The World Cup is the best stage for young rising stars

The 21st World Cup is coming to an end with this weekend’s final. Many of the world’s top players performed really well with their national teams, advancing to the quarterfinals. But, further to that, several new players (some of whom were almost unknown to the fans), shined with their presence and performance during the World Cup.

Abstract

The main objective of this research is to thoroughly analyze the rising stars of the last three World Cups (including the current one of 2018). The performance analysis is focused solely on players who were 23 years old or younger when they participated on the abovementioned Mundials. Some, younger than 21 years old, have been candidates for FIFA’s “Best Young Player Award”, during their first World Cup.
The second part consists of a comparison analysis between the rising stars. The performance analysis is focused solely on players’ performance within their clubs. More specifically, the collected data are linked with in game stats, such as goals and assists; as well as their market value before and after the World Cups.

Introduction

During the 21st World Cup, many young players participated for the first time of their careers, with their national teams, in such an important football event. Recent World Cup history has shown that many young talented players that did really well with their national teams during a World Cup, raised their football market value. Such examples are Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Angel Di Maria, which participated for the first time of their careers in the 2010 World Cup, and whose performances will be analyzed on the research. Four years later, players such as Mario Gotze, Paul Pogba and Raheem Sterling that were younger than 23 years old, attracted the fans’ interest during the WC2014. At the current World Cup, the French striker Kylian Mbappe and the Mexican winger Hirving Lozano are among the top talents and candidates for the FIFA Best Young Player Award, both aged less than 20 years old.

Data Collection and Methodology

For the purpose of the research, the author gathered data from the last three World Cups, including the current one of 2018. The next step was distinguishing and selecting the best young players on each one of the abovementioned World Cups. After determining the rising stars on each one, the researcher collected all relevant data for them, focusing mostly on their performance and market value. More specifically, the collected data was spread over the following categories: appearances, goals, assists and minutes played with their clubs; as well as their market value before and after the World Cups.
The last part of the research consists of a detailed performance analysis about the talents of the current World Cup and is also followed by a short reference about the evolution of the players’ market values.

World Cup Best Young Player Award

A galaxy of stars shine as expected during every World Cup and a plethora of young talents emerge during the tournament. The World Cup is the best opportunity for young rising talents to take the stage and establish their presence. Players aged less than 21 years old will always have their eyes set on taking home the “Young Player Award”.
This award, as the name implies, is given every four years at the end of a World Cup to the best young player. It was first handed out on the 2006 World Cup, with Lukas Podolski taking home the prize after scoring three goals to help Germany reach the third place. Four years later, another German player, Thomas Muller, won the award after scoring five times with his national team. In 2014, another European player won the award; the French Paul Pogba, despite his team making it only to the quarter finals. The question of whom is going to be the next talent that is going to win the “2018 World Cup Young Player Award” will be answered in few days, after the end of the tournament. Players such as the French striker Kylian Mbappe and the Brazilian Gabriel Jesus are among the candidates.
Moreover, apart from the under 21 talents mentioned above, there are also some other players aged 22 to 23 years old, that have performed exceptionally and have everything needed to become the football stars of tomorrow; such as the Mexican Hiriving Lozano and the Spanish Marco Asensio. All of the abovementioned players, along with the young talents of the previous two World Cups, will be analyzed in this research.

2010 World Cup

During the 2010 World Cup that took place in South Africa, many young players participated for the first time in such an important event with their national teams. In the end, Spain won their first trophy, by winning 1-0 versus the Netherlands in the final. The researcher chose the following six young talents that shined at that World Cup:

World Cup2010 - South Africa2010 - South Africa2010 - South Africa2010 - South Africa2010 - South Africa2010 - South Africa
TalentThomas MullerMesut OzilPedroAlexis SanchezMarek HamsikAngel Di Maria
Age202122212222
CountryGermanyGermanySpainChileSlovakiaArgentina

Most of the above-mentioned players are either wingers, attacking midfielders or strikers. So the performance analysis will be focused on stats, such as goals, assists and minutes played with their clubs before and after the participation on the 2010 World Cup. The analysis will be concluded with a short description and evolution of how their market value changed based on their performance on the Mundial.

Half of the above-mentioned talents (Muller, Hamsik and Sanchez) raised the number of appearances with their clubs after the World Cup of 2010. During the last season, only Sanchez and Ozil had less than 40 appearances, while Di Maria, Muller, Pedro and Hamsik had more than 45 appearances.

Concerning the assists, Muller, Ozil and Di Maria have all had really impressive stats when they were young (before the World Cup 2010). From them, only Ozil and Muller did really well during the last season. After the World Cup of 2010, Hamsik, Muller and Ozil raised their number of assists with their clubs, while Pedro, Sanchez and Di Maria had less assists on 2010-2011 than the previous year.

Muller, who won the World Cup Best Young Player Award on 2010, scored 19 goals during the first two seasons. His top average was in 2015-2016 with 32 goals in 49 appearances. Pedro, Sanchez and Ozil followed almost a similar pattern, as all of them, scored more than 10 goals for the first time in their career after the World Cup of 2010.

Only, Pedro, Hamsik and Ozil played more minutes the next season after the end of the World Cup of 2010. The average minutes played during the last season, for all of the above mentioned players is 3000-3200 minutes, apart from Pedro, who’s average time was 2509 minutes.

From the abovementioned graph, it can be observed that all of the players raised their market value after the World Cup of 2010. Most of them reached their pick during the seasons between 2013 and 2016. Currently, the highest market value belongs to Sanchez, who is valued at 70M.

2014 World Cup

The 2014 World Cup took place in Brazil. Germany won the trophy after defeating Argentina with 1-0 in the final. That goal was scored by the 22-year-old attacking midfielder Mario Gotze; who, along with five other players, all under 23 years old at the time, are listed on the following table, having performed very well at that World Cup.

World Cup2014 - Brazil2014 - Brazil2014 - Brazil2014 - Brazil2014 - Brazil2014 - Brazil
TalentPaul PogbaRaheem SterlingMario GotzeAntoine GriezmanRomelu LukakuJames Rodriguez
Age211922222122
CountryFranceEnglandGermanyFranceBelgiumColombia

Most of the above-mentioned players are either wingers, attacking midfielders or strikers. The following analysis will be concentrated on stats, such as goals, assists and minutes played with their clubs before and after the participation on the 2014 World Cup with their national team. The analysis will be concluded with a short description and evolution of how their market value changed based on their presence on the Mundial.

Sterling and Griezman had a steady increase on their appearances with their clubs after the World Cup of 2014. On the other hand, James Rodriguez, even though he had an exceptional tournament in the 2014 World Cup, didn’t manage to make more than 40 appearances in any season after 2014.

About the assists per season, Sterling, Griezman and Lukaku raised their numbers during the last four seasons. At the same time, Mario Gotze, due to injuries, has faced many problems in his career and many of his indicators dropped.

The only two players that managed to score more than 20 goals during the last two seasons are Griezman and Lukaku. While Pogba and Sterling scored an average of 9 to 11 goals per season during the last four seasons; Sterling managed to score 23 goals the last season, making a career high.

As observed from the graph above, Pogba, Griezman and Lukaku, after the World Cup of 2014, have all played many more minutes with their clubs than before the World Cup. On the other hand, James, Gotze and Sterling played less minutes with their clubs after the World Cup 2014.

The market value of the abovementioned players is depicted on the graph below.

In general, all of the players raised their market values after the 2014 World Cup. The only player that started as a very promising talent but unfortunately didn’t manage to succeed was Mario Gotze, who after the season of 2014-2015, faced some serious injuries, which have had a negative impact on his career. Griezman, Pogba, Lukaku and Sterling during the last two seasons have raised dramatically their market value.

2018 World Cup

The 21st World Cup that took place this summer in Russia is coming to an end with the Sunday final between France and Croatia. The young talents that shined with their presence during this World Cup are the following:

World Cup2018 - Russia2018 - Russia2018 - Russia2018 - Russia2018 - Russia2018 - Russia
TalentHiriving LozanoKylian MbappeGabriel JesusBenjamin PavardMarco AsensioDele Ali
Age221921222222
CountryMexicoFranceBrazilFranceSpainEngland

Every one of the abovementioned players is either midfielder or striker and play in big clubs across Europe. Marco Asensio has had an exceptional year, reaching the Champions League with Real Madrid. Moreover, Kylian Mbappe, Hiriving Lozano and Gabriel Jesus won with their clubs the Ligue 1 (France championship), Eredivise (Holland championship) and Premier League (England championship) with Paris saint Germain, PSV and Manchester City accordingly. Every one of them has performed exceptionally both with their club as well as their national team in the 2018 World Cup. The following graphs, presents in detail their appearances, goals, assists, minutes played with their clubs and their market value during the last three seasons.

Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Pavard and Marco Asensio raised dramatically their appearances during the last two years, playing more and more games with their clubs. While Hirving Lozano, although having had 47 appearances during the season 2015-2016, has only played 34 games with PSV during the last season.

Concerning the assists, Mbappe has also raised his numbers during the last two seasons. He gave 2 assists the season 2015-2016 and during the previous season he had 16 assists in 46 games. Dele Ali, also raised his number concerning the assists during the last two seasons. In 2015-2016 he had 11 assists; while during the last season, he gave 17 assists over 50 games.

The only players that raised steadily the numbers of their goals in the last two seasons are Hirving Lozano and Marco Asensio. Mbappe’s stats, having scored 26 goals in 2016-2017, fall slightly in the next season where he managed to score 21 goals.

Kylian Mbappe and Benjamin Pavard are the only two players that managed to play more minutes during the last two seasons. On the other hand, Hirving Lozano had a slight decrease on his minutes played.

From the graph above, concerning the evolution of the players’ market values, it can be observed that all of the six players raised their numbers during the last three seasons. Mbappe’s and Dele Ali’s market value has the biggest raise, due to their exceptional performance.

The market value of most of the players is expected to be raised even more after the Mundial due to their performance in it. As a result, many of them are aiming to get a good transfer at Europe’s biggest clubs and start building their career. Benjmain Pavard, has already agreed to join Bayern Munich in the end of the next season 2018-2019. Stuttgard (which is is his current club) will receive more than 35 million euros with this agreement.

Results and Discussion

The FIFA Best Young Player Award that is given in the end of a Mundial to the best talent is a very promising award for the player. Thomas Muller and Paul Pogba that won the last two awards are nowadays superstars both within their clubs and national teams. On the ongoing 2018 World Cup, many young players performed well and have already raised their market values. Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Pavard and Hiriving Lozano are only three of the talents that shined at this tournament, with Mbappe being the more likely to win the FIFA Award for the best young player, as he is leading France to the second World Cup trophy.

Summary

To sum up, the performance analysis for the younger players of the last three World Cups, has showed the positive impact that a good performance in the Mundial can have on their career. Excluding unpredictable factors such as injuries, it can be concluded that each young player who does well in a World Cup series, will see a raise in his market value immediately afterwards.
 


Bibliography

Transfermarkt.com. (2018). Football transfers, rumours, market values, news and statistics. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/MEVT6S [Accessed 12 Jul. 2018].

Goal.com. (2018). FINISHED: The top 10 young players to watch out for at World Cup 2010 | Goal.com. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/78pVNU [Accessed 13 Jul. 2018].

France 24. (2018). Rising stars to watch out for in South Africa – France 24. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/e1J9v2 [Accessed 13 Jul. 2018].

ABC News. (2018). Top five players of the 2014 World Cup. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/z4am4r [Accessed 13 Jul. 2018].

Sportskeeda.com. (2018). World Cup 2018 : Five Young Gems to Watch Out for. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/WSozKw [Accessed 13 Jul. 2018].

Soccernews.com. (2018). 2018 World Cup: Top 10 Rising Stars Who Could Light Up the Stage in Russia – Soccer News. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/VDVpZa [Accessed 13 Jul. 2018].

 

I believe in the proverb of Plutarch: "exercise without physical qualifications and knowledge is incomplete". As an ambitious data scientist, I'm always aiming to broaden my knowledge by interpreting & managing data in order to solve complex problems. In Statathlon, I'm combining my main passions: sports & data science

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