Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham among the young guns who can shine at Qatar World Cup


    Young legends
    Time for new legends, like Vinicius Junior, Jamal Musiala and Pedri (Picture: ANP/Thomas Eisenhuth/GES Sportfoto/Getty Images/Eric Alonso/Metro.co.uk)

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will join the select band of players to appear at five World Cup finals in Qatar, but the days of the two modern superstars dominating large parts of every preview guide are in the past.

    While Qatar 2022 offers Ronaldo and, more realistically, Messi one final shot at World Cup glory, a new generation of talent is waiting in the wings ready to seize the limelight.

    Still only 23 but already a World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe is best placed to inherit the mantle of the world’s biggest name but there are a host of younger men snapping at his heels for who this World Cup offers a golden chance to burnish their reputations.

    At 22, Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior is a two-time LaLiga champion and Champions League winner preparing for his first World Cup. Having blossomed in the spotlight of the Bernabeu, the quicksilver forward could be the star attraction in a Brazil team brimming with talent.

    Spain midfielder Pedri turns 20 in the tournament’s first week but is already the beating heart of La Roja, the latest in a storied line of diminutive Barcelona schemers who gave notice of his talent and maturity at last year’s European Championship.

    Spain v Switzerland: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2
    Pedri has already become the beating heart of La Roja (Picture: Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
    Italy v England: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3
    Can Jude Bellingham be the world-class midfielder England have missed for so long (Picture: Chris Ricco – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

    Jude Bellingham is another teenage midfielder showing age is no impediment. Already capped 17 times by England, this World Cup is set to be the stage on which the Borussia Dortmund starlet becomes one of the Three Lions’ central figures.

    Germany have their own 19-year-old prodigy with Jamal Musiala – who played with Bellingham at England youth level – the most exciting attacking talent to emerge from Bayern Munich in a generation. Born in Stuttgart but schooled in New Malden, Musiala pledged his allegiance to Germany and is already established as Die Mannschaft’s creative force.

    Darwin Nunez has had to bide his time to break into Liverpool’s talented frontline and the 23-year-old faces a similar battle at international level with 35-year-olds Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani still central to Uruguay’s plans. But the 23-year-old could be a decent outside bet to win the Golden Boot.

    And what of Argentina and Portugal? There will never be another Messi or Ronaldo but Lautaro Martinez – with 21 international goals at better than a goal every other game – and Rafeal Leao, Serie A MVP last year, show there is life after the legendary duo.

    MORE : France World Cup guide: Can Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema avoid champions curse?

    MORE : Bruno Guimaraes and Alex Telles suffer injury scares in Brazil training ahead of World Cup

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