Pulisic, Adli and 15 new stars to watch out for at 2022 World Cup

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The dust has settled on the 2018 blockbuster in Russia, so Goal takes a look at who could light up the next tournament in Qatar

France are the 2018 world champions, while Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe have been crowned the best player and best young star of the World Cup in Russia. But who will earn the acclaim when the jamboree moves on to Qatar four years from now?

Many of the nations who took part this year have further talents to get excited about seeing in the years to come, while there are plenty coming through with those countries who didn't make it to Russia.

So here Goal looks at 15 players who could well make a lasting first appearance at a World Cup finals tournament at the next event in 2022.

  1. Yacine Adli (France)

    If you thought 2018 winners France were loaded with talent, the bad news for the rest of the world is that there are more high-calibre players to come in four years’ time.

    Dynamic midfielder Yacine Adli is one such star of the future, having already made his Ligue 1 debut in the final game of Paris Saint-Germain’s 2017-18 season.

    New Arsenal boss Unai Emery had been hopeful of taking Adli with him to north London but the 17-year-old has belief in his ability to break through at the Parc des Princes.

  2. Houssem Aouar (France)

    With Liverpool and Barcelona among those said to be tracking his progress, it is fair to say that Houssem Aouar is already making a name for himself in the European game.

    A regular starter for Lyon last season when still only 19, the midfielder has the versatility to potentially make him a key member of the France squad heading to Qatar to defend their title.

    At home in the centre of midfield, he can also fill the No.10 slot or play off the wing.

  3. Santiago Ascacibar (Argentina)

    One of the most glaring elements of Argentina’s failure to recreate their run of 2014 with another final appearance in Russia was Javier Mascherano’s decline in the centre of midfield.

    But now that the former Barcelona man has announced his international retirement, the new Albiceleste coach could look to build his side around Stuttgart’s Santiago Ascacibar instead.

    The 21-year-old has the quality and discipline to carry out the role at the base of the midfield, which would allow Argentina to regain some control in the engine room.

  4. Josip Brekalo (Croatia)

    For some, Croatia’s run to the World Cup final is the peak of their possibilities. But with players of the quality of Josip Brekalo still to break in to the senior side, there is plenty of hope for the future.

    The 20-year-old attacker spent 2017 with Stuttgart and was such a success that Wolfsburg recalled him early from his loan spell in January of this year.

    With the ability to play anywhere across the attacking midfield line, Brekalo offers the kind of versatility that national coaches love in their squads.

  5. Ritsu Doan (Japan)

    Having first made a name for himself in his home country with Gamba Osaka, Ritsu Doan so impressed in a one-season loan deal with Groningen that the Dutch club recently snapped up their option to keep him on a permanent three-year contract.

    The direct, two-footed attacking midfielder is seen as one of the great hopes for the next generation of Japanese football at the age of 20, with the likes of Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki all nearing the end of their international careers.

  6. Kai Havertz (Germany)

    After their shambolic early exit in 2018, Germany have far more than just Leroy Sane to turn to as they look to build towards the next World Cup, and Kai Havertz is at the centre of the pack among those jostling to gain a first senior call-up.

    The 19-year-old has already played more than 60 games for Bayer Leverkusen, after becoming the club’s youngest ever Bundesliga debutant when only 17 years and 126 days old.

    With a wand of a left foot, Havertz can attack from all angles and is a set-piece specialist, as well as being a real danger shooting from distance in open play.

  7. Diego Lainez (Mexico)

    Only just 18 but already a regular for more than a year with Club America, Diego Lainez heads an extremely talented pool of players who will be seeking to end Mexico’s curse of the ‘quinto partido’.

    The winger drives at opponents fearlessly and also has the ability with the ball at his feet to work his way out of tight positions. With deceptive upper-body strength, he is also able to handle himself well against larger markers.

    So long as Mexico make it to Qatar, Lainez ought to be an automatic choice in their side.

  8. Kangin Lee (Korea Rep)

    A star in Spain with Valencia’s second-string side, Kangin Lee has fast become one of the most talked-about young players in his native South Korea.

    Mainly an attacking midfielder but with the quality to also occupy the wing, the 17-year-old has a majestic left foot which he uses to dribble past players or send unstoppable shots beyond goalkeepers.

    His set-piece delivery is as good as any in the youth game today and if he develops as expected over the next four years, he should be a stand-out for the Korean side in Qatar.

  9. Malcom (Brazil)

    Such is the competition for places in the Brazil national side, Malcom has still to make his Selecao bow.

    However, should he continue on his current trajectory, the Bordeaux star should be playing at a high enough level of the club game in four years’ time to make him a regular pick in the Brazil squad.

    With pace, touch, composure and confidence, the 21-year-old has become one of the most sought-after talents in the world game playing largely as a winger in Ligue 1. He is surely destined to play a big part in Brazil’s push for a sixth title in 2022.

  10. Juan Miranda (Spain)

    It is not normally left-backs who stand out playing for Barcelona and Spain, but 18-year-old Miranda looks a shoo-in to succeed in breaking into both club and national first-team squads over the years to come.

    Standing over six feet tall (1.8 metres) and with a galloping running style, Miranda is reminiscent of former World Cup winner Fabio Grosso when attacking down the left side.

    And that is something he does a lot of, with his defensive presence backed up with a real thirst for getting forward when the opportunity presents itself.

  11. Mason Mount (England)

    To many, the sight of a young Chelsea player heading out on loan would be enough to write off his hopes of ever breaking into the senior side at Stamford Bridge. But in Mason Mount the Blues have a very different talent on their hands.

    Some have given him the moniker of ‘the next Frank Lampard’ and his form on loan with Vitesse over the last 12 months has featured many of the traits of the former England midfielder.

    And having seen Gareth Southgate call upon plenty of players with unfamiliar routes to the top, there is every chance Mount will be a key England star by 2022 regardless of his Chelsea destiny.

  12. Kelechi Nwakali (Nigeria)

    Another to have been sent out for experience by an English Premier League side, Kelechi Nwakali is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Alex Iwobi by breaking into the Arsenal squad and starring at a World Cup for Nigeria.

    A huge stride from the centre of midfield and a deadly right foot are among the weapons available to the 20-year-old, and he has built quite the reputation for himself on loan spells with Maastricht and VVV in the Netherlands.

    Tipped with another loan spell at a higher level in 2018-19, Nwakali is likely to get a chance in Unai Emery’s side sooner rather than later.

  13. Christian Pulisic (USA)

    Already a star thanks to his fearless attacking play with Borussia Dortmund and the USA, Christian Pulisic will be the States’ go-to man if they atone for their 2018 qualifying misery by making it to Qatar in four years’ time.

    The 19-year-old’s mesmeric footwork has helped to make him one of the outstanding young stars in the Bundesliga, becoming the youngest foreign goal-scorer in the league’s history along the way.

    With the ability to play as a wide attacker as well as his more natural role in the middle of the pitch, the USMNT might well be built around him in 2022.

  14. Xavi Simons (Netherlands)

    He may have only just turned 15 years old but it is not impossible that the gem of Barcelona’s La Masia will already be a star of the Netherlands senior side by November 2022.

    The diminutive midfielder has wonderful ability on the ball and the vision to make the most of it. Always looking for a team-mate in space for the quick pass, he can also glide past opponents with ease.

    Rarely does the ball escape his feet by more than a couple of metres when he is heading forward in possession, and so long as the Dutch return to the showpiece in Qatar, he is a decent shout to be a part of their journey.

  15. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Ukraine)

    Another whose participation will be dependent on his country making a better fist of qualification next time around, Oleksandr Zinchenko has already done enough to convince Pep Guardiola of his talent.

    The Manchester City wing-back made 14 appearances in his breakout season at the Etihad Stadium and is tipped for great things in the future.

    Playing on the left side of City’s back four, the Ukrainian has shown superb defensive anticipation but he is most at home when attacking with the ball at his feet.

    With 17 Ukraine caps already to his name, he should be a national team fixture for years to come.