Nine incredible stars to watch at U17 World Cup including ‘Brazilian Messi’ and record-breaking Arsenal starlet


SCOUTS have been out in force at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Indonesia as the planet’s most promising teenagers bid to follow in the footsteps of some illustrious former winners.

Neymar, Alisson, Toni Kroos and Ronaldinho have all appeared at previous editions while Cesc Fabregas (2003) and Phil Foden (2017) shone brightly enough to be awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball.

EPAThe Under-17 World Cup is heating up as it hits the business end[/caption]

GETTYTeenagers from around the world are putting themselves in the shop window[/caption]

But who will be the name on everyone’s lips at the end of this month’s event?

SunSport is on hand with nine players we think have lit up the tournament and have bright futures ahead of themselves.

Estevao Willian (Brazil)

Brazil‘s greatest teenage talent earned the nickname ‘Messinho’ long before he came to national prominence during an acrimonious switch from the Cruzeiro youth set-up to Palmeiras at the age of 14.

Like the famous Argentine number 10, Estevao is predominantly left-footed and insanely skilful in tight spaces with a burst that can free him from defenders.

He can also shoot, as he proved when curling a 25-yard effort home in Brazil’s 9-0 demolition of New Caledonia earlier this week.

Former Barcelona scout Andre Cury, the man who helped take both Ronaldinho and Neymar to the club, has been advising Estevao.

And while Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal have also shown interest, the 16-year-old recently admitted that the Nou Camp is his dream destination.  

EPABrazul’s Estevao Willian is one to watch out for in the tournament[/caption]

Amara Diouf (Senegal)

Diouf – one of the youngest players at the tournament – learned his trade at the famous Generation Foot academy in Dakar, which launched the careers of current senior Senegal stars Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr  

The powerfully built left-winger now looks set to follow in the footsteps of Mane and join Metz in France‘s top flight, although probably not for long.

Manchester City, Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid were all reportedly circling before he made his decision.

Diouf’s displays in Indonesia, where he scored twice in Senegal’s 2-1 win over Argentina, suggest he may soon be ready for a bigger stage.

GettyAmara Diouf is the one to watch in Senegal’s talented squad[/caption]

Claudio Echeverri (Argentina)

Overshadowed by Diouf in Argentina’s opening game, Echeverri produced a moment of magic to get his team back on track for the knockout stages when he opened the scoring with a delightful long-range free-kick against Japan.

Like Messi, the attacking midfielder wears the captain’s armband and the famous Number 10 shirt, but Echeverri is right-footed and bears a closer resemblance to current Argentina Under-17 coach Pablo Aimar.

He came through the same River Plate finishing school that produced Aimar, plus City’s Julian Alvarez, with the Treble winners following Echeverri closely throughout the South American Under-17 Championship he top scored in earlier this year.  

Juventus, Real Madrid and PSG are also said to be sniffing around the teenager, who will be eligible to move to Europe in January when he turns 18.

GETTYClaudio Echeverri is a real prospect for Argentina[/caption]

Assan Ouédraogo (Germany)

Son of a former Burkina Faso international, Ouédraogo is a box-to-box midfielder and perhaps the most physically impressive player at the tournament.

In Germany, where he has been playing regularly for Schalke, he has already been compared to ex-Chelsea star Michael Essien for his ability to win the ball and drive forward.

But his liking for slide tackles and sheer size, at 6ft 3in tall, bring back memories of ex-Arsenal star Patrick Vieira.

Another of Vieira’s former clubs, AC Milan, are understood to be keen on signing him but they could face stiff competition from Liverpool plus Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig.

GETTYAssan Ouedraogo is rated highly by many in Germany[/caption]

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Noah Darvich (Germany)

Barcelona beat Bayern, Ajax, Arsenal, Manchester City and PSG to the signature of Darvich in the summer and his displays in Germany’s first two games suggest they were right to pay Freiburg almost £4.5million.  

A beautifully-balanced left-footer with an ability to glide past opponents like former Gunners idol Mesut Ozil, Darvich played a starring role with a goal and an assist in Germany’s 3-1 win over Mexico on Sunday.

He assisted again in another 3-1 win over New Zealand on Wednesday, having earlier struck an upright with a bending free-kick.

GETTYGermany’s Noah Darvich effortlessly glides past players[/caption]

Marc Guiu (Spain)

Barcelona’s famed La Masia production line has not turned out any tall, strong centre forwards that draw comparisons to Erling Haaland until now.

Guiu may still be a long way from emulating the success of Haaland, but he is ahead of the curve in some respects, having scored the winner for Xavi‘s side in a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao last month.

The 17-year-old was one of the top scorers at this year’s U-17 European Championship, together with Barca teammate Lamine Yamal who he has played alongside since the age of seven.  

GettySpain’s Marc Guiu has several people purring[/caption]

Hamidou Makalou (Mali)

One of Mali’s many talented stars certain to be on the big clubs’ radars after the tournament, midfielder Hamidou Makalou has taken his chance to shine in front of the assembled scouts.

Playing in a double pivot with Red Bull Salzburg-bound Sekou Kone, Makalou helped Mali dominate the middle of the park against Spain and got on the scoresheet in their final group game against Canada.

His clean touches and line-breaking passes are sure to attract lots of attention.

GETTYHamidou Makalou of Mali is one to keep an eye on[/caption]

Ethan Nwaneri (England)

At the tender age of 16, Ethan Nwaneri is one of England‘s brightest talents.

The midfielder has dominated matches for Arsenal’s Under-18 and Under-21 sides, so much so that Mikel Arteta rewarded him with two first-team starts last season.

Nwaneri has had to make do with one solitary first-team appearance so far this campaign.

The youngster has shown poise and versatility well beyond his years.

He may not be well known right now, but he’ll definitely be a household name come the end of the tournament.

GettyEthan Nwaneri is expected to be one of England’s top stars at the U-17 World Cup[/caption]

APEngland ace Ethan Nwaneri has already showcased his talents for Arsenal’s first team[/caption]

Ishe Samuels-Smith (England)

CHELSEA signed up promising defender Ishe Samuels-Smith from Everton for £4m in the summer

The 17-year-old made the switch to Stamford Bridge after impressing for Everton Under-21s and is delighted to be a Blue.

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The highly-rated teenager featured prominently for Everton’s youth sides last season and was named on the first-team bench for the 4-1 Carabao Cup defeat by Bournemouth on November 22 as well as the 3-1 defeat to Fulham on April 15.

He has also represented England at under-15, under-16, and under-17 level,

Samuels-Smith was the only Englishman named in the Uefa team of the tournament at the Under-17 European Championship last summer.

EPAIshe Samuel-Smith in action against Mahan Sadeghi of Iran[/caption]

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