The 9 players to get most excited about at the U17 World Cup
Jairo Torres, Mexico (midfielder)
Torres has quickly climbed the charts with Atlas, making his Liga MX debut during the 2016 Apertura at the age of 16. The explosive wide attacker has mostly set up shop in the Liga MX Under-20 competition, where he’s a constant menace for opposing defences.
Torres is capable of playing on either flank and pulls the opposition apart with his runs in behind, breaking down defenders with or without the ball. Having been named the Golden Ball winner at the CONCACAF qualifying event in 2017, a star turn in India is sure to keep the spotlight on the Guadalajara native.
Mohammed Dawood, Iraq (forward)
The trip to India is a return to the scene of a 2016 triumph for Dawood and the Iraqi U17s – the talismanic attacker helped his side lift the AFC U16 trophy there last summer. Dawood hit the winning penalty against Iran to seal the title, was named the competition’s Most Valuable Player and finishing as its top scorer.
Capable of scoring in a variety of ways, Dawood was unstoppable up front against AFC competition. An even bigger task awaits him in India this time around, as he’ll look to crack the Group F backlines of England, Chile and Mexico. Scouts will surely be watching the Al-Naft forward closely.
Takefusa Kubo, Japan (midfielder)
Japan’s ability to produce and develop technically gifted attacking players shows no signs of waning. Not only is Kubo one of the latest, he could end up eclipsing the accomplishments of some of his compatriots.
Currently on the books at FC Tokyo, Kubo made his J-League debut earlier this season, and also competed at the U20 World Cup in South Korea. Aged only 16, Kubo was previously on the books at Barcelona – part of the overseas academy contingent that drew the ire of FIFA in 2015 and forced him to return to his homeland.
Kubo has continued to refine his attacking skill since then, as a diminutive force capable of beating players off the dribble or scoring goals on his own. Even if he’s slightly younger than some of his opponents, he is surely poised to dazzle in India.
Angel Gomes, England (midfielder)
Even with the availability of team-mate Jadon Sancho up in the air – his new club Borussia Dortmund are seeking to keep Sancho in Germany for the U17 World Cup, with the latest reports suggesting that he will only be released for the tournament’s group stage – England have an impressive group heading to India. Among them is Gomes, a Manchester United academy player who made his Premier League debut on the final day of last season (and with that, becoming the league's first Year 2000-born player).
The classic No.10 is an impressive player for his age, boasting a flashy passing range, high-level understanding of the game and ability to open things up with delicate dribbling. He wasn’t part of England’s U17 UEFA Championship squad due to injury suffered before the competition, and can make up for lost time at the World Cup.
Eric Garcia, Spain (defender)
There’s little not to love about a Barcelona-bred defender who has caught the eye of Pep Guardiola. Like other players on the list, Garcia made headlines over the summer when he made a move of his own, swapping La Masia and Barcelona for Manchester City. Adding intrigue to the entire saga is that Garcia’s agent happens to be Barça legend Carles Puyol.
Born in 2001, Garcia is one of the youngest players at the competition, and will certainly be the focus of City fans keen to check in on one of their many academy starlets. The centre-back has earned comparisons with Puyol himself, and Garcia’s comfort on the ball stands out. He’ll have to play his way onto the field for a talented Spain side, though if he gets the chance, his quality will be easy to spot.