Rio Ferdinand picked three of the top young talents in the world for World Cup spectators to keep an eye on.

Rio Ferdinand knows a thing or two about international football, winning 81 caps for his country and featuring in two World Cups, as well as the run up to South Africa before having to withdraw with injury. 

Ferdinand may have even made the England squad for Brazil, given the shortage of top class cover in central defence.

As it is, he will be watching as a pundit for the BBC, and the former Manchester United captain, currently looking for a new club after his contract at Old Trafford expired this summer, was speaking to the Daily Mail recently about the three young players he is really getting excited about ahead of the tournament.

Paul Pogba

It is crazy that Pogba only made 7 appearances for Manchester United before heading to Juventus on a free. It is clear that he had the talent to be playing in the first team in his last season at the club, and has gone to become arguably the top young central midfielder in the world since arriving in Italy.

Ferdinand for one was well aware how good a player he would become: “I was sorry to see him go. Everyone at United knew he was going to be a super player when he arrived at 16 from Le Havre.”

“He told me before he left he wants to be the best player in the world. He said it deadpan but meant it. He is like Patrick Vieira, only more skilful with a greater range of abilities. That’s how highly I rate him.”

Rumour has it that Louis van Gaal and United want to bring the bring 21-year-old back to the club, for a huge £60 million. 

Julian Draxler

Longterm Arsenal target Draxler is another player Ferdinad has identified as a World Cup star. It looked very likely that the Schalke youngster would end up at the Emirates this January only for the transfer window to pass on by. Still just 20-years-old, he is clearly a player that has impressed Ferdinand, who said of the attacking midfielder: “I hope he gets some time on the field among the many talents Germany have. He has fine feet and a great imagination.

“He has been playing regularly in the Bundesliga for more than two years. He has an eye for goal, evident back in May 2011 when he scored an absolute peach for Schalke in a German cup final win with a long-range volley. He has a big future.”

A big tournament for the German would inevitably lead to big interest in someone so promising.

James Rodriguez

The Colombian has had a fine debut season in Ligue 1 following his €45 million move to Monaco. With countryman Radamel Falcao out injured, he starred for the principality club, and ended up with the most assists in the league. He will have to continue to deputise for Colombia in Brazil, where he will at least have former Porto teammate Jackson Martinez to play off. Ferdinand is looking forward to seeing the left-winger who he sees as having: “Great balance, a turn of pace and a nice left foot.

“He’s that rare talent — someone who gets you off your seat. The absence of Falcao is perhaps Rodriguez’s chance to take centre stage.”

In other news, 19-year-old convinces Arsenal to make move, would join U23s first - report