With all the hubbub surrounding the end of the Premier League season and the EFL play-offs, you’d be forgiven for letting it slip under your radar that an international tournament had got underway. But England’s U20s have begun their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win and today they play their second group match, against Uruguay.
This is a tournament that has seen some of the very greatest make their name. Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero all played for Argentina while Paul Pogba caught the eye for France. This year, we’ve picked out some of the potential future stars, including a couple of our very own Young Lions.
Alex Scott - England
Bristol City’s young starlet has certainly caught the eye this term in the second tier and having been named in the Championship team of the season, he is now looking to make an impact for his country. He was labelled an "unbelievable player" by Pep Guardiola after Man City beat the Robins earlier in the season and could be the subject of a transfer tussle this summer. It will reportedly cost north of £20m to get him out of Ashton Gate, but he could turn out to be a bargain for any top club.
- Manchester United's never-ending rumour mill
Callum Doyle - England
A man who is set to join up with the squad after the Championship play-off final, Callum Doyle has been in sensational form this season for Coventry City. On loan from Man City, he has been a key pillar of the back three that has taken the Sky Blues from the relegation zone to Wembley. Now he has the chance to win the biggest game in football, before joining his international teammates and proving himself at the World Cup. He has all the attributes to be an elite level centre-back, and the Young Lions will be boosted by his arrival.
Kendry Paez - Ecuador
Perhaps the most exciting prospect at the tournament. Number ten Paez has only just turned 16 and is the youngest player at the World Cup, starting in their win over Slovakia. He currently plays for Ecuadorian based side Independiente del Valle, but caught the eye in Salzburg as his side reached the final of the Next Generation Trophy. He was named player of the tournament and Chelsea have already agreed a deal to sign him when he turns 18, in 2025.
Marcos Leonardo - Brazil
Of course a Brazilian had to make this list. We’ve picked out a young star that is already finding the net on a regular basis for Santos. Sound familiar? Following in the footsteps of Pele and Neymar is Marcos Leonardo, who scored twice in a thrilling opening game for Brazil, that they eventually lost 3-2 to Italy. He’s contracted until 2026, but again, one of Europe’s giants could come knocking this summer if he keeps up this goalscoring run.
Cesare Casadei - Italy
Another man who already has two goals to his name is Chelsea’s central midfielder Cesare Casadei. The Italian scored twice against Brazil and is captain of his country at this level, proving exactly why Chelsea invested £15m in his last summer. He spent the second half of the league season on loan at Championship Reading, but it is clear his potential means he will have more attractive loan suitors after the World Cup.
Valentin Carboni - Argentina
Lazio’s Luka Romero and Man City’s Maximo Perrone could both be future stars for Argentina but we’ve picked out 18-year-old Valentin Carboni, who is beginning to make an impression for Inter Milan. He’s clearly a talent in midfield and scored against Uzbekistan with a driving left footed finish. The hosts look like they could go all the way in this tournament, and Carboni could be the key player to take them all the way.