You’ll have to wait at least until 2026 to see Erling Haaland, Alexander Isak and Victor Osimhen on the sport’s grandest platform for the first time. You will, however, get to see multiple other elite forwards make their FIFA World Cup™ debut in Qatar.

FIFA+ spotlights five of the best.

Jonathan David

22 years old 32 caps | 21 goals Footballing idols: Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho Canada’s Group F opponents: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco

Something has ‘The Iceman’ losing his habitual cool. “I just can’t wait for the World Cup,” he said. “I want it already.” David performed a fundamental function as Lille registered one of the most stunning league-title triumphs in modern history in 2020/21, and he followed it up with another fine season for Les Dogues. He was also instrumental in Canada conquering Concacaf’s Octagonal and reaching a first World Cup in 36 years. Toby Alderweireld, Duje Caleta-Car and Nayef Aguerd and the other defenders in the pool must prepare for a rapid, skilful player who is slippery to bodyguard.

Did you know? David was born in Brooklyn, New York City, USA but moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti when he was three months old and then to Ottawa, Canada when he was six years old. He rejected a call-up from the US at youth level. David turned down multiple offers from MLS clubs – the normal byway for a North American into the professional game – because he was curiously fixated on beginning his career in Europe, which he did with Gent in Belgium. Football aside, his biggest passion is fashion, which is one of the big reasons he loves living in France.

Quote “I want to help change the game of soccer for Canadians. The World Cup is an amazing opportunity for us to do that.” Jonathan David

Lautaro Martinez

24 years old 32 caps | 20 goals Footballing idol: Falcao

Argentina’s Group C opponents: Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland ‘El Toro’ made Jorge Sampaoli’s preliminary squad for Russia 2018, but he didn’t make the final cut as Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain were taken to accompany Lionel Messi. Argentina could have done with Martinez as they drew 1-1 with Iceland and lost 3-0 to Croatia. Now firmly established as Messi’s strike partner, nine goals in 13 games from Martinez have helped La Albiceleste win the Copa America for the first time in 28 years, cruise to Qatar 2022 qualification and sink Italy 3-0 in the Finalissima

Did you know?Lautaro’s father Mario had a 21-year career as a footballer, while his younger brother Jano Martinez is a point guard for basketball team Villa Mitre.

Quote“He’s a very complete forward. He scores goals easily, but he also does so much more. He’s strong, he can hold the ball up, he can dribble.”Lionel Messi

Christopher Nkunku

24 years old 6 caps | 0 goals Footballing idols: Ronaldinho, Marco Verratti

France’s Group D opponents: Australia, Denmark, Tunisia When a player wins a Bundesliga Player of the Season award over the likes of Erling Haaland and 35-goal Robert Lewandowski, you know he’s really special. Nkunku may have had to wait until earlier this year for his maiden international call-up, but he’s appeared in every France game since. The former Paris Saint-Germain started out playing in midfield or out wide, but now he’s operating in attack for Leipzig. Just how potent would an Kylian Mbappe-Karim Benzema-Nkunku trident be?

Did you know? Nkunku was in the same Clairefontaine age group as Allan Saint-Maximin and Marcus Thuram. Mbappe was in the following year’s. ‘Christo’ registered 33 combined goals and assists in 34 appearances in last season’s Bundesliga.

Quote “Christopher is even more dangerous as a striker or in behind than he was on the wing. He’s surprisingly good in the air for someone who’s not that tall. He makes great runs in behind. He scores goals. He’s fast, athletic. He’s been a big plus for France.” Didier Deschamps

Darwin Nunez

23 years old 11 caps | 2 goals Footballing idol: Edinson Cavani

Uruguay’s Group H opponents: Korea Republic, Portugal, Ghana Uruguay have repeatedly punched above their above their weight in title terms. This century, they’ve mirrored that success in producing elite marksmen, with Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani registering 162 international goals between them. The latest sharpshooter fresh off their conveyor belt is Nunez, whose pace, movement and finishing make him a fearsome prospect to deal with. Diego Alonso may have afforded ‘El Pichón’ limited minutes in sky blue so far, but the Liverpool man seems destined to lead the Uruguay line in Qatar.

Did you know?

Nunez almost quit football in order to provide for his impoverished family. In an incredible act of self-sacrifice, however, his brother Junior told Darwin he had more chance of making it than he did, and that he would leave the Penarol youth ranks to get a job and take care of familia Nunez. The Liverpool star puts aftershave on before playing. He first heard about it when reading an interview Ronaldo had given about playing against England at Korea/Japan 2002. “When you swap shirts, they are always soaked in sweat and stink,” the Brazilian said. “I was in disbelief when Beckham’s smelt of aftershave after 90 minutes in the heat. Really nice aftershave.”

Quote “He’s a winner. He’s a fighter. He’s extremely fast. He’s strong, good in the air. He can hold the ball up, he can make runs in behind. Amazing finisher. He scored two goals against Barcelona, one against Bayern, another two against Liverpool in the Champions League. He’s got the qualities of both Cavani and Suarez. The sky is the limit for Darwin.” Adel Taarabt

Dusan Vlahovic

22 years old 14 caps | 7 goals Footballing idols: Stevan Jovetic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Serbia’s Group G opponents: Brazil, Cameroon, Switzerland Most youngsters distance themselves from the pressure of being juxtaposed with a legend. Vlahovic, by contrast, welcomes being called ‘The Serbian Ibrahimovic’. Former team-mate Valeri Bojinov recalled: “He was this 16-year-old kid and he was telling me, ‘I’m Zlatan from Belgrade’. I’m going to play for the biggest clubs and be one of the world’s best strikers.” Vlahovic, drenched in self-confidence, has accomplished those two goals already. The Juventus striker has hit 45 goals in 73 appearances over the last three seasons in Serie A, and will be the spearhead as Serbia’s finest-ever generation of players go is pursuit of success on the Arabian Peninsula.

Did you know? When he was growing up, Vlahovic dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player and a doctor. Vlahovic was astonishing handed the Partizan No9 shirt before he made his professional debut. In 2016, just 22 days past his 16th birthday, he ran out in it for the club.

Quote “I’m absolutely obsessed with scoring goals. If I don’t feel that emotion, after a match I feel empty, rock bottom. When I do score, I feel like I’m flying. I’m in seventh heaven. It’s an addiction. I live for it.

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