As the FIFA U17 World Cup enters its decisive phase -- without hotly tipped England or any Concacaf representatives -- here's a rundown of 12 talents that have stood out during the first four games of the tournament. As ever, Brazil are strongly represented, even without Real Madrid-bound Endrick -- and Spain are through to the quarter-finals despite the absence of the Barcelona wonderkid, Lamine Yamal.
Meanwhile, surprise-packages Mali and Uzbekistan have also made the final eight with squads made up entirely of home-based talent. We take a look at the up-and-coming names that have excited the Indonesian crowds.
Claudio Echeverri, 17, AM, River Plate / Argentina
Already on the scouting shortlist of many top European clubs, Echeverri's stock has certainly not dropped after the initial first four games in Indonesia. Along with club team mate Agustin Roberto and Santiago Lopez, Echeverri has made up a formidable attacking force for Argentina. And not only are Argentina sporting their best youth generation for years, but they also seem to have brought along their next world-class No.10.
Technically brilliant coupled with magnificent vision and a powerful right-footed shot (his opening goal against Japan was a wonderfully struck free-kick from 25 meters), the River Plate prodigy picks clever positions between the lines from which he makes great use of his impressive, intuitive passing skills. Thanks to the same positional awareness, he's also fully capable of making clever late runs for one-touch finishes from crosses or cut-backs. As much as it's hard to predict what lies ahead for a 17-year-old, there's every chance charismatic Echeverri will soon end up playing for a Champions League giant.
Kaua Elias, 17, ST, Fluminense / Brazil
The joint top scorer of the South American U17 championship has picked up from where he left off in Ecuador in April. A rugged, compact centre-forward, Elias leads the line well for Brazil by stretching the opposing defence with his pace and willingness to play off the shoulder of centre-backs.
In addition to standing out (at this age group) with his physical power (useful for hold-up purposes), the No. 9 is also efficient in the box, pouncing on rebounds and is always on hand to test the keeper with quickly executed finishes (four goals so far). His fine technical ability also sees him capable of beating defenders in tight situations and creating chances even when there is no support.
Despite only coming off the bench in Brazil's opening fixture against Iran (a 2-3 surprise defeat), Estevao has gained momentum along with the rest of the side. Arguably one of the most sought-after members of a star-studded side, the 16-year-old has attracted rave reviews from his performances at youth level at home and he showed off some of his remarkable talent in the 2-1 against England.
His nickname, "Messinho," offers a few clues as to what he brings to the party: left-footed with outstanding acceleration with and without the ball, outstanding command of his body (he's adept at quick turns and changes of direction) as well as the ability to strike the ball with power and precision from distance (including set-pieces), as proven against Ecuador in which his double saw Brazil advance to the quarter-finals.
Dudu, 17, AM, Athletico Paranaense / Brazil
While Elias and Estevao (as well as fellow forward, Rayan) are attracting the biggest headlines, some scouts are singing the praises of the main instigator of Brazil's free flowing attack, Dudu. The left-footed No.10 (or 8) has registered an average of five key passes per game in Indonesia and opponents have yet to figure out how to keep the playmaker quiet as he picks up smart positions in the half-spaces or drops deep to get on the ball early in the build-up.
Brilliant at inviting and setting up combinations on the final third, Dudu has a highly developed footballing IQ for his age. His other interesting qualities include his tremendous set-pieces (especially outswinging corners) and his knack of timing third player movements into the box. Rather atypical for a predominantly creative player, he's also tenacious and rarely shuns pressing duties.
Joel Ndala, 17, FW, Manchester City / England
Not only did the Manchester City winger clinch a place in the knockout rounds with his last-minute winner against Iran -- a rather intricate effort curled into the goal from a near-impossible angle -- but he was also England's main danger man throughout the championship and leaves Indonesia with the impression of a teenager going through a riveting period of development. Carrying certain similarities to Jérémy Doku, the right-footed Manchester-born winger has a phenomenal change of pace and highly developed off-the-ball movement that often sees him receiving the ball on the blind side of the defender.
Sharp one vs. one abilities along with great balance enable him to turn quickly and to wrong-foot his marker (either direction) through lightning-quick body feints. Entertaining as well as productive, it's only a matter of time before Ndala gets his first minutes at first-team level (ostensibly in a loan move).
Joachim Kayi Sanda, 16, CB, Valenciennes / France
The fact that France made it to the quarter-finals without conceding a single goal on the way drops a few hints of a solid and well-organised side rather than a spectacular one. Some of the merit for the perfect defensive record undoubtedly goes to the central defensive pairing of Bastien Meupiyou (Nantes) and Kayi Sanda.
While there's not much between them quality wise and neither have hardly put a foot wrong in the entire tournament, the latter plays with an aura that belies his age. Indeed, the French captain was awarded with his first-team debut in Ligue 2 for Valenciennes just prior to departing for U17 duty. Calm, dominating, physically imposing, excellent in the air and with a safe passing game, Kayi Sanda is likely to be followed by even bigger clubs over the next months.
Noah Darvich, 17, AM, Barcelona / Germany
The German captain is another left-footed prodigy -- they seem to appear thick and fast on the world scene -- who's deservedly collecting accolades in Indonesia. Signed by Barcelona in August (€2.5million) from Freiburg as a mere youth player, Darvich might even get a chance to prove himself at first-team level following Gavi's long-term injury.
The stylish and technically advanced midfielder -- he's equally comfortable featuring as a No. 8, 10 or as an inverted winger on the right -- certainly has Barcelona written all over him. A wonderful tactical appreciation blended with first-class movement -- his opening goal against Mexico a fitting example -- and an outstanding first touch make everything he does seem easy and premeditated. Never in a hurry with a clear mental picture of the movement around him and the flow of the game, the 17-year-old already seems ripe for greater challenges than what youth level can offer him.
Sekou Kone, 17, DM, Guidars FC / Mali
One of several stand-out performers in a massively impressive Mali side in which the forwards have attracted the most attention (not unsurprisingly after scoring 13 goals from the first four games), yet Kone has been a huge influence in midfield. Not just a terrific athlete who covers vast areas, the 17-year-old is also smooth on the ball -- his ball-striking technique when spreading long passes and switches is especially a joy to watch -- and his first-rate positioning skills allow him to anticipate the trajectory of the ball early for interceptions.
Despite losing 1-0 against Spain (Mali's only defeat), Kone showed that he's equally tuned in when the pace of the game is upped a few notches. Against one of the pre-tournament favourites the mobile defensive midfielder registered no less than nine tackles, while his ability to pinpoint deep passes saw him deliver three key passes, too. An exciting prospect who's reportedly joining RB Salzburg when he turns 18.
Taha Benrhozil, 17, GK, Mohammed VI Football Academy / Morocco
For what the Moroccan goalkeeper may lack in height, he makes up for with spectacular reflexes, brilliantly timed exits and, not least, a larger-than-life character. At 17, Benrhozil cuts a rare but refreshing profile of a goalkeeper as he plays with high risk and sizzling temperament.
Though his style may not be to everyone's taste, to see a teenage goalkeeper improvising and sticking to his flamboyant style is quite a rarity. Missing the odd aerial interception -- mainly due to his relatively modest height -- doesn't seem to faze him much. Instead the lightning quick No.1 picks himself up and gets back on the line to be ready for whatever may come. As written in the stars, Benrhozli also became the Moroccan hero as he saved the decisive penalty that saw the North Africans defeat Iran (on penalties) in the first knockout round.
Yaya Dieme, 17, FW, Diambars / Senegal
Senegal were dealt a blow when their 15-year-old sensation Amara Diouf picked up an injury after scoring two goals in the opening game against Japan. As Diouf failed to return in time for the subsequent fixtures, the other Senegalese front men stepped up in his place.
16-year-old winger Yaha Diame was particularly bright, being a constant thorn in the side for defenders before he tended to run out of steam towards the end of the games. Despite losing to France on penalties in the Round of 16, the Africans were on top for long spells of the game and it was Diame especially who caused the main threat down the right wing as the Frenchmen failed to deal with his accelerations, turns and sparks of creativity.
Pau Cubarsí, 16, CB, Barcelona / Spain
In a Spain squad containing no less than eight Barcelona players (it could easily be one more if Yamal wasn't busy playing for the senior side), the elegant centre-back has stood out as arguably the best defender in the competition. Though the Catalan side might not be renowned for producing central defenders, the 16-year-old is certain to have a promising future at the highest level.
As one expects from a La Masia product, he's exceptionally composed in possession, picking line-breaking passes with either foot. With the plethora of speedy forwards in the tournament he's also been tested for pace and, despite pace not being his number one strength, he's dealt well with the sprints duels by way of fine timing and positioning. Perhaps less predictably, Cubarsi is also a strong box defender -- handling aerial duels well and being alert to rebounds and loose balls.
Amirbek Saidov, 17, striker, Bunyodkor / Uzbekistan
Along with captain Lazizbek Mirzaev, Saidov has been Uzbekistan's best player and a constant threat throughout the championship. Though built like a centre-forward, he's more of a movement-based front man who always looks to run in behind the opposing defensive line rather than receiving the ball to his feet.
This knack was clearly highlighted against Spain when Saidov beat the offside trap -- thanks to VAR intervention after the goals were first ruled out -- to score both goals in Uzbekistan's sensational 2-2 comeback. While he might not be too concerned about his pressing duties or defensive work, he's quick, sharp, sniffs out advantageous positions and is able to finish with both feet, proving to be a rather efficient goal poacher.