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World Cup: Breakout stars of 2022

The wait is nearly over, and the World Cup final in Qatar is now just days away. Despite the pre-tournament negativity, the action on the pitch has lived up to the hype, and all eyes will now be on Sunday's final.

While the majority of the build-up will focus on Lionel Messi as he prepares to lead Argentina, there have been several strong performances from other players that could soon find themselves the subject of big-money transfers as a result.

World Cups allow players to showcase their skills to a global audience, and we have picked out five players who have caught the eye in Qatar.

Dominik Livakovic (Croatia)

While Morocco's Yassine Bounou has impressed, he is 31, which means our vote goes to 27-year-old Livakovic.

While he could not help Croatia qualify for the World Cup final, he did his best to keep the scoreline respectable as Argentina ran out 3-0 winners.

Lionel Messi and co are now 5/6 to win the tournament, but Livakovic can hold his head up high after a marvellous few weeks. He helped his side beat Japan and Brazil on penalties, and a move away from Dinamo Zagreb could be on the cards this summer.

Josip Gvardiol (Croatia)

At the age of 20, Gvardiol has the world at his feet, and he has already earned the plaudits of his manager Zlatko Dalic.

The RB Leipzig star has played in Qatar in a mask after fracturing his nose before a ball was kicked at the World Cup.

His performance level did not drop off, though, and Dalic believes he is already "the number one defender in the world". That is some statement considering the class on show in Qatar, but he may have a point.

Gvardiol only joined Leipzig in 2020, but a host of clubs are already being linked with a move ahead of the start of the transfer window.

Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)

Amrabat has enjoyed a steady career so far, playing for the likes of Utrecht, Feyenoord, Club Brugge, Hellas Verona and Fiorentina.

While he has yet to earn a huge-money move to a "big club", his performances for Morocco have only boosted his profile.

Amrabat has worked tirelessly for Morocco to help them reach the semi-finals, and his no-nonsense approach in the middle will be needed to keep France's midfield quiet in the semi-finals.

Morocco are considered 11/1 outsiders to win the World Cup, while France are priced at 5/4 to defend their crown.

Enzo Fernandez (Argentina)

It is fair to say that Fernandez has taken his opportunity in Qatar, and he is now a mainstay in Lionel Scaloni's starting XI.

He had never started a game for Argentina before the start of the World Cup, but he scored a fine goal against Mexico off the bench. He has since gone from strength to strength, and Benfica may need to fend off interest in the coming years.

Fernandez only left River Plate in the summer, but he looks to have a bright future at the top of the game.

Cody Gakpo (Netherlands)

Gakpo's name was already touted around before the World Cup started, but his performances for the Netherlands have only reaffirmed that the PSV Eindhoven forward is an exceptional talent.

The 23-year-old scored in all three group games for the Netherlands, and manager Louis Van Gaal says he has "everything" to become a star.

Leeds United and Southampton tried to sign him in the summer, but it now appears that Gakpo is destined for one of Europe's biggest clubs.

Manchester United are at the front of the queue if reports are to be believed, and Gakpo may even move away from PSV in January.

His pace, power and eye for goal make him a desirable target for several clubs, and he is not expected to remain in the Eredivisie for long.

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