Bellingham, Gavi and the NXGN wonderkids set to light up the 2022 World Cup

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There will be some top teenage talents on show in Qatar - but who should you be most excited about watching in action?

The World Cup is great for so many reasons, but perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the tournament is the stage it provides for young or previously unheralded players to announce themselves to a global audience.

There are few bigger thrills as a football fan than falling in love with a player you previously knew little about, and that is multiplied when said player is only a teenager and still has their whole career in front of them.

The good news is that there will be plenty of starlets on show at Qatar 2022, and though some are more well-known than others, they are all capable of making a massive impact on the tournament.

So, let NXGN introduce you to the most promising youngsters at this year's World Cup...

  1. Brandon Aguilera (Costa Rica)
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    Brandon Aguilera (Costa Rica)

    Aguilera only made his international debut in March, but has done enough to earn a spot in Costa Rica's squad after impressing for Guanacasteca in his homeland.

    The attacking midfielder is actually on loan there after completing a move to Premier League new boys Nottingham Forest over the summer, and the World Cup could give Forest fans a first proper glimpse at the 19-year-old in action.

  2. Alejandro Balde (Spain)
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    Alejandro Balde (Spain)

    A late call-up following Jose Gaya's injury on the eve of the tournament, Balde has been rewarded for the impressive way he has immersed himself into the Barcelona team this season.

    The 19-year-old has become a regular at Camp Nou in 2022-23, and has shown his versatility by filling in at right-back while also playing on his more natural left-hand side.

    Seen as a long-term successor to Jordi Alba at club level, he will now back-up the veteran defender in Qatar too.

  3. Jude Bellingham (England)
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    Jude Bellingham (England)

    The NXGN 2022 winner just keeps getting better and better for Borussia Dortmund, and it would now be a surprise if he does not start for England in Qatar.

    Bellingham has even captained Dortmund this season, such is the 19-year-old's maturity, and he is unlikely to be fazed by playing on the biggest stage of them all over the next few weeks.

  4. Jewison Bennette (Costa Rica)
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    Jewison Bennette (Costa Rica)

    The youngest player to ever represent Costa Rica having made his international debut in August 2021, Bennette has already earned himself a move to Europe after joining Championship side Sunderland in August.

    The 18-year-old winger has made an encouraging start for the Black Cats, and his form for his country is good too.

    He provided the assist for Joel Campbell to score the goal that sealed their place in Qatar during their play-off win over New Zealand, before bagging the first international goals of his career with a brace against South Korea in September.

  5. Zeno Debast (Belgium)
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    Zeno Debast (Belgium)

    Dubbed 'the new Vincent Kompany' in Belgium after emerging from the Anderlecht academy, centre-back Debast has seen his development accelerate since the start of the 2022-23 season.

    The 19-year-old was rewarded for some fine club form with an international debut in September and, given his comfort in possession and experience of playing in a back three, could yet start for Roberto Martinez's side.

    If he does, then reported interest from the likes of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund will likely only intensify.

  6. Bilal El Khannouss (Morocco)
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    Bilal El Khannouss (Morocco)

    Something of a surprise call-up, El Khannouss has got his just deserts for a fine start to the season which saw him become a regular starter for Genk.

    The attacking midfielder, who is uncapped and previously played age-group games for Belgium, only turned 18 in May, but could be set for a decent amount of playing time in Qatar following Amine Harit's injury on the eve of the tournament.

  7. Gavi (Spain)
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    Gavi (Spain)

    Having been called-up almost out of nowhere just over a year ago for the Nations League finals, Gavi has spent the past 12 months or so showing the world just why Luis Enrique was so keen to add him to Spain's line-up.

    Still just 18, the Barcelona midfielder is set to be named in La Roja's line up when the tournament kicks-off, with he and fellow youngster, Pedri, seen as being not just the future of Spain's midfield, but the present too.

  8. Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Ghana)
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    Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Ghana)

    Issahaku burst onto the radar of European scouts after he was named Player of the Tournament at the Under-20s Africa Cup of Nations in 2021 despite being just 16, and is regarded by many as one of the finest African talents of his generation.

    The 18-year-old forward, who possesses a rocket of a left foot, was linked with Liverpool following the tournament, but eventually joined Sporting C.P. over the summer, and has already played a handful of times for the Portuguese outfit.

  9. Garang Kuol (Australia)
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    Garang Kuol (Australia)

    The youngest player to be called-up to the senior Australia squad since Harry Kewell in 1996, Kuol has made an explosive start to his career that was capped by a first Socceroos appearance in September.

    Despite not having started an A-League match for Central Coast Mariners, the 18-year-old has scored six goals and assisted three more in his 13 substitute appearances.

    Likened to Ousmane Dembele by some, he has already agreed to join Newcastle United in January, as the Magpies beat off competition from some of Europe's biggest clubs to bring Kuol to the Premier League.

  10. Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)
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    Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

    Highly-touted at Manchester United since joining the club from Monaco in 2019, midfielder Hannibal has struggled to break into the first-team picture at Old Trafford, despite some strong showings on the international stage for Tunisia.

    The 19-year-old is, though, currently impressing while out on loan at Birmingham City in the Championship, and should see plenty of action in Qatar.

  11. Youssoufa Moukoko (Germany)
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    Youssoufa Moukoko (Germany)

    The youngest player to be called up for the 2022 World Cup, Moukoko will not turn 18 until the day the tournament gets under way, but he is certainly deserving of his place.

    Having broken countless records during his youth career, Moukoko has this season begun to consistently show that he can be as productive in the senior game.

    The Borussia Dortmund striker has scored six goals and assisted six more in all competitions, and though he is likely more in Qatar to gain experience rather than be relied upon for match-winning performances, do not be surprised to see him handed his chance to shine at some stage during the tournament.

  12. Jamal Musiala (Germany)
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    Jamal Musiala (Germany)

    Arguably the best player in the Bundesliga through the first three months of the season, Musiala has been on fire for Bayern Munich, directly contributing to 22 goals in as many appearances in 2022-23.

    Still only 19, the former Chelsea and England youth star is now likely to be a key figure in Germany's attack as they look to improve on their recent poor performances in major international tournaments.

  13. Simon Ngapandouetnbu (Cameroon)
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    Simon Ngapandouetnbu (Cameroon)

    It is unlikely that uncapped goalkeeper Ngapandouetnbu will make it onto the pitch for Cameroon, with the 19-year-old firmly the country's third-choice between the posts.

    However, being in Qatar will provide good experience for the teenager, given his only appearances in a Marseille shirt have been for the reserve side in France's lower leagues.

  14. Antonio Silva (Portugal)
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    Antonio Silva (Portugal)

    Silva has gone from making his first-team debut for Benfica in late August to being one of the most in-demand young centre-backs in the world in almost no time, and his call-up to Portugal's squad is just reward for the sensational way he has taken to senior football.

    The 19-year-old, who has been linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid and Liverpool following a series of strong showings in the Champions League, could even force his way into Fernando Santos' line-up before the World Cup is over.

  15. Xavi Simons (Netherlands)
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    Xavi Simons (Netherlands)

    Few saw Simons as a potential World Cup call-up when he decided to leave Paris Saint-Germain to join PSV in the summer, but the uncapped playmaker has flown out of the traps in Eindhoven to make it into Louis van Gaal's squad.

    Now 19, the former Barcelona wonderkid has already scored 10 goals for his new club while also laying on four assists, and Simons now looks ready to return on the potential he showed as an academy talent over the past half-decade.