The time has come for one of the events that allows you to get to know some of the players that will dominate worldwide football in the future. And, most importantly, the U17 World Cup will allow you to discover them before the casual public (in the case you want to show off your scouting skills in the future).
In these tournaments, we have seen the first real flashes of players who later reached the highest level of European football and others who could not make it all the way to the top. Some of the MVP’s of the competition were Cesc Fàbregas, Toni Kroos or Phil Foden.
They also highlight the importance of the development of players over the course of their careers, as many other generational talents had the awards taken from them by players who did not manage to take the final leap.
A clear example of this within Spanish football was that of Borja Bastón, the top scorer in the 2009 U17 World Cup over the likes of Coutinho, Neymar, Son, Götze or Álvaro Morata. Moreover, this is not an isolated case, as this phenomenon is not a recent ocurrence. Players like Buffon, Totti, Del Piero, Marcelo, Hazard, Figo, Xavi Hernández or Adriano also failed to impress individually speaking. (Source: @jdominguezfd on X).
Consequently, and thanks to the help of an expert in academy football like @elzurdofutbol, we will briefly analyze five offensive players who have shown a lot of promise and could shine in a favorable competition to display their talent in the last third of the pitch.
It should be noted that Spain has a raised a great generation of players despite the absence of Lamine Yamal, who would be the most hyped up player in the whole competition. As a list of just Spanish players could easily be made, we will grant some honorable mentions to a team that is mainly composed of one of the best generations to ever come out of FC Barcelona’s academy.
Lamine Yamal (2007) is the most notable absence of the tournament as he is already established himself in FC Barcelona’s senior squad. Although he may not be as well known to the european audience, the fact that Ecuador’s Kendry Paez (2007) will miss the U17 World Cup is as important, as he is a critical piece to the senior national team and player expected to perform at top level for years to come. In fact, Chelsea have already spent 20 million on his signing.
Some of the Spanish players to watch:
We already know Marc Guiu (2006). His debut under Xavi was ideal and a clear representation of what he has been doing against competition his age. He managed a goal in his debut against a weak Canada side, and Spain will rely on his goals to advance in the knockout stages.
One of the most hyped-up prospects is Real Madrid’s Paulo Iago (2007). Left-footed, with exquisite technical skills, great goal-scoring instincts and often compared to Lamine. One of the main gems in Real Madrid‘s academy who, despite not playing against Canada, will have a lot of eyes on him.
Barça have a brilliant generation in their hands, featuring players like Pau Cubarsí (2007) and Pau Prim (2006). A centre-back and a midfielder that will soon join some of their teammates in the first team.
We cannot forget about Igor Oyono (2008), the youngest player in Spain’s call up list. A striker out of Villarreal‘s academy who possesses an impressive physique for his age and can score goals with ease.
Five stars to follow in the U17 World Cup:
Spain is one of the favorites, but Brazil, even though they fell in their first game due to rotation, could be the biggest threat for the rest of the participants. In ‘La Canarinha’, there is a player in whom the top European clubs have already shown interest and whose nickname alone is enough to understand the level of expectation surrounding him: Estevao William, ‘Messinho‘ (2007).
Coming out of Palmeiras, the academy that Endrick came from, Estevao is a fast and technically gifted left-footed right-winger.
He is also a solid goal scorer and an excellent generator on offense (as well as a great passer). If he performs well in the tournament (although they have already lost to Iran and need to win both of their remaining matches in a group that also features England), his transfer will cost an extra ten million euros. Palmeiras have reportedly rejected a big time offer from PSG (in the 30-40 million euros range).
We could not forget about the talent coming from Argentina. In addition, ‘La Albiceleste’s’ number ’10’, tough to beat that. Claudio ‘El Diablo‘ Echeverri (2006) is the kind of offensive midfielder that can make you fall in love.
He is one of the most precious gems River Plate have to offer, as he was the top scorer (five goals) and dished out the most assists (three assists) in the U17 South-American Championship. When it comes to the World Cup, Argentina lost their first match against Senegal, so he will have to put up great performances in order to help his country secure a ticket to the next round.
The English national team had a better start to the competition (as they beat New Calcedonia in a whopping 0-10 win), but their most promising player could not score a goal. Joel Ndala (2006) did not need to score in order to shine as, even if the opponent was extremely weak, his five key passes demonstrate his potential.
Manchester City‘s player could be described as the typical Brazilian winger, right-footed playing on the opposite wing and with lethal dribbling skills in one on one situations.
Germany also have a differential attacker: Paris Brunner (2006). If Ndala does not fit the usual profile of an English player, Brunner and his off-the-pitch trouble also differ from the German footballer prototype. Another Moukoko for Borussia Dortmund, as his physical power allows him to shine in academy football.
A right-footed striker that can also play on the wing, who possesses tremendous goal-scoring upside (he was the MVP and top scorer in the U17 Euros) and latent physical superiority. He stood out in their debut and victory versus Mexico (3-1), which are current runner-up.
David Martínez (2006), the most talented youngster in all of Venezuela will play in the U17 World Cup. We are talking about a player that is already establishing himself at the highest level for his country, as he has already scored a Copa Libertadores goal and made his debut with the senior national team.
A not so fast left-winger whose main strength is his technical quality. He could have the best left-foot in the entirety of the tournament. We should follow his progression, because he will certainly come to Europe and, the sooner he arrives, the cheaper his transfer will be. He really stood out in the first fixture with a goal from 40 meters away with his weak foot.
Last but not least, only one match day may have been played, but it seems like Amara Diouf (2008) will be one of the gems of the U17 World Cup. We could be talking about one of the greatest African talents in recent history.
The reigning African champions have one of the youngest players in the competition within their roster. A player who has already made his debut with the senior national team in the qualifying rounds for the African Cup at 15 years and 94 days old and will play for Metz when he turns 18.
He can be one of the talents to watch in this tournament and has alredy gone off, scoring a brace against Argentina. Hopefully, he will not be another precocious African wonderkid that ends up falling short on his climb to the top.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: Edit Marta Calle.