This year’s world cup is going to be different for several reasons. First of all it is being held in one of the last countries on earth you would have associated with football before the furore surrounding the draw. Secondly, it is taking place in eight brand-new, purpose-built stadiums all within a stone’s throw of each other with no real traditional infrastructure to speak of around them.
Thirdly, the tournament – the greatest sporting event on the global calendar – is taking place in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter. November and December is normally the time of year when managers are complaining about fixture congestion but this year they will be sat at home hoping that their players have an early exit and remain injury free. Two things however that will not be any different are the fact that it will be a competition between the best players and nations on the planet, and that there is no better place to make your name as a young player. Here we look at five potential future stars who could burst onto the world scene in Qatar 2022.
Phil Foden – England
This may be a strange choice considering he has played such a pivotal role in Manchester City’s season, and indeed England’s qualifying campaign. The Euros in 2020 was the tournament heralded as the one in which he would truly make his mark on the international scene. Several reasons including tactics, a foot injury and the fact that Gareth Southgate is hardly short of options, meant Foden was not able to make the impact he had hoped.
Qatar however seems like it really is set up for the attacking midfielder. He has been a regular starter at both club and international level and has the ability to turn a game in an instant, something invaluable at the highest level. He is not just about flair and outrageous skill, Foden also works his socks off for his team, something that both Guardiola and Southgate insist on.
Alongside Foden in the England squad and perhaps even the team there are a handful of other young players who will also be looking at the tournament to really make their name. These include Jadon Sancho who’s highly anticipated move to Manchester United hasn’t worked out like either party would have wished, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka.
Matias Arezo – Uruguay
The fellow countryman of Luis Suarez has some big shoes to fill, but “the buffalo” looks like he has all the attributes to do just that. Strong, powerful and with the handy of knack of being able to regularly find the back of the net, Qatar could be the tournament he kicks on, despite sharing the group with some of the game’s biggest stars. Currently plying his trade at Granada it is likely that with a good tournament, he will be playing at one of the European giants come next summer.
Aurélien Tchouaméni – France
When you are considered one of the best players in a midfield that includes Pogba and Kante, it says all you need to know about Tchouaméni. Since moving to Monaco, he has established himself as one of the best midfielders if not players, in the league. His tackling is superb, and whenever he breaks up play and wins the ball back, his first thought is always to get the ball moving up the field. France are likely to be there or thereabouts in the final stages in Qatar, and do not be surprised if Tchouaméni is at the front and centre.
Mohammed Daramy – Denmark
This skillful and pacey winger is a delight to watch and is never scared to run at and take on defenders. At 20, Daramy has established himself at Ajax, and the only problem as to how much of a mark he is able to make in Qatar is how far Denmark progress in the tournament.
Ansu Fati – Spain
Barcelona’s number 10 may still only be 18, but his career has already had its fair share of ups and downs. Now back after a serious injury, he has perhaps benefitted from Barcelona’s financial problems, being given games he more than likely would not have been in normal times. He has taken that opportunity and will be looking at this world cup to really cement his place in Enrique’s team.