The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday after the hosts lost their first match against Ecuador. Eight teams of four teams will provide the opening entertainment ahead of the knockout stages and there are plenty of big names in action. We’ve picked one player from each team who we think can make a world-class announcement in the coming weeks
Cody Gakpo (The Netherlands)
If transfer rumors are to be believed, Manchester United and Arsenal are just two of the clubs linked with a move for Dutch star PSV Eindhoven and Cody Gakpo.
The striker has scored 13 goals and set up 16 in 24 games in all competitions, which means he enters the tournament in excellent form.
Gakpo, 23, has only played nine times for his country, but has three goals and two assists in those caps.
With two of those goals in Oranje’s last three games, Group A opponents Qatar, Senegal and Ecuador will find it difficult to stop the Dutchman flying.
Jude Bellingham (England)
Incredibly still only 19, Jude Bellingham will almost certainly start alongside Declan Rice in England’s midfield.
The Birmingham academy product is a Rolls Royce in the middle of the park and has gone from strength to strength this term.
He was named the youngest captain in Bundesliga history at the start of this campaign and has nine goals for Borussia Dortmund in 2022-23.
It should be the first World Cup of many for the teenager and he will be eager to make his mark immediately in Group B against Iran, USA and Wales.
Christian Romero (Argentina)
Argentina have plenty of attacking talent, but Cristian Romero is the kind of defender who can help make them World Cup winners.
Romero, 24, continues to improve under Antonio Conte at Tottenham with aggressive defending on the ground and in the air.
Like all good modern defenders, he is comfortable on the ball and will fuel La Albiceleste’s creative sparks.
His country are currently on a 36-match winless run, while they have kept a clean sheet in Romero’s last 10 internationals – he will be a key figure if they are to go far.
Joakim Maehle (Denmark)
Right-footed left-back Joakim Maehle has become a creative force for both club and country in recent seasons.
Since his move from Genk to Atalanta in 2021, the Dane has been a key cog in the Italians’ free-flowing side.
And for Denmark, he’s been red-hot in 2022 with one goal and three assists in eight games so far.
Linked to a move away from Bergamo last summer, Qatar’s strong displays will put him back in the spotlight.
Jamal Musiala (Germany)
After choosing to play in his native Germany against England and Nigeria, Jamal Musiala is proving to be a lethal weapon.
He has 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions for Bayern Munich already this season and is another player who is absolutely flying in his first World Cup.
After playing only a small part in Germany’s disappointing Euro 2020 campaign, Musiala could be in Qatar under Hansi Flick.
In a team from Spain, Japan and Costa Rica, the 19-year-old striker will be out to prove himself on the biggest stage.
Jonathan David (Canada)
Canada may be the underdogs in Group F, but they also have one of the biggest talents in Jonathan David.
Les Rouges have an impressive 22 goals and 13 assists in 35 games, although they don’t often face teams of the quality of Belgium, Croatia and Morocco.
The New York striker has also enjoyed a prolific start to Lille’s Ligue 1 campaign with nine goals in 15 outings.
Canada’s only other World Cup appearance in 1986 saw them fail to score a goal or concede a point and should that change, David will have a big say.
Although Richarlison has been well received by Tottenham fans, he has yet to find their back in the Premier League.
While Brazil have plenty of attacking talent, the Spurs striker is key to Tite’s side.
Richarlison has 17 goals in 38 games for the Selecao, including seven in the last six, as well as two assists.
Having recently been shaken off a calf injury, the 25-year-old will slot straight into Brazil’s starting line-up if he returns to full fitness.
Min Jae Kim (South Korea)
Napoli’s attacking play has received plenty of praise this season, but their defenders have been just as good.
Min-Jae Kim has started all of his matches in Serie A and the Champions League, excelling in the center of defence.
In a South Korean team loaded with talent, he can help guide them through perhaps the toughest team in the tournament.
Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana will feel they need to qualify for the knockout stages, but overcoming Kim will not be easy.