Which United player will shine brightest at the World Cup?
All of the pre-tournament talking is nearly over as the opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup draws ever closer.
No United players will be involved in that first match, but as many as 16, representing nine different nations, could be in action as the tournament gets into full swing over the coming weeks.
With that in mind, our writers have selected the Red they think will raise their global profile while playing for their country in the Middle East...
At 23 years of age, this will by no means be Tyrell Malacia's last World Cup, but it could be the one where he makes the world sit up and take note.
Adept at playing on either side of defence and possessing a great balance of attacking drive and defensive resilience, Malacia offers a great option at left wing-back in the Oranje's tried and tested three-at-the-back formation. Louis van Gaal's options on the left side are Malacia and 32-year-old former Red Daley Blind, so if and when the Dutch come up against energetic opponents, don't be surprised to see him call upon Tyrell.
What's more, the Netherlands could well go deep in the tournament this winter, being drawn in Group A with the likes of hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal - they should breeze through their group. With the likes of Virgil van Dijk returning, and ex-United forward Memphis Depay firing on all cylinders, van Gaal's side look a real threat this year. The 2022 World Cup could well be one where the Netherlands thrive, and Tyrell has a great opportunity to be a key member for his nation.
I am convinced Casemiro is going to have a superb tournament with Brazil and can help them go a long way in Qatar, probably even lifting the trophy come 18 December.
The midfield warrior has the nous and know-how to navigate his way around this big tournament and has hit peak form after being eased into Premier League life. The high-octane style of the English top flight will only help him further as he prepares to pull on the famous yellow jersey and emulate so many Selecao heroes of the past. Our no.16 performs a key role for Tite’s men and will need to be on his mettle if the side is to accommodate so much attacking flair, including that provided by his Reds colleague Antony. Yet he is always up to the task and shields the defence better than anybody in world football.
This could be the time for him to add the biggest medal of all to his bulging trophy cabinet and cement his place as one of the greats in his position.
Our no.23 has a particularly special relationship with major tournaments so far in his career having been the youngest player to feature at the 2014 edition of the World Cup, before more recently getting on the scoresheet for England in the Euro 2020 final. He’s now got a pretty good platform to write more history this time around too, as he gets set to represent the Three Lions in Qatar.
Shaw arrives in the Middle East with the confidence and rhythm from some impressive performances for United in his sails and is likely to be asked to play an important role for his country too. Luke is the only out-and-out left-back in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad and has shown in the past his ability to make a difference in both a back four and a back five, so you can expect to see him be key to whatever setup England go for.
It means he’s set to play an integral role for one of the tournament’s frontrunners over the coming weeks and we already know about his ability to thrive on the biggest stages when given the opportunity.
There's obviously a huge emotional resonance to Christian Eriksen's appearance at this tournament, less than 18 months after that shocking, dreadful incident at Euro 2020.
Thankfully, we'll be able to concentrate on the Dane's sublime football skills this time. And forget the sentiment around his amazing recovery – Denmark are a very good side who could well cause a big upset at this tournament. It's 30 years since they triumphed, unexpectedly, at Euro ’92, and if the draw falls kindly, we could see them once again reaching the final stages of an international competition - as they did at Euro 2020, without Eriksen.
If we don't see them progress to the latter rounds, no matter. We'll still get to watch Eriksen's magnificent, technical passing and his glorious sense of timing.
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