Mateo Kovačić
Age: 20
Position: Midfielder
World Cup matches: 3
Minutes played: 111
Croatia’s unlucky run at the World Cup
deprived the global audience of watching
more of Kovačić, the highly rated Inter Milan
midfielder. His ability to take on opponents is
underlined by his sheer ball control, which is complemented
by great vision. Kovačić was mainly utilised as an impact
player and he is worth a place on this list despite limited
game time in the tournament
Memphis Depay (Netherlands)
Age: 20
Position: Striker
World Cup matches: 4 (2 goals)
Minutes played: 173
The pacy winger came off the bench to
score twice during the group stage with a
winning goal in the 3-2 victory over Australia
and a late strike in the Oranje’s 2-0 victory
over Chile. Such impact by the youngster
prompted coach Louis van Gaal to hand
the PSV Eindhoven player a starting
berth against Costa Rica in the
quarterfinals. Van Gaal is believed
to be eyeing the young lad to
follow him to Manchester United
in the English Premier League
Chelsea coach José Mourinho once
hailed Varane as the ‘best young
defender in the world’ when he
coached Real Madrid. Varane has lived
up to his reputation as the emerging
talent on the international scene since
his national debut a year ago. For a
player whose key responsibilities include
thwarting attacks from opposing strikers,
Varane left the tournament in the last 16
stage without a caution or a red card.
This points to his tactical maturity and
Divock Origi (Belgium)
Age: 19
Position: Striker
World Cup matches: 5 (1 goal)
Minutes played: 245
‘He’s got excellent technique, he’s quick, he’s very
strong in the duel and he can make a good entrance
at any moment during a game.’ No one could have
summed up the characteristics of Origi better than
his national team coach Marc Wilmots. Origi
responded well as an impact player at the World
Cup. He scored in Belgium’s 1-0 win over Russia
to become the youngest scorer at Brazil 2014,
beating Memphis Depay of the Netherlands.
Wilmots rewarded Origi with starting berths against
the US and Argentina in the knockout stages. The lad
was called up in place of the injured Christian Benteke
despite boasting just one top-flight season under his
belt with Lille in France
José Giménez
Age: 19
Position: Defender
World Cup matches: 3
Minutes played: 270
Paul Pogba (France)
Age: 21
Position: Midfielder
World Cup matches: 5 (1 goal)
Minutes played: 354
A world champion at Under-20 level, Pogba’s imposing frame offers him good
balance. He is blessed with sublime technique and good vision. The man of the
match accolade he received against Nigeria in the last 16 was a perfect reward for
him after he provided 60 passes and a goal to cap a good show. He made his
senior international debut in March last year having come through the French
youth team ranks
Raphaël Varane (France)
Age: 21
Position: Defender
World Cup matches: 5
Minutes played: 389
Giménez showed tactical awareness in the heart of the
Uruguayan defence alongside his captain Diego Godin,
where they alternated in repelling prolific strikers such
as Italy’s Mario Balotelli and the England duo of
Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge. With just nine
international caps under his belt, the Atlético Madrid
defender is already lauded by international football
pundits as a great future defensive talent
Also worth mentioning...
Adam Taggart (Australia)
Age: 20
Position: Striker
World Cup matches: 2
Minutes played: 59
The newly signed Fulham striker came on as a substitute in
the Aussies’ gutsy 3-2 loss against the Netherlands, and started
against Spain. He came to the World Cup with a record of 16
goals in the Australian A-League
Raheem Sterling (England)
Age: 19
Position: Striker
World Cup matches: 3
Minutes played: 182
Sterling had a stellar run with Liverpool last season but
England’s tactical limitations at the World Cup overshadowed
even what the youngster offered in Brazil
Juan Quintero (Colombia)
Age: 21
Position: Midfielder
World Cup matches: 3
Minutes played: 93
The FC Porto midfielder forged a good understanding with star
team-mate James Rodríguez in the few minutes he was on the
field. Quintero came off the bench to score his first goal for
Colombia in the 2-1 win over Côte d’Ivoire in the group stages
Brazil 2014 wunderkinds