The World Cup is usually a good stage, or launching pad for young and upcoming players. And, the 2022 edition is set to showcase another class of rising talent. This list contains the brightest talents at the tournament under 22 years of age. 1. Youssoufa Moukoko, 17 National team: Germany Club: Borussia Dortmund Position: Forward Germany will have the youngest player at the tournament after coach Hansi Flick called up uncapped Borussia Dortmund forward Youssoufa Moukoko. He has taken advantage of two absences—Sébastien Haller for club and Timo Werner for country—to become a dangerous option for his teams. Moukoko has six goals in five Germany U-21 appearances. He’s their youngest player and scorer. At 17, he is Germany's youngest debutant since Uwe Seeler 68 years ago. 2. Gavi, 18 National team: Spain Club: Barcelona Position: Midfielder Gavi, a graduate of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, made his Barcelona debut at 16 and smashed an 85-year-old record for youngest Spain debut at 17. He had played only five league matches for Barcelona at the time! Already a regular for Barcelona, Gavi has the first touch, the turn of the body, the sharp passing, the constant scanning, the ability in tight spaces and interpretation of those spaces. The winner of the 2022 Kopa Trophy, Gavi can play on either side in a midfield three, and with his movement, vision and passing it sometimes looks as though he is being remote-controlled by Xavi. 3. William Saliba, 21 National team: France Club: Arsenal Position: Defender Saliba only made his France debut earlier this year but is already knocking on the door for a starting spot after following last season’s stellar performances for Marseille with an equally impressive start to his career in Arsenal’s first team. He’s rapid, strong in physical battles and composed on the ball, happy to dribble past challenges in his own half before launching an attack. Saliba developed into a leader while at Marseille, earned more minutes than any other player and is described as a future great of French football. He is also a threat at the other end, with his aerial ability helping him bag two Premier League goals. France’s defense is ravaged by injuries – casualties including Benjamin Pavard, Raphaël Varane and Jules Koundé – and his inclusion could prove to be a timely savior for the reigning champion.4. Jamal Musiala, 19 National team: Germany Club: Bayern Munich Position: Midfielder Musiala played for Chelsea and England youth teams before joining Bayern Munich at 16. He became Bayern’s youngest player ever in the Bundesliga, and its youngest scorer, when he was 17. As recently as 2020, he played for England’s U-21s before former-Germany coach Joachim Löw convinced him that he would get opportunities in the senior team. The young forward has silky dribbling skills and a habit for popping up in front of goal. The first German star created in England is now a regular under Hansi Flick, his former boss at Bayern, and is already seen as a long-term successor to Thomas Müller. 5. Anis Ben Slimane, 21 National team: Tunisia Club: Brøndby Position: Midfielder Slimane, a rangy box-to-box midfielder, played for eight clubs at the youth level before Copenhagen side AB recognized his talent and threw him into the first team in the Danish second division where he impressed. A dual national, he opted for Tunisia in 2019 and scored on his senior debut against Sudan a year later. By then, he had moved to Brøndby and in ’21 helped the club win its first Danish league title in 16 years, scoring the final goal of their season in a victory that clinched the trophy. With license to push forward and make late runs into the box, Slimane scored four goals in his first eight Tunisia caps. Already linked to Arsenal. 6. Eduardo Camavinga, 20 National team: France Club: Real Madrid Position: Midfielder Camavinga’s family fled the war in DR Congo, and he was born in a refugee camp in Angola before moving to France at 2. Real Madrid’s run to winning the 2022 Champions League was in large part down to the teenage midfield phenom, even though he didn’t start a single game. Three times he was brought on as a substitute with Madrid losing, and three times his midfield presence and control helped the team come from behind to beat PSG, Chelsea, then Manchester City. Capable of winning the ball high up the pitch and spreading the play with aggressive passing, he has the golden quality of breaking the lines to drive his team forward—and the vision and speed to make it count. Camavinga, who became France’s youngest international in more than 100 years, is a worthy heir to Modrić’s throne at Real Madrid and, given that injury will sideline Pogba and N’Golo Kanté, he could play a key role in Qatar for France. 7. Bukayo Saka, 21 National team: England Club: Arsenal Position: Winger The Arsenal winger is a rarity in modern football: a player who had his international breakthrough during a major tournament. His dynamic performances, at just 19, helped England reach the Euro 2020 final. Saka missed England’s decisive penalty in the final shootout defeat to Italy, but he has bounced back to become one of Gareth Southgate’s most important players. He is versatile, too. He started at left wingback in a September defeat to Italy, and a few days later came on at right wing to help England turn a 2–0 deficit into a 3–2 lead against Germany. His direct running, close control, acceleration, awareness, quick passes between the lines and two-footed crossing ability to the far post make him a great attacking threat in Southgate’s 3-4-3 system. Saka was voted England’s Player of the Year for 2021–22 by the England fans, as well as Arsenal’s player of the season for two years running. Despite his tender years, he has over 100 Premier League appearances to his name. Saka faces competition for an England place from Phil Foden and Mason Mount but is expected to get his chance under Southgate. 8. Jude Bellingham, 19 National team: England Club: Borussia Dortmund Position: Midfielder Bellingham made his England debut at 17, and now looks likely to become England’s most expensive footballer next summer, as Real Madrid and Liverpool jostle to sign the elegant Dortmund midfielder. Bellingham is composed on the ball, masterful at interceptions and deceptively quick when driving forward. He has added timing to his game, making runs into the opposition area that defenders are slow to pick up. He drifts into pockets of space in the attacking third and racks up more assists than you might expect. He has played more minutes than any other teenager in Europe since 2021 and, because he can do so much, it remains hard to pin down his precise role. He is likely to start in England’s midfield, after impressing in couple of matches include warm-up matches. 9. Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, 18 National team: Ghana Club: Sporting CP Position: Winger Issahaku began in 2019 as a 15-year-old playing in the Ghanaian second division for Steadfast FC. He was called up for Ghana’s U-20 Africa Cup of Nations team, inspired it to victory in the final and, despite his tender years, was named Player of the Tournament. One of his goals, against Tanzania, was from the halfway line. That led to interest from clubs including Liverpool, and a call-up to Ghana’s senior side, where he was compared to fellow Tamale native Abedi Pele. Playing as a 10 or a right winger who can cut inside and shoot with his left foot, Issahaku has risen to every challenge put in his way. He scored a free kick in a Ghana B international and, at 17, was called into Ghana’s senior squad for the 2022 AFCON tournament. In the summer of 2022, Issahaku was signed by Portuguese giant Sporting CP, where he is convinced playing in the Champions League will allow him to continue his development. 10. Ansu Fati, 20 National team: Spain Club: Barcelona Position: Winger Fati, who inherited Lionel Messi’s No. 10 jersey at Barcelona, is no stranger to breaking records. He’s the youngest player to score for Barcelona, the youngest player to score for Spain and the youngest player to score in the Champions League (he managed all three before he turned 18). Fati was just 16 when he came off the bench to head home a goal in only his second Barcelona appearance. He scored 11 seconds into his first home start for Barcelona. And in his second match for Spain (he also qualified to play for his birth country, Guinea-Bissau, and Portugal), he won a penalty after 90 seconds and then curled in a shot that went in off the post. Fati normally plays on the left wing and likes to cut inside to shoot with his right foot. His pace makes him almost impossible to tackle. His movement off the ball, ability to cause danger out of nowhere and seemingly unflappable mindset make him a hero-in-waiting for club and country. 11. Rodrygo, 21 National team: Brazil Club: Real Madrid Position: Forward The Brazilian winger, signed from Santos at 17 for €54 million, was in his third campaign in Spain when Real saw the payoff. He had scored four goals in his first 79 matches before hitting form at the end of last season, just when it mattered most. His six goals in six games included the dramatic equalizer in the come-from-behind Champions League quarterfinal win over Chelsea; two goals in a win over Espanyol that sealed a La Liga title; and two goals in the UCL semifinal win over Manchester City. The versatile forward can play across the front three, is a willing runner, superb dribbler and elite finisher. He has carried on his scoring run this season and is loved by his Brazil teammates, especially Neymar, who has tipped him to take his No. 10 shirt one day. Brazil coach Tite has a wealth of wide talents from which to choose; just by being in the squad, Rodrygo has done well. 12. Pedri, 19 National team: Spain Club: Barcelona Position: Midfielder His club coach compares him to Andres Iniesta. In Pedri, Spain now has a worthy successor: a two-footed inside midfielder who plays with bravery and can take out a whole defensive line with the right pass. Three Spanish clubs passed on Pedri as they thought he was too small, yet within one month of making his debut for Las Palmas at 16, he had agreed to join Barcelona, and at 17 won Tuttosport’s 2021 Golden Boy award as the world’s top young talent. 13. Nuno Mendes, 20 National team: Portugal Club: PSG Position: Defender Nuno Mendes started out as an attacking midfielder but has played left back for two title-winning sides in the last two seasons: Sporting in 2021 and PSG in 2022. He was Sporting’s youngest debutant since Cristiano Ronaldo and, playing as left wingback in a 3-4-3 system, had a crucial role in its first title success in 19 years. His bursts upfield, dribbling past opponents and excellent crossing ability in tight spaces were an important part of Rúben Amorim’s team. That earned him a Portugal call-up in March 2021. Since then he’s been putting pressure on Raphaël Guerreiro at left back. He spent last season on loan at PSG, where training sessions against Mbappé, Neymar and Messi tightened up his defensive skills. He was named in Ligue 1’s team of last season and nominated for France Football’s Kopa Trophy, another honor recognizing the world’s top young player. Mendes plays best in attacking teams that like to push forward; that works for PSG, which made his loan move permanent with a $43 million signing this summer, but restricts his role in Fernando Santos’s more cautious Portugal setup. 14. Enzo Fernández, 21 National team: Argentina Club: Benfica Position: Midfielder The latest River Plate academy recruit to land in Benfica, Fernández was a key part of the Portuguese giant’s sensational start to the season—13 consecutive wins to kick things off and first place in a Champions League group featuring PSG and Juventus. He has been playing in a two-man midfield as though he’s been there for years, and not five months. Fernández is a metronome of a passer and the type of player, like Toni Kroos, beloved by coaches for constantly progressing the play. No player in Europe’s top six leagues averages more passes per game than his 93.7. He also switches the play with raking long balls, is a dynamic dribbler and happy to push forward and make final-third incisions. Fernández only made his Argentina debut in September, but on current form—and with Giovani Lo Celso out injured—coach Lionel Scaloni should have no doubts that he’s ready. 15. Joško Gvardiol, 20 National team: Croatia Club: RB Leipzig Position: Defender Following in the talented footsteps of Mateo Kovačić and Luka Modrić as Dinamo Zagreb academy talents, Gvardiol can use this World Cup to show what the fuss is all about. Tottenham and Chelsea wanted to sign him from RB Leipzig last summer but were quoted a €90 million fee until he ultimately signed a contract extension. Gvardiol, compared in Croatia to Virgil van Dijk, is a left-sided center back who loves coming forward into midfield and starting attacks. He broke into the Croatia team at Euro 2020, when he played as a left back, but now he is a regular in the center. Excellent on the ball and a progressive passer, Gvardiol’s combination of aggression and technique embodies the Croatian skill set that helped the side reach the 2018 World Cup final. 16. Moisés Caicedo, 21 National team: Ecuador Club: Brighton Position: Midfielder At 19, he made international debut and the coach gave him one job: to man-mark Messi. That’s what happened to Caicedo, and he stuck to his task so well (Ecuador lost 1–0, the only goal coming from a penalty) that Alfaro, the Ecuador coach, declared him a world-class player after the match. The Brighton midfielder has been an outstanding replacement for Yves Bissouma in the club’s excellent start to this season. Caicedo has played in a deep-lying two-man pivot for Brighton, but he plays on the left in a midfield three for La Tri. With his passing, tackling ability, box-to-box running and underrated finishing ability, he is a versatile player and a coach’s dream. Caicedo developed under the canny coaching of Potter (before he left for Chelsea) and looks set to follow the well-worn path from England’s south coast to an elite club—for a huge fee. 17. Garang Kuol, 18 National team: Australia Club: Central Coast Mariners Position: Forward Australia’s 18-year-old sensation has yet to start a professional game for his current team, Central Coast Mariners. But he has proved so effective against all opposition that he already signed with Newcastle ahead of the January window. Kuol was born in an Egyptian refugee camp after his family fled Sudan, and they moved to Australia, which is where Garang and his brother, Alou, started playing for the Mariners. He scored four goals in nine substitute appearances and gave Barcelona defenders the run-around in an A-League All-Stars friendly last May His speed, fearlessness and dribbling make him a dangerous impact player for the Socceroos—and a thrilling prospect. 18. Jeremy Sarmiento, 19 National team: Ecuador Club: Brighton Position: Attacking midfielder Born in Spain and raised in London with Ecuadorian parents, it’s fair to say that Sarmiento would not be at this World Cup had he represented one of the European nations for which he is eligible—not that Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro would have you believe it. As soon as he saw the versatile player in action, he wanted him as part of his young setup, and he rubbished the idea that Sarmiento was selected to prevent his declaration for England. Sure enough, Sarmiento, who represented Ecuador’s U-15s, then England at the U-16, -17 and -18 levels, was man of the match on his senior debut in a World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela last November. He followed with a scintillating performance as a No. 10 in a 2–0 win at Chile. Sarmiento grew up in Charlton Athletic’s academy and moved to Benfica but left after a contract dispute. Brighton picked him up, and he impressed then coach Graham Potter with his intelligent movement, skill in tight spaces, bravery with the ball, runs in behind and finishing ability. He’s yet to break through as a Brighton regular but is already a key figure for Ecuador. 19. Strahinja Pavlović, 21 National team: Serbia Club: Salzburg Position: Defender Pavlović, now playing for talent-spotter supreme Salzburg, has earned comparisons with his countryma Nemanja Vidić for his tough approach, never-say-die attitude and willingness to put his head where it hurts at the heart of defense. He loves bursting forward into the midfield to start attacks, is excellent with the ball at his feet and is happy to try line-breaking passes to build quick counters. Serbia was unbeaten during its qualification campaign, topping a group that included Portugal and Ireland. 20. Pape Matar Sarr, 20 National team: Senegal Club: Tottenham Position: Midfielder Sarr comes from a football background. His father Sidate is a manager in the Senegalese league, and former goalkeeper coach for the national team. Part of the Senegal squad that won the 2022 African Cup of Nations, Sarr is a dynamic and versatile midfielder who can play as a deep-lying pivot in a two-man midfield, or as a box-to-box No. 8 with a dangerous shot from range. Tall and rangy, he takes up excellent positions to cover space and is a stout dribbler who can break quickly in transitions. He joined Tottenham in the summer of ’21 and was loaned back to French club Metz for an extra season. Sarr learned his football at Generation Foot, the Senegalese talent incubator that also produced Papiss Cissé, Ismaïla Sarr and Sadio Mané. Sarr was playing in the African Champions League at 15, and he came off the bench in March to help Senegal see out a World Cup qualifying playoff triumph over Egypt. 20. Lee Kang In, 21 National team: South Korea Club: Mallorca Position: Attacking Midfielder After national hero Son Heung-min, the most talked-about player in Korea is Lee—but out of a desire to see more of him. He has been starring for Mallorca in La Liga this season (nominated for the league’s Player of the Month award for August) and had not been selected by cautious Korea coach Paulo Bento for 16 months. Lee has a big-tournament pedigree. At the 2019 U-20 World Cup, he was outstanding, scoring two goals, setting up four, and winning the award for best player as Korea reached the final. There had been suggestions that Bento was concerned by Lee’s lack of defensive output, but Lee insists he has developed that part of his game. With his speed, eye for a pass and smart finishing ability, he can play anywhere behind the main striker and cause a threat. 21. Gio Reyna, 20 National team: United States Club: Borussia Dortmund Position: Winger The son of two U.S. internationals, Reyna’s career path has never been in doubt. He followed the route of Christian Pulisic and signed for German club Borussia Dortmund at 16, beating his compatriot’s record as the youngest American to appear in the Bundesliga. He also beat Kai Havertz’s record as the youngest player to make 50 appearances in the German top flight when he was still 18. Reyna is most often deployed on the wing, where he receives the ball close to the touchline, and with his raw pace, elite dribbling and superb passing, he can carve out opportunities for teammates.