As New Zealand sets the scene for the FIFA U-20 World Cup games taking place across the country, it’s also providing the showcase for some of the football superstars of tomorrow.
The likes of a young Diego Maradona, Dani Alves and Lionel Messi have all represented their country at this tournament. So, with that in mind, here are some players to watch who’ve already stamped their mark on the world of football.
Diego Poyet (Uruguay)
Diego Poyet González is a professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English Premier League team West Ham United. He is the son of Uruguay football legend Gus Poyet who currently manages Sunderland in the EPL.
Poyet was raised in England as his father played for Chelsea. He represented both the English U-16 and U-17 sides but decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and play for Uruguay.
Uruguay scraped through the group stage with one win, a draw and a loss and will now take on heavyweights Brazil in their knockout stage match in New Plymouth.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
Kelechi Iheanacho plays for Manchester City in the English Premier League and is a star in the making for Nigeria.
Iheanacho, 18, already has a huge reputation in Nigeria, where he is seen as the Super Eagles’ golden boy. He is ambitious and believes he can one day become the greatest player in the world.
After going down to Brazil in the first round of the tournament Iheanacho and Nigeria have bounced back to beat Korea DPR 4-0 and Hungary 2-0.
They will now take on one the Tournament favourite's Germany for a place in the quarterfinals.
Gedion Zelalem (USA)
Gedion Zelalem is quickly becoming the next big thing in US football.
The 18-year-old Arsenal midfielder was brilliant in his side’s 4-0 win over the All Whites providing quality ball and deft touches to set up some great goals.
Zelalem was born in Germany and switched his national team allegiance to the US after recently becoming a citizen.
The US team will be hoping to bounce back from their 3-0 loss to Ukraine when they take on Colombia in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Zelalem will be an important part of team USA as they aim to win their first ever U-20 World Cup title.
Andreas Pereira (Brazil)
Manchester United’s young prodigy Andreas Pereira, who made his premier league debut for the Red Devils in March, will also be looking to make his mark for his country and put on a show for New Zealand spectators at the U-20 World Cup.
Pereira was a vital component to the United Reserves midfield and will play a huge role in Brazil’s title hopes as they hope to secure a record-equalling 6th U-20 World Cup.
Brazil looks to be one of the form teams of the competition and, with Pereira’s exceptional ability with the ball and reading the game, he could be their trump card.
Having advanced to the knockout stages undefeated Brazil will now have to beat fellow South Americans Uruguay for a quarterfinal spot.
Julian Brandt (Germany)
Young German talent Julian Brandt is on a number of top European clubs’ shopping lists. Fortunately for him, he is already on top Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen’s books.
He has made a number of appearances for Leverkusen’s first team, no less than 24 times this season and scoring four goals along the way.
Brandt has invaluable experience playing football at such a high level which will be very important to Germany’s chances of emulating their national men’s side and become world champions.
Germany take on the Nigerians in their knockout match this Thursday (11 June) in Christchurch.