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FIFA could merge U17, U20 World Cups

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FIFA Under-17 World Cup
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U-17 WC: The youngest, the tallest and those from the big clubs

England U-17 striker Jadon Sancho.
England U-17 striker Jadon Sancho.

A total of 504 players from 24 teams. All of whom will be hoping to become household names in the years to come.

The teams for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India are out. The tournament begins on October 6 and will feature the likes of Brazil, Spain, England, USA, France and Germany. It will also see hosts India, New Caledonia and Niger making their first appearance at any FIFA event.

You may not know many of the players who will be in action next month, but here are some interesting factoids to chew on as you decide which teams to root for.

Is 11 the new 9?

At first glance, the traditional list of favourites for the World Cup would probably include Brazil, Spain and England. Brazil are South American U-17 champions while Spain and England both reached the European final -- which Spain won on penalties. Each top striker of these teams -- Vinicius Jr (Brazil), Jadon Sancho (England) and Nacho Diaz (Spain) -- wears No. 11, famously worn by Miroslav Klose, Romario and Didier Drogba.

Vinicius, who plays for Flamengo, has just signed a professional contract with Real Madrid with the transfer fee reported to be €45 million. Sancho was picked up by Borussia Dortmund this summer and now wears the No. 7 left vacant by Ousamane Dembele at the club. Diaz, a prospect from Villareal's academy, scored the equalizer in the Euro U-17 final that took the game to penalties.

So, who's the youngest of them all?

Issiaga Camara of Guinea is the undisputed babe of this World Cup. Born on December 30, 2002, Camara barely qualifies for the World Cup, which requires all players to have been born between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2002.

Guinea could well have one of the youngest squads at this World Cup, with Camara among five players born in 2002.

The tall and the short of it

Matthew Palmer of New Zealand, standing at 6'4", will be the tallest player at this tournament. But just by a bit: four players missed out on the top spot by an inch.

Djemoussa Traore, Mohamed Camara and Ibrahiim Kane all stand at 4'9" and are the shortest players boarding a flight to India. They will all turn out for Mali, the African country which finished runners-up at the last U-17 World Cup in Chile two years ago.

USA's Timothy Weah (right) is the son of AC Milan legend George Weah.
USA's Timothy Weah (right) is the son of AC Milan legend George Weah.

It's all in the genes

Timothy Weah of the USA is the only player at the World Cup whose father is a former FIFA World Player of the Year. AC Milan legend George Weah, who played international football for Liberia, picked up the all the relevant awards for 1995 -- FIFA World Player, European Footballer of the Year and African Footballer of the Year.

Boys from the big clubs

It's another tie in this category. Among the world's top clubs, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Sao Paolo have five players each from their academy -- the most. A close second are Barcelona, Lyon and RB Leipzig with four.

As you might have guessed, the Real Madrid and Barcelona players make the bulk of the Spanish team, while the English are mostly a mix of Chelsea and City.

Surprise package

We have a contender for the most unlikely English club to feature in the World Cup. William Crellin, England's third-choice goalkeeper, comes from Fleetwood Town, a third-tier club from sunny Lancashire. Fleetwood have never made it to the Premier League and their best FA Cup finish has been the third round, in 2011-12 and in 2016-17.

USA's Josh Sargent celebrates a goal against Senegal during the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
USA's Josh Sargent celebrates a goal against Senegal at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Sargent's second big splash of 2017

Striker Josh Sargent is set to become the second American to have played the U-20 and U-17 World Cups in the same year -- emulating Freddy Adu, who played for both youth teams in 2003.

Earlier this year, Sargent played in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he scored two goals in his first match to help the Americans hold Ecuador to a 2-2 draw. That made him the youngest American to have scored in U-20 World Cup history.

Special one

Ferran Torres, who plays for Spain, was born on February 29, 2000. The Valencia player gets to celebrate his birthday once every four years -- and one can imagine how he makes up for the lost parties at one go.

Three days after this story was published, the Brazillian federation confirmed to ESPN that Vinicius Junior won't be traveling for the World Cup. 

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