Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham are among the bright young Bundesliga things on show at the 2022 World Cup. - © /
Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham are among the bright young Bundesliga things on show at the 2022 World Cup. - © /

Top 10 Bundesliga players to watch at the World Cup


The Bundesliga is home to some of the very best players in the game. A whole host of them will be in action at the World Cup, and we’ve picked out 10 to watch.

Jude Bellingham

Age: 19
Position: Midfielder
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: England

Recently named as the world's fourth-best footballer under the age of 21, this season Bellingham has played his 100th competitive match for Dortmund and even captained the club for the first time. Named Man of the Matchday after scoring twice in a 5-0 win over VfB Stuttgart, he was also nominated for Bundesliga Player of the Month in October. Hailed as "extraordinary" by Dortmund coach Edin Terzic because of his consistency at such a young age, Bellingham has started all 15 league matches this term. He has won more duels than anyone else in the Bundesliga, and has shown an admirable ability to cope with being targeted more regularly by opposing teams. With three goals and two assists in the league, two goals in the DFB Cup and four in the UEFA Champions League, it's no surprise he has become a regular for England too. All but guaranteed to add to his 17 caps before the end of the year, Bellingham will be determined to make his mark at his first World Cup.

"Jude is phenomenal," declared England manager Gareth Southgate, who will surely be tempted to throw the teen sensation straight into his starting line-up against Iran on 21 November, before games against the USA and Wales. "He's hugely exciting, and he's going to be an important player for England." Not to mention a versatile one...

"I feel most comfortable playing as a No.8, a box-to-box midfielder, and having a bigger impact on the opposition goal," Bellingham explained last season. "When I'm playing as a defensive midfielder I can dictate the tempo of the game, but I'm a bit far away when we're creating chances and shooting on goal. I'd rather be part of the action."

Watch: Bellingham under the tactical microscope

Jamal Musiala

Age: 19
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: Germany

Having spent the best part of a decade in England, Musiala could well have been lining up alongside Bellingham at this World Cup. Instead, the precocious Bayern teenager will hope to transfer his club form to the international stage for Germany. Like his Dortmund counterpart, the former Chelsea academy player is making everything look easy right now, and finished just ahead of Bellingham in the Kopa Trophy vote.

"Our team is already unimaginable without him, even at his age," Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said of Musiala, who made his 100th appearance for Bayern on Matchday 15.

With nine goals (and six assists), Musiala is Bayern's leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga so far, while he also been on the scoresheet three times in other competitions. The teenager made two appearances from the bench at Euro 2020, but is likely to play a much more prominent role at the World Cup. One of six Bayern and 20 Bundesliga players in Hansi Flick's squad, Musiala's sharp footwork, quick thinking and lethal finishing make him a real asset for Germany.

"It's just a pleasure to see Jamal play," Flick said in September. "Even though he's still young, he's a real goal threat. He stays calm under pressure in the box and is able to put his shots where the goalkeeper can't reach. He does that really well."

Gio Reyna

Age: 20
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: USA

The World Cup might be coming at the perfect time for Reyna. The American's progress has been badly checked by injury in the last couple of years, but his three league starts this season have all come since late October. He scored in two of them, hitting the net in wins over VfB Stuttgart and Bochum. In total, he has made 16 appearances in all competitions.

At the World Cup, Reyna will team up with former Dortmund favourite Christian Pulisic, and one of the highlights will see him face his friend Bellingham in Group B on 25 November. The fixture will mean even more since the American was born in England, when his father Claudio was playing for Sunderland.

Former Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg playmaker Reyna Sr also served as captain of the USMNT, earning 112 caps and going as far as the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup. The USA certainly have a better chance of emulating that achievement with Gio in the team.

"We just have to play our game and believe in each other as a team," Reyna Jr told Insider. "I think that kind of recipe, with teamwork and no fear, can see us overcome any experience that we do lack."

Alphonso Davies

Age: 22
Position: Left-back
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: Canada

Davies is one of the main reasons Canada have qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. A tough group awaits with Belgium, Croatia and Morocco to contend with, but Davies has made a career out of defying the odds. Born in a refugee camp in Ghana after his parents fled civil war in Liberia, he grew up in Canada and first proved himself with Vancouver Whitecaps before moving to Germany in January 2019.

Davies is already one of the most successful North American players to have tested himself in Europe. The CONCACAF Player of the Year for 2021 has won four Bundesliga titles, and was a key part of the Bayern side that won a league, DFB Cup and Champions League treble in 2019/20. With a top speed of 36 kilometres per hour this season, he has once again been one of the first names on the teamsheet in his fourth year as a Bayern regular. A hamstring strain caused him to miss the league leaders' last two games of the year, but Davies is out to cause a stir with Canada.

"We have a good team and can now prove that on the biggest stage," he told Bayern's club magazine 51. "We're young and we're hungry."

Daichi Kamada

Age: 26
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Country: Japan

Germany's first World Cup assignment comes against Japan on 23 November, and there will be a familiar face lining up in midfield for the Samurai Blue. Kamada has long been an important player for Frankfurt, but seems to have found an extra gear this season as the Eagles have soared to fourth in the Bundesliga and reached the last 16 of the Champions League. With seven goals in the league, three in Europe and two in the DFB Cup, the midfield maestro is enjoying his most prolific campaign in Germany, and he's currently Frankfurt's top scorer. Ice cold in front of goal, he even boasts a better shot conversion rate than former Bundesliga goal machines Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

"I've rarely seen such an intelligent player," Oliver Glasner said of Kamada not long after taking over as Frankfurt coach. "He can be used very flexibly and I think he will play a very important role for us." Glasner correctly identified his No.15's potential to get more goals, while predecessor Adi Hütter described him as a Raumdeuter ('space interpreter'), the term generally applied to Bayern's Thomas Müller for his powers of anticipation.

The 26-year-old has already netted six goals in 21 appearances for Japan, including one in September's 2-0 friendly win over the USA. He is also a reliable penalty taker – which has its uses in tournament football – having put away all three of his spot-kicks for Frankfurt this season. If Germany want to avoid an upset against the world's 24th-ranked side next week, they will have to keep a close eye on Kamada.

After helping Eintracht Frankfurt lift the UEFA Europa League in 2021/22, Daichi Kamada (c.) is hoping for a successful World Cup campaign with Japan - who face Germany in the group stage. - IMAGO/Revierfoto/IMAGO/Revierfoto

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Age: 33
Position: Forward
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: Cameroon

When Lewandowski left Bayern for Barcelona over the summer, few would have expected Choupo-Moting to slot so seamlessly into the sizeable gap left by the prolific Pole. The 33-year-old was sidelined with injury at the start of the campaign, but hasn't looked back since scoring in the 5-0 rout of second-placed Freiburg in mid-October. With six goals in six Bundesliga outings before the World Cup break – plus another five in the Champions League and DFB Cup – Choupo-Moting is on red-hot form as his country prepare to face Switzerland, Serbia and Brazil in a tough Group G.

"I'm very happy with Choupo's performances," Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann declared recently, with Bayern fans choosing Choupo-Moting as their Player of the Month for October. "I think he feels comfortable in the team, and he's one of our best players at the moment."

Born in Hamburg, Choupo-Moting played for Germany at youth level, but switched his allegiance to Cameroon ahead of the 2010 World Cup. His 68 national caps include group-stage appearances at the 2014 tournament in Brazil, but he missed out when his country landed their fifth Africa Cup of Nations title in 2017, having chosen to focus on club matters with Schalke. After scoring in the dramatic World Cup playoff win over Algeria to reach the 2022 showpiece, he will now be determined to help the Indomitable Lions reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1990.

Watch: What Choupo-Moting brings to Bayern

Benjamin Pavard

Age: 26
Position: Right-back/centre-back
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: France

Scoring any kind of goal at a World Cup is special, but occasionally a player comes up with a moment of magic that will be remembered for generations. In the 2018 round of 16, Pavard rifled in the official goal of the tournament in France's barnstorming 4-3 win over Argentina. It was a thing of beauty: perfect balance, outside of the right boot, the ball swerving well beyond the reach of Franco Armani and into the top corner. Pavard's stunner made it 2-2 and swung the momentum back in France's favour; Kylian Mbappe soon added two more goals as they swept on into the quarter-finals and ultimately went on to win the World Cup for the second time.

"It was only later that I realised: that goal will stay with me for life," Pavard told L'Equipe Magazine. "It has changed my life. Everyone talks to me about it. In 20 years, when you search 'Pavard' on YouTube, it'll come up with 'goal against Argentina'. Not everyone is lucky enough to score a goal like that at the World Cup, but the main thing was going on to lift the trophy. That was simply the best moment of my life."

A relative unknown before the tournament, Pavard's name was soon on everybody's lips, and his profile was raised further by a move from Stuttgart to Bayern in summer 2019. He played a key role in the treble-winning campaign of 2019/20, and is still one of the first names on Nagelsmann's teamsheet, either as a right-back or centre-back. That versatility should serve France at the World Cup, especially with Presnel Kimpembe's late withdrawal. Any relative newcomers to the squad will also be encouraged by Pavard's journey; he was making just his ninth appearance for Les Bleus when he earned himself a place in World Cup folklore with that once-in-a-lifetime strike.

Yann Sommer

Age: 33
Position: Goalkeeper
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Country: Switzerland

It isn't only outfield players who end up becoming World Cup heroes – just ask Taffarel, Fabien Barthez, Gianluigi Buffon or Manuel Neuer. Who could forget Gordon Banks's physics-defying save from Pele in 1970, or Tim Krul coming off the bench for a penalty shoot-out masterclass against Costa Rica in 2014? Some of the world's classiest custodians will be on show again in 2022, and Sommer could be one of those who makes the biggest impact.

The Gladbach and Switzerland No.1 certainly has major tournament pedigree. Last summer, he made a decisive penalty save from Mbappe as Die Nati dumped World Cup holders France out of UEFA Euro 2020. At the 2018 World Cup, he helped the Swiss qualify from a group containing Brazil and Serbia, two nations they will face again in 2022.

Gladbach have had a rather up-and-down campaign so far, but Sommer has been one of their standout performers. He produced a whopping 19 (NINETEEN!) saves in the 1-1 draw with Bayern on Matchday 4, setting a new Bundesliga record in the process. He's also one of the best in the business when it comes to saving spot-kicks, having kept out 24 over the course of his career. Sommer did suffer an ankle injury in October that forced him to miss five Bundesliga games, but returned for a pre-tournament friendly against Ghana before Switzerland's Group G opener with Cameroon.

Watch: Sommer's record-breaking performance against Bayern

Randal Kolo Muani

Age: 23
Position: Forward
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Country: France

Not included in the original France squad, Kolo Muani was in Tokyo with Frankfurt when he received perhaps the biggest phone call of his life. Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps called the young forward to explain that the unfortunate Christopher Nkunku was going to miss the World Cup, and he wanted Kolo Muani to replace him. The 23-year-old evidently accepted, although not without a genuine sense of remorse for his friend Nkunku, who would obviously have made this list if not for a heart-breaking knee injury in France's final training session on home soil.

And so the Bundesliga's leading assist provider takes the place of its leading scorer. Kolo Muani has been a revelation since joining the Eagles from Nantes this summer, dovetailing brilliantly with Kamada and Jesper Lindstrom – another player to watch with Denmark. As well as racking up those nine assists, he has scored eight goals in all competitions, with his winner against Sporting Lisbon earning Frankfurt a last-16 tie with Napoli in the Champions League.

"Randal deserves his call-up thanks to his recent performances," said Frankfurt sporting director Markus Krösche. "The World Cup can help him make the next step in his development." A budding Bundesliga star, Kolo Muani is very much a baby Bleu, having only made a couple of late substitute appearances against Austria and Denmark in September. He may not be challenging Mbappe, Benzema et al. for a starting berth, but Deschamps will need his full squad firing if France want to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend the World Cup title.

Dani Olmo

Age: 24
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: RB Leipzig
Country: Spain

Olmo was just 12 years old when Spain won their first and only World Cup to date in 2010. Fast forward as many years, and the RB Leipzig playmaker is now treading in the same footsteps as vaunted midfield maestros Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.

The Barcelona academy graduate played in five of Spain's six games at Euro 2020, where the two-time European champions fell to eventual winners Italy in the semi-finals. He's had his fair share of injury set-backs since then, but has recovered fitness and form just in time for his maiden World Cup finals.

Olmo scored twice in the Bundesliga in November, taking his Bundesliga count to 12 goals and 16 assists in 73 games. The 24-time Spain international has also worked his magic in the UEFA Champions League, and played his part in Leipzig's triumphant DFB Cup run last season. A cerebral and creative attacker with a penchant for the spectacular, he is capable of unlocking the stingiest of defences and beating the most stubborn of goalkeepers.