Youngsters and World Cups are two things that have historically got along.
From Pele in 1958 to Mbappe in 2018, young players have taken the world by storm in this tournament.
Over the last couple of years, we've been introduced to insane talents that dazzled on the biggest stage.
Hence, we feel it is important to list and rank the best young players playing at this year's World Cup.
Qatar 2022's Top 10 Best Young Players
10. Rodrygo Goes, 21 (Brazil)
Real Madrid’s talisman.
The Brazilian had an amazing season with Madrid – winning LaLiga, Spanish Supercup and the UEFA Champions League and scoring nine goals and providing 10 assists.
Rodrygo was crucial in getting his team to the Champions League final, igniting the iconic comebacks against Chelsea and Manchester City where he scored a combined three goals in both games.
¡TAN GRANDE QUE NO ENTRA NI EN LA FOTO!#APorLa14 | @RodrygoGoes pic.twitter.com/fqUpPklN5T— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) May 4, 2022
"So big that he doesn't fit in the picture."
He is Mr. Champions League Jr.!
Although Brazil has plenty of alternatives on the flanks, the 21-year-old is perhaps the most clutch player on the squad. Add his superb technique and finishing skills, he's a player anyone would want at their disposal.
Like his compatriot and club teammate Vinícius Junior, Rodrygo will be looking to bring the golden trophy back home for the sixth time.
9. Dušan Vlahović, 22 (Serbia)
Dušan is a killer.
The Serbian came onto the scene after absolutely bullying opponents in Serie A with Fiorentina. With the Lilies, Vlahović scored 49 goals and provided eight assists in 108 games.
In the season where he was snatched by Juventus as a response to Cristiano Ronaldo’s abrupt summer exit back to Manchester United, the striker had tallied 17 goals and four assists in 21 games for the Viola.
A record breaking 2021 for Dusan #Vlahovic35 goals ⚽
6 assists ️
Vote now for your #TOTY ➡️ https://t.co/EOzrVgXql4@EASPORTSFIFA @EA_FIFA_Italia pic.twitter.com/NaICa3Mk9M
— ACF Fiorentina (@acffiorentina) January 14, 2022
If he would have stayed with the Fiore that season, Vlahović's chances of competing for the European Golden Boot would have been high.
Although he’s had a “slow” start at Juventus, the Serbian has shown that he can be one of Europe’s most lethal strikers for club and country.
With Serbia, the striker has scored 7 goals and provided three assists in 14 games and in 732 minutes – a goal contribution every 73 minutes.
He’s gonna score in Qatar. Count on that.
8. Aurélien Tchouaméni, 22 (France)
The newest and final piece to rejuvenating a legendary Madrid midfield.
Aurélien was Real Madrid’s first summer acquisition, buying him from AS Monaco for a deal potentially worth $100 million – the most expensive transfer this summer.
¡Presentando nuestro nuevo nº1️⃣8️⃣!
@atchouameni#WelcomeTchouameni pic.twitter.com/cttmVfS9lW— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) June 14, 2022
Why, you might ask?
Well, Tchouaméni is one of those players that is unpredictable in the sense of what he will be able to contribute throughout a soccer game.
Although he has the characteristics and attributes of a defensive and tough central midfielder, the Frenchman can also provide in the attack and create chances in the last third – all reasons for Didier Deschamps to consider him a regular in the French national team.
With Les Blues, Tchouaméni has become a starter and will most likely be one in the 2022 World Cup.
7. Jude Bellingham, 19 (England)
Jude Bellingham is so great he already retired a number.
At 17, the midfielder was one of England’s most exciting talents – present and future.
After having impressive performances with Birmingham City in the English Championship, Bellingham earned himself a transfer to Borussia Dortmund, breaking the transfer record for Birmingham all while being a kid.
Birmingham City will retire the number 22 shirt following Jude Bellingham's transfer to Borussia Dortmund.
— Birmingham City News (@BCFC_News) July 23, 2020
Destined for greatness.
At Dortmund, the midfielder has played 91 games and has scored 11 goals and provided 19 assists – with a goal contribution in every competition he’s played in.
Jude Bellingham has dropped the coldest album cover of 2021 #UCL pic.twitter.com/eiEMU3oOEl— GOAL (@goal) April 14, 2021
There’s been rumors about a potential move to another European giant, and if he’s able to showcase his talent at the world’s biggest stage, Bellingham might solidify his position in world football, bag another transfer and retire yet another jersey number somewhere else.
6. Ansu Fati, 19 (Spain)
Barça’s heir to the #10.
The legacy continues.18-year-old Ansu Fati is Barcelona's new No. 10 after Leo Messi's departure ⭐
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 1, 2021
Although he’s had injuries that have kept him sidelined for quite some time in the last two seasons, Ansu Fati is still the definition of a baller.
Fati’s capability to create and contribute goals with such ease is mesmerizing.
In the 2019-20 LaLiga season (his debut campaign), the Spaniard scored his first goal for Barcelona when he was 16. At the end of the same season, the winger bagged seven goals and provided one assist in 24 matches and 1,024 minutes played – a goal or assist every 128 minutes as a 17-year-old playing for Barcelona.
Seven minutes into his first Barcelona start, Ansu Fati already has a goal and an assist.He’s 16 ✨ pic.twitter.com/KJCNyvt8Qb
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 14, 2019
As it stands and in 2022, Fati is:
- The second youngest LaLiga debutant for Barça.
- Barça's youngest LaLiga goalscorer.
- The youngest starter at the Camp Nou.
- The youngest player to score and provide an assist in LaLiga.
- The youngest goalscorer at the Camp Nou.
- Second youngest player for Spain U21.
- The youngest goalscorer in Champions League history
- The youngest player ever to score a double in league history
- A Golden Boy nominee
- Second youngest player for Spain
- The second youngest goalscorer with the Spanish national team
He could be playing with one leg at the World Cup for all we care, he’d still make the list.
If all goes well leading up to the World Cup starting in November, the Spaniard will most definitely make an impact in Qatar.
5. Alphonso Davies, 21 (Canada)
He’s the kid from Edmonton.
The Canadian is one of the best full backs in the world and you can attribute most of that to his insane pace and dribbling skills.
Legend says that Nelson Semedo still doesn’t know where Alphonso Davies went.
Alphonso Davies joined Bayern Munich four years ago today.Throwback to when he left Nélson Semedo in the dust
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 25, 2022
Davies was the first player born in 2000 to debut in MLS – a glimpse of what he’d achieve in the future.
Since arriving at Bayern Munich in 2019, the left back has won every trophy possible. And he did that all in one season.
How many trophies was it, @AlphonsoDavies? 6⃣
— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) February 11, 2022
At 21 and after cruising through every opposition with Bayern, Phonzy helped lead Canada to its first World Cup qualification since 1986.
"Look around, look around you. Look at this, we created this. This didn’t exist before we were here. Look around. I swear I promise you right now, we did this."
4. Gavi, 18 (Spain)
It’s disrespectful to be this good, this young and do it all with your shoelaces untied.
Gavi and his shoe laces untied, better love story than Twilight pic.twitter.com/iHwQRWN16f— kashyaaap (@ka66yyap) March 26, 2022
Gavi is one of many young Barça players making an impact for the first team and he might be the most impressive.
Ever since he was brought up from La Masia and debuted for the club in 2021, the central midfielder has maintained himself as a starter.
Gavi is technically gifted – using cheeky skills to get past the opposition and project teammates into the last third – but can also hold it down defensively – intercepting, recovering and tracking attackers back when it’s needed.
The Spaniard can play in basically every position past midfield.
He’s been so good for Barcelona that Luis Enrique called him up to the Spanish national team and has been phenomenal.
In June, the 17-year-old became the youngest player to ever score for La Roja.
Gavi has become the youngest player to score for @SeFutbol ! pic.twitter.com/B7CLO1ZJPP— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 5, 2022
Could you imagine being a starter for Barcelona (your boyhood club) and Spain as a 17-year-old?
We’re pretty sure not even his dad imagined this when he began driving Gavi to first-team practice every morning.
3. Phil Foden, 22 (England)
“Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager,” said Pep Guardiola in 2019.
Keep in mind Guardiola has managed the likes of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi.
Phil is that guy, pal.
Since the financial takeover at Manchester City, it’s become difficult to see youngsters from the academy break and slip through the cracks of $60 million transfers every summer.
Phil Foden, at 20 years of age, was able to become a starter for a squad worth over $1 billion.
With the Citizens, “Ronnie” has 112 goal contributions in 212 matches and he hasn’t even peaked.
✨ @PhilFoden ✨The @premierleague Young Player of the Season! #ManCity pic.twitter.com/63g2OStTli
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 21, 2022
He’s still to make that sort of impact with England, though. But, in light of changing things up from last years Euro defeat, a good season with the Sky Blues may earn the winger an important role with the Three Lions at the World Cup.
That’s if he doesn’t get this atrocious trim again.
So that's where @PhilFoden got his new hair inspiration from. Koka Noodles pic.twitter.com/CcQT1KY9fL— Spion Kop (@TheKopHQ) June 14, 2021
2. Pedri, 19 (Spain)
The Golden Boy.
Pedri’s growth since arriving in Barcelona has been astronomical. Since joining Barça from Las Palmas in 2020, the midfielder’s market value has increased by $72.8 million.
At Las Palmas and as a youngster, the midfielder was characterized by his quick thinking and vision going into goal scoring areas of the field.
When Messi was still at Barcelona and the team was at their lowest, Pedri became the Argentinian’s unexpected partner – creating plays like this.
A THREAD: The GIF's of all goals scored by #Messi in 2021.I'll keep on adding GIFs whenever Messi scores goals in 2021. RTs and Likes are appreciated. #GoalNo01 vs @Athletic_en#LaLiga on 6th January/2021.
Assisted by @Pedri. pic.twitter.com/UuLuxYm6R4
— David³⁰ #LM7 (@DavidFCB_10) February 14, 2021
Although his short career in Catalunya has been difficult (rebuild and life post-Messi), there’s reason to believe that Pedri will become the leader of the azulgrana’s promising future and new generation.
Oh, and he pulled off this nutmeg:
⚽ gg pedri nutmeg
pic.twitter.com/HxifaLp5zR— OFF • footballfess (@footballfess_id) February 28, 2022
1. Vinícius Junior, 21 (Brazil)
Vinícius Jr. is special.
Nah, de locos.
@vinijr #UCL pic.twitter.com/x2OUkTbRVw— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) April 28, 2022
After having a promising, yet almost embarrassing start at Real Madrid – being meme’d in a compilation of videos that ridiculed his poor decision making and finishing skills – Vini managed to turn it around.
In his first three seasons with Los Blancos, the winger scored 14 goals and had provided 23 assists in 118 games.
Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid, was called a fool for buying him.
Though, as we’ve previewed before, Vini was able to do the unprecedented.
Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as manager of Madrid for the 2021-22 season, and the winger decided it was time to turn it up.
Last season and in one season alone, the Brazilian scored 22 goals and gave 20 assists in 52 games, scored in a semi-final against Barcelona and scored the only goal in the Galactico’s Champions League final victory against Liverpool – solidifying not only his regard as perhaps the best young player playing in the upcoming World Cup, but also as one of the best forwards.
️ ¡GOL, GOL, GOL, GOL, GOOOOL!
@ViniJr#CHAMP14NS pic.twitter.com/rJhLzjPrTk— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) June 11, 2022
“Vinícius no se vende, ni se toca”.
Brazil is a heavy contender to take the highly coveted trophy. Their attack – as opposed to the last few World Cups – is bolstered with the flair and magic that we’ve been accustomed to with their previous World Cup winning generations.
Did someone say Jogo Bonito in Qatar?