Below are five footballers who can take the 2014 World Cup by storm.
While the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar will be stealing all the headlines in the run-up to the World Cup in Brazil, here are five lesser-known names who could shine this summer.
While largely inexperienced on the international level, Jahanbakhsh’s performances in Eredivisie this season have given the hopes of Iran a noticeable boost. A promising midfielder-cum-forward with a nose for goal, the 20-year-old’s playmaking instincts will be crucial in determining whether his unfancied side can cause an upset in Brazil.
Set to be the team’s main man up front ahead of the more experienced Aleksandr Kerzhakov, 23-year-old Kokorin has been considered the future of Russian football for some time, and now he will finally get the chance to prove why in front of the footballing world this summer. Also capable of playing out wide or as a second striker, his versatility will give Fabio Capello’s side valuable flexibility going into the tournament.
A former MLS wonderkid with DC United, Najar is coming off a title-winning campaign in Belgium, where he has been hailed as one of the league’s top young talents. The 21-year-old winger will look to provide Honduras with some much needed pace and creativity in Brazil, where they stand an outside chance of progressing from the group if they play to their full potential.
Coming off a stellar debut season in Europe, Ryan’s excellent form in goal has seen him linked with a host of top clubs across the continent, including even Champions League winners Real Madrid. With Australia pitched against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in the group stage, the 22-year-old will have plenty of opportunities to prove his shot-stopping prowess.
A solid all-round centre-back and aerial threat from set-pieces, Schar’s performances in Europe over the past two years have been impressive enough to attract interest from the likes of Barcelona and Arsenal. With Switzerland’s defence facing a few questions going into the tournament, the 22-year-old will be relied upon to keep things tight at the back and help see his team safely through to the last 16.