Youssoufa Moukoko, Josko Gvardiol and the Bundesliga's top 5 U21s to watch at the World Cup
The World Cup will be awash with talented young stars keen to display their magnificent ability during the tournament, and with many of those players plying their trade in Germany's top division, bundesliga.com offers you five to watch in the coming weeks.
Joe Scally (19) - USA/Borussia Mönchengladbach
An ever present under recently appointed Gladbach coach Daniel Farke, Scally is excelling in his second full season in the Bundesliga down by the Rhine. A cornerstone of the team in a campaign that has brought plenty of highs for the Foals - like an impressive win against Borussia Dortmund prior to the Bundesliga break - the former New York City FC defender will bring versatility to a USMNT side that is set to face England, Iran and Wales in a tricky Group B.
Scally - who has won just three caps under international coach Gregg Berhalter - will face competition on the right side of defence from AC Milan loanee Sergino Dest but it is a battle the Lake Grove native will relish.
"Putting on the U.S. jersey is something special and I can only imagine what it's like at a real World Cup to put on the jersey and represent your country on the biggest stage," Scally told bundesliga.com. "You look at it on video games and you watch it as a kid; it would be amazing."
Watch: Joe Scally - Gladbach favourite
With as many as 120 tackles and 17 aerial duels won and 16 crosses made, Scally's solid Bundesliga credentials are clearly signposted and with the 19-year-old as comfortable on the left as he is on the right, coach Berhalter knows he has a valued gem at his disposal.
Youssoufa Moukoko (17) - Germany/Borussia Dortmund
Put simply, Moukoko is one of world football's most exciting young players and what a treat fans at the Qatar showpiece will be in for when the 17-year-old eventually takes his first steps onto the pitch. He may not be among Germany coach Hansi Flick's first choices when Die Mannschaft kick off their Group B challenge against Japan on 23 November, but expect the Cameroon-born player to be at least given an opportunity to show what he can do as the section plays out.
Moukoko has been breathtaking during his 14 games in the Bundesliga this season, the former St. Pauli youth thrust to the fore following the departure Erling Haaland and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Sebastien Haller's illness. Yet the Bundesliga's youngest-ever debutant and scorer has showed no signs of nerves since stepping up, even scoring six goals and laying on three assists in his 14 top-flight matches under coach Edin Terzic.
Watch: Moukoko wins the Mother of all Derbies !
With one of those goals the winner in the Revierderby and another coming in a superb Klassiker comeback against Bayern Munich (making Moukoko the youngest ever scorer in both of those high-profile fixtures) the striker could well be on course to upset more opponents in the coming weeks.
Josko Gvardiol (20) - Croatia/RB Leipzig
Croatia will have a blend of youth and experience in central defence when they begin their World Cup challenge with veteran Dejan Lovren set to accompany reliable Leipzig centre-back Gvardiol. The Zagreb-born defender won't shy away from the big occasion and among his 19 games for Die Roten Bullen this term, there was a stand-out showing in a Champions League group stage victory against Real Madrid, in which the youngster even scored.
Croatia's youngest-ever player to feature in a major tournament when he did so at EURO 2020, Gvardiol has so far amassed 12 senior caps and netted once for his country. He has excelled at club level with the arrival of coach Marco Rose, the defender adding significant heft to a Leipzig team that won their last six games in all competitions and who haven't been beaten since mid-September.
With Croatia set to open against Morocco on 23 November before taking on Canada and then Belgium, Luka Modric & Co. will feel boosted by Gvardiol's presence among their talented ranks.
Piero Hincapie (20) - Ecuador/Bayer Leverkusen
A key member of Xabi Alonso's Leverkusen revolution, Hincapie is facing the immense prospect of playing in the World Cup's opening game when Ecuador meet hosts Qatar. "As a defender, I'm not just going to be defending our rivals, but I'll also be representing 18 million Ecuadorians," the man from the country's north-west explained.
"Our people expect and they are filled with hope for us," he added. Part of a young Ecuador team that is hoping to cause an upset in a group that also contains the Netherlands and African champions Senegal (who will be without the injured Sadio Mane) the Bayer centre back has played in a three-man defensive set-up under Alonso, of whom Hincapie says is, "More than my manager, he's my captain."
Hincapie has racked up 40 Bundesliga appearances since signing for Leverkusen in the summer of 2021 and he takes his considerable abilities to the World Cup with an Ecuador side for whom he has won 21 senior caps, scoring once. "We want to show why we're here [at the World Cup] and that, despite being such a young team, we won that right. We'll do our talking on the pitch," Hincapie added.
Jakub Kaminski (20) - Poland/Wolfsburg
Part of the Wolfsburg side that ended the pre-world Cup break on a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions and that won their previous four in the Bundesliga, Kaminski has excelled on the left since signing for the Wolves last July.
The former Lech Poznan star - who was voted Poland's Young Player of the Season in 2021 - has weighed into Wolfsburg's campaign with a couple of assists across his 13 Bundesliga appearances to date. He may not start from the off in Czeslaw Michniewicz's Poland side in Qatar, but expect the 20-year-old to feature in a tough Group C that contains heavy hitters Argentina and Mexico along with Saudi Arabia.
A real handful for opposing defenders and an expert in breaking out of tight situations and bursting away at pace, Kaminski could be the perfect player to provide Robert Lewandowski with the crosses the former Bayern Munich marksman loves to feed off.
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