Ones to Watch: 7 Players Who Could Be the Breakout Stars of This Summer's FIFA World Cup

In all 20 FIFA World Cups, the world has bore witness to young stars making their mark on the world stage. 


Pele in 1958, Franz Beckenbauer in 1966 and Roberto Baggio in 1990, all used the world stage to make themselves household names.


So who will do it in 2018? Here are some of the candidates: 

7. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: Lazio & Serbia

The 23-year-old will be a familiar name for Manchester United fans as he has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford this summer. The Serbian midfield player has drawn comparisons to current Man Utd star Paul Pogba due to his exceptional ability both on and off the ball. He’s been a first team regular for Lazio for the past two seasons as they secured back to back fifth place finishes in Serie A


Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will likely start for Serbia alongside Matic as they bid to get out of the group for the first time since 1998. With Costa Rica and Switzerland to contend with, Serbia could see their way through to the knockout rounds and Milinkovic-Savic will surely be looking to impress his potential new club. 

6. Hirving Lozano: PSV & Mexico

Often referred to as 'Chucky', Hirving Lozano has enjoyed a breakout campaign domestically at PSV this season. The Mexican winger forced his way into the first team after securing a move from Pachuca, and has impressed in his first Eredivisie season. 


Lozano hit 17 goals in 29 league games this season, helping steer PSV to the league title. He is also becoming an increasingly important player for his national team, having already scored seven goals internationally. Mexico are expected to emerge from their group so the 22-year-old could find himself on the scoresheet in one of those early group games.

5. Marko Pjaca: Juventus & Croatia

Marko Pjaca hasn’t managed to nail down a first team spot at Juventus since his move from Dinamo Zagreb back in 2016. He spent last season on loan at Schalke 04 where he also struggled for regular game time. The Croatian winger took good advantage of his game time in the Bundesliga though, scoring twice in just seven appearances. 


Pjaca has made his way into the regular rotation for Croatia and could catch a few defences off guard this summer.

4. Hakim Ziyech: Ajax & Morocco

Part of Ajax’s impressive crop of talent in recent seasons Hakim Ziyech has been a regular with the Dutch side since 2016. He also has an impressive record with Heerenveen and FC Twente in the Eredivisie as an attacking midfield player who offers goals and assists to his side. 


He’s been linked with a switch to Liverpool since the apparent collapse of the Nabil Fekir deal, and could put himself ahead of other targets with some impressive displays this summer. Ziyech represented the Netherlands at youth team level, but made the switch to Morocco for his full senior debut. At 25 years old he’s the oldest player on this list, but if he delivers like he has for Ajax this season, he could still be deemed a breakout player. 

3. Achraf Hakimi: Real Madrid & Morocco

Another member of a Morocco side that could prove one of the surprise packages of the tournament. Achraf Hakimi is one of Real Madrid’s next generation talents at just 19 years old, he has featured predominantly for Real Madrid B but has stepped up to the first team, making nine professional appearances. 


He has two goals in those nine games which is pretty impressive considering he is right back. Hakimi can cover anywhere across the back line and has regularly also played centre half in Madrid’s development sides. He was linked with a loan move to Sunderland last summer that never materialised, but he’ll be hoping for some more illustrious suitors after the World Cup. 

2. Pione Sisto: Celta Vigo & Denmark

Ugandan born Pione Sisto began his career in Denmark with Midtjylland as part of the side that shot to prominence when the won the Danish Premier League. He scored 20 goals in 90 appearances for the Danish side, earning himself a call up the Danish national team. 


He secured a switch to La Liga with Celta Vigo, where he quickly became a prominent first team player. He scored his first goal for the national team in March this year and has been in fine form ahead of the World Cup. All eyes will be on Christian Eriksen in that side but he is going to need willing runners to link up with and Sisto will provide exactly that on the wing. 

1. Timo Werner: RB Leipzig & Germany

The safest bet for a breakout player, Timo Werner will be likely be the main striker throughout the tournament for reigning world champions Germany. With a wealth of talent in support he is expected to have a big impact for the Germans this summer. He hasn’t been in the national side long but he already has eight goals for them and won the Golden Boot at the 2017 Confederations Cup.


In fact Werner is one of the favourites to win the Golden Boot at the upcoming World Cup which could pose a problem for his side RB Leipzig. The 22-year-old already has 42 goals for the unpopular German side as they took the Bundesliga by storm since their promotion.

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