One of the best things about a World Cup is identifying potential Breakout Stars.
We all watch the matches desperate to spot something special, a gem that hasn’t been discovered yet on a worldwide scale. That will happen in the coming days.
While much attention will be on England, Netherlands and Argentina in the opening matches of Qatar 2022, there are nations with lower expectations preparing to make an impact too.
In this column I run through some of the men you need to keep an eye out for as Senegal and USA play their first matches at the tournament. These are players that may not only decide key games, but might even land big transfers in the not-too-distant future…
Senegal: Boulaye Dia
There is nothing more exciting than a new goalscorer bursting onto the scene and in Boulaye Dia we might be about to witness a breakout.
The loss of Sadio Mane to injury, for now, is a big loss to this team – but they have a man ready to step into his boots.
Dia, 26, is a striker ready to make the most of his chance. Defenders are going to find him a handful and there’s potential here for him to become one of the star names to earn a transfer if things go well.
He’s having a solid season on loan at Salernitana from Villarreal and his ability to play off the shoulder and finish one-on-ones means he has real goal potential.
He’s got great goal awareness and will really see this as an opportunity to shine.
Senegal take on Netherlands on Monday and if Dia does well we can expect links with the likes of West Ham, Leeds and Everton to emerge.
USA: Jesus Ferreira
One of the few USMNT starters to ply his trade in MLS, Ferreira has big potential to shine at this tournament.
Unlike many others in the side, he has not yet been lured to Europe. He has been working on himself at FC Dallas to build belief and confidence that will help his natural attributes shine through and a goal early in the tournament would help with that.
USA face Wales on Monday and 21-year-old Ferreira will probably have the No.9 role. He is an instinctive finisher that loves to press and will thrive on the chances set up by Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson.
Arsenal have scouted him while Bundesliga clubs have an eye on him too.
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