Qatar 2022 is in the books. After a fantastic tournament, Argentina lifted the trophy after perhaps the best final of all time. Everyone is talking about Lionel Messi and how the 35-year-old finally achieved his dream of winning the World Cup. But let’s talk about some impressive young players from the World Cup. Qatar showcased heaps of young talent. We’ve got some of the best players 23 and under who impressed across the tournament. With these young men at the forefront, the future of football is looking very secure.
10 Young Players Who Impressed At Qatar 2022
Jamal Musiala – Germany
It says a lot that 19-year-old Bayern Munich winger Jamal Musiala made this list when his team went out in the first round.
Germany were pretty dismal in Qatar, failing to escape the Group Stage and losing to Japan without any dodgy VAR at all.
Still, Musiala wowed with his skilled dribbling and eye for a slicing pass. He may not have scored for Die Mannschaft, but he created eight chances for them and assisted their all-important equaliser against Spain.
This may not have been Germany’s tournament, but Musiala can look back on his performance fondly.
Bukayo Saka – England
It takes a lot to overcome adversity. Especially when you’re young and especially when that adversity takes place on one of football’s biggest stages.
Just 16 months after costing his team the European Championships at Wembley, 21-year-old Bukayo Saka stepped out onto the pitch for England’s World Cup opener against Iran.
He played a spectacular game, influencing the attack on multiple occasions and playing with the confidence of a player ten years his senior. He helped the Three Lions score six goals over their opponents, netting two himself.
Saka found the back of the net again against Senegal before crashing out of the tournament to France. Still, the young star can hold his head high having vanquished the demons of 2021.
Cody Gakpo – Netherlands
The Netherlands felt like a bit of a ghost team in Qatar.
They went on an impressive run, going unbeaten in the group stages and handily defeating the USA in the Round of 16. However, they never really made the headlines until their stunning yet ill-fated comeback against Argentina.
One man who definitely caught people’s eye was forward Cody Gakpo, who scored three times across the tournament.
The 23-year-old was already well-known to PSV fans, but this was his coming out party on the world stage.
Keep an eye out for him as a potential Manchester United player off the back of this great World Cup run.
Read More: Manchester United to Make Cody Gakpo Bid in January
Gavi – Spain
To be mentioned in the same conversation as Pele is an honour for any footballer. So, imagine how 18-year-old Pablo Gavira must feel right now.
Better known as Gavi, the Barcelona youngster has drawn all sorts of comparisons to the Brazil icon following his goal against Costa Rica in the Group Stage.
Part of a 7-0 drubbing inflicted on the Concacaf nation, Gavi’s excellent strike became the second youngest player in history to net at a World Cup Finals.
Pele is the first, in case you couldn’t work that out.
With a long career hopefully in front of him, there’s no telling how far this very talented teengager could go.
Jude Bellingham – England
Speaking of talented teenagers, England’s lion cub more than lived up to the hype in Qatar.
At just 19 years of age, Jude Bellingham has already got the football world wondering with glee where he’ll end up next. His performances across Qatar 2022 will have added a couple more million to his price tag.
Bellingham scored England’s first goal of the tournament and went on to play a major role in their Round of 16 win over Senegal.
The current Borussia Dortmund man will be a fixture of the England team for years to come, a role he set in motion at this tournament.
Joško Gvardiol – Croatia
It may have been hard to tell, but the face behind Joško Gvardiol’s mask was just 20-years-old.
The Croatian defender played with superb determination throughout the nation’s third place campaign, helping make several vital clearances and stopping many a strong attack.
He was just as effective at the other end too, scoring the first goal in Croatia’s 2-1 win over Morocco in the third place play-off. This performance earned him Man of the Match – a worthy end to a stellar World Cup debut.
Enzo Fernadez – Argentina
FIFA’s official Young Player of the Tournament, Enzo Fernandez went from hero to villain in the space of just two games.
The 21-year-old Benfica midfielder got his name next to Messi’s on the score sheet of Argentina’s Group Stage win over Mexico. Then, in the Round of 16, he was on the score sheet again, only this time for Australia after an own goal.
This didn’t matter, as Fernandez helped hold his team together in the centre of the pitch. His contributions were vital in helping his country become World Champions for the first time in 36 years.
Gonçalo Ramos – Portugal
It can’t be easy to be named replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, but 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos didn’t just take the chance – he ran with it.
Brought on for CR7 in Portugal’s Round of 16 tie with Switzerland, Ramos left everyone open-mouthed when he hit a hat trick as part of a 6-1 win. This made him the first person since 1990 to score three in a World Cup knockout game and the first World Cup debutant to grab a trio since Miroslav Klose.
Ronaldo and Klose – two very good names to be in the company of.
Julián Álvarez – Argentina
Tying with Olivier Giroud for third place as a World Cup goalscorer isn’t too bad. When you’re just 22-years-old, there can’t be many better feelings on Earth.
Manchester City’s Julián Álvarez scored in the group stage and Round of 16 before his brace against Croatia fired Argentina into the World Cup final.
He was a sensation in Qatar, keeping his composure against all comers and firing in some brilliant strikes.
Messi looks to be done with World Cups now, but Argentinians can rest easy knowing that his replacement as a goal scorer is safe and secure.
Kylian Mbappe – France
Few football players across history can say they played at two World Cups before their 24th birthday. Even fewer can say they were among the best players at both tournaments.
Kylian Mbappe was already a superstar before Qatar. Now his legend is certified.
His performance in the final alone was the stuff of mythology. He pulled his team back from the brink twice with the first World Cup final hat trick since 1966.
And then there’s everything else he did across the tournament. The five other goals. The two assists. The dozens of runs, crosses, and flourishes.
He may not have done the double, but Mbappe has set the stage for an incredible future in the world of international football.
And we’re all here for it.