13 Under-21 stars set to light up the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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Jude Bellingham celebrates after scoring for Borussia Dortmund. October 2021.

The 2021-22 season is drawing to a close and excitement is beginning to build for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Though this year’s tournament won’t take place in the summer, the countdown has well and truly started.

With only a few months to go until another highly-anticipated World Cup, we’ve taken a look at some of the youngsters set to shine on the biggest stage.

Jude Bellingham – England

Bellingham has been a wonderkid for so long it’s a wonder he’s still a kid. But that he is, a mere 18 years old with stacks of potential.

Manchester City and Liverpool have been linked incessantly with the teenager, who’s enjoyed another strong season with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

He could make the move to the Premier League this summer, a few months before the World Cup. Regardless of which club he’s playing for, though, expect Bellingham to be involved for England, even if he doesn’t start every match.

Eduardo Camavinga – France

If you’re at Real Madrid at 19 and cost €40million you’re doing pretty well.

That’s very much the case for Camavinga, who is one of European football’s brightest prospects and has been for some time.

Carlo Ancelotti has eased the young France international into life at Real Madrid, understandably, but there should be big things to come. Keep an eye on him in Qatar.

Ryan Gravenberch – Netherlands

Gravenberch has been so impressive and so instrumental for Ajax of late that Erik ten Hag seemed hopeful of bringing him along to Manchester United in the summer.

Instead, Bayern Munich are believed to be leading the race to sign the highly-rated midfielder.

“Although he is very young, he is already a great player,” said former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam of Gravenberch.

“He has good running, remarkable technical skills and is good at passing. In England, they would call him a box to box player.”

The 20-year-old already has 10 caps for the Netherlands, so he’ll hope to play a big part for Louis van Gaal’s team at the World Cup.

Antony – Brazil

There’s only one player outside of Europe’s big five leagues worth more money than Brazilian winger Antony. This lad’s good…

Ajax's Antony celebrates after scoring in the Champions League group stage. Johan Cruijff ArenA, December 2021.

READ: The top 10 most valuable players outside Europe’s big five leagues

Nuno Mendes – Portugal

One of a host of talented young players to emerge recently at Sporting, Mendes has spent this season on loan at Paris Saint-Germain.

The Ligue 1 champions have an option to buy the 19-year-old left-back, who is certainly in demand at the moment.

With 13 Portugal caps to his name already, Mendes could be a key player for Fernando Santos’ side in Qatar.

Pedri – Spain

Xavi has insisted Barcelona are not dependent on Pedri, but his hamstring injury last month came as a real blow.

The 19-year-old midfielder, whose importance in the centre of the pitch is beginning to earn him comparisons with Xavi, is without question one of the most gifted young footballers on the planet.

“Look, he’s an extraordinary player. Don’t skimp on the praise for him,” Xavi said of Pedri, already a regular for Spain.

“He’s a player that excites me and one that can make a difference.”

He impressed at the Euros last summer and we can’t wait to see how we does at the World Cup.

Matias Arezo – Uruguay

Predictably, Arezo has been dubbed ‘the new Luis Suarez’, because he’s a striker from Uruguay and breaking through at a time when the aforementioned No.9 is on the decline.

He is certainly a talent though and his record of 37 goals in 91 appearances for River Plate has earned him a move to La Liga side Granada.

Uruguay will hope his development continues in the lead up to the World Cup.

Charles De Ketelaere – Belgium

Breaking into the Belgium setup during what has become known as the country’s golden generation is no mean feat. But De Ketelaere has managed it, earning six caps by the age of 21.

The forward’s form for Club Brugge has led to interest from the likes of Arsenal and Leicester and a strong performance at the World Cup could well be the catalyst for a move to the Premier League.

A tally of 17 goals in all competitions this season has got people talking about De Ketelaere.

Jamal Musiala – Germany

Musiala has been a revelation for Bayern Munich this season.

The 19-year-old doesn’t start every week – understandably given the strength of Julian Nagelsmann’s squad – but he has established himself as an important player, largely because of his versatility.

He has featured all over the midfield, registering five goals and five assists in 30 Bundesliga appearances in 2021-22.

And, justifiably so, he fancies his chances of being involved for Germany at the World Cup.

“I believe in myself! But it doesn’t matter whether I’m in the starting XI or a sub, I want to be ready and help the team. I want to help us get far,” Musiala said.

With former Bayern boss Hansi Flick now in charge of the national team, it could be a big tournament for Musiala.

Luka Sucic – Croatia

A midfielder with a real eye for goal, Sucic has netted 11 times in all competitions this season for Red Bull Salzburg.

His impressive performances have led to rumours of interest from Liverpool, and he’s likely to be a key figure for a Croatia side going through something of a rebuilding process at the World Cup.

Ricardo Pepi – USA

Much was expected of Pepi when he signed for German side Augsburg in a $20million deal from FC Dallas in January 2022.

The 19-year-old striker had been flying in MLS, but there’s a little concern that he’s failed to score in 11 Bundesliga appearances since his move to Europe.

Still, Pepi is a player with genuine potential and USA’s hopes in Qatar could well depend on him finding his feet at Augsburg.

Mohamed Daramy – Denmark

It’s been a promising first year at Ajax for Daramy, a 20-year-old winger signed from FC Copenhagen last summer.

He began the season with Jong Ajax, but earned a promotion to the first team and has since made a handful of appearances under Ten Hag. Daramy also made his first of four appearances for Denmark last year, so he’s one to keep an eye on.

Pape Matar Sarr – Senegal

Sarr’s impressive performances for Ligue 1 side Metz in the 2020-21 season earned him a move to Tottenham last summer.

The 19-year-old midfielder was quickly loaned back to Metz and has been a key player again, though he couldn’t help his side avoid relegation to the second tier.

Still, Spurs will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Sarr’s performances for Senegal at the World Cup.

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