ENGLAND booked their place in Saturday’s Underneath-17 World Cup closing by thumping Brazil Three-1 on Wednesday, and they’ll meet Spain within the decider.
La Roja overcame Mali of their semi-final, organising a rematch of the European Underneath-17 Championship closing from earlier this yr, which the Spaniards gained.
England’s Rhian Brewster stole the headlines together with his hat-trick towards Brazil, however Spain have gotten a gifted younger striker of their very own who the Younger Lions must maintain a detailed eye on.
Barcelona’s 17-year-old goal-scoring sensation Abel Ruiz is captain of England’s closing opponents and is being in comparison with former Liverpool hero Fernando Torres.
Our associates at Soccer Whispers profile the teenage centre-forward.
Signed from Valencia as a 12-year-old, Ruiz has been making waves as he progresses via the ranks at Barcelona, in addition to on the worldwide stage.
Earlier this season, taking part in for Barca’s B group towards Granada, he grew to become the primary participant born within the new millennium to attain in Spain’s Segunda Division.
He was already the primary participant born within the 2000s to signify the Blaugrana’s second string when debuting for the aspect late final season.
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At present captaining Spain’s under-17 aspect, Ruiz is hoping so as to add the World Cup to his trophy assortment, having already led La Roja to success within the Euros earlier this yr.
And that wasn’t his first look on the European Underneath-17 Championship, having performed within the 2016 match the place he gained the Silver Boot regardless of being a yr youthful than most of his opponents.
His haul throughout the 2 Euros implies that, with eight targets, Ruiz is the joint-highest scorer within the historical past of the European Underneath-17 Championship.
He already has 4 targets to his identify on the Underneath-17 World Cup in India too, bagging a brace towards Mali to fireplace his group into the ultimate.
At 5ft 10ins and nonetheless rising, Ruiz is tall and bodily highly effective for his age group.
Stylistically, regardless of Spain’s latest penchant for false nines and deep-lying forwards, he’s basically a traditional centre-forward.
He thrives on the shoulder of the final defender whereas additionally capable of play together with his again to aim.
His tempo and lethal ending has led to comparisons with World Cup winner Torres, who was a star of the Underneath-17 World Cup in 2001.
However Ruiz has admitted that the participant he most identifies with is Bayern Munich hotshot Robert Lewandowski.
“I am a extra direct participant, a superb finisher,” he defined to Diario Sport earlier this yr.
“I maintain the ball nicely with my again to aim and I take into account myself an entire ahead.
“I concentrate on what Lewandowski does, as a result of I feel he is probably the most full ahead there may be.
“For me, he is the most effective No9 on the earth in the meanwhile.”
And Spain’s under-17 coach, Santiago Denia, concurs. “He ticks all of the packing containers,” he mentioned not too long ago.
“He scores poacher’s targets, could make targets, tackle gamers and maintain the ball as much as make targets for different gamers”
Seen as a scorching prospect throughout the Barcelona set-up, Ruiz is being earmarked for a shiny Camp Nou future.
And with Luis Suarez quickly turning 31 and Paco Alcacer failing to impress since his 2016 transfer from Valencia, it may not be too lengthy earlier than is starring for the primary group.
Nevertheless, Barcelona may have a battle on their palms to cling onto the gifted teenager, as curiosity in excessive from Premier League golf equipment.
An Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Metropolis switch goal, the 17-year-old may comply with Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin and, extra not too long ago, Eric Garcia in swapping La Masia for England.
With a contractual launch clause set at simply €3m, Barcelona can be clever to tie Ruiz all the way down to new phrases as soon as he returns from the Underneath-17 World Cup.