Ones to watch: Nabil Fekir - France
Age: 24Club: LyonCaps: 17Goals: 2
Few coaches at the FIFA World Cup will have a deeper pool of talent from which to pick their starting XI than Didier Deschamps, and nothing highlights the France coach’s embarrassment of riches more than the fact that Lyon star Nabil Fekir may have to settle for bench role.
When he does make it onto the pitch there will be plenty to get excited about. The 24-year-old winger enjoyed a career season in Ligue 1, registering 18 goals and eight assists in 30 appearances, with his mesmerising left foot producing everything from thrilling dribbles to sublime free-kicks.
Fekir’s efforts helped propel Lyon to a third-place finish, securing a qualification spot for next season’s Champions League. He may not be there to enjoy it; Liverpool are reportedly very interested in adding him to Jurgen Klopp’s already frightening array of attacking weapons.
If a deal is not completed before the FIFA World Cup, Russia will represent a shop window for Fekir as well as a chance for glory. On the evidence of this season, only a fool would bet against him seizing it with both hands.