A big part of watching the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup in Argentina will be looking for the next big thing in world soccer. How far have the players who dominated the tournament four years ago come?
Four years ago, the tournament in Poland was highlighted by South Korea’s runner-up finish and 18-year-old Lee Kang-in winning the Golden Ball (MVP). After three years of growing pains, Lee has soared this season. He starred for South Korea’s A team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and has been one of the most sought-after midfielders across Europe since breaking into the Mallorca side this season.
Lee Kang-in. Getty Images Korea
In four years, the then top scorer has become the unquestioned best striker in the world. At the time, Norway was eliminated after just the group stage of the tournament, so Holland’s nine goals and top scorer honors were often criticized as a result of his dominance against underdog Honduras. He scored all nine goals in one game. But as soon as he returned to the professional ranks, Holland began to prove himself. After the U20 World Cup, he quickly rose through the ranks at Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund. This season, he moved to Manchester City, where he peaked by breaking the all-time English Premier League (EPL) record for most goals in a season.메이저사이트
Argentina’s performance at the tournament was unremarkable. They finished first in their group, but lost to South Korea and then lost to Mali on penalties in the round of 16. However, the team did produce Julian Alvarez, who scored one goal as part of Argentina’s offense. Alvarez would go on to win the World Cup in Qatar four years later as Lionel Messi’s partner up front.
Holland and Alvarez weren’t the only strikers to emerge to lead world soccer. Uruguay fell short in the round of 16, but Darwin Núñez, who scored two goals, was one of the standouts. Núñez moved to Liverpool this season and is still adjusting to the big leagues. Portugal, who handed South Korea their only loss in the group stage, started Raphael Varane up front. He later switched to winger at AC Milan, where he excelled, winning the Serie A MVP last season.
Darwin Núñez (Benfica). Getty Images
Winger Gonzalo Plata, who won a Bronze Ball after leading Ecuador to the quarterfinals, may not be a superstar, but he has established himself as a big league player with one goal and five assists this season for Real Valladolid in Spain. Andriy Lunin, who was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper for Ukraine’s core, often gets the nod as Real Madrid’s backup goalkeeper.
Other top prospects include Bayer 04 Leverkusen winger Moussa Dabi and AS Monaco midfielder Youssouf Fofana, both of whom have made the transition to the France A team. Norwegian center back Leo Østergård helped Napoli win the Serie A title as a backup to Kim Min-jae. Italian midfielder Davide Pratesi and striker Andrea Pinamonti also earned A caps. Pratesi has been recognized by big clubs. Pinamonti has had his ups and downs, but in the 2021-2022 season, he scored 13 league goals for Empoli, making him one of the best goalscorers in Serie A at a young age.