The World Cup is traditionally a breakthrough event for many young players. With kick-off time getting closer and closer, The Cult of Calcio’s next trip is across the Top 10 most talented young players to keep an eye for in Russia – in order of their expected appearance in the competition…
Maybe Paris Saint Germain didn’t need to spend 200 million euro for Neymar. They already had Portuguese winger Goncalo Guedes, born in 1996, who went over the top in Valencia during the past season.
A right-footed wing, fast and technically gifted, Guedes was raised in the Benfica youth team, and was acquired by Paris Saint Germain in January 2017. However, he collected only few caps with the French side, as the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé left little space for him. Last year, the French executives decided to loan him to Valencia.
In Spain, joining Simone Zaza on the attacking line, Guedes quickly broke through, confirming that Portugal’s coach Fernando Santos – who in November 2015 had made him debut with the National side at only 19, during a friendly match against Russia – was right in believing in him.
Valencia conquered a spot in next year’s Champions League, thanks to their little Ronaldo’s exploits. After the World Cup, Guides is expected to return to Paris Saint Germain, where he will have to face again players like Neymar and Mbappé. But after having played a world championship as a starting player, maybe even scoring a few goals, his destiny in Paris may change. Or, should that not be the case, Valencia would still gladly welcome him back again.
Fernando Santos lined up Goncalo Guedes in multiple occasions during the last few friendly matches Portugal played. The Portuguese coach’s vision for the World Cup is to deploy Cristiano Ronaldo as a central striker, supported by two wingers – one of which should be Guedes (the other one beinfg Bernardo Silva).
The incumbent European Champions will face Spain in an Iberian derby that opens Pool B of the World Cup. Portugal cannot afford any pas faux, otherwise their Russian journey will become risky from its very beginning. And, at that point, a player like Goncalo Guedes might be needed to sort things out.
From Little Ronaldo, to World Cup Revelation, the distance might be shorter than it looks. Much shorter.
Translated by Matteo Carnevale
Click here to discover more young players to keep an eye for in Russia:
Aleksandr Golovin, the Young Tsar Who Makes Russia Hope
Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Can He Be Schiaffino and Francescoli’s Heir?