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Top 10 Players To Watch At the 2018 World Cup

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Adrian Sousa

Script written by Adrian Sousa

These players are likely to make headlines this summer! From Kylian Mbappé, to Marcelo, to Harry Kane, these incredible talents are some to keep an eye on. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Players To Watch At the 2018 World Cup.


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Script written by Adrian Sousa

Top 10 Players To Watch At the 2018 World Cup

These players are likely to make headlines this summer! Welcome to, and today, we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 players to watch at the 2018 World Cup.

For this list, we will be ranking players based on whether they are an emerging talent you should watch closely, or a known star with a point to prove on the international stage. We will be paying particular attention to their form going into the 2018 World Cup, and how a strong showing could elevate their career to the next level!

#10: Kylian Mbappé


While Antoine Griezmann stole headlines during Euro 2016 with his Golden Boot-winning performances, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé is looking like the latest and greatest attacking player in Les Blues lineup. When he was just 18 years of age, he began making a name for himself at AS Monaco, smashing various records in the Ligue 1 and the Champions League for goals scored. His performances earned him a move to Paris Saint Germain, where he never looked a step out of place lined up alongside two titans in attacking football: Edinson Cavani and Neymar. Despite his age and the fact that he hasn’t even cracked 20 caps for France yet, his pace and raw skill on the ball will make him a must-watch player this summer.

#9: Marcelo


Marcelo is one of those players that embodies the essence of Brazilian football, alongside one of his teammates whom we will talk about much later - no spoilers here. Despite technically being a full-back, Marcelo can effectively operate as a winger, playing with the flair and “joie-de-vivre” that many Brazilians are known for. His trophy haul is nothing to scoff at the club level, having won La Liga and the UEFA Champions League four times apiece with Real Madrid, playing an integral role in the Champions League titles in particular. In his prime at 30 years of age, Marcelo has an opportunity to stake his claim as the best left-back in the world at this edition of the World Cup.

#8: Harry Kane


The last few major tournaments haven’t been great for England: out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, eliminated in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, and eliminated by Iceland in the Euro 2016 round of 16. With a new coach in Gareth Southgate and a fresh crop of young players, Harry Kane perhaps best exemplifies the new generation. Kane narrowly missed out on winning three consecutive English Premier League Golden Boot awards, as he went on to score 41 goals for Spurs across all competitions. Named captain of the Three Lions at just 24 years of age, a strong World Cup outing will only further his claim as one of the world’s best strikers.

#7: Luis Suárez


Whether you’re talking about his skill with the ball at his feet, his devastating finishing, or his, shall we say, “other antics” on the pitch, Luis Suárez provides boatloads of entertainment at both the club and international levels of football. In fact, he has provided us with two of the most memorable moments from the past two editions of the FIFA World Cup. In 2010, it was the infamous hand ball against Ghana in the quarter-finals. In 2014, it was the bite on Chiellini. So what will 2018 bring? Anything is possible. But thankfully, at the least, we should get to witness some beautiful attacking football from Suárez and his Uruguayan attacking teammate, Edinson Cavani.

#6: Kevin De Bruyne


Kevin De Bruyne’s climb to the top is an interesting one: after the hype surrounding him facilitated a move from Genk to Chelsea in 2012, José Mourinho deemed him not up to Premier League standards. Both a loan and a permanent move to Germany later, and De Bruyne found himself back in England via Manchester City, where he would go on to establish himself as one of the league’s best and most creative central midfielders. As part of Belgium’s “Golden Generation," De Bruyne will be the heart and soul of not only Belgium’s attack but of the team as a whole, with The Red Devils’ success being largely dependent on his ability to orchestrate their attack.

#5: David De Gea


It’s rare that goalkeepers get the limelight that they truly deserve. But, if ever there was a ‘keeper, who could have a big say in the 2018 World Cup, that would be Spain’s David De Gea. With Manchester United’s attack underperforming at times during the 2017-2018 season, De Gea was able to keep them in matches, rescuing many points for the red side of Manchester, and establishing himself as perhaps the best shot stopper in the world. In doing so, he won the Golden Glove for the most clean sheets in the English Premier League with 18. Spain’s attack will be relentless given the talent that they boast, but when their defense has been breached, the opposition will still have a massive hurdle to overcome in beating De Gea.

#4: Cristiano Ronaldo


Despite turning 33 in 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo is still one of the best in the game. Another season, another 40 plus goal haul for the Madeira native. After helping Portugal to a major trophy in Euro 2016 both on and unfortunately off of the pitch, he will be out for redemption in 2018. As Portugal’s captain, most capped player ever and all-time top scorer by over 30 goals, Ronaldo’s past achievements will be integral in a young Portuguese attack that has very little experience in major international tournaments. With Portugal as unexpected European champions in 2016, many will be watching to see if Ronaldo can propel his own and his country’s legend even further.

#3: Lionel Messi


You can’t mention Ronaldo without bringing up Messi soon after. After witnessing Ronaldo lift an international trophy in 2016, Lionel Messi came out of international retirement to try to do the same with Argentina. Considered by many to be the G.O.A.T. or “greatest of all time”, Lionel Messi’s achievements at the club level with FC Barcelona are second to none. But, when discussing if he’s the greatest of all time, some detractors say that he will never be considered above Pelé or Maradona unless he wins a World Cup. After losing in extra time to Germany in the 2014 World Cup Final, Messi will have revenge on his mind, with 2018 seeming to be the last best chance at the title for the 30-year-old magician.

#2: Mohamed Salah


Egyptian hearts around the world must have stopped when they saw a tearful Mohamed Salah leave the 2018 Champions League final after just 30 minutes. Thankfully for Salah and his country, despite carrying a shoulder injury, he will indeed feature for The Pharaohs during this World Cup. Salah was one of the top performers in Europe during the 2017-2018season, scoring 44 goals in 52 appearances. And for Egypt, he was no less important, scoring 5 of their 8 goals in qualifying, including the goal that sent them to their first World Cup since 1990. Despite Egypt perhaps lacking some talent in other areas of the pitch, in “The Egyptian King”, they have one of the most exciting attackers in the world.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

Paulo Dybala

Timo Werner


#1: Neymar


Just one year before the 2018 World Cup, Neymar shocked the world with his move from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain. It was said by those around him that he made the move to get out of the shadow cast by Lionel Messi and to become the best player in the world. Well, leading Brazil to a World Cup title would certainly help him to emerge from the shadows, and then some. Despite an injury scare in February, Neymar enters the 2018 World Cup in excellent shape and form, having scored in both pre-tournament friendlies and exemplifying to a tee that Brazilian joie-de-vivre that we mentioned earlier. With the incredible supporting cast around him mixed with the fact that Neymar tends to save his best performances for the Seleçao, this could be the tournament that propels him beyond Ronaldo and Messi, and to the top of the football pyramid.


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