World Cup 2018 – Breakout Stars
Forget Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo – one of the joys of any World Cup is watching a breakout star emerge on the biggest stage of them all.
Here are a few young talents to watch in 2018…
Trezeguet – Egypt
No, not that one.
However, Egyptians are hoping the 23-year-old can have a similar impact at international level to his namesake who helped France to consecutive international titles in 1998 and 2000.
Currently plying his trade in Turkey, Trezeguet impressed in Egypt’s run to the final of the 2017 African Cup of Nations and his performances could be key, if as expected, Mo Salah struggles to return to full fitness.
Hirving Lozano – Mexico
Don’t be surprised if Lozano is one of the names on everyone’s lips this summer – not only due to his supreme talent, but also for his capacity to get himself into trouble. Nicknamed ‘Chucky’, Lozano has made real strides at PSV but his erratic behaviour on the pitch has also brought about comparisons with Luis Suarez.
If he can even come close to matching the natural talent of the bad boy of Uruguayan football, this could be a tournament to remember for Mexico.
Rodrigo Bentancur – Uruguay
A player who physically looks far older than his 20 years, the 6ft 2in Uruguayan midfielder has enjoyed a breakout season with Juventus and will have a big role to play in getting the most out of his national side’s glut of attacking talent.
His versatility is another huge asset, giving the Uruguayans plenty of options in terms of their shape as they look to justify their position as many pundits’ dark horses.
Hakim Ziyech – Morocco
Morocco find themselves in one of the toughest groups of the whole tournament, and their chances of ousting Spain or Portugal to advance to the knockout stages may well rest with the form of the lively Ziyech. He’s been in rampant form for his national side, scoring a goal every other game.
Can he help upset the applecart in Group B?
Renato Tapia – Peru
As with Betancur, Tapia is another dream pick for any international manager, with the ability to play any number of roles for his national side.
The 22-year-old, currently playing for Feyenoord, primarily plays in midfield but can revert to centre back or right back. With Peru in a very tricky group, that adaptability may make all the difference between a win, draw or narrow defeat as the clock ticks down in the group games.
Bruno Fernandes – Portugal
The electrifying Portuguese playmaker now has another reason to shine in this year’s World Cup – to put himself in the shop window. Fernandes has asked to terminate his contract at Sporting Lisbon alongside several of his teammates following alleged fan intimidation.
Whilst most eyes will be seeing if Cristiano Ronaldo can drag his nation to glory, at 23 this could be Fernandes’ moment to become his heir apparent. After 11 goals in 33 games for Sporting last season, he’s surely destined for a lucrative move this summer.