The 2018 World Cup is just days away, and while the world sits and dreams about all the star-studded matchups we thought it would be a good idea to take stock of the youth in this year’s tournament.
There is a stunning amount of young talent headed to the World Cup. We’re going to count down the top 10 young players who will be on hand in Russia. Many of these guys will seriously elevate their status in international football with their performances.
To be considered, a player had to be 22 or younger, though to be eligible to win FIFA’s Best Young Player award you have to be 21 or younger. We decided to be more forgiving.
So here is our ranking of the 10 best young players in the 2018 World Cup.
10. Trent Alexander-Arnold, England
England is bringing a young team to Russia and one of the break-out players from the 2017-18 Premier League season should be the team’s starter at right back. Trent Alexander-Arnold may be just 19 years old, but he made 33 total starts for Liverpool this year, including a solid turn in the team’s Champions League Final loss.
Alexander-Arnold will make his senior national team debut in a friendly against Costa Rica on Thursday but he is already England’s best option at right back. He’s a sound, steady defender and can get up the field quickly on the counterattack. He truly is a prize and should shine on the biggest stage of them all this summer.
9. Cristian Pavón, Argentina
Cristian Pavón is poised to start for Argentina alongside Lionel Messi in the midfield. A 22-year-old in his first World Cup starting for a pre-tournament favorite next to possibly the best soccer player of all-time? No pressure, kid.
In truth, it doesn’t seem like much bothers Pavón, so I expect him to perform well. He’s a hair under 5’6″ but plays like the energizer bunny. He has made just five appearances for his national team but Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has indicated he’s already one of the most important players on the squad.
Quick, fast, smart and savvy, the Boca Juniors player could be inundated with European offers after his stint in Russia. A month of setting the table for the likes of Messi, Sergio Agüero and Angel Di María will certainly get him noticed.