Who fits into a Starting XI of the best young players of the World Cup? Following the PFA young player of the year format of players aged 23-and-under to start a season or tournament, it’s a pretty tricky undertaking.
For example, Enner Valencia of Colombia, Toni Kroos of Germany and Hector Herrera of Mexico are 24- and 25-years-old, as are several other “new” superstars of the tournament.
We’ll do this thing by the rules though:
GK- Thibaut Courtois, 22 (Belgium) — We already knew he was very good, but he could win the award by default due to the lack of goalkeepers starting for World Cup teams at his age. Then again, doesn’t that say enough in itself?
D- Stefan de Vrij, 22 (Netherlands) — How’s this for a fun fact: de Vrij and Martins Indi (below) were born three days apart in February 1992. They could form the nucleus of a Dutch team that comes back strong in 2018.
[ MORE from our 2014 World Cup review ]
D- Faouzi Ghoulam, 23 (Algeria) — Only played in a pair of games, but it wasn’t a tremendous tournament for young defenders. Still, the French-born Napoli star did a good job in Algeria’s near-upset of the eventual champions.
D- DeAndre Yedlin, 21 (United States) — The super sub may find his true calling as a true winger, but Yedlin made his mark on the tournament with darting runs and key passes. One to watch.
M- Neymar, 22 (Brazil) — Only near-paralysis could stop the youngster. It’s incredible to think he’s just 22, especially considering the heat he received before the tournament for “not being a superstar“.
M- Andre Schurrle, 23 (Germany) — To be his age and capable of the crosses he made in this tournament… wow.
M- Bruno Martins Indi, 22 (Netherlands) — A bulldog who’s mature and headstrong enough to mess with Arjen Robben in training, the future is extra bright for Martins Indi.
M- Paul Pogba, 21 (France) — Maybe Sir Alex quit on the kid a little too early?
F- Ahmed Musa, 21 (Nigeria) — His pair of equalizers against Argentina came in a massive match, extra packed with pressure. The Super Eagles still made it through despite losing 3-2, but perhaps a star was born.
F- Memphis Depay, 20 (Netherlands) — Memphis just turned 20 in February, and announced his arrival to the world by scoring his first two international goals against Australia and Chile.
F- James Rodriguez, 23 (Colombia) — James just turned 23 on July 12, and we have a feeling we’ll hear much more from him soon. After all, he was also our surprise player of the tournament.