‘top-flight’ history to do so with the goal. Sancho has 10 goals and ten assists in the Bundesliga thus far*, making him the first player in any of Europe’s top five leagues.

With an ageing Harry Kane’s scoring form slipping, England found a viable substitute in Sancho. The teenager cemented his position in the national team roster with a brace in a 5–3 home win against Kosovo in a Euro 2020 qualifier in September 2019.

Whatever happens between now and 2022, the 19-year-old phenom has nothing to fear since he already has the globe.

Joao Felix

Joo Félix Sequeira aroused the world’s curiosity in the summer of 2019 when Atletico Madrid outbid many big European teams to sign the former Benfica star. Felix became the fourth-most expensive football move with a club-record transfer price of €126 million (£113 million). The price was also the second-highest ever paid for a youngster and the biggest ever paid for a Portuguese player leaving the domestic league.

Felix had incredible awareness of the game and the unique ability to know where to be in front of goals by ex-Benfica and Portugal striker Rui Costa. Indeed, after the 2018/19 season, Felix was second only to Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund in terms of goal contributions. He helped the Lisbon club win the Portuguese league championship with 15 goals and seven assists in 21 starts.

In September 2016, Sancho made his professional debut for Benfica. At 16, he debuted for Benfica’s reserve squad, becoming the club’s youngest player ever. He made his senior debut at the 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals, which Portugal won on home soil. Felix, who had previously represented Portugal’s junior teams at the under-18, under-19, and under-21 levels, finished 2019 by earning the renowned Golden Boy award for the most outstanding player in Europe under the age of 21. 

Since moving to Spain, the 20-year-old has maintained his excellent form, securing his status as a crucial player at Atletico Madrid.

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