Haaland, Sancho, Foden, Fati lead the 39 finest gamers age 21 or beneath


The world’s finest gamers are getting youthful however, because the likes of Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Man Metropolis midfielder Phil Foden make headlines each week, is it lastly time to crown successors to the legendary Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?

For the third straight 12 months (learn 2019 and 2020 right here), ESPN brings you our record of the sport’s subsequent high younger stars aged 21 or beneath. The earlier two years’ No. 1, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, at 22, is now too previous to be included, whereas others from the latest high 10, together with Liverpool‘s Trent Alexander-Arnold and AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, are out too!

A few of this 12 months’s crop have made their mark on the massive stage already — you would possibly bear in mind how Haaland introduced himself within the Champions League — however who has performed sufficient to make the grade, what are their specific qualities and the way can they get even higher?

Assembling the record for the second 12 months working is Tor-Kristian Karlsen, who has labored as a scout and govt for golf equipment throughout Europe, together with Monaco, Zenit and Watford. He explains his methodology earlier than revealing his picks.

Why 39?

From an preliminary “lengthy record” of 75 gamers, these remaining are those who finest glad my important standards: appearances on the highest stage, constant efficiency over a sustained interval and possessing the potential to develop right into a future high stage footballer.

What sorts of analysis had been undertaken?

I used a sounding board consisting {of professional} scouts and sporting administrators from a number of high European golf equipment earlier than deciding on the ultimate rating, in addition to on-line scouting platforms equivalent to WyScout and InStat. Private choice additionally performed a big position.

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Is there a motive attacking gamers dominate the record?

On the whole, forwards get extra enjoying time at a youthful age than, say, central defenders, who have a tendency to want extra time to develop tactical consciousness, positioning and understanding of the sport. Past those that did make it, different defenders thought-about included RB Leipzig‘s Ibrahima Konate, Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey and Sporting CP‘s Nuno Mendes.

It speaks volumes in regards to the array of attacking expertise that gamers equivalent to Chelsea‘s Callum Hudson-Odoi, Rennes’ Jeremy Doku and Arsenal‘s Gabriel Martinelli narrowly missed out on the ultimate record.

– Gamers included should be age 21 or beneath on Might 1. The highest 10 have been ranked, with the remaining listed in alphabetical order.
– Whereas there’s nonetheless uncertainty over how COVID-19 will have an effect on the switch market, the switch values acknowledged are based mostly on pre-COVID costs.

– Positions are: GK (goalkeeper), DEF (defender), MID (midfielder), FW (ahead), ST (striker)



Watch highlights of ESPN FC’s choices for one of the best younger footballers on the planet.

Soar to: Badiashile | Baumgartner | Bellingham | Botman | Camavinga | David | Davies | De Ligt | Dest | Fati | Felix | Foden | Fofana | Gravenberch | Greenwood | Haaland | Havertz | Isak | Jones | James | Kamara | Kean | Kulusevski | Meslier | Musiala | Pedro Neto | Pedri | Reyna | Rodrygo | Saka | Sancho | Tchouameni | Torres | Tonali | Trincao | Vinicius Jr. | Vlahovic | Wamangituka | Wirtz

The High 10

Membership/nation: Arsenal / England
Age: 19
Estimated switch worth: €50m

Saka has skilled a spectacular current journey, from promising beginnings as an thrilling left-back to a resourceful inverted winger on the precise. Capped 4 occasions by England, the Arsenal extensive man is among the most constant youngsters within the Premier League, and he has actually taken a leap ahead after being moved additional up the pitch. His objective in opposition to Chelsea is definitely a candidate for objective of the season, although the jury’s nonetheless out on whether or not he actually meant to chip Edouard Mendy together with his weaker foot. Final 12 months he made the complete record however did not crack the highest 10.

Strengths: Saka provides a novel mixture of talents; on one hand he is a tenacious and enthusiastic defender, whereas on the opposite he is a fountain of artistic vitality, unpredictability and trickery (back-heels, flicks, modifications of route). Briefly, regardless of being a schooled defender, he is nonetheless acquired the attacking incisiveness and creativity of a pure winger. He is lightning-quick with the ball at his ft and has nice steadiness. From his new position, he additionally has proved to be a superb crosser within the closing third.

How he can enhance: Having turn out to be such a significant key participant and difference-maker for Arsenal, the problem is how he reacts to being roughed up by opponents.

Membership/nation: Actual Madrid / Brazil
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €40m

In soliciting suggestions on Vinicius Jr., it was clear that few gamers polarise opinion greater than the Brazilian extensive man. Whereas some are enormously excited by his super tempo and directness, others despair over poor decision-making and a bent to get too labored up in essential moments. The €46m signing from Flamengo in 2018 can look again on 100 official video games for arguably the most important membership on the planet a couple of months earlier than he turns 21, which is sweet going. Nonetheless, he has dropped from fourth place final 12 months.

Vinicius Jr. nets two in defeat of Liverpool

Strengths: Largely deployed on the left wing by Actual Madrid supervisor Zinedine Zidane, Vinicius Jr. primarily involves life together with his diagonal runs and motion throughout the entrance when the sport opens up. When allowed area, he can create hazard together with his pace and dribbling capability, which might see him go away opponents behind on counter-attacks. Although not the same old strategic or polished participant favoured by high golf equipment equivalent to Actual Madrid, there is a motive Zidane is sticking with him: he is unpredictable and tough.

How he can enhance: Can enhance his positioning when defending, together with set items, depends closely on his proper foot and, regardless of all of the promise, can battle to give you an finish product.

Membership/nation: Atletico Madrid / Portugal
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €95m

Signed by Atletico Madrid because the second-most costly teenager in world soccer when he joined from Benfica for €126m two years in the past, he took a full season to completely adapt to Spanish soccer (not to mention Diego Simeone’s demanding model of soccer). The Portugal worldwide began the season off effectively and loved a very productive spell through the late autumn, although his affect has tailed off considerably not too long ago. That mentioned, the second striker or “false No. 9” stays one of many high crowd-pleasers in La Liga and one of the proficient younger forwards round. He has risen two locations from tenth final 12 months.

Strengths: His first contact — and the best way it units him up for his subsequent motion, usually mixed with a flip or a swift physique motion — is nearly unparalleled. He additionally has a pure appreciation of the sport and consciousness of the gamers round him. Fast with and with out possession, glorious at veering his well past opponents; by way of flicks, lay-offs and sensible mixture play, Felix could be a pleasure to observe.

How he can enhance: Being a supremely proficient, artistic participant, no person expects him to waste his time choosing fights with centre-backs, however he may nonetheless make a larger nuisance of himself in attacking duels.

Membership/nation: Barcelona / Spain
Age: 18
Estimated switch worth: €70m

You can be forgiven for considering that Pedri is a La Masia academy product. He has all of the qualities related to Barcelona’s personal youth gamers — nice contact, imaginative and prescient and passing ability — but the attacking midfielder was signed from Las Palmas in 2019 and loaned again to the Canary Islands membership for a season earlier than he moved to Catalonia. Having grown up desirous to play like Andres Iniesta, the comparisons are there for anybody to see. Just lately capped 3 times by Spain on the senior stage, he has an enormous future forward of him as a newcomer to this record.

Hunter: Messi stays Barcelona’s talisman, however Pedri is the longer term

Strengths: Supervisor Ronald Koeman moved Pedri, initially a winger, to the centre of midfield for his glorious technical abilities and imaginative and prescient. He’s already completely comfy with Barca’s possession-dominating model. So easy, neat and clever in possession, Pedri’s capability to string a exactly weighted ball behind the opposing defence is an everyday characteristic of his sport. He is additionally moderately industrious for an attacking midfielder and is all the time eager to get on the ball.

How he can enhance: The subsequent step for Pedri is to indicate extra aggression within the defensive facet of his sport in addition to making an attempt extra pictures on objective — together with his ability and method, he may rating 12-14 targets a season from midfield.

Membership/nation: Dortmund / England
Age: 17
Estimated switch worth: €70m

One other newcomer to the record, Bellingham’s ascent from battling relegation with Championship facet Birmingham Metropolis on the age of 16 to a dominating presence within the latter levels of the Champion League lower than a 12 months later is nothing wanting astounding. Though his expertise has by no means been doubtful — he ran circles round opponents even in his early teenagers — the best way his growth has skyrocketed has stunned even the Dortmund administration. Bellingham, who was capped by England at senior stage final month, is beginning to look each bit a generational expertise.

– Laurens: Bellingham could be a full midfielder

Strengths: He is turning into the best, trendy midfield “No. 8”; Bellingham is great on the ball, utilizing his shut management and method to get previous opponents and drop into the precise areas to obtain a go. Sensible at timing late runs into the field, he additionally possesses a exact however diversified passing sport and a first-class software to teamwork.

How he can enhance: Bellingham has already made such staggering progress over the previous 12 months thatg it is a matter of staying at this stage — anticipating extra from a 17-year-old at this level in his profession is unfair.

Membership/nation: Juventus / Netherlands
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €70m

The winner of the 2018 “Golden Boy” award and Ajax’s youngest-ever captain missed three months of this season as a result of a shoulder damage, however has regarded the half for Juventus since his return in November. Signed for a whopping €75m from the Dutch giants (which made him the fourth-most costly defender in world soccer) in 2019, he has collected 26 senior caps for the Netherlands. We positioned him sixth final 12 months.

– Kuper: Why formidable De Ligt selected Juventus

Strengths: Exceptionally calm and guaranteed in possession together with his 93% go completion price in Serie A this season, the Dutchman has the standard (with both foot) to interrupt strains together with his go out of defence, usually enjoying his method out of stress to search out an out there teammate in midfield. He reads the sport like a centre-back 10 years his senior and understands when to intercept and when to drop deeper. Reveals a excessive stage of focus (loses the ball on common just one.9 occasions per sport) and wins a formidable 70% of challenges within the air in addition to on the bottom.

How he can enhance: He tends to battle for tempo over the primary metres when caught out with area behind him.

Membership/nation: Barcelona / Spain
Age: 18
Estimated switch worth: €75m

Simply as he was starting to show why he retains being talked about because the doable inheritor to Messi, the terribly proficient winger picked up a critical meniscus damage that has stored him out for one of the best a part of six months. What he confirmed previous to the damage — particularly in his house senior debut for Spain and within the subsequent league match in opposition to Villarreal in September — was as thrilling as may be anticipated from somebody his age. He did sufficient final 12 months to make the complete record however is now a special class.

– Karlsen: How Barcelona can look to youth for assist

Strengths: Largely at house on the left-hand facet of the assault, he has been sporadically fielded on the other flank to be able to minimize infield. His capability to dribble and switch opponents inside out, by way of unpredictability and fast modifications of route, might be his most distinct high quality. However, being a La Masia product, he additionally possesses a extremely developed understanding of motion with out the ball and the tactical consciousness to maintain the sport shifting.

How he can enhance: It is all about getting absolutely match and choosing up the place he left off. He was within the strategy of upping his effectivity in entrance of objective when damage struck.

Membership/nation: Man Metropolis / England
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €85m

Among the many top-performing midfielders in Europe for the reason that flip of the 12 months, Foden appears to get higher because the opposition will get stronger and the tempo of the sport will increase. With six senior caps for England, the Manchester Metropolis academy product is anticipated to take pleasure in a key position within the Euro 2020 and has already reached double figures for targets in all competitions this season. Identical as Fati, he made the complete record final 12 months however his profession has taken off extremely.

Foden, Saka, Pedri headline ESPN’s breakout gamers of 2021

Strengths: Foden strikes across the pitch, scanning the terrain to be in the very best place to achieve a bonus when he has the ball, and cleverly positions his physique when he receives a go (most frequently turned in direction of the route the place he needs to maneuver). That, and his tactical and spatial consciousness, will not be simply indicators of a particular expertise but additionally a testomony to the standard of the academy within the east finish of Manchester. He’s an instinctive, cellular, clever participant and is ready to unlock a defence with a intelligent go or progressive dribble. Whether or not enjoying on both wing or within the center, or swapping positions all through the sport, he is all the time a menace.

How he can enhance: He is turning into a whole attacking midfielder and is within the strategy of turning into indispensable to Guardiola, which must be his subsequent problem. Whereas he’s diligent in his defensive urgent duties, he can up his focus ranges in that division too.



Watch a few of Phil Foden’s finest targets as he earns a high 10 spot in ESPN FC’s finest Underneath-21 gamers.

Membership/nation: Borussia Dortmund / England
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €90m

Final 12 months’s No. 2, Sancho had a poor run of type through the begin of the season that triggered hypothesis that he’d been mentally affected by the summer-long switch saga linking him closely with a €120m transfer to Manchester United. From the flip of this 12 months, till he picked up a muscle damage in direction of the top of February that stored him out till not too long ago, he got here again robust, displaying the type of type that shocked the Bundesliga final season. His presence was sorely missed when Dortmund had been knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester Metropolis.

– Schoenfeld: Sancho shall be a star, on his personal phrases

Strengths: A pure, gifted footballer whose pleasure of enjoying the sport is evident. Whether or not on the left or proper wing, alternating between the 2 positions, or drifting into the centre, Sancho is a persistent menace. His fast burst of tempo and agility in small areas make him extraordinarily tough to deal with; he is glorious one vs. one and his completely timed runs on the blind facet of defenders arrange the best angles for lay-offs, assists or a neat end. A contemporary, attacking ahead whose footballing mind matches his bodily and technical talents.

How he can enhance: When not in type, his defensive work price tends to drop.

Membership/nation: Borussia Dortmund / Norway
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €180m

Essentially the most coveted participant in world soccer, the Norway striker leaps from eighth final 12 months to a reasonably uncontested high spot. His 37 targets from 38 video games in all competitions this season is an outstanding return for any ahead, not to mention for a 20-year-old. His on and off the pitch manner, with the doable exception of some stroppy physique language in entrance of the cameras, has additionally helped him edge in direction of a correct “famous person” persona (which he appears to be having fun with), and Europe’s elite golf equipment are all eager to signal him earlier than his €75m launch clause kicks in subsequent 12 months.

– Teng: Why Haaland can turn out to be the world’s finest participant
– Karlsen: How Haaland turned soccer’s most-wanted

Strengths: Although he is clearly bettering his all-round sport, it is nonetheless his explosive tempo, uncooked energy and distinctive left foot, mixed with a knack of sniffing out goal-scoring positions and ending in a plethora of the way, that catch the attention. Haaland made his mark early on by leaving opponents trailing on counter-attacks and transitions however has turn out to be a pure at scoring targets from multi-pass build-ups, rebounds and crosses. He has all of the bodily and psychological qualities to turn out to be the highest centre-forward of the last decade.

How he can enhance: The 6-foot-4 striker is extra dominant within the air than he was a 12 months in the past (one in all his relative weak factors beforehand) and has turn out to be a greater link-up participant as effectively, but he nonetheless averages solely 17 passes per sport and also you surprise if he had been concerned in a extra intense urgent sport whether or not his targets would drop.



Watch one of the best of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Gio Reyna within the Bundesliga this season.

The subsequent 29 (in alphabetical order)

Membership/nation: AS Monaco / France
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €35m

Arguably the most important prospect to come back out of the Monaco academy since Mbappe, Badiashile has performed near 80 official video games on the senior stage and is among the high gamers from a outstanding technology of French centre-backs. Often a positive starter for France U21s, he may quickly earn his first senior cap regardless of the immense competitors. It is easy to see why he’s excessive up on the scouting agenda of many European elite golf equipment, together with Man United.

Strengths: Badiashile has all the things: He is not solely easy on the ball (91% go accuracy this season), however he is quick, robust and dominant within the air (73% profitable price from aerial challenges). As an added bonus, he is impressively trendy with a relaxed, measured strategy to his position within the centre of defence.

How he can enhance: He is prepared for the subsequent stage, which could be a transfer to a high European membership or to maintain on creating with Monaco — who must be again within the Champions League subsequent season — however his focus in sure defensive conditions can nonetheless be improved.

Membership/nation: Hoffenheim / Austria
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €25m

In a reasonably uneventful season for mid-table Hoffenheim, Baumgartner has stood out. Often deployed in an attacking midfield position, ideally within the half place to the left — though he is not restricted to that and may pop up wherever — the Austria worldwide has been a gentle supply of creativity. Because of some excellent performances and spectacular consistency, the 21-year-old is predictably showing on the radar of extra illustrious European golf equipment.

Strengths: A robust-running, dynamic midfielder who is ready to slide previous opponents together with his spectacular ball-progression and steadiness. However, in contrast to the archetypal artistic midfielder, he retains himself concerned with a dedicated urgent sport and interceptions as a result of his industrious, disciplined nature. He additionally attracts in opponents and attracts fouls, whereas he poses a menace together with his glorious right-footed shot and the flexibility to select a runner with a exact, penetrating ball.

How he can enhance: As an brisk midfielder who likes to execute his actions rapidly, he can have a tendency to present away possession too simply at occasions.

Membership/nation: Lille / Netherlands
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €30m

Having simply offloaded Gabriel to Arsenal for €26m, Lille’s sensible ex-sporting director, Luis Campos, moved swiftly to signal the Dutchman for roughly 1 / 4 of the value as a alternative. The Ajax product, who arrived in France from a mortgage spell at Heerenveen, by no means really performed first-team soccer for his formative membership, who now might look upon him as “the one which acquired away.” He’s attracting curiosity from high Premier League golf equipment, together with Liverpool and Tottenham.

Strengths: In partnership with much-travelled Portuguese veteran Jose Fonte, the left-footed Botman is a part of Ligue 1’s tightest defence. With Lille preventing for his or her first league title for 10 years, Botman retains impressing together with his extremely centered software to defending: alert, assertive and able to intercept or have interaction in a problem, but concedes few fouls. He comes out on high from 75% of his challenges on the bottom and may boast an equally good quantity within the air (he is one of many tallest defenders in Ligue 1 at 6-foot-4). Additionally composed on the ball and deceptively fast.

How he can enhance: Botman performs to his strengths and appears effectively conscious of his weaknesses, however as with most centre-backs of his dimension, he can fail to maintain up when confronted with fast and slick mixtures in and round his personal penalty space.

Membership/nation: Rennes / France
Age: 18
Estimated switch worth: €60m

Simply narrowly lacking out on a spot in our high 10, the midfielder has seen his rise to the highest stage out barely after experiencing a meteoric first skilled 12 months, making his Ligue 1 debut at simply 16. In his younger profession thus far he is clocked up greater than 60 video games at league stage in addition to making his senior debut for France (adopted by a scoring look vs. Ukraine). His wonderful growth has seen him being courted by virtually each membership that may presumably afford him, with Actual Madrid favourites.

Strengths: Left-footed, elegant and a pleasure to observe, Camavinga has a outstanding mix of labor price, technical capability and intelligence. Predominantly a holding midfielder (however has additionally been tried as a No. 8), he brings order and fluidity to the midfield together with his capability to win the ball and play a wise go. He covers numerous floor, is agile and dynamic, performs the sport with a excessive tempo and infrequently takes pointless touches. The 18-year-old can be glorious at getting out of tight spots with out shedding possession.

How he can enhance: Within the subsequent step of his growth he can turn out to be much more constructive in his passing sport.

Membership/nation: Lille / Canada
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €30m

The younger Canadian earned himself a €30m transfer to Lille final summer season after scoring 30 targets in twice as many appearances for Belgian facet Gent. At first he struggled to search out his ft within the aggressive, extra bodily French league — it took him 14 video games to search out the web — however David has grown in sharpness and confidence for the reason that flip of the 12 months. He scored the opener for table-topping Lille in opposition to PSG in early April, earlier than having to limp off within the first half with an ankle damage, whereas his two injury-time targets in a 2-0 win in opposition to Marseille are the spotlight of his membership profession to this point.

Strengths: Although it took him a couple of months, David has began to adapt to French soccer. Primarily a movement-based ahead, his important forte is his medical ending and he takes time to map out the dynamics of a scenario earlier than deciding the place to shoot. The sensible, speedy striker additionally loves making deep runs off the shoulders of defenders.

How he can enhance: As a lot as he is additionally able to dropping deep to contain himself within the build-up, he ought to look to up his variety of assists and key passes within the final third.

Membership/nation: Bayern Munich / Canada
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €50m

Expectations stay excessive for Davies, who broke by way of into the Bayern first crew with some beautiful shows final season. This marketing campaign, nonetheless, has been one thing of a backward step for the ex-Vancouver Whitecaps winger — now transformed right into a left-back at Bayern. An ankle damage that stored him out for six weeks didn’t assist, however whereas Davies is for certain to bounce again, he is going by way of essentially the most tough patch of his profession. He simply missed out on a spot within the high 10 right here.

Davies on his refugee background and the way it formed him

Strengths: When he will get into hassle defensively, particularly within the transitional part, Davies can use his super tempo to bail himself out. Whereas the freshness and unwavering confidence that noticed Davies turn out to be virtually unstoppable down the left facet final season has not fairly been there this marketing campaign, together with his tempo, motion and overlaps it will not be lengthy earlier than he proves his doubters flawed.

How he can enhance: Following the expectations of an preliminary excessive, a teen at an enormous membership will face some adversity once in a while. Some bodily and psychological relaxation over the summer season ought to see Davies again on monitor subsequent season.

Membership/nation: Barcelona / United States
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €25m

Signed by Barcelona from Ajax for €21m final summer season, the American has loved a good debut season in La Liga, regardless of a shaky begin (he was taken off at half-time in El Clasico in Madrid after being given a torrid time by Vinicius Jr.). But, having began greater than 20 league video games and geared up himself effectively within the Champions League and for the USA males’s nationwide crew, Dest can look again on a profitable first season.

Strengths: Barcelona signed Dest for his relentless attacking mindset and high-quality passing sport. Whether or not used as an “orthodox” right-back or as a wing-back, the 20-year-old normally poses a big attacking menace, though this season he is scored simply two league targets plus one help to this point. Pacey, a superb ball service and with a compact physique, he is the epitome of a contemporary full-back.

How he can enhance: As witnessed in El Clasico, there’s progress to be made within the defensive division of his sport. His positioning can typically go away him uncovered to a well-executed change ball.



Sergino Dest scores his first objective for the senior males’s nationwide crew to present the USMNT a 1-0 lead vs. Jamaica.

Membership/nation: Leicester Metropolis / France
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €60m

Signed by Leicester Metropolis from Saint-Etienne for a considerable €35m in October 2020, the Frenchman is a robust contender for “signing of the season.” From the second he arrived on English soil, he is hardly regarded uncomfortable, or as if he wants a interval of adjustment to his new league, which is rare at one of the best of occasions, however is especially spectacular for a younger centre-back.

Strengths: Remarkably full for his age, he’s fast and capable of carry the ball out of defence to pinpoint a ahead go. He is additionally exceptionally dominant within the air and in defensive challenges (profitable round 70% of each classes). Moreover, he performs with a excessive stage of focus all through the sport, hardly failing to trace a runner or needing to resort to a panic deal with. Whether or not enjoying in a again two or three, he is equally succesful.

How he can enhance: Fofana has carried out to a stage which nearly makes it foolish to level out minor shortcomings. He is just about the completed article already however it might be attention-grabbing to see how he copes with a step as much as a significant membership (with all due respect to Leicester) as his studying of the sport improves.

Membership/nation: Ajax / Netherlands
Age: 18
Estimated switch worth: €30m

The elegant midfielder is probably the No. 1 prospect from an thrilling crop of Ajax academy merchandise. His standing was confirmed when he was chosen for the senior Netherlands crew for 2022 World Cup qualifying this March (the place he made substitute appearances in all three worldwide fixtures) as an alternative of becoming a member of the U21 facet. At 18, Gravenberch instructions the aura of a “large membership participant” that belies his age.

Strengths: A defensive midfielder or “No. 8,” he is comfy on the ball and has the imaginative and prescient to see issues early, usually selecting to select attacking runs with an formidable long-range go. He is straightforward on the attention and strikes effortlessly across the pitch regardless of being tall (6-foot-2) for a central midfielder. Onerous to dispossess, he is glorious at twisting his method out of crowded conditions. Not essentially the most aggressive of midfielders, he comes out victorious from almost half of his challenges.

How he can enhance: Along with his physique, technical capability and wonderful strike on the ball he ought to be capable of improve his goal-scoring tally from midfield (he solely has three league targets this season) and maybe break into the field much more usually.

Membership/nation: Manchester United / England
Age: 19
Estimated switch worth: €55m

Although he is didn’t repeat his goal-scoring exploits from his breakthrough season (17 targets in 49 video games), Greenwood’s growth remains to be on monitor. The Carrington academy product was handed his first England cap in opposition to Iceland final September and, though he did not cowl himself in glory together with his off-the-pitch antics, hopefully he is learnt from that have. Having additionally made the record final season, he seems able to kick on to a different stage, which is why he’s held in such excessive esteem by supervisor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Strengths: His bodily attributes are backed up by a sensible footballing mind. Greenwood takes up good positions in attacking areas, is raring to run in behind when drifting into central areas and, although he is needed to be content material enjoying principally extensive proper, he reveals the sense of opportunism and ending abilities of a central striker (as proven when pinching the winner in opposition to Brighton in March). He possesses one of many cleanest left-footed strikes within the Premier League, however is greater than ready together with his proper. He additionally deserves reward for maintaining his work price even when he is not scoring.

How he can enhance: Whereas there is not any motive to doubt Greenwood’s credentials as a future objective scorer, he did undergo a 15-game barren spell this winter and must impose himself extra on the sport when given the prospect to play as a centre-forward. At 5-foot-11, his aerial capability additionally has room for enchancment.



Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood has a brilliant future, as these sharp finishes present.

Membership/nation: Chelsea / Germany
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €60m

Final 12 months’s No. 6 within the rating drops out of the highest 10 after a irritating begin to his Premier League profession, however there are some indicators that the €79.4m signing from Bayer Leverkusen is lastly beginning to really feel extra at house. Whereas Havertz initially didn’t settle into an appropriate position beneath Frank Lampard (primarily used for granted or central midfielder), new supervisor Thomas Tuchel has given him confidence in a extra central attacking place.

Strengths: Regardless of the challenges in acclimatising to Chelsea, the left-footed Germany worldwide stays a possible high participant of the best order. Although perhaps ignored by his occasional lack of coordination, he is acquired glorious technical capability on the ball, is ready to play fast, clever mixture soccer and is sweet at discovering area between the strains. His capability to swerve away from his marker with fast modifications of route has not fairly come to the fore in England, but there’s nonetheless loads of time for Havertz to reside as much as the large expectations (not helped by his hefty switch charge.)

How he can enhance: Havertz is aware of what it takes as he is already proven a excessive stage within the Bundesliga, in Europe and for Germany. A correct preseason (constructing himself up bodily and mentally) with Chelsea and dealing beneath Tuchel ought to see him higher ready for the subsequent Premier League marketing campaign.

Membership/nation: Actual Sociedad / Sweden
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €20m

The Sweden worldwide earned a sensational €8.6m transfer to Borussia Dortmund as a 17-year-old in 2017 on the again of 10 league targets for his house membership AIK, but began only one Bundesliga sport. Following a profitable mortgage transfer to Dutch membership Willem II, he moved to Actual Sociedad the place he is rising right into a tremendous centre-forward.

Strengths: Isak is a fairly easy striker; he is fast sufficient to play on the shoulders of defenders and intelligent sufficient to choose the precise spots for tap-ins. Curiously, regardless of his dimension (6-foot-2), he is not notably dominant within the air (he wins round a 3rd of his attacking duels), however he is aware of tips on how to use his peak to his benefit contained in the penalty space as a helpful goal for crosses. Courtesy of a strong proper foot, he can take cost of direct free kicks too.

How he can enhance: Maybe barely underrated as a result of he is been round for fairly a while, Isak can nonetheless enhance his maintain up sport (lay-offs, profitable free kicks, making a normal nuisance of himself.) His defensive contribution can be comparatively modest.

Membership/nation: Liverpool / England
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €25m

The versatile central midfielder received over supervisor Jurgen Klopp in direction of the tail finish of final season, after displaying some tremendous growth at reserve and youth stage for Liverpool and England. This marketing campaign the academy product has gone on to characteristic repeatedly within the Premier League, whereas he is additionally began within the Champions League.

Strengths: Courtesy of futsal-like shut management, he is comfortable in crowded areas, all the time asking for the ball, wanting it again and making good mixtures and triangles. Safe in possession, his go accuracy ratio of 92% is respectable by anybody’s requirements, particularly from a participant who’s not antagonistic to taking dangers or hitting a 30 meter diagonal ball. Jones is aware of when to drop deep to permit defenders to come back ahead and stored acting at an honest stage even through the membership’s tough spell within the winter.

How he can enhance: Curtis may very well be extra assertive and environment friendly in aerial or midfield duels.

Membership/nation: Chelsea / England
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €40m

The defender got here by way of the youth ranks for Chelsea and England however is now excelling at senior stage for each membership and nation — and has seemingly overtaken final 12 months’s No. 3, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, within the race to begin as England’s right-back at Euro 2020. James is barely much less assured of a beginning position for Chelsea after Thomas Tuchel went with a again three, shifting him right into a wing-back position which does not go well with him in addition to the standard right-back slot in a again 4, however he is nonetheless a tremendous choice.

Strengths: Bodily imposing and resolute, James is among the many finest Premier League full-backs by way of his defensive sport, mirrored by the very fact he wins about two-thirds duels within the air and on the bottom. Safe in possession, he hardly ever loses the ball beneath stress or commits sloppy errors. He’s a tremendous crosser with a comparatively good precision price and is astoundingly constant for his age.

How he can enhance: As a lot as James is greater than desirous to take part going ahead, he may very well be even braver in taking up defenders or searching for the artistic go moderately than the routine choice of an early cross.

Membership/nation: Marseille / France
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €30m

Initially drawn into the first-team setting to carry out centre-back duties, Kamara has primarily been deployed as a defensive midfielder for Marseille over the previous 12 months. Closing in on his a centesimal Ligue 1 begin for essentially the most high-pressure membership in France, which is not any imply feat for a 21-year-old, Kamara is taken into account as one of many fastest-maturing midfielders in Europe. Along with his contract as a result of expire subsequent summer season, Marseille may have a battle on their arms to maintain their most proficient participant.

Strengths: Tactically astute, Kamara positions himself effectively to choose up second balls and makes good interceptions — usually by way of a well-timed deal with or by profitable aerial challenges in midfield. His aggression and mobility make him prone to win the ball even excessive up the pitch. A continuous, reliable participant, protected in possession and capable of hit a exact change ball, he hardly data a below-par efficiency and has a first-class mentality.

How he can enhance: Being the disciplined participant that he’s, he usually sticks to what he is instructed to do, however it might be attention-grabbing to see Kamara turn out to be much more imaginative in his attacking contribution.

Membership/nation: PSG / Italy
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €40m

Kean has impressed throughout his mortgage spell at PSG. Seen as a prestigious signing by Everton in 2019 when he joined from Juventus for €27.5m, the Italy worldwide didn’t make a lot of a mark on the Premier League (regardless of flashes of promise) throughout his first season. In France, nonetheless, he is discovered the web 12 occasions within the league and even acquired himself on the scoresheet within the 4-1 demolition of Barcelona at Camp Nou within the Champions League. Now PSG face a battle to maintain him past the expiry of the mortgage deal this summer season (no choice to signal him completely was included within the settlement.)

Strengths: Whereas Kean’s directness, tempo and skill to tackle defenders in a single vs. one conditions have all the time been broadly appreciated, he is improved his ending over the previous season. He appears to run in direction of objective with extra conviction, simply as he is turn out to be sharper within the execution part — he now not wants that additional half a second to shuffle his legs or ponder the place to put the ball.

How he can enhance: He is usually used extensive on the precise, however when fielded as a centre-forward he may be much more centered and exact in his link-up sport and when enjoying together with his again to objective.

Membership/nation: Juventus / Sweden
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €40m

Kulusevski loved a tremendous Serie A marketing campaign with Parma final season, scoring 10 targets and incomes a €35m transfer to Juventus the place, 12 months on, he is within the strategy of turning into an everyday. His affect has grown for the reason that flip of the 12 months, helped by studying his commerce alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Kulusevski has impressed in his most well-liked right-wing place, in addition to doing shifts as Andrea Pirlo’s utility man in assault.

Strengths: The Sweden worldwide’s directness, highly effective working (with and with out the ball) and delicate left foot — he loves a far-post curled effort — instantly catch the attention. He’s a artistic ahead with a excessive price of key passes, an avid dribbler in extensive areas and a tremendous link-up participant when positioned in a extra central position. As well as, he is a loyal crew participant with an enthusiastic strategy and a willingness to regain possession excessive up the pitch.

How he can enhance: He nonetheless tends to rely closely on his favoured left foot. He may additionally profit from testing the opposing goalkeeper from distance extra continuously.



Watch a few of Dejan Kulusevski’s high moments throughout his first season with Juventus.

Membership/nation: Leeds United / France
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €30m

Meslier confirmed admirable maturity when he excelled after stepping in for the suspended Kiko Casilla on the finish of final season’s promotion race. Quick ahead to this season and never solely is he supervisor Marcelo Bielsa’s undisputed No. 1 between the sticks, however he’s additionally among the many elite goalkeepers within the Premier League, having arrived at Leeds initially on mortgage from French membership Lorient in 2019.

Strengths: The 6-foot-3 Meslier has good management with the ball at his ft and excessive distribution accuracy (89%). As is required when enjoying Bielsa’s excessive defensive position, he is fast, reads the sport effectively and usually has a excessive stage of focus. This season the younger Frenchman is among the many high 5 goalkeepers within the Premier League.

How he can enhance: Regardless of being a tremendous passer, he can sometimes be informal on the ball when receiving a backpass (as witnessed in opposition to Arsenal and Chelsea this season.) As with most younger goalkeepers, he can work on his timing for crosses and when to come back out to gather the ball.

Membership/nation: Bayern Munich / Germany
Age: 18
Estimated switch worth: €40m

Few can match the pace of Musiala’s rise to prominence over the previous 12 months. Since making his first outing for Bayern final summer season, the 18-year-old has featured in over 30 official matches for the primary crew and likewise made his senior Germany debut. Musiala spent his early teenage years on the Chelsea academy (and likewise had a short stint at Southampton) and, courtesy of a British-Nigerian father, he represented England from U15 to U21 stage earlier than deciding to symbolize his nation of start, Germany.

Strengths: The truth that Bayern boss Hansi Flick has had no second ideas about beginning Musiala, or throwing him in to vary the dynamics of the assault, speaks volumes about how extremely he is rated by the membership’s teaching workers. Although an attacking midfielder who can play wherever within the closing third, he tends to desire the “No. 10” position or chopping in from the left. He creates area for his teammates with wonderful particular person runs and is technically sensible with a pure understanding of soccer.

How he can enhance: He may be overly eager on doing it alone, however expertise will include extra video games, simply as his physique will achieve energy and energy with time.



Jamal Musiala dances by way of the Wolfsburg defence to present Bayern Munich the lead.

Membership/nation: Wolves / Portugal
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €30m

From being a extremely regarded (although sparingly used) expertise at Lazio, Neto has progressively turn out to be a significant contributor at Wolves. At €17.9m, the left-footed Portugal winger’s switch hardly got here low cost, however through the weeks main as much as his horrible knee damage in opposition to Fulham in April (dominated out for the approaching six months), he performed one of the best soccer of his profession to this point. In actual fact, he was even rewarded together with his first aggressive senior caps for Portugal.

Strengths: A fan favorite at Wolves, Neto is an intense, industrious winger with an incredible change of tempo. Regardless of being a talented dribbler, courtesy of an array of physique feints and modifications of route, his acceleration offers him the choice of merely knocking the ball previous the defender and sprinting forward. These qualities, together with a fierce long-range shot, make him notably harmful on the counter-attack.

How he can enhance: Neto’s solely fast concern is to make a full restoration from his damage.

Membership/nation: Dortmund / United States
Age: 18
Estimated switch worth: €40m

Following the thrill of his early substitute appearances final season, Reyna has skilled his correct breakthrough at senior stage for membership and nation. Son of U.S. legend Claudio Reyna, the ex-NYCFC academy product has turn out to be a key participant for Dortmund this season, together with within the Champions League. The American can play wherever off the striker, although is most repeatedly used for granted winger.

Strengths: He’s geared up with all the required attributes — mentality, method, understanding of the sport, even the bodily make up — to finally give Landon Donovan a run for his cash as one of the best American male footballer of all time. Although Reyna’s particular person qualities elicit most of his accolades, he is additionally a beneficiant crew participant who places in a shift, making vitality sapping attacking runs off the ball with none assure of receiving it, or dropping into midfield to create a bonus of numbers. He is a superb, artistic passer of the ball with a pure understanding of the sport.

How he can enhance: Being so eager on taking up opponents, he may gain advantage from releasing the ball earlier. His first contact may also let him down (extra as a result of impatience than technical shortcomings).



USMNT’s Gio Reyna hits a shocking strike from distance for Borussia Dortmund vs. Bremen.

Membership/nation: Actual Madrid / Brazil
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €30m

Having signed from Santos two years in the past for €45m, this was the 12 months when the Brazilian was anticipated to kick on from the early promise of his debut season. However Rodrygo can finally look again on a irritating season. Other than the spotlight of scoring the Champions League winner in opposition to Inter, 2020-21 has primarily been a narrative of antagonistic type — he is struggled to make an affect when coming off the bench — and accidents. He’s too proficient to not have an incredible profession finally, however questions stay whether or not it will likely be at Actual Madrid.

Strengths: Rodrygo remains to be one of the proficient younger wingers round. When on type he is a particularly expert dribbler who possesses a fierce shot, whereas his understanding of the sport makes him an knowledgeable at altering positions together with his teammates and fascinating in fast, sharp interaction.

How he can enhance: Must regain his confidence, which can assist him in a single vs. one conditions — logically, his willingness to take opponents has dropped together with his self-belief.

Membership/nation: Monaco / France
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €55m

Alongside Youssouf Fofana, Tchouameni has made an impressive central midfield partnership for title-chasing Monaco. The France U21 worldwide was signed from Bordeaux in January 2020 and, after the arrival of head coach Niko Kovac final summer season, has made himself a everlasting fixture on this youthful, vibrant Monaco facet. Till not too long ago a considerably underrated participant, Tchouameni is on the radar of high golf equipment equivalent to Chelsea.

Strengths: Imposing, hard-working, highly effective, technically completed and tactically conscious, Tchouameni performs with the arrogance of a a lot older participant. He is glorious at rapidly closing down opponents, whereas he’s additionally capable of hit lengthy passes with quite a lot of strategies and angles. Mentally and bodily robust, he strikes virtually effortlessly round midfield. Although primarily used as a defensive midfielder, the 21-year-old is completely able to enjoying wherever in central midfield.

How he can enhance: From initially being a predominantly defensive-minded midfielder, Tchouameni is engaged on his attacking sport too. In actual fact, he is rapidly creating into the whole central midfielder.

Membership/nation: Brescia (on mortgage at AC Milan) / Italy
Age: 20
Estimated switch worth: €25m

It is by no means straightforward to be in comparison with a legend, particularly Andrea Pirlo, and Italy’s new midfield maestro hasn’t fairly managed to set Serie A alight to the anticipated ranges. The defensive midfielder joined AC Milan on mortgage final summer season from Brescia and he is nonetheless to assert an undisputed central midfield slot in Stefano Pioli’s 4-2-3-1 formation. In March he was additionally “demoted” from the Italy senior squad to the U21 facet, the place he acquired himself despatched off within the first of the group stage matches of the European Championship (and consequently missed the final two fixtures). This marked in all probability essentially the most tough spell of Tonali’s skilled profession thus far.

Strengths: At Brescia, Tonali was capable of dictate the tempo of the sport — few build-ups would play out with out the younger midfielder getting on the ball. And though his affect on the sport for the Rossoneri has vastly diminished of late, these intrinsic qualities — imaginative and prescient, intelligence, passing, playmaking, interceptions in midfield — are nonetheless in his DNA.

How he can enhance: Hold calm and stick with it. Tonali is much too mature and naturally gifted a participant to not discover his strategy to a number one position inside a high facet.

Membership/nation: Manchester Metropolis / Spain
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €30m

Few can have any complaints in regards to the Spaniard’s progress over the previous 12 months. Delivered to Manchester Metropolis with a watch on the longer term, Torres has featured repeatedly and scored in each competitors. Has turn out to be an undisputed member of the Spain squad (six targets from 10 appearances), to the purpose the place he has emerged as one of many key gamers forward of Euro 2020 this summer season.

Strengths: Predominantly an out-and-out proper winger at Valencia, Torres has — moderately predictably — been given extra flexibility beneath Pep Guardiola. At Metropolis he is been utilised in virtually each attacking place, together with as a “false No. 9.” A technically gifted, sensible participant, he has a capability to choose the precise areas, together with objective scoring positions; certainly, he is a pointy finisher for a large participant. Expert at taking up opponents, he comes out on high almost half of the time in a single vs. ones.

How he can enhance: Torres is creating effectively and has proven progress in most departments — even his defensive contribution and profitable second balls — since arriving at Manchester Metropolis. The subsequent apparent step could be to turn out to be extra constant and provides himself an opportunity to make a extra steady affect over the period of the sport.

Membership/nation: Barcelona / Portugal
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €25m

Regardless of arriving from Braga final summer season as one for the longer term, Trincao’s switch charge of €31m inevitably triggered excessive expectations. After a modest begin to his Barcelona profession, he is regarded a extra assured participant for the reason that flip of the 12 months, to the extent that he is set for a correct breakthrough subsequent season.

Strengths: An immensely proficient winger who prefers enjoying extensive on the precise to chop in on his left foot, the place he usually contributes with pretty flicks and touches of creativity. Fast and constructive in his play, Trincao is a reside wire who’s as desirous to tackle opponents as he’s pulling away from his marker for a deep run behind the defensive position. His steadiness and coordination are additionally firstclass and he is very onerous to knock off the ball.

How he can enhance: For all his pure capability, expertise and willingness to succeed, the Portugal worldwide is but to be absolutely tuned in to the identical wavelength as his Barcelona teammates, together with a man named Messi.

Membership/nation: Fiorentina / Serbia
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €40m

One of the vital improved forwards in world soccer, the 6-foot-3 Serbia worldwide is rising as a summer season goal for large golf equipment throughout Europe — maybe even as a back-up choice for these lacking out on Haaland. At 16, Vlahovic turned the youngest-ever objective scorer for Partizan Belgrade and has been thought-about a high prospect since becoming a member of Fiorentina in 2018, however is now kicking on to the subsequent stage in his profession. Staying at one in all Italy’s perennial underperformers appears much less and fewer doubtless by the week.

Strengths: Even earlier than turning into an environment friendly objective scorer, Vlahovic was a helpful crew member with a well-developed link-up sport. He’s good at directing his flick-ons and has a sophisticated understanding of the sport, making wise runs and recognizing the precise areas to choose up the ball. Whether or not as a starter or off the bench, Vlahovic’s left-footed strike on the ball — he can rating from wherever from 25 meters to the objective line — leaves his admirers drooling.

How he can enhance: Whereas Vlahovic has obtained numerous credit score for his capability to transform probabilities, he nonetheless has margins of enchancment doable in his general sport, particularly a bigger involvement when dropping into midfield. There’s additionally work to be performed on his proper foot.



Have a look why Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic is rising as a summer season goal for high golf equipment round Europe.

Membership/nation: Stuttgart / DR Congo
Age: 21
Estimated switch worth: €20m

Wamangituka joined Stuttgart from second-tier French facet Paris FC in an €8m transfer forward of the 2019-20 season, and took time to regulate to German soccer, however regarded a special participant following the membership’s promotion to the highest flight. Sadly, simply as he’d pushed on to a different stage he ruptured his essential ligaments in March 2021 and is anticipated again late within the autumn. He scored 11 league targets earlier than struggling the long-term damage in opposition to Bayern Munich.

Strengths: Few can match the teen for tempo — if he finds area down the wing he’ll fly at high pace and reveals admirable management with the ball at his ft. Whereas he beforehand held on to the ball for too lengthy earlier than working into hassle, he is confirmed much more sensible soccer sense and effectivity in his actions this season. He’s additionally efficient at dispossessing opponents and has a very good success price for his duels.

How he can enhance: As soon as he’s recovered from damage, one can solely hope that Wamangituka regains the shape that noticed him emerge as one of the thrilling younger gamers within the Bundesliga.

Membership/nation: Bayer Leverkusen / Germany
Age: 17
Estimated switch worth: €40m

Having simply turned 17, Wirtz turned the youngest-ever objective scorer within the Bundesliga in June 2020 (the report has since been overwhelmed by Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko). Now already an everyday, the proficient midfielder who joined Leverkusen from rivals Cologne — not with out controversy, as the 2 golf equipment usually chorus from choosing up one another’s expertise — not too long ago marked his phenomenal progress with a call-up to the complete Germany squad in March 2021.

Strengths: A dynamic and attack-minded central midfielder with glorious imaginative and prescient and shut management. He finds area in assault effectively and is expert at navigating crowded conditions, usually escaping with the ball glued to his foot. He’s among the many elite suppliers of key passes within the Bundesliga and is arguably essentially the most promising German central midfield expertise since Toni Kroos.

How he can enhance: Although his affect has typically pale (from his sensible highs) all through the season, it is only a matter of maintaining the onerous work — he is already effectively forward of what may be anticipated from a 17-year-old.



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