Youngsters to look out for at World Cup 2018 – Overview

Background

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World Cup 2018 is the place to really perform. We saw that back in World Cup 2014 where some new players made their names. Remember James Rodriguez of Colombia or Mario Gotze scoring the wonder goal to win the World Cup?

Well, what about the World Cup in 2018? Who are the young players to look out for?

Here are at Destination Soccer, we have scoured the globe to find those players most likely to shine at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. So, please visit the pages to find out more about the future World Cup stars:

Part 1: Kingsley Coman (France), Paulo Dybala (Argentina)

Part 2: Hector Bellerin (Spain), Anthony Martial (France)

Part 3: Dele Alli (England), Kurt Zouma (France)

Part 4: Raphael Varane (France), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)

Part 5: Harry Kane (England), Leroy Sane (Germany)

Part 6: Raheem Sterling (England), Marcus Rashford (England)

Part 7: Hakan Calhanoglu (Turkey), Ross Barkley (England)

Are there any youngsters we have missed out who you think are likely to make an impact at the World Cup 2018? We wanted to include Martin Odegaard, the Norwegian wunderkind at Real Madrid but we are not sure if he will make it to Russia.

Youngsters to look out for at World Cup 2018. Part 7

Hakan Calhanoglu

The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder has made a name for himself with his exquisite free-kicks. The set-piece specialist has been a potent threat each time his team win a free-kick at a shooting distance and more often than not, Calhanoglu bends one in.

However, it is not the only aspect of his game that has seen him earn plaudits and a place in the Turkey national team for the 2016 European Championship in France. The midfielder has expressed his desire to emulate 2014 World Cup winner Mesut Ozil. Like Ozil, Calhanoglu was also born in Germany to Turkish parents, but he has chosen to represent the Turkish national team unlike Ozil who opted to play for the country of his birth.

Ozil is renowned for his sweet touch and great vision that enables him to find passes which most cannot even see. And that mostly comes with his superb positioning as well as reading of the game. Calhanoglu plays a similar role to Ozil’s and is extremely adept at shielding the ball from opposition players.

Calhanoglu, when he plays deeper in midfield, displays his incredible passing range. He is very good at spraying balls diagonally that completely bypass the midfield.

Turkey have struggled in their quest to qualify for the World Cup since their astonishing semi-final run in 2002, but now with great quality in their ranks with the likes of Arda Turan, Emre Mor and Calhanoglu, they can be expected to be one of the dark horses at the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

And if Turkey manage to book their tickets to Russia, Calhanoglu will be one of the biggest stars to look forward to.

Ross Barkley
When Roberto Martinez took charge of Everton following the departure of David Moyes in the summer of 2012 as the Scotsman took the Manchester United job, one of the things that the Spaniard was most lauded for was his ability to spot talent and give it sufficient chances to thrive at the highest level.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Martinez’s policies was England international Ross Barkley as the young Toffee went on to give some splendid performances for the Goodison Park outfit.

During the 2013/14 season, Barkley went on to make 34 Premier League appearances and scored six times as well as set-up his team-mates with two goals. More than his stats, it was his nonchalant style of play and the fact that they he could play an attacking role in the mould of continental number 10s is what caught the eye, as it’s rare to see English players operate with such fluidity.

His superlative displays saw him linked with a move to Manchester City in the summer of 2014 for a fee that was reported to be an astonishing £50m. However, the Citizens didn’t shell the huge sum and Barkley stayed put at Goodison Park.

The next season, his form considerably dipped and he found it hard to break into Everton’s starting eleven. Martinez has since gone and has now been replaced with Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman is also renowned for developing young players and, Barkley will do well to learn from the former Barcelona defender.

With the talent that he possesses, Barkley surely is one of the youngsters to look out for at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Youngsters to look out for at World Cup 2018. Part 6

Raheem Sterling

Amidst all that he has been through and for how long he has been in the mix at both club level and country it is easy to forget that Raheem Sterling is just 21-year-old.

The youngster grew rapidly through the ranks at Liverpool following his transfer to the Merseyside outfit from Queens Park Rangers in 2011, and he went on to become a regular fixture in the staring eleven at Anfield under then club manager Brendan Rodgers.

There was a sense that he quickly outgrew the ambitions of the club and, by all accounts, forced out a move to Manchester City, a club that matched his desire and ambitions to win trophies. His first season at the Etihad Stadium did yield a trophy – the League Cup – but surely Sterling went there for bigger silverware after his £50m transfer.

It was a season of great upheaval for the Citizens and Manuel Pellegrini has gone since the end of the turbulent campaign that saw them barely cling to a top four finish in the Premier League and with it secure a place in next season’s Champions League.

There is no doubting the potential that Sterling possesses; however, he is far from a finished product. Blessed with blistering pace and dribbling ability, his touch often deserts him at crucial junctures.

 Now that Manchester City have landed one of the best managers in the game in Pep Guardiola, Sterling will have a teacher like no other when it comes to ironing out the problems in his game and help him fulfil his potential.

With two years of Guardiola’s mentorship under his belt, it is highly likely that Sterling, who has already made 23 first team appearances for the England national team, will be one of the players to watch out for in Russia 2018.

Marcus Rashford
The young prodigy’s elevation to the first team at Manchester United under Louis van Gaal was entirely down to the crisis of resources under the Dutchman following a string of injuries to key players.

However, it is one thing to get an opportunity and yet another to grab it with both hands. And Marcus Rashford has surely grabbed his, with glee.

The forward made his Manchester United first team debut in a Europa League crunch fixture against Danish club FC Midtjylland and grabbed a brace to help his team progress to the last 16 of the competition.

His Premier League debut in week 27 against Arsenal was another fairytale as he grabbed two goals and assisted another to help the Red Devils to a 3-2 win over the Gunners at Old Trafford.

At the end of the Premier League season, Rashford’s 18 first team appearances had yielded eight goals and two assists. In a miserable season, which saw the Red Devils miss out on Champions League qualification, Rashford was one of the saving graces to emerge out of Old Trafford.

He continued his habit of scoring on debuts and grabbed another one on his first international appearance against Australia in a 2-1 at the Stadium of Light on 27th May. He has subsequently been called up to the England national team by Roy Hodgson for the upcoming European Championship in France.

Still only 18, if Jose Mourinho trusts his young lieutenant the way Van Gaal did, England have a potential star in the making for the 2018 World Cup.

Youngsters to look out for at World Cup 2018. Part 5

Harry Kane

The Tottenham Hotspur starlet burst on the scene during the 2014/15 season as he went on to score 31 goals across all competitions and subsequently make his debut for the England national team.

Kane’s 34 matches in the Premier League yielded 21 goals and five assists as the Lilywhites pushed for Champions League qualification. After a splendid opening season, there was the obvious question whether Kane would prove to be a one season wonder and just fizzle away under the weight of expectations or prove himself to be the real deal.

And he has answered those critics in the best way possible: by scoring more goals. The forward continued his heroics in front of the goal and went on to notch 25 strikes from his 38 Premier League appearances. His stellar contributions allowed the north Londoners to mount a serious challenge for a first league title in over 60 years – although it fizzled towards the end.

However, Kane’s 25 strikes ensured that he took home the golden boot for being the top scorer in the English Premier League.

His debut for the Three Lions came in a friendly fixture against Lithuania last year and he marked it with a strike just 80 seconds after coming onto the pitch as a second half substitute for Wayne Rooney.

As England prepare for the upcoming European Championship, Kane is expected to be the leading frontman for his side along with Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy, and it is expected that he will continue his Premier League showing in France.

By the looks of it, England have found a potential star in the making, someone who could be at the peak of his powers in Russia in two years’ time.

 Leroy Sane

The young forward, son of a former Senegal international and a German Olympic gymnast, has been making rapid strides with Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Sane made everyone take notice of his exceptional talent on his Champions League debut, which happened at the Santiago Bernabeu against Spanish giants Real Madrid last year.

Heading into the second leg of the last 16 clash against Real Madrid, Schalke were looking at the exit gates after being 2-0 down from the first leg at home. But they put up a spectacular fight away from home with a young Sane running the show from his position in attacking midfield.

He went on to score his inaugural Champions League goal with a great finish. Although Schalke exited the tournament with a 5-4 aggregate loss to the Spanish giants, Sane had given the world a glimpse of his abundant talent.

In the 2014/15 season, he went on to make 14 first team appearances across all competitions and scored four times. The sale of Julian Draxler to Wolfsburg, combined with Sane’s performances meant that he became a regular fixture for Schalke during the 2015/16 campaign as he appeared in 42 games and was directly involved in 16 goals.

Sane’s talent drew the attention of Germany national team coach Joachim Low as the 2014 World Cup winning manager called him for the national team and subsequently handed the youngster his debut late last year in a friendly against France.

The 20-year-old has made it to the German squad for the upcoming European Championship, and he is expected to one of the biggest talents on show when Germany defend their World Cup in Russia.

Youngsters to look out for at World Cup 2018. Part 4

Raphael Varane

At just 23 years of age, Raphael Varane is already a World Cup old. The centre-back, who famously told Real Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane to call later when the current Los Blancos’ manager dialled him sometime during the 2010/11 campaign – while the youngster was still at Lens – to enquire if he would like to sign for the Santiago Bernabeu outfit as he was in midst of preparation for a school exam, has gone on to become one of the most coveted young defenders in the world.

Varane started his youth career with Hellemmes before continuing his development at lens from 2002 until 2010. Since signing on the dotted line for Real Madrid in 2011, he has gone on to represent Los Blancos in over a 100 games and has already added all possible club trophies available, including a La Liga title and the Champions League in 2014.

He was part of Les Bleus squad during the 2014 World Cup as France were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the eventual world champions Germany. It says something of the youngster’s status in the French national team that he is the youngest to captain the side in its long and chequered history.

Although he has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons, there is no doubt that he is going to be a starter for the France national team whenever fully fit. His immediate concern would be to become a defensive mainstay for Los Blancos for the coming decade.

However, he is expected to be one of the biggest players at the World Cup in Russia in two years’ time.

 Romelu Lukaku

It is hard to believe that Romelu Lukaku is still only 23 years old. The Everton striker signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2011 and has been impressing the world ever since.

As a kid, Lukaku dreamed of emulating his idol Didier Drogba and succeed at Chelsea and, when he signed for the Stamford Bridge outfit it was as if he would realise his dream. However, his west London stint didn’t exactly turn out to his script as after a couple of loan moves, he found the best way to further his career would be to move away from his boyhood club, as he signed for Everton.

Even though Lukaku has turned out for four professional clubs in his still nascent career, the goals have kept coming. In fact, he is so good at finding the back of the net that he ranks fifth in the ranking of most goals scored by players under 23. He is part of an august company: the ones above him are Ronaldo, Raul Gonzalez, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in that order.

Just like Varane, Lukaku has also already featured in a World Cup as Marc Wilmots took him to the 2014 edition in Brazil. However, Lukaku was always a reluctant choice for Wilmots as the Belgian manager would have preferred the then-injured Christian Benteke.

Despite Benteke’s absence, Wilmots didn’t show much faith in Lukaku’s abilities and often preferred Divock Origi over the Evertonian.

Lukaku’s record has seen him being eyed for several European giants and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he is seen playing in the Champions League in the coming season. And that only bodes well for Belgium in two years’ time.