As Nigeria’s Flying Eagles take on Qatar this Friday on Match Day 2 of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, midfielder, Tom Dele-Bashiru has been named by FIFA among the 10 stars the world should watch out for.
The U-20 tournament has always been a breeding ground of stars having unveiled players like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero among others.
If fielded, Dele-Bashiru will be having possibly his first competitive outing with the Flying Eagles having being plying his trade abroad.
He was born in Manchester and represented England’s U-16s but will be pulling the strings for the Flying Eagles at Poland 2019.
He earned his first appearance for Manchester City during a league cup match against Leicester City in 2017.
Another player in the expected emerging stars is President George Weah’s son, Timothy who is featuring for the US as an attacker.
Loaned to Celtic by Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of the year, the 19-year-old became a super-sub for the Scottish Premiership winners, scoring three times and adding an assist in 11 league appearances. His father won the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year.
Other players named by FIFA as potential world stars include Poland’s goalkeeper, Radoslaw Majecki. He was however at the receiving end in one of Thursday’s opening matches, conceding two goals in the 0-2 loss to Colombia.
He reportedly won the starting job with Polish giants Legia Warsaw in October 2018 and didn’t look back. The 19-year-old kept seven clean sheets and allowed only 12 goals in 14 league appearances. He is anchoring the hosts at Poland 2019.
Next is Argentina’s defender, Nehuen Perez. He was paramount in central defence as Argentina’s captain during their second-place finish at the South American U-20 Championship. He caught the eye of Atletico Madrid, who signed the 18-year-old in February 2019.
Also profiled is French defender, Dan-Axel Zagadou. He will turn 20 years old during Poland 2019, and the fearless centre-back already cuts an imposing figure at 6ft 5ins (1.96m).
Acquired by Borussia Dortmund from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, Zagadou made 17 appearances and scored twice in the 2018/19 Bundesliga. He has represented France at every youth level from the U-16s.
Eyes will also be on Diego Lainez, a midfielder with Mexico. He’s only 18 years old, but the gifted attacking midfielder has already won four caps for Mexico’s senior team.
Lainez joined Spain’s Real Betis in January 2019 and made 16 appearances for the club this past season. He played every minute of Mexico’s four matches at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India in 2017. He is figured to be the key man in Mexico’s attack at Poland 2019.
Lee Kangin, a midfielder with Korea Republic is also in the frame. Valencia swooped in for Lee early, as the Incheon-born attacking midfielder joined the Spanish side’s youth set-up in 2011.
His maturation at the club culminated with his senior debut in January 2019. For country, Lee received his first senior call-up in March 2019.
Moises Ramirez, the Ecuadorian goalkeeper is also in focus. He was in goal when Ecuador won their first ever South American U-20 Championship in 2019.
He kept five clean sheets in the tournament, which included a 298-minute streak without conceding to close it out. According to head coach Jorge Celico, “He may become of one the greatest in Ecuador’s history.”
Saudi Arabia’s midfielder, Turki Al-Ammar is another player to watch out for. He was recognised as player of the tournament at the AFC U-19 Asia Cup and earned similar acclaim competing for Al Shabab in the Saudi top flight this past season. Expect him to be the catalyst for Saudi Arabia’s attack in Poland.
Last but not the least is Erling Haland of Norway. The 6ft 3ins (1.91m) 18-year-old powered his country through the UEFA U-19 European Championship qualifiers, netting a hat-trick against Scotland to help Norway top their group and eventually become the final qualifiers from Europe for Poland 2019. He recently completed a moved to Red Bull Salzburg.