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Top-4 performers at the FIFA U20 World Cup

Tuesday 13th June 2017
A galaxy of stars was born at the just concluded FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea. But which of them shone the brightest and left unforgettable footprints in our hearts?

England made history as they claimed their first title, capping off a scintillating tournament with a 1-0 win over Venezuela in a pulsating final on Sunday. Italy, meanwhile, bounced back from their semi-final slump against the Young Lions to clinch third-place, at the expense of Uruguay.

Here are the best four performers from the 21st edition of the biennial competition.

#4 - Joshua Sargent

Despite exiting Korea in the last eight, the United States can still hold their heads high for entertaining everyone with their beautiful and attractive brand of football. Led by the inspirational marksman, Joshua Sargent, The Stars and Stripes notched 12 goals, five of which was contributed (four goals and one assist) by the 18-year-old. But this isn't the first time Sargent's goalscoring prowess has come to the fore. He struck five times to help the U-17 MNT qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, taking place later this year.

#3 - Santiago Mele

England's Freddie Woodman may have clinched the Golden Glove as the tournament's best goalkeeper. Indeed, his heroes in the final eventually won his country the title. However, it was Uruguay shot-stopper, Santiago Mele, not the Englishman, who impressed the most throughout the tourney. Mele racked up an unbelievable 22 saves, the most in the competition. To add to that, the 19-year-old was beaten just thrice, another tournament high. Woodman, on the other hand, garnered two saves less and conceded eight goals.

#2 - Riccardo Orsolini

Italy was obviously the most tactically proficient side at the competition. La Celeste didn't score too many goals and conceded few as well en route to clamping third. But each time they struck, it was almost certain to be one man; Riccardo Orsolini. The Italians managed just 10 goals, with Orsolini alone grabbing five of those. That tally was enough to earn him the Adidas Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer. But shockingly, Orsolini, signed by Juventus in January, wasn't even part of the original squad to the Mundial. The 20-year-old gatecrashed Alberigo Evani's team as a late replacement for an injured player.

#1 - Dominic Solanke

While talks about his future remain uncertain, Dominic Solanke went about his business on the pitch with panache, stunning for England in Korea. The 19-year-old, expected to link up with Liverpool next season, was pivotal as the Young Lions cruised to the trophy. After first registering from the spot against Argentina in the opener, Solanke developed a habit of scoring when it mattered most. Rising to the occasion in the knockout rounds, he netted the only goal against Mexico in the quarter-finals before adding a brace in the semis against Italy to take his tally to four. Ultimately, he was named Player of the Tournament - a recognition for his all-round contribution to his team.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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