Five potential breakout World Cup stars

Sardar Azmoun (Iran) 

Sardar Azmoun has been piling up the international goals for an Iran squad that has regularly superseded expectations. With 23 international goals in just 32 games, the 23-year-old is already fifth on Iran’s list of all-time leading scorers. Azmoun was a standout volleyball player as a teenager before concentrating solely on football, and uses his athleticism and acceleration to great effect. He was snapped up by Rubin Kazan in 2013 and while Arsenal and Liverpool have reportedly showed interest in the past, he remains in Russia. He will team up with Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who became the first Asian to finish as the Dutch league’s top scorer this season, as Iran try to punch above their weight in a section featuring Portugal and Spain.

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

A Dutch youth international, Hakim Ziyech ultimately elected to represent Morocco rather than the country of his birth in 2015. It was a decision blasted by Netherlands great Marco van Basten but one that helped Morocco end a 20-year World Cup absence. An attacking midfielder with the facility to penetrate the opposition, he is the fulcrum in an underrated Morocco side and has an eye for goal, finding the net eight times in 15 matches. Two prolific seasons at Twente earned him a move to Ajax in 2016 but the 25-year-old is looking for a new challenge after landing the league’s player of the year award and will be desperate to prove his value in Russia. 

Pages 1 2

Leave a Reply