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Doha (AFP) – They are in their twenties, they don’t yet have the fame of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but they hope to walk at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappé, world champion in 2018 at just 19 years old.
From Jamal Musiala for Germany, to Pedri and Gavi for Spain, through Jude Bellingham for England and Aurélien Tchouaméni for France, a brief overview of the young talents that will be born during the four weeks of the Qatari competition.
. Musiala, the art of small spaces
At just 19, Jamal Musiala never ceases to amaze with Bayern Munich in the German league.
The most prolific player in Monaco’s plethora of players – nine goals and six assists in the Bundesliga, a little more discreet in the Champions League – the 19-capped international has an almost guaranteed place in Hansi Flick’s starting line-up.
His foot-passing and relentless changes of direction in the small playing space regularly get Munich fans to their feet and offer the Mannschaft coach a golden solution.
But Musiala won’t be the youngest player in the German selection since Flick kept Youssoufa Moukoko, who turns 18 on Sunday. The Dortmund centre-forward has established himself at the club, and can thus become the youngest German to play in a World Cup.
. Bellingham, increasingly offensive
Jude Bellingham, 19, is one of Musiala’s close friends, both of whom passed England’s youth selections before the Stuttgart native returned to Germany. But Bellingham continued his progression with the Three Lions, to the point where he was one of manager Gareth Southgate’s essential players.
In the club with Borussia Dortmund, he made Erling Haaland somewhat forgotten, in a position certainly much lower than that occupied by the Norwegian. His coach praises his offensive involvement.
A player sometimes on the brink of commitment, he finds himself in Phil Foden’s situation at the Euro 18 months ago, a great hope for the English selection which has been chasing an important title since 1966 and which had come a long way in the continental tournament in the summer of 2021.
. Pedri and Gavi, the Spanish croquettes
Departing for Qatar, Luis Enrique retained a new generation of talent, whose two headliners are Pedri, who will celebrate his 20th birthday on November 25, and Gavi, 18, both nurtured for several seasons at La Masia (downtown training session) of FC Barcelona.
In 2018 Kylian Mbappé inaugurated the Kopa Trophy, an award given to the best under-21 player, won by Pedri in 2021 and Gavi in 2022, beating Bellingham (second in 2021 and fourth in 2022) and Musiala (third both years) each time.
The parallels between the two key elements of Spain’s golden generation of 2010, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi, and the two new nuggets are legion, from the Catalan training to the physical resemblance, to the symbolism of the shirt number, Pedri wears the No.8 de la Roja, the same as Iniesta, idol of both players.
. Tchouaméni, medium stabilizer
Like Gavi and Pedri at Barça, Aurélien Tchouaméni started at 22 with Real Madrid, who arrived this summer from Monaco, the ideal replacement for the Brazilian Casemiro who moved to Manchester United.
With N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba injured, the “Machine” should feature in France’s starting XI in midfield, alongside Adrien Rabiot and possibly Eduardo Camavinga.
“He plays with a lot of personality on and off the ball, defends very well and is comfortable in midfield,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti complimented his new player, trained in Bordeaux.
© 2022 AFP