With the World Cup fast approaching, this website will see a shift, sometime in May, from domestic football to everything related to the summer spectacle. Now as many of you’ll may have noticed, our content regularly focuses on the best young players in the world of football. Below we have compiled a list of young players, who based on this season’s performances, deserve to be on the flight to Brazil, and play a regular role in the squads. Let this list serves as a bit of prediction to the official squads that come out later in May.
SERGE AURIER | IVORY COAST, TOULOUSE, 21
Toulouse’s youngster, Serge Aurier, has been having a breakthrough campaign this season and has been one of the best performers in the league. He has even captained his club, as Alain Casanova showed his faith in the Ivorian. Aurier has always been judged to have the potential, but this season his improvements have shown in his versatility. Although right-back is his more favourable role, Toulouse’ 3-5-2 formation has pushed him to a right wing-back role which can so easily be constitute as a right-midfielders’ role, based on the way he plays his game. Aurier has made the joint-most number of appearances in our Talent Radar Team of the week features.
Aurier’s senior international appearances started in the qualifiers for the World Cup, where he has mainly played as a right-back. His improved versatility will give Sabri Lamouchi more food for thought.
SHKODRAN MUSTAFI | GERMANY, SAMPDORIA, 22
The ex-Everton youngster has been having the best season of his career so far in the Serie A with Sampdoria. He has grown into a solid central defender, putting in matured performances and impressing with his organisation abilities. His no nonsense nature has helped him establish himself, while his insistence on not being afraid of going into a tackle have further staked his claim. Some might suggest that Mustafi doesn’t stand a chance with the current crop, but previous Germany World Cup squads have shown their faith in young defenders, like Mertesacker and Huth in 2006, while Badstuber and Boateng got their chance in 2010, all at the same age as Mustafi now. An impressive improvement from the German who never made the cut in the Premier League.
A few injuries prompted Joachim Low to call Mustafi up to the national team, as he was left on the bench against Chile. Germany already have some well established stars in their squad with the likes of Hummels, Boateng & Mertesacker but Mustafi has impressed us enough to earn a call-up.
VINCENT ABOUBAKAR | CAMEROON, LORIENT, 22
The Cameroonian striker has had a breakthrough season with his new club in the French Ligue 1. His side have all but confirmed their top-flight status and it has largely been down to the strength & pace of Vincent Aboubakar. The perfect player for the centre-forwards role, Aboubakar is constantly looking to carve opportunities out for himself with a good shots-on-goal/game ratio. He is among the top scorers in Ligue 1, remarkable for a mid-table youngster, and is only beaten by PSG’s attacking line in the scoring charts.
He has already played a fair amount of games for the Cameroonian national team but they’ve largely been substitute appearances as he has failed to stake down a regular place in the squad. He struck against Portugal earlier this year, his first goal for Cameroon for four years. His performances this season have furthered his case to play as a striker, rather than on the wings where he has played for the national team earlier.
JOEL CAMPBELL | COSTA RICA, OLYMPIAKOS (on loan from Arsenal), 21
Joel Campbell has always been on the brink of some sort of role at Arsenal before being loaned out for regular football. He has previously played in France with Lorient and Spain with Real Betis, only scoring a handful of goals and not really impressing. But his time at Olympiakos has seen him participate in the Champions League as well, and has seen the best scoring record of his career. Earlier managers’ were unclear about his best position but this season has worked well to make a claim for the centre-forwards role.
Campbell is still only 21 but has already made over 30 appearances for his country. However, this season’s performances will prompt management to fast-track him into the first team, ahead of the established stars like Bryan Ruiz and Alvaro Saborio (hopefully).
RAHEEM STERLING | ENGLAND, LIVERPOOL, 19
Teenager Sterling made his first team debut two seasons back but failed to impress. This season, the youngster has established his position in the first-team, helping the side in the Premier League title race and has received praise all-round, with many experts claiming he’s England’s best wide man and deserves to be a regular starter for Roy Hodgson’s side. Some have even claimed he could be the best player of his generation, while his ‘competitor’ for the winger’s role has suggested he should be in the squad for Brazil. His pace, energy and surprisingly good eye for a pass can certainly propel him into the senior squad.
Sterling has already been called up to the senior team, certifying his progress, but never has he been as good a candidate for the national team as he is now. Many would be surprised if he didn’t receive a call-up to Brazil.
JOSIP DRMIC | SWITZERLAND, NURNBERG, 21
Josip Drmic has come into the Bundesliga from the Swiss league this season and left viewers in awe at his abilities. He signed for Nurnberg this summer and has led the way for his side. It’s unfortunate that Nurnberg are set for relegation while Josip Drmic has been in the form of his career, trailing Lewandowski and Mandzukic by only two goals. He’s a modern version of a traditional fox-in-the-box, a no nonsense striker whose always looking to get into the box and get on the scoresheet. Any side can benefit from having such a player.
Drmic made a few substitute appearances for Switzerland, starting just 1 game in their World Cup qualification campaign without making a reasonable case. Now though, he is bound to be Switzerland’s main man. Recently he scored his first senior goals, a brace against Croatia in a 2-2 friendly draw.
SEAD KOLASINAC | BOSNIA, SCHALKE, 20
The young left-back has been Schalke’s first choice player in their Bundesliga & Champions League campaigns, and has been very impressive in the chance he has been given. Initially someone who was defensively solid, and continues to be; Kolasinac has learnt to balance his football well like a modern-full back with constant runs into attacking areas, putting crosses in and offering himself in the channels. His crosses, again, are the best part of his attacking game and one can certainly imagine him doing the same for Dzeko.
Kolasinac only made his senior debut in late 2013, starting against Argentina and making an appearance against Egypt a few weeks back. It would be hard to see past Kolasinac in the left-back role for Bosnia; he definitely deserves to make it to the World Cup.
IMOH EZEKIEL | NIGERIA, STANDARD LIEGE, 20
Imoh Ezekiel and Mitchy Bathshuayi, two quality young strikers, have formed a bit of a partnership for Standard Liege in the Belgian league. While Bathshuayi has been widely considered as the better option, Ezekiel hasn’t been far off and they manage to complement each others’ game well. Imoh Ezekiel can best be described as a pure striker, always finding himself in the box; while he also possesses remarkable composure in the box and with the ball at his feet.
Ezekiel has so far only made one substitute appearance for Nigeria but they aren’t as blessed upfront as they have been in previous World Cups. Obinna & Emenike seem to be the preferred choices but Ezekiel can’t be far behind in the pecking order.
CHRISTIAN ATSU | GHANA, VITESSE (on loan from Chelsea), 22
Signed by Chelsea from Porto and immediately loaned to feeder club, Atsu has been one of many youngsters (many of whom are contracted to Chelsea) who have been propelling Vitesse into European competition. The biggest positive that Atsu possesses, something we didn’t see much as Porto, is his versatility. At Vitesse he has played primarily in a central attacking role, while also shifting to either wing. He has also been deployed at left-back, a role he sometimes played in at Porto, while moving into left-wing too.
Ghana possess an abundance of rare talent but there can be no doubt in Atsu’s World Cup possibilities. He already has tons of experience at the top level, and deserves to be called up to the squad, now with his added versatility, giving management added options.
THORGAN HAZARD | BELGIUM, ZULTE-WAREGEM (on loan from Chelsea), 21
There’s no doubting Eden Hazard’s role in the Belgian side but his younger brother, Thorgan, has risen to prominence and made a decent case for himself and his World Cup hopes. Thorgan has played regularly for Zulte, on loan from Chelsea, in attacking midfield with a regular scoring record as well. His exploits haven’t gone unnoticed as he won the Belgian Pro League Player of the Year Award, beating Mitchy Bathshuayi to it (and keeping him out of this list).
Belgium have an abudance of talented footballers, and many vying for the attacking midfielders position as well. And with the system being employed, it would be hard to ignore the best player from the Belgian league for a role in the World Cup squad.