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Fifa World Cup 2018: Five young attacking players who can conquer Russia

One of the most exciting things about this mega tournament is watching the emergence of a young player or the stamp of validation on a proven quality

BS Web Team 

Thomas Muller was just 20 when he took football's biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, by storm in its 2010 edition. With five goals and three assists, Muller edged out the likes of David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan to win the Golden Boot. But, he also took home another exciting award, that of being the 'Best Young Player', which FIFA started handing out after the 2006 World Cup. We take a look at five attacking players younger than 21 years old who have a genuine chance of joining the ranks of players like Lukas Podolski and Paul Pogba, the other winners of the coveted trophy.



Kylian Mbappé, France

Kylian Mbappe, France
1 / 5
Unlike this caption, Mbappé will be to-the-point, decisive, and creative in Russia.

"You could drop a Tarantula into his shorts and he'd still be cool," commentator Ray Hudson said this about Lionel Messi. But the statement could easily have been for Kylian Mbappé too, such is his composure on the field. Then there's an array of skills he unleashes: the through balls, pin-point passing, no-nonsense dribbling, and finishing. The “Donatello” of Paris St. Germain -- where he ended up after the mammoth €180 million transfer from Monaco -- is a complete package. He can play at any position in the front-line with equal ease and has picked up his form from where he left off in Monaco. With a young and supremely talented squad behind him, expect him to swoosh past the defenders and bulge the net with one swerve of his right foot more times than the opposition would like.

Ousmane Dembélé, France

Ousmane Dembele, France
2 / 5
Dembélé once raced light, that's how we knew the speed -- of light.

 

He escapes defenders like sand slip through fingers, but at a faster pace. Much was expected of Dembélé when he made a €140 million transfer to FC Barcelona. The expectations weren't without reason either. In just his second professional season, Dembele had torn apart the Bundesliga, scoring six and assisting 12 goals while stitching a formidable partnership with Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Two back-to-back injuries meant Dembele could never really gel in his new team which has its own unique style of play. However, there were flashes of his genius, his ability to take on defenders and to pull off surprising moves in the final third. Dembélé says it's all instinct: "I arrive in front of my opponent and even me, I do not know what I will do until the last, last moment.” But, in Russia, this trickster would let the world know what he can do and fans would do good to watch the rise of a phoneix.

 

Marcus Rashford, England

Marcus Rashford, England
3 / 5
The word for perfect start should be - Marcus Rashford

This is one guy who is known to have perfect starts. Afterall, he scored twice on his United debut, twice on his league debut, in his first Manchester derby, in his debut, in his first European semi-final and on his Champions League debut. Although his star has dimmed somewhat after a dazzling debut season, Rashford’s direct running, fearless attitude and energy will still be too much to cope with for defenders at the World Cup. And, given his record of perfect starts at big stages, it's safe to bet that Rashford will shine in his debut World Cup campaign too.

Timo Werner, Germany

Timo Werner, Germany
4 / 5
They say Germans don't have sense of humour. We'll see who has the last laugh -- Timo Werner

Following Miroslav Klose's retirement from international football, have been missing a quality pure no.9 (Mario Gomez is no more the same). Enter Timo Werner, the German who plys his trade for RB Leipzig has ruled the German first division, scoring 13 assisting seven this season, in a way that's worthy of kings. His performances have been so impressive that he is being rumoured to be a transfer target for Real Madrid to replace their long-time servant Karim Benzema. If the rumour has any iota of truth in it, then the Los Blancos better hurry, because Werner's transfer fee will shoot through the roof once he proves his undeniable quality on football's biggest stage, the World Cup.

Gabriel Jesus, Brazil

Gabriel Jesus, Brazil
5 / 5
If son of God played football.

The 21-year-old Brazilian benched a certain Sergio Aguero during Manchester City's latest title-winning season . That's how good he is. With over 150 senior appearances already under his belt (Jesus!), Jesus will lead from the front in the coming World Cup. His instinctive movement off the last line and flamboyant play in the channels should be enough to set the cat among the pigeons in the tournament. From the much-shared story of him painting murals during the 2014 World Cup to starring for in its next edition, Gabriel's incredible journey is coming full circle and he would do good to light it up.


First Published: Sun, June 10 2018. 19:14 IST