Who are the most exciting players in the quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup?
Quarter-final fixtures in Argentina.© ANDRES LARROVERE (AFP)

On Saturday, the quarterfinals of the Under-20 World Cup in Argentina begin. Over the course of the weekend, only four of the eight teams that are still in the race will be left.

Surprise gift Nigeria beat hosts Argentina in the round of 16, and pre-tournament favorites Brazil are now in the final eight despite losing to Italy on the first day. Here are the dates and times of the quarterfinals…

Israel vs Brazil
Italy vs. Colombia
Nigeria takes on South Korea

USA vs Uruguay

This is a chance for the players to play for their country and possibly win some medals on the world stage. But the event also gives some of the best young football players in the world a chance to show how good they are against their peers.

We take a look at five of the most exciting players left in the race before this weekend’s games. Here are some people to keep an eye on this weekend..

Marcos Leonardo, Brazil

Brazil forward Marcos Leonardo. © LUIS ROBAYO (AFP)

The 20-year-old striker is well-known in his home country of Brazil, where he has already played 140 times for Santos. Marcos Leonardo came up through the club’s well-known youth program. He has already scored eight goals in 21 games this season. He has scored in all four of his World Cup games so far.

His performances have caught the attention of a number of Premier League teams because he is an explosive presence in the box and a good finisher. People think that Manchester United is the team most likely to sign him, but Arsenal, Newcastle United, and West Ham United are also interested.

Facundo Gonzalez, Uruguay

Defender Facundo Gonzalez. © ANDRES LARROVERE (AFP)

Uruguayan defenders have a proud history of doing well in LaLiga. From Diego Godin to Ronald Araujo, Uruguay has been able to make skilled and physically strong center backs, and Facundo Gonzalez could be the next in a long line of great players from that country.

The 19-year-old was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but in 2019 he joined Valencia’s youth program and is now on the B team. In the last three years, he has played 59 times for Valencia Mestalla and is a mainstay on the U20 national team. After a bad season in LaLiga, there will probably be a lot of changes at Valencia this summer, and he may soon get a chance with the first team.

Gabriel Slonina, from the U.S.

Gabriel Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper. © Mike Dinovo (Reuters)

In their quarterfinal on Sunday, the Uruguay States will play against a Uruguay team that likes to attack. However, the Uruguay States know that they have the best defense in the event. Incredibly, the US team hasn’t let anyone score in any of their first four games in Argentina. Gabriel Slonina, who is 19 years old, is a big reason why they have set this mark.

When he started playing for the Chicago Fire at the age of 17 years and 81 days, he was the youngest goalie in MLS history. Soon, the best teams in the world were interested in him, and at age 18, he signed with Chelsea for $10 million. He will likely be right in the middle of things against Uruguay.

Cesare Cesadei, Italy

Cesare Casadei. © Marcelo Ruiz (EFE)

Cesare Cesadei is another talented young player who plays for Chelsea. He has been scoring goals like crazy during this event. The playmaker is in the lead for the golden boot because he has scored five goals in four games. There were two goals against Brazil and a late penalty against England that put Italy in the quarterfinals.

The 20-year-old moved from Inter Milan to Chelsea last summer. He spent the second half of the 2022/23 season on loan to Reading, an English club in the second division. Since January, he has played 15 times for Reading. If he keeps up his World Cup form, Mauricio Pochettino, the new manager of Chelsea, could be interested in him.

Victor Eletu, Nigeria

Diminutive midfielder Victor Eletu has been key for Nigeria.© Demian Alday Estevez (EFE)

Nigeria made it out of a World Cup group that also had Italy and Brazil, and now they will play South Korea in the quarterfinals. On their way to the final eight, the Super Eagles have made a lot of changes, but 18-year-old defender Victor Eletu has stood out for his calmness with the ball and his speed when he doesn’t have it.

The holding player was born in 2005 and joined AC Milan’s youth team in 2018. Since then, he has worked his way up through the Italian team’s ranks. Last year, when he was 17, he was named captain of Milan’s Under-19 team, which showed that he was a strong leader. He was a key part of Nigeria’s surprising win over Argentina in the round of 16, and he could be just as important against South Korea.

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