Five To Watch At The Under-20s World Cup

The Under-20s World Cup starts in Turkey on Friday, so Daniel Storey picks out five men to watch. A chance for United fans to check out a new boy, plus others...

Last Updated: 20/06/13 at 16:37 Post Comment

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Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sevilla and France)
The seriousness displayed by France (and their coach, Pierre Mankowski) for the Under-20 World Cup is demonstrated perfectly by the selection of Juventus's Paul Pogba. With 27 league appearances during a Serie A title-winning season (and two senior caps), it's quite a coup for the tournament for the ex-Manchester United midfielder to be on show.

However, whilst Pogba generates headlines, it is the presence of fellow midfielder Kondogbia that is most exciting. A defensive midfielder also comfortable playing at left back or in central defence, the Frenchman has been subject to reported interest from Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal ever since his move from Lens to Sevilla last summer. 31 appearances in La Liga last season is mightily impressive, and after already being involved in a €4million deal aged 19, Kondogbia's value will climb further should his country impress. The 12/1 on the French to win (and 4/1 to make the final) looks fine pre-tournament value.


Guillermo Varela (Manchester United and Uruguay)
Such tournaments often offer a preview of potential Premier League recruits, with scouts from Europe's highest-profile clubs desperate to sign up another young prodigy, but in the case of Guillermo Varela, Manchester United have already completed their business, unveiling the Uruguayan on a five-year deal last week. The 20-year-old full-back, signed from Penarol in his native country, cost the club £1million and United fans can take the next three weeks as an opportunity to scout their new signing.

A South American right-back who actually seemingly enjoys defending as much as attacking, it is less a surprise to find a Uruguayan defender that is easily filed under 'no-nonsense'. However, with pace and impressive stamina (one of the principle reasons for United's purchase, according to the club), Varela is intended to provide genuine competition for Rafael within his first year at the club.

One thing is for sure, Jeff Powell will be watching intently, keen to clue up on the 'second-tier' defender.


Richmond Boakye (Juventus and Ghana)
There was some umming and ahing over including three players from the same group (Ghana are in the 'Group of Death' with France and Spain, the two finalists from last year's U-19 Euros) but Boakye is a talent that caught my interest last season, and warrants mention.

On loan from Juventus, Boakye was part of the Sassuolo side that completed an astonishing promotion to Serie A, just seven seasons after participating in Serie C2 and with a town of just 41,000 people. At Sassuolo, Boakye operated as part of an often rotated attacking triumvirate, and at just 20 years old, no-one scored more league goals for the club.

Signed by Juve from Genoa for €4million on a co-ownership deal in 2012 after impressing in his first season at Sassuolo, the striker formed an impressive partnership in Genoa's youth set-up with now Milan forward Stephan El Sharaawy. Boakye already has five appearances and two goals for the senior Ghanaian side, and it is a shame that his side should be presumed to fall at the first hurdle.


Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona and Spain)
Another tournament in which Spain possess numerous talents who look set to impress, but perhaps the tournament favourites' most prodigious talent is Barcelona's Gerard Deulofeu. Comfortable as a forward or winger, Deulofeu has found his Barcelona first-team options limited to two La Liga substitute appearances, but in May signed a contract until 2017 at the Nou Camp.

18 goals in 33 league games for Barca B last season hinted at his potential, but it is on the international stage that the 19-year-old has truly shone. He won the Under-19 European Championships in 2011 and 2012, and in last year's tournament was named as the Golden Player.

Deulofeu is a player that has almost continuously been linked with a Premier League move, but Borussia Dortmund have also reportedly shown interest, with Jurgen Klopp believing him to be an ideal replacement for the departed Mario Gotze. A £29million release clause indicates Barcelona's willingness to retain.


Jherson Vergara Amu (AC Milan and Colombia)
With Cristian Zapata and Mario Yepes already at the San Siro, and Ivan Cordoba also based in the city, it is perhaps no surprise that AC Milan were able to complete the signing of Amu from Deportes Quindio, but the Rossonieri were certainly at the head of a sizeable queue for the defender.

At 6'2" and just 19 years old, Amu has all the attributes required to be successful. He is strong and physical, but also capable of running the ball out of defence with ease. Clearly purchased as a thought for the future (Amu does not hold an EU passport as yet), a transfer fee of £1.75million indicates a degree of intent from Milan.

Colombia are one of the favourites to take the title in Turkey, and with the national team close to securing World Cup qualification, it appears that the country may be on an upwards footballing curve. Jherson Amu has the potential to be part of that for the next 15 years.

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