Barcelona's 17-year-old striker, Marc Guiu, leads FootballOrbit's list of 15 youngsters to watch out for at the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
After a four-year hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup will kick off today, Friday 10th November 2023. There are lots of youngsters to watch out for at the tournament.
Players born on or after January 1, 2006 are eligible for this year’s edition in Indonesia.
The youngsters that will be on parade at the tournament will dream of following in the footsteps of a host of global superstars who once competed at the U-17 World Cup.
Some of the superstars who once graced the tournament include: Luis Figo, Adriano, Nwankwo Kanu, Francesco Totti, Ronaldinho, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carlos Tevez, Marcelo, James Rodriguez, Eden Hazard, Toni Kroos, Allison Becker, Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Casemiro, Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Osimhen and Phil Foden.
In this piece, FootballOrbit brings you 15 youngsters to keep an eye on over the next few weeks as the competition unfolds.
1. Marc Guiu (Spain)
Due to his stature, Marc Guiu is very good at aerial balls, as well as having pace, strength and work-rate.
He scored 4 goals as Spain reached the semi-finals of UEFA U-17 Euros.
Guiu announced himself to the world in October when he made his Barcelona debut as a 79th-minute substitute, scoring the winning goal within 23 seconds of coming on with just his second touch in a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao.
At 17 years and 291 days of age, he became the youngest and fastest debutant to score for Barca in La Liga.
2. Gael Alvarez (Mexico)
Mexico qualified for the tournament after winning the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in February.
Gael Alvarez won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s Best Player after some impressive displays.
The 17-year-old — who plays his club football for Pachuca — is a very skillful winger who gets to the byline easily, crosses well, and possesses a powerful shot from distance.
3. Paris Brunner (Germany)
Paris Brunner rose to prominence in the footballing world after scoring 16 goals in only five U-17 Bundesliga appearances!!!
He was promoted to the U-19 side at the age of 16, scoring on his debut against Bonner SC in the Under 19 Bundesliga.
These goal-scoring feats earned him comparisons to teammate Youssoufa Moukoko, who was similarly prolific at youth level
Brunner was voted Player of the Tournament and was the competition’s joint-top scorer as Germany won the UEFA U-17 Euros during the summer.
Furthermore, the 17-year-old forward has already netted 10 times in eight league games for Dortmund’s U19s so far this season.
4. Amara Diouf (Senegal)
At just 15 years old, Amara Diouf will be among the youngest players at the tournament.
He scored 5 goals to win both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the CAF U-17 AFCON, as Senegal won the title for the first time ever.
The striker came through the famed Generation Foot academy that boasts of the likes of Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr and Pape Matar Sarr among its alumni.
Moreover, this year Diouf starred in the Mohammed VI under-19s tournament in Morocco, where Generation Foot won the competition — after eliminating the likes of Real Madrid.
It has been reported that Amara Diouf will join French side, FC Metz, when he comes of age — following the same path as his compatriot Sadio Mane.
On the 9th of September 2023, he made his international debut for Senegal in a 1-1 draw against Rwanda, to become his country’s youngest debutant at 15 years and 94 days old.
5. Gaku Nawata (Japan)
Gaku Nawata illuminated the AFC U-17 Asian Cup this year, scoring 5 goals to finish as both Top Scorer and Player of the Tournament as Japan won the trophy.
The 17-year-old forward is still playing high-school football in his homeland, where he averages one goal or assist per game in 2023.
6. Ethan Nwaneri (England)
Ethan Nwaneri made headlines back in September 2022 when he became the youngest player in Premier League history at the age of 15.
He led Arsenal to the FA Youth Cup final last season under the management of Jack Wilshere.
Moreso, he has scored four goals in as many games for the Gunners’ U21s in Premier League 2 so far this season.
Arsenal had to fight hard to keep Nwaneri amid intense competition from Manchester City and Chelsea over the summer, and England will look to him to provide the goals in Indonesia.
7. Assan Ouedraogo (Germany)
A box-to-box midfielder, Assan Ouedraogo is capable of using both feet, and has been lauded for his dribbling, creativity and goal-scoring ability.
Ahead of the 2023/24 season, he was promoted to the Schalke 04 first team.
Subsequently, the 17-year-old midfielder became the club’s youngest player and youngest goalscorer.
At the 2023 UEFA U-17 Euros, Ouedraogo scored the winning penalty as Germany beat France 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out victory in the final.
8. Claudio Echeverri (Argentina)
Attacking midfielder, Claudio Echeverri, will captain Argentina in Indonesia after finishing as joint-top scorer at the South American U17 Championship in May with 5 goals.
The 17-year-old River Plate youngster has been compared to Lionel Messi. Talented with excellent close control and dribbling skills, owing to an exceptional first touch, he is a first-rate passer of the ball and can score too.
9. Karol Borys (Poland)
Karol Borys scored three goals in Poland’s run to the semi-finals of the UEFA U-17 Euros that secured their World Cup qualification.
He made his debut for Slock Wrocklaw in May 2022 as a 15-year-old, to become the club’s youngest-ever player.
Borys stands out on the pitch thanks to his vision, dribbling skills and ability to find spaces with and without the ball.
10. Mathis Lambourde (France)
Mathis Lambourde was very crucial as France reached the UEFA U-17 Euros final earlier this year.
The 17-year-old winger has electric pace to go with his clinical finishing, making him very difficult to play against.
Notably, he scored 25 goals for Rennes’ various youth sides last season. That secured him promotion to the first team, where he has already made two appearances.
11. Lorran (Brazil)
After winning the South American U-17 Championship earlier this year, defending champions Brazil head to the 2023 U-17 World Cup as one of the favourites.
The Brazilians have a lot of talented youngsters in their side, among which is Flamengo midfielder, Lorran.
Lorran boasts of electric pace, excellent footwork and impressive strength; which makes him very difficult to stop.
Furthermore, he likes cutting in from the right wing on to his stronger left foot to unleash powerful shots.
In January, Lorran became the youngest goalscorer in Flamengo’s history when he scored in a 1-1 away draw against Bangu — aged 16 years, six months and 20 days.
The 17-year-old has a €50 million (£43m/$53m) release clause in his contract, with his deal running until the end of 2025.
The highly-rated youngster is signed up to ROC Nation Sports (the agency of famous rapper Jay Z) alongside compatriots Vinicius Junior, Lucas Paqueta, Gabriel Martinelli and Endrick.
12. Estevao Willian (Brazil)
Nicknamed “Messinho” (after Lionel Messi), Estevao Willian is considered one of the best prospects in world football.
The right winger has already been capped at various youth levels by Brazil.
He moved to the youth academy of Palmeiras in May 2021, signing a trainee contract.
In the 2022 season, Willian helped the Palmeiras youth teams win the Campeonato Paulista Sub-17 , Campeonato Paulista Sub-15, Copa do Brasil Sub-17 and Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-17.
In October 2023, he scored a hat-trick in the Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-17 final which ended in a 3-0 victory against São Paulo, to help his club to achieve their second consecutive title in the competition.
In 2018 at the age of 10, Estevao became the youngest Brazilian player to sign with Nike.
The teenager had already caught the attention of Europe’s top clubs, with PSG having a €50m ($53m) bid for him turned down in recent months.
Palmeiras highly value their youngsters, and know how high European teams are willing to pay — after selling Endrick to Real Madrid in a deal that could reach €60 million ($63.6 million) last December.
13. Keyrol Figueroa (USA)
Keyrol Figueroa is the son of former Wigan Athletic centre-back and Honduras international, Maynor Figueroa
Keylor plays for Liverpool academy and has been impressive in English youth football.
He further demonstrated his goalscoring capabilities by scoring 7 goals in seven games as USA recently reached the final of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
14. Ryunosuke Sato (Japan)
Born in 2006, Ryunosuke Sato is considered to be one of the most talented youngsters in Asia.
He made his professional debut for FC Tokyo on the 8th of March 2023 in the J.League Cup game against Cerezo Osaka.
In June 2023, he was one of Japan’s best players at the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, which the Japanese team won in great style.
The 16-year-old is a creative player with great technique on the ball, acceleration skills, fast direction shifts, short-dribbling, and good passing ability.
Furthermore, Sato is a player with a small frame who is very combative and is not afraid of physical duels with much larger and stronger opponents.
15. Yun Doyong (South Korea)
Earlier this year, South Korea reached the final of the 2023 AFC U-17 Asian Cup, losing to Japan.
Talisman, Yun Doyong, scored four goals to finish as the tournament’s second top-scorer.
Born in 2006, Yun is the driving force of the Korean team and is known for his audacious dribbling and finishing skills.
Moreso, his deadly left-foot is the team’s main scoring option on set pieces — either scoring directly or delivering for his teammates.