The ongoing Under-20 World Cup might not boast the big names of world football, but that certainly doesn't mean that there's a shortage of talent existent.
And with the 2014 World Cup just around the corner, there's a host of players at this year's tournament that will no doubt leave their mark on international football's greatest prize in Brazil next year.
Read on to see some of the big names to not only watch at the Under-20 World Cup this year, but also to keep an eye on at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as well.
Obviously there are a number of players who could have made this list, and it's important to note that these are not the only seven potential 2014 World Cup stars.
Here's some who missed the cut, but are worthy honorable mentions.
- Bruma (Portugal)
- Lucas Digne (France)
- Juan Quintero (Colombia)
- Danny De Silva (Australia)
- Luis Gil (United States)
- Abduljeleel Ajagun (Nigeria)
We kick off this list with French striker Yaya Sanogo, who has started the tournament incredibly strong—netting two goals in 80-odd minutes for France in their opening game.
The 20-year-old Auxerre striker is also reportedly close to signing a deal with Arsenal for next season according to The Sun. Having struggled with injuries throughout his short career so far, Sanogo does have some red flags surrounding him at the moment, but he also has tremendous upside given his potential.
Sanogo's big frame and physical presence allows him to play as a target man at the top of the attack, but he also possesses great possession and creative skills as well that allow him to thrive as a No. 10 as well as the man in front. Which, given the depth of talent already existent in the French national team, could be a huge asset for the European powerhouse to utilize in Brazil next year.
France have a lot of depth, and it stands to reason that Sanogo won't find himself with a lot of game time at the tournament next year. But should he get a chance, he's definitely a player worth watching out for—especially if Arsenal teammate Olivier Giroud is ahead of him in the attack.
Much like Sanogo, Liverpool midfielder Suso will seemingly have a tough time ahead of him trying to find a place at the 2014 World Cup. Spain's midfield is the best in international football and La Roja have some many options at their disposal—meaning that it's unlikely Suso will see a great deal of game time.
But again, should he get the chance, he's definitely a player to watch out for.
The 19-year-old was superb for Liverpool in the Europa League this season—averaging two shots and 2.3 successful dribbles per game. He created an average of 1.3 goal-scoring opportunities for others in his three games and finished the tournament with an 85 percent pass completion.
With Stewart Downing struggling on the left wing, Suso will look to secure a permanent spot in the Reds lineup next season. According to Marca (h/t Goal), the Spaniard is keen to stay and fight for his place at Merseyside as he also tries to secure a place in Spain's 2014 World Cup team.
Vicente Del Bosque will definitely be keeping an eye on Suso this year.
Liverpool fans will no doubt remember the name Marco Bueno, who came very close to joining the club two years ago according to The Daily Mirror. He was dubbed as the "Mexican wonderkid" then, and while some the hype might have died down on Bueno, there's no doubting that he's still a very talented footballer.
Bueno was incredible at the Under-17 World Cup several years back when he led Mexico to the title, with his blend of pace and skill mesmerizing opposing defenders to no end.
And with those skills still very much in his repertoire, Bueno could certainly be a big part of Mexico's World Cup squad (and perhaps even the starting team).
Mexico have been poor throughout their World Cup qualifying campaign so far, and while they should still make it to Brazil, it's clear that Javier Hernandez definitely needs some assistance at the top of the attack—a task for which Bueno seems like the perfect man.
There were few bright sparks for England at the recent Under-21 European Championships, but one of them was definitely Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
What's more, he's continuing that form at the Under-20 World Cup as well.
The midfielder has been tremendous in both attack and defense so far and his never-say-die attitude is certainly winning over a number of fans. His ability to continually pressure defenders and create chances seemingly out of nothing has shown to be huge for England in various competitions this year, and could well be a big part of their game plan come the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
With a slew of failures behind them, England will once again be under pressure to get their squad right—and that could lead to the surprise selection of some players. And if that's the case, Ward-Prowse (who is certainly capable of a nice goal or two) could well come into the equation.
Having built a great reputation for Juventus in both Serie A and the UEFA Champions League this year, midfielder Paul Pogba certainly won't be flying under any radars heading into the 2014 World Cup.
However, that doesn't make him any less of a player to watch.
Pogba is already on the cusp of a permanent place in the French national side with his dogged determination and tackling ability a very helpful asset to have.
The youngster still needs to work on his temperament (having been sent off in some very big games this year), and he also has a tendency to turn the ball over a lot—something that must be worked on before the World Cup. But should he fix those and look for the smarter option going forward, Pogba has all the skills to be one of the most dynamic midfielders in Brazil next year.
His long-range shooting too is also quite spectacular to watch.
With several big names including Luka Modric dominating their midfield, Croatia have the potential to make some serious noise at the 2014 World Cup. They're currently second in Group A behind Belgium and primed for a strong tournament—especially if some of their youngsters really start to get going.
One definite danger player to watch is Inter Milan forward Marko Livaja, who has been mightily impressive in the group stage of the under-20 tournament so far.
Livaja netted four goals for Inter in the Europa League last season in just six games, and coupled with his defensive strengths, has all the makings of an elite forward.
He'll likely remain at Atalanta next season, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing for him, with the 19-year-old more likely to find game time on loan than he would with Inter Milan. And that exposure, in turn, could lead to a starting spot in the Croatian World Cup team somewhere down the track.
Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Last but not least is Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez.
The 19-year-old star signed for Manchester United over the summer transfer window last year before eventually going on loan to Wigan Athletic over the January window. There he picked up an FA Cup medal and showcased some of the skills that have made him a hero to the Chilean national side—starting with his incredible performance with the under-17 national side in 2011.
Since then, Henriquez has struggled for opportunities in both domestic and international competitions, but you'd have to think he's a real chance at the 2014 World Cup.
Chile have scored the second most goals in CONMEBOL qualifying this year and should be good for a spot in Brazil next year. If that happens, they'll likely try and continue their attacking dominance, and that should (in turn) lead to plenty of opportunities for the Manchester United man.
He'll likely go out on loan this year to try and gain further experience—something that could well set up the striker for a dominant showing at the 2014 World Cup.
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