World Cup 2018: France & Nigeria stars in U23 Player of the Tournament

By Daily Sports on July 18, 2018

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The age of the undiscovered footballer is dead. An influx of money and technology has put paid to that, but there remains something thrilling about a young player starring at the World Cup.

Everybody loves an audacious talent, who uses the biggest platform of them to overthrow the established order. 2018 has been no exception.

Kylian Mbappe stole most of the headlines, as the 19-year-old bagged a goal in the World Cup final and impressed with his pure pace, but there are plenty of other young players who have improved their reputation over the course of the competition.

Here are five of the U23 stars to impress in Russia.

5. Alexander Golovin

Linked with Juventus and Chelsea before the tournament, Aleksandr Golovin quickly lived up to the hype.

The 21-year-old bossed Russia's midfield, notching two assists in four games. Golovin combined nimble passing with maturity and presence in Stanislav Cherchesov's surprise package and was the most vital competent of a team that very nearly reached the last four.

His performances in the first two group games were exceptional, and he helped guide Russia past Spain in one of the shock results of the tournament.

4. Francis Uzoho

Whilst Jordan Pickford, Thibaut Courtois and Danijel Subasic were the most impressive goalkeepers, none are under the age of 23, thus they must give way to Nigeria's Francis Uzoho.

Only making his La Liga debut in 2017, the 19-year-old impressed between the sticks for the Super Eagles, despite their group stage exit, in what were seventh, eighth and ninth caps.

He tipped Lionel Messi's free kick onto the post against Argentina in the final group game, whilst making early saves against Iceland to become the second-youngest 'keeper to keep a World Cup clean sheet.

3. Ismaila Sar

A good World Cup can do wonders for your career. By that logic, Ismaila Sarr should turn up at one of Europe's biggest clubs before long.

The Senegalese winger was the star of Aliou Cisse's talented team, a constant threat on the right-hand side as the Africans came within a whisker of a deserved qualification from the group stage.

Links with Liverpool should be no surprise; the Rennes man could be an even better purchase than his compatriot Sadio Mane.

2. Lucas Torreira

The 22-year-old showed just why Arsenal made a move for him this summer, with a series of rambunctious displays for Uruguay.

The headline moment of his World Cup is unarguable; with Cristiano Ronaldo launching a counter-attack in the round of 16, all of his five-foot-six frame was thrown into a shoulder verge that sent the Portuguese flying.

Combining precise aggression with astute positioning and technique, Torreira proved in Russia that he could be a leader in London and Montevideo for the next decade.

1. Killian Mbappe

The second youngest player at the World Cup has lit it up like no other. Mbappe's astounding performance against Argentina in the last-16 was impressive enough, but his role in the 1-0 defeat of Belgium was joyous to behold.

As he tore repeatedly past Jan Vertonghen on the left, one has the sense of a beginning. Mbappe was a menace in every side he faced because of his electrifying pace and superb end product.

He became the youngest player since Pele to score in a World Cup final and it looks like the torch of football's future megastars has been passed to the young striker. (

Source Daily Sports

Posted July 18, 2018

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