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FIFA World Cup 2018: Five Youngsters to Watch Out For in Russia

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal. (AFP Image)

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal. (AFP Image)

While those young superstars missed the plane to Russia, there are many others who will go to the global event looking to make a name for themselves. Some may go as back-up options, some may go as starters, but for all, the forthcoming World Cup will be the biggest learning curve.

Written By: Meenketan Jha

The FIFA World Cup 2018 — the biggest sporting extravaganza of the world is just around the corner now and all 32 teams have entered their final legs of preparations. With the announcement of the final 23-squad due earlier this week, there were several notable omissions like Leroy Sane of Germany, Anthony Martial of France, Alvaro Morata of Spain.

While those young superstars missed the plane to Russia, there are many others who will go to the global event looking to make a name for themselves. Some may go as back-up options, some may go as starters, but for all, the forthcoming World Cup will be the biggest learning curve.

Andre Silva, 22-year old, Forward

Bought by the 7-time European Champions AC Milan at the start of the 2017/18 season from Porto, Andre Silva is believed to the be Cristiano Ronaldo's successor in his home nation. Ronaldo, himself, has acknowledged the supreme talent possessed by Silva. Having scored 9 goals in qualifications, only the Portuguese captain Ronaldo outscored him in the national team. While he has been largely successful with his national team, his endeavors with his club haven't had that same story.

In his 36 appearances for Milan this season, he has started only 16. His prolific goal tally for his nation does not translate for his club as totals on 8 goals. His poor season, however, did not stop Coach Fernando Santos from recognizing the talent. With a supreme player like Ronaldo to guide him, big things are expected from the young striker who will be looking to regain his lost form as goes into the World Cup.

Portugal, under Santos play at 4-4-2 formation with two deep lying midfielders while two of the wider players tuck in reducing space through the center. Up front, ronaldo will be partnered by Andre Silva. The young hitman complements Ronaldo well as he likes to dribble and do layoffs. His telepathic communication with the Real Madrid legend has been important to Portugal sailing through qualification without trouble. What might hurt him is his lack of defensive contribution as eh averages a mere 0.3 tackles and 0.2 interceptions a game.

Lucas Torreira, 22-year old, Central Midfielder

Serie A champions, Juventus, were made to struggle early on in the season as Champions League commitments meant that they had players who were exhausted as early season proceeded at a rapid pace. The Italian giants, especially, paid the price when they played against a well-organised Sampdoria team in the Italian League. Marshalled by Torreira, Sampdoria pushed themselves into a commanding 3-0 lead eventually winning the match 3-2 after conceding two extremely late goals. The win sent shockwaves across the league and established Sampdoria as a giant-killer after they had earlier beaten 7-time European Champions Milan 2-0. Torreira, in particular, impressed as he scored the second goal against Juventus while absolutely dictating the pace of midfield overpowering veterans like Sami Khedira. The power pact performance sent his season into overdrive.

With an astounding passing percentage of 87% in the league, Torreira formed an immaculate connection between attack and midfield. His overall contribution of five goals proved substantial for the club. However, it was his defensive contribution where averaged nearly 3 tackles and 2 interceptions a game that truly helped Sampdoria to safety.

Having only made his debut earlier this year in March, Torreira is expected to play backup to the more experienced players in the squad. Uruguay usually play a 4-4-2 with Matias Vecino and Rodrigo Bentacur as the two central midfielders with the latter playing a more enforcer sort of a role and Vecino as a creative force.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, 19-year old, Right Back

Somewhat of a revelation in the season, Arnold has made the Right Back spot at Liverpool his own after an unfortunate injury to first-choice RB, Nathaniel Clyne. Accumulating 36 appearances for the club across the season, with 10 of those in the Champions League, Arnold has truly come into his own. The marauding RB is known for his attacking instincts with lapses in concentration as shown by games against Manchester United and Roma in the second leg of the CL.

Averaging nearly 2 interceptions, 2 tackles, and and just over 2 clearances a game, Arnold's defensive side of the game is on the up. However, what has made him into such a threat is his constant runs along the wing to support the Liverpool wingers. Added to his tenacious crossing is his impeccable free-kick ability as he scored from a sensationally taken set-piece in Liverpool's qualifying round match versus Hoffenheim.

With England likely to field a back three, Kyle Walker, indisputably the best RB in England will play as a CB alongside Maguire or Stones and Cahill. Coach Gareth Southgate use of Walker to add pace to the backline means Arnold and Trippier will fight it out for first choice RB. His lack of experience might prove to be a burden as he is yet to make a debut for the national team. Truly, he must be a spectacular player if England have chosen him to make a name for himself at the grandest stage.

Timo Wener, 22-year old, Forward

At 22 years of age, Werner is Germany's first choice striker. Having the ability to play anywhere across the front line, the German hitman has been linked with a numerous number of top clubs from across Europe. Turning in fine performance week in and week out has seen Werner been a constant presence in the German national team since 2017. A winner with the national team in the 2017 Confederations Cup, Werner has ended Germany's search for a natural finisher since Miroslav Klose retired.

The Liepzig No.11 has made 51 appearances in all competition for his club and scored 22 goals while having a hand in 9 others. Werner's natural pace makes a terrifying counter attacking threat. Leipzig have often reaped innumerable benefits from his burst of speed. The striker also is known for his deadly finishing and is turning into one of Europe's most feared attackers. Nonetheless, Werner's weak offside awareness might play into the opponent's hand.

Joachim Loew likes to play 4-2-3-1 formation with Real Madrid playmaker Toni Kroos in a deep lying playmaker role, while Sami Khedira as the enforcer. In front of those two, Reus, Ozil, and Muller will occupy the three advanced midfield positions with Werner as the lone attacker up front. On the bench, Germany have veteran Mario Gomez who is antithesis to Werner. Known for his strong aerial ability and lack of pace, he will most likely play second fiddle to the Liepzig No.11.

Kylian Mbappe, 19-year old Forward

Already recognised as the heir to Ronaldo and Messi's throne, Mbappe is tipped to be best player in the world in the coming years. At 19-years, Kylian will become the second most expensive player in the world if Paris Saint Germain (PSG) choose to activate the option to purchase him from Monaco for 166 Million Pounds. A sensational player who broke into the top 10 list of the Ballon D'or in 2017 for his astounding performances with Monaco in the Champions League and Ligue 1, Mbappe can play anywhere across the front line as well as an attacking midfielder.

His exploits this season for PSG helped the Qatari sponsored club race to the Ligue 1 title. The Frenchman made 47 appearances across the season in all competition, scoring 23 goals and assisting 11 more. With pace only a few others in world football are blessed with, the French sensation is known for his dribbling and deadly finishing. His play making abilities are also crucial as he averages nearly 2 key passes per game. The French teen, though, has often been criticized for his lack of defensive contribution. His defensive stats are a poor read, with him averaging less than 0.5 in tackles and interceptions per game.