Who are the Golden Boys Featuring in the 2022 Qatar World Cup?
Europe’s top leagues have officially entered into their winter break in preparation for the World Cup in Qatar. The first ever iteration of the tournament to be held in the winter, it is set to be one of the most exciting in recent times. Some of the biggest players in the world will be appearing at the tournament including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
At 37 and 35 years old respectively, this is expected to be the two’s final World Cup tournament. Although being largely recognised by fans and pundits alike as the two best players in the world for the best part of two decades, the World Cup trophy has so far eluded them throughout their careers. They have however carried their nations to the Euros and Copa America.
World Cup betting odds currently has Messi’s Argentina at 5/1 and Ronaldo’s Portugal side at 14/1 to win the tournament this year.
With their international careers soon to come to an end, it will be up to a new generation of talent to claim their mantle. Many of them will be using the World Cup as their stage to cement their name as the next big thing. Let’s take a look at the golden boys who are set to shine at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
At just 19 years of age, England and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham has already broken records. Starting his career at Birmingham, he became their youngest ever first team player when he turned out in the EFL Cup first round at 16 years and 38 days. He then became their youngest ever scorer 27 days later. He is the most expensive 17-year-old in history after signing for Dortmund for £25m following his debut senior season.
This season he became the youngest player to ever captain a Bundesliga side before following that up by becoming the youngest ever Englishman to captain a side in the Champions League and the youngest ever captain to score in a Champions League match. He is the complete midfielder with goalscoring, passing, dribbling and defending ability and with 17 appearances for his nation already, he will likely be Gareth Southgate’s the youngest starter in a hopeful England side.
Another teenager lighting up the Bundesliga is Bayern Munich’s attacking midfielder Jamal Musiala. After spending over 10 years in England, he moved to German giants Bayern Munich at 16, breaking into the first team a year later. On 18 September 2020, Musiala scored his first Bundesliga goal in an 8–0 win over Schalke, to become Bayern’s youngest goalscorer, aged 17 years 205 days. He earnt his first callup to the German national side in 2021 and scored his first goal later that year. A versatile and tricky player, he is just as capable of playing a killer pass as he is dribbling past defenders in one-on-one situations. He is sure to be a key component of Germany’s attacking intent in this tournament.
Pedri became the youngest ever player to represent Spain at the European Championships last season and actually ended up winning the Golden Boy award later that year after carrying the Barcelona and Spain midfield. The 19-year-old’s intelligence on the ball is incredible for his age and he mirrors the kind of role that legendary midfielders Xavi and Iniesta played in during their time at Barca. His ball control, passing and tactical awareness is rare to find in a player of his age and he will once again spearhead La Roja’s midfield in a major international tournament.
Cody Gakpo is arguably the Netherlands’ biggest attacking threat in this tournament, and when you look at his club form you can see why. The winger has nine goals and 12 assists in 14 Eredivisie appearances, plus three goals and two assists in five matches in the Europa League. A pacy and direct attacker, Gakpo stands at 6ft 2in making him more than a handful for defenders. Complete with bags of skill, the Dutchman will be looking to make right on the Netherland’s underperformance in recent years as the return to the biggest tournament in international football for the first time since 2014.
It may be cheating a bit to include Mbappe on this list, but it is hard not to considering his age. The 23-year-old is already one of the best players in the world with many already considering him to be on Ronaldo and Messi’s level. He is the most expensive teenager of all time, signing for Paris Saint-Germain for €145 million plus add-ons in 2018. Pace, skill, goalscoring ability; you name it, he’s got it. He already has one World Cup trophy to his name, wining the tournament with France in 2018 and with Les Bleus amongst the favourites once again, he could add another very soon.