Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Thomas Muller all won the FIFA Young Player Award at a World Cup before ascending into superstardom. We reveal five players who could headline the next generation of talent and win this year’s award in Qatar.
To be eligible for the FIFA Young Player Award, footballers must be 21 years old or younger.
1. Jamal Musiala – Germany
Following an impressive stint at Chelsea’s academy in Cobham, Jamal Musiala joined Bayern Munich in 2019 and quickly evolved into Germany’s next teenage sensation.
Across all competitions this season, he has scored a remarkable 12 goals and delivered 11 assists in 22 appearances.
One of the most versatile midfielders in Europe, Musiala has lined up as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder, left and right midfielder, and on the wing for his club and country.
Although Musiala is only 19, he has already earned 17 caps for Germany, scoring one goal and laying off two assists.
Based on his outstanding form and ability to play multiple positions, Musiala has the talent to become the third German to receive the FIFA Young Player Award at a World Cup.
2. Pedri – Spain
Winner of the 2021 Kopa Trophy awarded to the best under-21 player in the world, Pedri is one of Spain’s most promising footballers.
Starting his professional career with Las Palmas as a 16-year-old, he joined FC Barcelona in 2020 and has become a first-team regular ever since.
At 19, Pedri has already made 93 appearances for the Spanish giants scoring 12 goals and giving off seven assists.
Including his success at Barcelona, the versatile midfielder has earned 14 caps for Spain and represented his country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games too.
After his phenomenal performance at the 2020 UEFA Euro, Pedri was named Young Player of the Tournament and the only teenager to make the prestigious Team of the Tournament.
Looking to add to his extensive list of accolades, Pedri will be a frontrunner to bring home the FIFA Young Player Award this year.
3. Bukayo Saka – England
A key contributor to Arsenal’s meteoric rise in the Premier League this season, Bukayo Saka brings plenty of flair to the English line-up.
The exciting midfielder spent ten years at the Gunners academy, Hale End and made his first senior appearance for the club in 2018.
Since his debut, the 21-year-old has taken the field 151 times for Arsenal, hitting the back of the net on 28 occasions and passing off 35 assists.
Usually deployed as a right midfielder, Saka possesses elite attacking qualities that create many scoring chances for teammates and himself.
Saka’s diverse skillset has helped him claim 20 caps for England and emerge as one of the country’s best playmakers.
Despite his young age, he became the first Arsenal player to win the English Men’s Footballer of the Year last season after a series of excellent performances.
Considering his outstanding form for club and country, Saka is a serious contender for this tournament’s FIFA Young Player Award.
4. Gavi – Spain
The reigning Golden Boy Award winner, Gavi, is widely regarded as the best 18-year-old footballer in the world.
Following an impressive spell at Real Betis’ academy, he joined Barcelona’s youth set-up in 2015 aged 11.
Six years after his move to La Masia, Gavi made his senior debut in 2021. Playing primarily as a central midfielder, he has played 66 times for the Catalonian club.
Throughout his time at Barcelona, Gavi has scored twice and given off seven assists over all competitions.
His outstanding composure on the ball and ability to control the tempo of a game immediately caught the eye of the Spanish national team, who awarded Gavi his first cap shortly after his professional debut.
Even though Gavi was the youngest player to represent his country, the teenage prodigy helped Spain make the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League Final.
A year after fellow Spanish sensation Pedri won the award, Gavi’s international and club performances helped him win the 2022 Kopa Trophy.
Based on his rapid development and various achievements, Gavi is one of the favourites for this year’s FIFA Young Player Award.
5. Jude Bellingham – England
Making his first professional appearance as a 16-year-old, Jude Bellingham quickly blossomed into one of football’s most talented teenagers.
A graduate of the Birmingham City Academy, Bellingham played 44 times for the Blues, winning several accolades.
English pundits recognised his immense talent in central midfield and awarded him the 2019-20 EFL Young Player of the Season Award.
Before he left Birmingham City for Borussia Dortmund in 2020, Bellingham’s number 22 jersey was retired for his outstanding contribution to the club.
To this day, he is one of the only athletes in the world to have his number retired by a professional sports team as a teenager.
Continuing his exceptional form in Germany, the 19-year-old has appeared 112 times for Dortmund, scoring 18 goals and setting up 11 assists.
Along with his glistening club career, Bellingham has earned 17 caps for England and helped The Three Lions make the 2020 UEFA Euro Final.
Bellingham’s class and consistency in midfield make him a genuine candidate for this World Cup’s FIFA Young Player Award.