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World Cup Brazil 2014: Unheralded Stars Destined to Emerge at Tournament

ATHENS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 06:  Kostas Mitroglou of Greece in action during the International Friendly match between Greece and Switzerland at Karaiskakis Stadium on February 6, 2013 in Athens, Greece.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2013

Aside from being the greatest sporting event in the world, the World Cup is also a proving ground for emerging talent across the globe.

Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Thomas Muller, Marc Overmars, Michael Owen and Robert Prosinecki have all taken home the Young Player of the World Cup and become some of the best players of their respective decades.

The 2014 World Cup will be no different. Plenty of young players will be looking to build their legacies in Brazil and possibly earn big-money transfers.

Among the players looking to make an impact next summer, these three stand out.

 

Daley Blind, Netherlands

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 01:  Daley Blind of Ajax is tackled by Nigel De Jong of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Ajax Amsterdam and AC Milan at Amsterdam Arena on October 1, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo b
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Unlike Bert van Marwijk, Louis van Gaal hasn't been afraid to shake things up and bring some of the younger players through. It was a major statement when he named Kevin Strootman the captain ahead of a qualifier against Andorra.

Looking at this Dutch squad, you wonder whether players like Adam Maher, Tonny Vilhena, Jordy Clasie, Ola John, Georginio Wijnaldum and Bruno Martins Indi will have a chance to shine. Coach van Gaal hasn't completely abandoned the core of players that got Holland to the World Cup final in 2010.

Where the manager will be forced to rely on youth is on the back line. One of those younger players will be Daley Blind.

The 23-year-old left-back is very good going forward, but he's not quite the liability that Jetro Willems is at the back. Frank de Boer has also been using Blind in midfield, so that gives van Gaal some tactical flexibility.

 

Kostas Mitroglou, Greece

ATHENS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17:  Kostas Mitroglou of Olympiacos FC in action during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Olympiacos FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC held on September 17, 2013 at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, Greec
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Kostas Mitroglou is right on the fringe of being a household name among football fans. He lost whatever anonymity he had left after he scored three goals across the two playoff legs against Romania.

Still playing at Olympiacos, the 25-year-old forward could turn a strong World Cup into a big move abroad to major European power. Clubs regularly spend large amounts on attackers coming off international tournaments. Mitroglou could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this trend.

He could also propel Greece through to the knockout stages. There's no doubting the Greeks' defensive resolve. However, scoring goals can be a problem, so having Mitroglou on form could mean the difference between an early exit and a deep run.

 

Christian Atsu, Ghana

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 10:  Christian Atsu of Ghana in action during the international friendly match between Japan and Ghana at International Stadium Yokohama on September 10, 2013 in Yokohama, Japan.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Since moving to Chelsea, Christian Atsu has flown way under the radar. He's gone on loan to Vitesse Arnhem, where he's had one goal and one assist in seven Eredivisie appearances.

It's easy to forget just how skilled Atsu is, though. It was surprising that Porto was able to let him slip through the cracks without turning him into a star and making a huge profit on him as they've done with so many other players.

The World Cup will be a great reminder of Atsu's ability. The 21-year-old should continue to be a part of Akwasi Appiah's side.

Atsu is a tricky left winger with a lot of pace. He's just the kind of player that will grab plenty of attention in Brazil.

 

Follow @JosephZucker on Twitter.

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