The 18th edition of the FIFA U17 World Cup will kick off today in Brazil as 16 countries from around the World parade their cadet teams in search for glory and more importantly for the next big football stars.
Two years ago it was India who had the honours to welcome the best teenagers from around the world, trying to achieve glory and seeking the path to emulate their idols who once in the past also threaded this route.
England for the first time in their history won the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017 and the core of the team have progressed well so far with Jadon Sancho becoming a key part of Borussia Dortmund even right from the tournament as he was called back by Dortmund at the end of the group stage.
Manchester City’s Phil Foden, Chelsea’s Calum Godson Odoi, Arsenal’s Smith Rowes well as Manchester United Angel Gomes were part of the triumphant squad Paris saint-Germain’s Yacine Adli also featured four the French national team in that tournament.
Talents were not scarce in the 2015 addition held in Chile, Nigeria Eorld champions for the second consecutive time after winning in the South American country Victor Osimhen who is now with Lille in the French League One was the highest goal scorer breaking the record for the most goals scored in a single FIFA under-17 competition Villareal’s Samuel Chukwueze was also a standout performer in the competition while Trent-Alexander Arnold, Dayot Upamecano both featured for England and France respectively.
10 years ago in Nigeria a lot of Brazilian stars featured in that competition goalkeeper Alisson Becker who is now a UEFA Champions League winner same as Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Mario Goetze as well as Son Heung Min, Granit Xhaka were all at the 2009 edition of the FIFA U17 World Cup.
Cesc Fabregas, John Obi Mikel, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Brazil’s Ronaldinho, David Silva, Nwankwo Kanu all passed through this stage of football. Emmnuel Petit, Landon Donovan, Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, Xavi and Toni Kroos have all been a part.
Therefore as the FIFA U-17 World Cup kicks off in Brazil on Saturday, the players may be unknown at this stage but don’t be deceived this is where the future stars will be born catch a glimpse of them before they blossom.
Adil Aouchiche – FRANCE
The young midfielder is already making a name for himself at PSG, and recently became the youngest player to start a league match for PSG in their 2-0 win over Metz.
The 17-year-old signed for the French champions on July 1st, 2014, and is fast becoming a star. The youngster scored nine times at the UEFA U-17 Championships and will be one of the stars of the show.
Talles Magno – Brazil
Just like their senior team in any tournament, hosts Brazil are among this year’s favorites. They reached the semi-finals in 2017 and have a great squad this year.
Among them is the Vasco da Gama forward Talles Magno. He is already a star with the senior team, and there is a lot of expectation around him. He will bring a lot of experience gained at the highest level to the team, and that’s what makes the team dangerous.
Gio Reyna – USA
Another American star playing for Borussia Dortmund. Reyna’s parents, Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan, are former footballers, and he has followed in their footsteps.
His talent was obvious from a young age, as he helped his team to win the Generation Adidas Cup – a competition for U17s when he was only 14. He is tipped to be a real star, and just like Christian Pulisic, he wears the number 10 jersey.
Matias Palacios – Argentina
Palacios is Argentina’s future. He might not take over from Lionel Messi, but he has been tipped for a great future.
He will lead the young Argentines, and just like Messi, might announce his arrival on the big stage by shining in the tournament.
Lucien Agoume – France
The youngster is already a star, having featured for FC Sochaux’s senior side in France for a half a season, before moving to Inter Milan.
He was also tracked by Premier League sides Arsenal and Manchester City but chose to sharpen his skills in Italy.
Alexander Aravena – Chile
The Chilean is a beneficiary of a Sports Scholarship in Chile, which is awarded by the Municipality of Huechuraba to support and promote sports.
The striker, now 17, has been one of the shining stars for the La Rojita and starred in their last qualification match with a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win over Uruguay.
He idolizes Barcelona greats Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and will be one of the key players to keep an eye on.
Etienne Eto’o Pineda – Cameroon
A decree signed by the Cameroon President Paul Biya in September 2014 has denied the son of former Cameroonian and African star Samuel Eto’o the chance to shine at the World Cup, but he is for sure one of the U-17 players to keep a keen eye on.
The decree says that the national U15 and U17 teams would be reserved for domestic-based talent only, meaning the Real Mallorca U-17 captain misses out even though he is keen on playing for the Indomitable Lions.
Pedri Gonzalez – Spain
Pedri first came to the limelight while at Las Palmas in the second tier, catching Barcelona’s attention who moved with speed to acquire his services.
The 16-year-old is a gem, his footballing mind is way above most of his peers and he lives for goals and assists. He has already indicated he would want to announce himself on the world stage at the tournament in Brazil.
Xavi Simons – Netherlands
Simons shares a name with one of Barcelona’s greatest midfielders ever, Xavi, and many of the club’s fans hoped he would grow at their famous La Masia academy.
He, however, broke the fans’ hearts after moving to Paris Saint-Germain, in what can be considered a coup of some sort. He will be wearing the Dutch colors in Brazil and will be one of the stars of the tournament.
Ian Maatsen – Netherlands
Maatsen joined Chelsea from PSV Eindhoven in July 2018 and is a talented lad. He can play at left-back, wing-back, center-back or in central midfield, and that versatility was utilized in his maiden season in England as he featured in a number of defensive positions for academy teams.
He will, however, be at home with the Dutch team as they parade their stars in Brazil.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1
Ligue 1 no doubt harbors quite a number of talented players, as such it’s quite understandable for those considered to be world-class players among them to cash out hugely on what they earn at the end of the month.
As of late, the players’ salaries have given indications of solid development, on account of the tremendous income pouring into the game. The fierce rivalry between the country’s top football clubs has brought the nature of the competition higher than ever. The league has more than its own fair share of highly paid players.
Here is a rundown of the top 15 highest-paid players in the Ligue 1
- Neymar Jr – (Paris Saint Germain, – €3.06 Per Month )
Behind Ronaldo and Messi, the Brazilian forward is regarded as the third-best player in world football since moving from Santos to Barcelona in 2013 for a deal reported worth €86.2million.
After apparently growing and widening his status as a footballer with his achievement on and off the pitch, it was evident that the former Puskas Award winner would go on to attract top elite clubs.
With the Parisian club brimming with a lot of cash to flex muscles with high spending clubs, it was just a matter of time before Neymar would join them. Fast forward to 2017, the Selecao captain signed for PSG for a world record transfer fee worth €222million, and since then he’s been an important figure of both the club and their project.
Amidst transfer rumors of him returning to his old home Barcelona, plus the fact that the Parisian are also ready to offer him a new deal that would tie him down with the French side for at least another three seasons.
- Kylian Mbappe – (Paris Saint Germain, € 1.91m Per Month)
As a World Cup winner and one of the best prospects in world football, it’s quite understandable for Mbappe to be among the highest-paid players in Ligue 1 and Paris Saint Germain. The 2018 World Cup winner burst into the scene as a young player for Monaco, making his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 15.
The Frenchman signed for the Parisian club in 2017 on loan, which was later made permanent in 2018. He has shown to be a great prospect for both the club and their project in dominating the Ligue 1 and also flex muscles with the top clubs in Europe.
His permanent transfer to Paris Saint Germain is reported to be worth €180million, making him both the second most expensive player and most expensive teenager. Since joining the Ligue 1 Champions permanently, the 22-year-old has scored over 120 goals for the Parisian club.
However, amidst the rumor of Real Madrid prepping up to break the bank in their quest to bring him down to the Bernabeu, the World Cup winner is still actively the second biggest earner in the league and of course Paris Saint Germain.
- Correa Marquinhos & Marco Verratti – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.2m Per Month)
Since the departure of top players such as Edinson Cavani, Zlatan, and recently Thiago Silva, Marquinhos’s status has risen from being a mere squad player in the dressing room into a leader, captain, and one of the best gladiator of the club.
As a 19-year-old teenager, the Brazilian was signed in 2013 on a five-year deal by Paris Saint Germain from AS Roma for a fee of around €31.4million. And as reported by BBC Sport, the deal was said to be the highest transfer fee for a teenager then, while Sky also reports it to be the then fifth highest transfer.
The current form of the Brazilian makes him rank as one of Europe’s most valuable players, most especially as a player who is currently plying his trade with the best team in France.
According to the transfer market rating, Marquinhos market value currently stands at €70million, as such with his years of experience and playing over 313 matches for the Parisian, it’s no surprise that the club captain takes home €1.2m per month tied with the Italian on the same amount.
As for the Italian, he’s also been a very instrumental player for the team since joining the club nine years ago. There have always been rumors concerning his future, either joining Barcelona or go back to Italy, but as it stands his current contract with Paris Saint Germain would expire in 2024.
- Angel Di Maria – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.1m Per Month)
Since joining the Parisian for €63million after a disappointing stint with Manchester United in 2015, the Argentine winger has continued to prove to the world that he’s still one of the best players in football since leaving Real Madrid.
Di Maria isn’t just rank among the highest earner for doing nothing, he earns his pay through his brilliant performances over the years since joining them, accumulating a total of 251 appearances scoring over 88 goals and 104 assists.
The former Real Madrid winger may not stay in the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain for three years or more, as he’s already moving close to the end of his career. However, with his deal still running that makes him the fourth-highest earner in the league.
- Keylor Navas – (Paris Saint Germain, €1m Per Month)
When Navas joined Madrid from Levante in the summer of 2014, no one ever thought he’s going to achieve quite a number of success with Los Blancos based on where he was coming from and his antecedent as a goalkeeper.
After a successful stint with Los Merengues, the imminent arrival of Thibaut Courtois means the Costa Rican goalkeeper days at Real Madrid are numbered.
With his achievement at Real Madrid, it was evident that the Costa Rican won’t find it hard to get good European suitor to come by, as such Paris Saint Germain came calling for his services in 2019 having been told he won’t be Real Madrid number one going forward into the new season.
Following Navas’s move to the French capital, it means his salary would be on the high side based on his achievement and reputation as a Champions League winner with arguably the biggest club in Europe.
As a Paris Saint Germain player, he earns €1m per month, making the Costa Rican one of the highest-paid players in Ligue 1
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- Mauro Icardi – (Paris Saint Germain, €800,000 Per Month)
The imminent departure of El Matador when Icardi joined Paris Saint Germain on loan means the responsibility of goalscoring would be on the shoulder of the Argentine. The former Inter Milan forward made his loan permanent with the PSG following a strong start in Paris.
The Argentine and controversy certainly go hand in hand based on his antecedent with his previous clubs. Everywhere he goes he has always shown he could lead the line perfectly, and since he joined the Parisian permanently no report of controversy has been recorded concerning the former Nerazzurri captain.
Icardi may not be the poster boy of PSG just like his days at Inter, that doesn’t make him less of a player in the dressing room among other star players like Neymar and Mbappe who are no doubt the face of the club.
- Leandro Paredes – (Paris Saint Germain, €750,000 Per Month)
Juan Bernat – (Paris Saint Germain, €700,000 Per Month)
Presnel Kimpembe – (Paris Saint Germain, €670,000 Per Month)
Ander Herrera – (Paris Saint Germain, €650,000 Per Month)
Wissam Ben Yedder – (Monaco, €650,000 Per Month)
Cesc Fabregas – (Monaco, €600,000 Per Month)
Julian Draxler – (Paris Saint Germain, €600,000 Per Month)
Idrissa Guaye – (Paris Saint Germain, €500,000 Per Month)