7 future stars to watch out for at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup
4) Andrija Živkovi? – Serbia
Aged just eighteen years, Andrija Živkovi? has already represented his country at senior level, becoming his country’s youngest ever player at the age of seventeen, and is also an established player for his club side, FK Partizan of Belgrade. The left-footed attacking midfielder has been a regular at his club for the past two seasons, having made his debut in 2013 at the age of sixteen.
All this means that, like Julian Brandt, he’s one of the more experienced players at the tournament, and he’ll be expected to consistently impress in order to take his game to the next level. He’s also another one of the talents who’ll have the scouts queueing up to watch his games, and an impressive performance in New Zealand could see a fight for his signature as the 2015/16 season looms.
Possessing great technique and good dribbling ability, Živkovi? is probably best utilised as an inverted winger cutting in from the right onto his left foot. However, as he progresses he could also be used in a central role, either as a number ten or a second striker, and also as a more traditional left winger, working his way into the box via the byline before finding a team-mate or shooting himself.
The possibilities are endless, such is his natural ability, and football fans can expect to see more of the exciting Serbian in the future.
5) Kelechi Iheanacho – Nigeria
Kelechi Iheanacho is a strong, pacy, left-footed forward, who currently resides in Manchester City’s youth ranks. He’s part of a Nigeria side which boasts several promising young stars, and much will be expected of them in what is gearing up to be a competitive tournament. Iheanacho will wear the number 10 shirt, but rather than play from the attacking midfield position his shirt number suggests, he’s most effective playing as a forward along the front line.
Along with striker Isaac Success and winger Moses Simon, the 18-year-old will be hoping to drive his side to the latter stages with plenty of goals as he did in the 2013 U-17 World Cup. It was at this tournament in the UAE, that he won the best player award, as well as contributing to half of his team’s goals, scoring six and assisting seven.
Whilst many players will be looking to impress visiting scouts, the Nigerian will be looking to persuade Manchester City’s staff that he’s worth a place in their first team squad for the 2015/16 season.
6) Gabriel Boschilia – Brazil
Another player looking to build on an impressive performance in the 2013 competition is Brazil’s Gabriel Boschilia. The versatile attacking midfielder plays his club football for São Paulo and has appeared in their first team on numerous occasions since announcing himself at the aforementioned youth tournament.
This Brazil side doesn’t contain as many overhyped wonder kids as previous squads, and the understated billing might suit them as they look to build a functional squad with flair up front.
Busy left-footer Boschilia will be one of the players expected to make things happen, and his direct attacking from midfield could create goalscoring opportunities for himself and his team-mates.
7) Gedion Zelalem – United States
Perhaps the wildcard in this list, Gedion Zelalem might not even make the US side at the start of the tournament, but he’s one of those who could come into his own as the competition progresses and squads are rotated.
Zelalem was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents, moved to the US aged nine, and now plays his club football for the Arsenal youth team in England. Now he’s pledged his international future to the US, the nation’s soccer fans will be hoping he can bring his technical gifts first to the under-20s, and eventually to the senior side.
As well as his good technique, the 18-year-old is tactically good for his age and is good at retaining the ball in midfield areas. He’ll put a foot in if required, but he’s been picked up by a club like Arsenal thanks to his passing ability and intelligence in the centre of the park.