The 6 rising stars looking to shine at ICC Singapore

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks out six young guns that will be looking to light up the stage at the 2018 International Champions Cup in Singapore.

Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

There appears to be no stopping Mbappe in his journey towards greatness.

Kylian Mbappe will be no stranger to football fans in Singapore following his starring displays for France at the recently-concluded 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Mbappe may still only be 19 but he is already widely regarded as the hottest prospect across the globe and netted 21 goals for Paris Saint-Germain in all competition last season.

With his loan move from Monaco now permanent, the lightning-quick forward will be looking to kick on, and there is a feeling that he could follow Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in becoming one of those rare 40-goal-a-season marksmen.

Saul (Atletico Madrid)

Saul has been earmarked as a future Atletico captain… if they can hold on to him, that is.

It’s hard to fathom that Saul is just 23 given he has made over 200 appearances for Atletico Madrid, and he has really gone from strength to strength since breaking through in 2014.

With iconic figures Fernando Torres and Gabi having moved on in the summer, it will be down to homegrown heroes Saul and Koke to lead the way in the dressing room and ensure Los Rojiblancos continue to challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid for top honours.

Moreover, Saul should also be relishing the chance to impress once more, having failed to get a single minute under Fernando Hierro despite being included in the Spain squad for Russia 2018.

Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)

Bellerin could go on to become one of the best right-backs in the world.

Blessed with blistering pace that allows him to match it with almost any opposition winger, Hector Bellerin has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best right-backs since making his Arsenal debut at the age of 18.

The Spaniard’s all-action style of play also means that he will be one of the most-exciting players taking to the field at the National Stadium in Singapore.

With a new coach at the helm of the Spain national team in Luis Enrique, Bellerin has added incentive to take his game up another level and challenge Dani Carvajal and Nacho for the right to be his country’s first-choice right-back.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)

Will Maitland-Niles continue to get chances under new manager Unai Emery?

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger left behind a legacy of always giving youth an opportunity, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles was a big beneficiary last season as he was handed 28 appearances in all competition.

One of his key assets is his versatility – being able to play anywhere in defence and midfield – but with new manager Unai Emery having already brought in several reinforcements, it is unlikely that Maitland-Niles will have to play as much of a “Mr. Fix-It” role this term.

Instead, it will be interesting to see if he is allowed to develop as a midfielder, which is where many believe his best position is, and how he fares in Singapore – and the rest of pre-season – could give an excellent indication.

Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid)

Like Mbappe, Hernandez was impressive for France at the World Cup.

With Benjamin Mendy only returning from a serious knee injury in April, France coach Didier Deschamps decided to give Lucas Hernandez a chance as his first-choice left-back at the World Cup and his faith certainly was repaid.

Unlike most modern-day full-backs, Hernandez actually excels in performing his defensive duties but is also more than capable in joining in the attack when required.

Although he is not exactly top on the list of high-profile names that will be gracing Singapore, his standout displays in Russia could see many a new fan turn up just to see him in the flesh.

Goncalo Guedes (Paris Saint-Germain)

Guedes scored five goals in 33 La Liga appearances on loan at Valencia last season.

With Cristiano Ronaldo slowly but surely reaching the end of a glittering career, Portugal will soon be looking for a new attacker-in-chief and – based on the 2018 World Cup – Goncalo Guedes is one of the front-runners alongside Andre Silva.

Having spent the past season on loan at Valencia and helping them finish fourth to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, Guedes looks ready to fight for his place at PSG.

Granted, there is plenty of competition for places in the form of Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler to name but a few, although the 21-year-old looks up for the challenge.

Comments