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The FIFA U-20 World Cup can act as a launchpad for a successful career, or at the very least a positive learning experience for any young player. If the senior FIFA World Cup is used as a barometer, then the evidence of the importance of its ‘little brother’ is clear.
Ten of Spain’s successful 2010 World Cup squad gained a grounding at the U-20 World Cup, while fabled World Cup winners Diego Maradona, Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho all featured at an U-20 World Cup before leading their country to glory at the senior edition.
With Russia 2018 approaching, FIFA.com looks at stars of the most recent editions of the U-20 World Cup who could feature at the senior finals this year.
Gabriel Jesus: Brazil
Their talisman Neymar aside, Jesus is the Brazilian everybody is talking about heading into Russia 2018. Three years ago, Jesus was already turning heads, having featured for Palmeiras in the Brazilian top flight aged 18. The youngster would go on to impress at New Zealand 2015, helping his side to the final.
Since then, Jesus’ stock has only risen. The forward has become an integral part of the senior Seleção side, scoring six goals in 10 World Cup qualifying matches, after he scored three in six games on the way to Men’s Olympic Football Tournament gold with the hosts at Rio 2016.
Andre Silva: Portugal
It will not be easy for Portugal to move on from the Cristiano Ronaldo era, but the Real Madrid man has identified him as is heir in the Seleccion das quinas side.
This heavy responsibility has been put on the forward’s broad shoulders, after his impressive performances so far for youth and senior sides. He impressed at New Zealand 2015 with four goals at a reasonably impressive rate of one every 114 minutes.
Rodrigo Bentancur: Uruguay
It is safe to say that Bentancur’s trajectory since the Korea Republic 2017 has been upward. The Uruguayan youngster played a crucial role in La Celeste’s midfield at last year’s U-20 World Cup, helping the side to fourth.
He had already agreed to sign for Italian giants Juventus the month prior to the finals, and formally joined them from Boca Juniors in July 2017.
Edson Alvarez: Mexico
To say the U-20 World Cup was key in helping Alvarez get senior international recognition would be a little far from the truth, as the Club America man actually made his senior debut for El Tri 10 days before he made his first appearance for the U-20 side. -FIFA.COM