50 of the Best Young Players in World Football

Everyone loves a wonderkid, right? A reason to be excited for the future, a reason to think that maybe this existence on this desolate rock floating through space isn’t fleeting, that maybe your club will splash £67.2m (plus £50m in instalments) in order to sign one.

Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.

Of all of the lists we conjure up here at 90min, this proved to be the most challenging – what is the fair way to rank young players? Their achievements so far? Their potential? Their chances of securing a big move?

After playing around with criteria, we decided to rank these players based on how high we think their ceiling is – if every player under 23 were to maximise their career, this is how we think a list of the top 50 players in the world will look in half a decade or so. 

As a rule of thumb, to qualify, players must have been under 23 on December 31 2019.

So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in… 

50. Matteo Guendouzi

Matteo Guendouzi

Club: Arsenal

Age: 20

When Arsenal signed an 18-year-old who had spent the majority of his career thus far playing in Ligue 2 for Lorient, there wasn’t a lot of expectation on Matteo Guendouzi’s shoulders. However, he looks like he’ll be a key part of the Gunners’ setup under new boss Mikel Arteta.

While clearly still possessing a fury and rebellion one may expect for a young player, there have been undeniable signs of Guendouzi’s quality, and he was one of the only positives from the Unai Emery era at the Emirates Stadium. Perhaps he couldn’t understand the Spaniard’s instructions.

Either way, he has received a couple of call-ups to the France senior side now, and if Didier Deschamps likes you in a weird tactical way, he’ll keep picking you.

49. Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias

Club: Benfica

Age: 22

Ruben Dias is still somehow 22 despite playing above Benfica’s level for a good 36 seasons now, and we’re all a bit bored with the speculation linking him with a move to a top side. Just join a European contender and get cracking on with your career, Ruben.

Growing a full head of hair and a beard over the course of 2019, he also managed to find time to squeeze in a league title triumph at club level as well as the inaugural Nations League with Portugal. 

Next up: a top five league. 

48. Eder Militao

Eder Militao

Club: Real Madrid

Age: 21

Real Madrid don’t just pay 50m for anyone, so when they plonked that amount on Porto defender Eder Militao in the summer, you’d expect them to know what they’re doing.

Like most of their summer recruits though, he’s had a hard time displacing the old guard, but who wouldn’t when the starters are Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane?

Winning the Copa America with Brazil could prove incredibly useful with dealing with the pressures of sporting those famous white shirts at the Santiago Bernabeu.

47. Alex Meret

Alex Meret

Club: Napoli

Age: 22

The amount of young goalkeeping prospects that fall away before they even get off the ground is quite unfortunate, but it’s testament to Alex Meret that he’s followed two solid seasons with SPAL with another year and a half worth of solid displays under the microscope at Napoli.

With some of the world’s most demanding fans casting their eye over him every week, Meret has managed to channel the pressure into some top displays in southern Italy, and if not for Gianluigi Donnarumma, he would surely be his country’s top goalkeeper for years to come.

46. Marcus Thuram

Marcus Thuram

Club: Borussia Monchengladbach

Age: 22

Relegation with Guingamp last season may have put scouts off of signing Marcus Thuram, but their loss was Borussia Monchengladbach’s gain, with the Frenchman managing to fire Die Fohlen to second place in time for the winter break, forming a formidable forward trio with Alassane Plea and Breel Embolo. 

A threat on the floor and in the air at 6’4″, it’s not totally inconceivable that one day he’ll stop being referred to as ‘Lilian’s son’, and his father will be known as ‘Marcus’ dad’.

45. Sander Berge

Sander Berge

Club: Sheffield United

Age: 22

The Genk scouting network just keeps on producing the goods, homegrown or otherwise – Kalidou Koulibaly, Wilfred Ndidi, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and now Sander Berge.

Standing at 6’5″, you’ll be super surprised to learn that Berge comes from a basketball family, but took up his footballing talents at what looks an opportune time for Norway, with their golden generation coming to the fore and staking a claim for qualification to Euro 2020.

He made the move to Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United in January as the Blades’ surprise push for Europe rolls on.

44. Leon Bailey

Leon Bailey

Club: Bayer Leverkusen

Age: 22

Leon Bailey’s terrifying pace immediately marked him out as one to watch when he burst onto the Bundesliga scene in January 2017, earning him the nickname ‘the Bundesliga Bolt’ in reference to his speed and his Jamaican heritage. Although if Bolt’s efforts in Australia in 2018 are anything to go by, Bailey is definitely the better footballer.

While he may not be the top talent at Bayer Leverkusen anymore, Bailey’s ability to just turn it on and run rings around opponents for fun makes him a joy to watch – go and watch him tear up Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in late 2019.

43. Mason Mount

Mason Mount

Club: Chelsea

Age: 20

A season familiarising himself back in professional English football under Frank Lampard at Derby County has helped Mason Mount take the step to become a key Chelsea player under the same manager back at Stamford Bridge.

For a long time, it looked as if Mount would be another of the Blues’ loan army to just live at Vitesse rather than make the grade back home, but his performances in the Eredivisie were too good to ignore, and after a year with the Rams, he looks like the modern player that Chelsea needed to link the midfield and attack.

42. Luka Jovic

Luka Jovic

Club: Real Madrid

Age: 22

A slow (snail-pace slow) start to life at Real Madrid doesn’t change the fact that Luka Jovic has the potential to be one of the world’s leading strikers – why else would he be at Santiago Bernabeu?

After all, his playing time has been limited at Los Blancos, and the form of Karim Benzema has been a key factor in this. Don’t write the kid off yet – his time at Eintracht Frankfurt shows he has what it takes to succeed in Spain.

41. Richarlison


Club: Everton

Age: 22

The most divisive inclusion on this list at 90min (it’s everyone vs me, Sean, the writer), Richarlison makes the cut and is well-deserving of a place (according to me, Sean, the writer).

A versatile and proven attacker, the former Fluminense forward has taken life over in England by the horns. While he was a threatening but usually wasteful menace at Watford, his £50m move to Everton saw Richarlison start adding more goals to his game – only Jamie Vardy scored more goals outside of the Premier League’s top six in the 2018/19 season.

Now a regular for Brazil, helping them lift the Copa America in the summer, Richarlison will be one of the key men Carlo Ancelotti will look to build around at Goodison Park.

40. Gabriel Martinelli

Gabriel Martinelli

Club: Arsenal

Age: 18

Fortune favoured the brave with Arsenal in the summer of 2019, signing relative nobody Gabriel Martinelli from under the noses of Europe’s top sides. Leaving his native Brazil with such little experience professionally, the 18-year-old has impressed since arriving in England.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp described Martinelli as the ‘talent of the century’, and while the German loves delving into a bit of exaggeration every now and then, but the Brazilian is definitely an exciting prospect, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops under Mikel Arteta.

39. Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Club: Manchester United

Age: 22

You wouldn’t really be able to tell that Aaron Wan-Bissaka started his career as a winger if you watched him on the ball. Often ungracious with it at his feet, the age of attacking full-backs means the 22-year-old doesn’t rank any higher.

That being said, he is a nightmare for attackers to get past, winning almost every duel he enters. Nicknamed ‘The Spider’, those long legs seems to reach out and snatch the ball back at any given opportunity.

38. Houssem Aouar

Houssem Aouar

Club: Lyon

Age: 21

With Nabil Fekir and Tanguy Ndombele leaving Lyon in the summer, Houssem Aouar has managed to creep under the radar somewhat.

The diminutive midfielder has put in top displays against some of Europe’s finest teams, including Manchester City and Barcelona, and should a noted selling club like Lyon wish to make a huge profit on a valuable homegrown asset, then top sides will be queuing around the corner for Aouar.

37. Tammy Abraham

Tammy Abraham

Club: Chelsea

Age: 22

Doubters over whether Tammy Abraham was going to be good enough to lead the Chelsea line have been well and truly silenced.

After finally making a huge leap to become one of the Premier League’s leading strikers, onlookers are already comparing the England international with Emmanuel Adebayor, who similarly danced around defenders and gave goalkeepers nightmares with grace despite a lanky frame.

Chelsea’s curse of their number nine shirt appears to have been lifted thanks to one Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham. Yep, that’s his full name.

36. Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi

Club: Borussia Dortmund (on loan from Real Madrid)

Age: 21

A pacy and powerful player who is capable of playing in defence or as a winger, Achraf Hakimi showed promise in his breakthrough season for Real Madrid, scoring twice in nine La Liga appearances. But it was decided that he was not good enough for the first team yet, and he was told he could leave on loan after the signing of Alvaro Odriozola in 2018.

Borussia Dortmund jumped at the chance to sign Hakimi, and it seems to be paying off after a hot-and-cold first season in the Bundesliga.

Hakimi will still harbour hopes of returning to Madrid, but Dortmund might be the place to be.

35. Nicolò Barella

Nicolo Barella

Club: Inter (on loan from Cagliari)

Age: 22

After a few years honing his craft with hometown club Cagliari, Nicolò Barella has made the splash so many people in Italy thought he would with Antonio Conte’s Inter – even if the former Chelsea boss made an example of him following a 3-2 loss at Borussia Dortmund.

Usually fitting nicely into three-man midfields with Marcelo Brozovic and fellow summer recruit Stefano Sensi, Barella possesses a handy mix of athleticism and penetrative passing range that any manager, let alone one as demanding as Conte, would love. With a team around him built to win now and for years to come, Barella’s move to San Siro will be made permanent in the summer of 2020.

34. Dani Olmo

Dani Olmo

Club: RB Leipzig

Age: 21

Let me tell you this – you’ve got to be darn amazing to break into the Spain squad while playing for Dinamo Zagreb. Step forward young Dani Olmo.

After making the brave decision to leave Barcelona in 2015 in search of playing time, Olmo found himself in Croatia, and then made the step up to RB Leipzig in January, with a Bundesliga title well within his sights. 

33. Mikel Oyarzabal

Mikel Oyarzabal

Club: Real Sociedad

Age: 22

There cannot be many 22-year-olds in the world who are as productive as Mikel Oyarzabal. With two seasons in La Liga where he’s finished with double figures for goals, you can see why Pep Guardiola is reportedly so desperate to bring him to Manchester City as a replacement for Leroy Sane.

One of Spain’s most formidable weapons as they continue their quest through the post-Tiki Taka era, he’ll be hoping to lead his nation to Euro 2020 glory and Real Sociedad back to the Champions League.

32. Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek

Club: Ajax

Age: 22

Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong may have stole the headlines for Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals, but Donny van de Beek’s goals were almost as important along the way.

A midfielder in the mould of Aaron Ramsey and Dele Alli, the Netherlands man will likely be another member of Ajax alumni to make the step up to a huge club soon enough. 

Plus you can chant his name to the tune of Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band.

31. Rodrigo Bentancur

Rodrigo Bentancur

Club: Juventus

Age: 22

Deep-lying midfielders are all the rage right now, and Rodrigo Bentancur is quietly going about his business, already in place at one of the best squads in world football.

Now a consistent fixture in a midfield-heavy Juventus side, the Uruguay international has been doing all he can to keep with the pace of his competitors, if not even setting the pace at time. The summer arrivals of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot have done little to restrict his playing time, and is a testament to his progression.

30. Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic

Club: Chelsea

Age: 21

When the form of Jadon Sancho was keeping Christian Pulisic out of the Borussia Dortmund side, Chelsea fans questioned whether they had bought the wrong winger. However, the American has displayed enough to prove he’s a worthy starter at Frank Lampard’s exciting young side.

Capable of going either way and possessing qualities reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo, Pulisic’s adapted well to life in the Premier League, and if he can keep on producing the goods – he became the youngest Chelsea player to score a hat trick when he netted a complete treble vs. Burnley – then he’ll quickly become a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge.

29. Federico Chiesa

Federico Chiesa

Club: Fiorentina

Age: 22

The bar was set high for Federico Chiesa by his father Enrico, a journeyman of the Italian game who scored nearly 200 goals in over 500 career appearances. Chiesa Jr. may have some way to go before he can boast those sort of statistics, but the apple has clearly not fallen too far from the tree.

A winger by trade, Chiesa is a creative menace for Fiorentina, and while they’ve been struggling for form in Serie A for a couple of seasons now, the 22-year-old is doing his best to try and drag La Viola out of trouble.

28. Joe Gomez

Joseph Gomez

Club: Liverpool

Age: 22

Hopefully the worst of Joe Gomez’s injury problems are behind him and he can now flourish into the defender we know he can be.


Gomez, who can also play as a right back, offers terrific pace and positional awareness. With Joel Matip sidelined, it’s been up to the England international to stake his claim back in a Liverpool team destined to win their first Premier League title.

Alongside Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, he can form a formidable backline to help see out what should be a memorable campaign.

27. Ruben Neves

Ruben Neves

Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Age: 22

Ruben Neves is still only 22? Blimey.

It’s not everyday a Wolves player appears on a list of the best young players in world football, but this is no ordinary Wolves team and Neves is no ordinary player.

Despite his attacking qualities, Neves is actually a defensive midfielder by trade, and when he isn’t scoring he’s launching attacks with his excellent vision and impressive range of passing. How long a player of this quality will be at Molineux remains to be seen, so Wolves fans should appreciate every moment of Ruben Neves they can get.

26. Gabriel Jesus

Gabriel Jesus

Club: Manchester City

Age: 22

“He’s a tap-in merchant.”

“He can only poach goals.”

“What else can he do?”

You keep telling yourself this, guys – Gabriel Jesus is still going to score against your favourite team.

Unfortunately for the decorated Brazilian striker, some of these criticisms aren’t a million miles off, and it’s cost him a few rankings in this list. If he proves us wrong and say wins the Golden Boot, then we’ll happily call ourselves out on it. Just do it first, Gabby J.

25. Eduardo Camavinga


Club: Rennes

Age: 17

The youngest player on this list, Eduardo Camavinga is already on the radar of Real Madrid, and we’re sure the rest of the European elite are aware of his talent too.

A gangly yet wonderfully elegant box-to-box midfielder, Camavinga looks like yet another top talent from the French league. Now a starter for Rennes in Ligue 1 – who are putting up a pretty decent fight for a Champions League place – his exceptional ability for his age shouldn’t be understated.

24. Callum Hudson-Odoi

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Club: Chelsea

Age: 19

The fact that Callum Hudson-Odoi was reportedly the subject of £40m bids from Bayern Munich despite even hardly kicking a ball at boyhood club Chelsea tells you everything you need to know about the 19-year-old – he’s the real deal.

Sure, for every Neymar there’s a Hachim Mastour, but in an age of football where there are so secrets anymore, where you could probably find a range of scout report of players in the eighth tier of English football if you really wanted to, the hype and interest in Hudson-Odoi seems legitimate.

Goals have been hard to come by since making his Blues debut, but he passes the eye test with flying colours, and everything else around his game will surely follow.

23. Youri Tielemans

Youri Tielemans

Club: Leicester City

Age: 22

While a 2017 move to Monaco never quite worked out, Youri Tielemans’ career is back on track as part of a vibrant spine at Leicester.

The perfect playmaking compliment to the destructive Wilfred Ndidi and the roaming James Maddison, Tielemans takes on the mantle of a player twice his age, displaying a calmness and maturity that has quite probably grown from years of experience already.

Manchester United will certainly be kicking themselves for not following up on initial interest in Tielemans in the summer of 2019, as he looks to be soaring straight back to the Champions League with the Foxes.

22. Federico Valverde


Club: Real Madrid

Age: 21

It feels like Federico Valverde has been trying to break into the Real Madrid XI for years now, and this is the year that he’s finally done so – even if he’s still only 21.

As Toni Kroos and Luka Modric enter the twilight of their careers, Zinedine Zidane has been on the lookout for fresher faces to blood his midfield, and Valverde’s leap to become a consistent starter for Los Blancos has been most welcome.

With 20 caps for Uruguay under his belt too, Valverde’s experience exceeds his age, and will be a valuable asset for club and country for a long time.

21. Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard

Club: Real Sociedad (on loan from Real Madrid)

Age: 21

Considering Martin Odegaard was only 15 when he broke onto the world stage and 16 when he made his debut for Real Madrid, a lot of the narratives around his development seem a bit unfair.

Now 21 and a key component in an exciting Real Sociedad side, it seems likely that the Norway international will head back to the Santiago Bernabeu and finally become a key figure for Los Blancos.

His wizardry on the ball is finally translating to top level senior games, and his raw talent makes him one of the most exciting and enjoyable players on this list to watch – go check out a Sociedad game.

20. Sandro Tonali

Brescia Calcio v Atalanta BC - Serie A

Club: Brescia

Age: 19

We know avid Football Manager players will have been scurrying to see where Sandro Tonali ranks on this list, and your answer is he just about makes our top 20.

A midfielder who says he’s a mix between Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, the 19-year-old full Italy international is destined to join an elite club soon, with Juventus strongly and continually linked with a move for the Brescia man.

Tonali’s blend of defensive doggedness and outstanding passing range make him the perfect archetypal Italian midfielder, a modern update of a 1990s classic role.

19. Rodrygo


Club: Real Madrid

Age: 18

It looks like Real Madrid’s decision to secure the signing of Rodrygo even a year before he was eligible to join the club has paid off.

The 18-year-old Brazilian has dazzled so far in his short time at the Santiago Bernabeu, and while concerns regarding Los Blancos’ lack of firepower in forward areas is a legitimate concern, they appear to be in safe hands for years to come with Rodrygo as a wide outlet.

He caught the world’s attention with a brilliant hat trick in the Champions League against Galatasaray, and if he can keep that up on the European stage, then he could quickly become a favourite among the world’s most demanding fans.

18. Phil Foden

Phil Foden

Club: Manchester City

Age: 19

Another season of Pep Guardiola neglecting Phil Foden’s obvious talent is it? You betcha.

For all the talk about the Manchester City youngster being one of English football’s most electric talents, we’re yet to see enough of him to really judge how far he’ll go, how influential he can be on his boyhood club in the future.

That being said, there remains a clear pathway into the City first team with David Silva set to leave at the end of the season, and hopefully we can see Foden make the step up from bit-part player to a key cog in their maniacally organised clock.

17. Mason Greenwood

UEFA Europa League"Manchester United v AZ Alkmaar"

Club: Manchester United

Age: 18

Manchester United’s production line of homegrown talent just keeps on churning out the goods, with Mason Greenwood the latest to come through and show enormous potential.

Though most of his impact has come in the Europa League, Greenwood’s already firing for the Red Devils, and has at times displayed the technique and finishing ability of United favourite Robin van Persie.

Two-footed, silky on the ball, a potential aerial threat and already displaying killer instincts, there are some United supporters who believe he has a higher ceiling than even Marcus Rashford.

16. Vinícius Júnior

Vinicius Junior

Club: Real Madrid

Age: 19

While Vinícius Júnior has been steadily adapting to life in Europe after high-profile and high-fee transfer to Real Madrid in 2018, there’s enough to suggest that he’ll be worth the hype.

Managers and players who describe Vinícius almost always mention his enthusiasm and ability to make football seem fun, perhaps a lost quality in the modern game, and if he can get that to transmit at a club like Real, then his ceiling may very well be on the roof.

15. Nicolo Zaniolo

Nicolo Zaniolo

Club: Roma

Age: 20

They love a good attacking midfielder at Roma, and while Nicolo Zaniolo would do well to scale Francesco Totti’s heights, he’ll probably forge a memorable career of his own.

Cast aside by Fiorentina as a youngster and used by Inter as a makeweight for Radja Nainngolan before even kicking a ball for the Nerazzurri, Zaniolo’s road to the top has been a bumpy one, and yet he’s fought against the odds to prove he’s one of the brightest talents this sport has to offer.

14. Gianluigi Donnarumma

MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 21: Gianluigi Donnarumma of AC Milan during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Club: Milan

Age: 20

Despite growing up as an AC Milan supporter, Gianluigi Donnarumma idolised legendary Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Seen by many as a natural successor to Buffon, Donnarumma emulated his hero by making his Serie A debut at 17, and broke Buffon’s record as the youngest goalkeeper ever to represent Italy.

They also possess similar skillsets, with both men being commended from a young age for their reflexes, positional skills and penalty-saving record, and Donnarumma shows maturity beyond his years, just as Buffon did at the same age. Comparisons to great players are handed out like confetti, but this one is well-earned.

13. Ousmane Dembélé

Ousmane Dembele

Club: Barcelona

Age: 22

Ousmane Dembélé is playing his career on hard mode. Trying to get into a Barcelona team containing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann. Trying to get into a France team and competing for spots with Kylian Mbappé and Griezmann again. Trying to live up to the expectation that comes with a €145m price tag.

That said, his talent is undeniable and he would be much, much higher in this list if not for his lack of work ethic and Fortnite addiction.

Please, Ousmane, show the world what you’re really worth.

12. Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies

Club: Bayern Munich

Age: 19

A rocky start to life with Bayern Munich hasn’t fazed Alphonso Davies, who has now become a regular at the Allianz Arena.

Arriving from Vancouver Whitecaps in January 2019 as a winger, the Canada international has excelled as a wing-back in Germany, with his blistering pace, tireless work ethic and exciting technical ability firing him up to 19th in this list.

Despite his recent usage in defence, there’s still every chance that Davies’ career will be forged as a flying forward, and if it means he’s taking on more players and breaking more ankles, then this is a move we wholeheartedly endorse.

11. Ansu Fati

Anssumane Fati

Club: Barcelona

Age: 17

Few players in history can boast to have had an impact on Barcelona the way 17-year-old Ansu Fati has already.

Look at his little face and tell us there isn’t another baby-faced assassin in our midst – three goals in 13 for La Blaugrana this season is some return for a guy who wasn’t even on FIFA 20 until a couple of weeks after the initial release date.

It’s hard to say what will be made of Fati’s career with such a small sample size to judge, but to perform as exemplary as he has at an institution such as Barcelona without being able to purchase alcohol is a pretty good sign that he’s going to be special.

10. Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz

Club: Bayer Leverkusen

Age: 20

What do you mean Kai Havertz is still at Bayer Leverkusen? Get that young man on a flight to any big club where he belongs.

Ok, admittedly the Germany international has underwhelmed a little this season, and the comparisons with Michael Ballack make it suitable for him to be playing for Leverkusen at this stage, but you can just tell that Havertz is destined for the top – you think just anyone, let alone a 20-year-old, can score 17 goals in a 34-game Bundesliga season? Do me a favour.

9. Marcus Rashford

2,Marcus Rashford

Club: Manchester United

Age: 22

It feels like it was only yesterday when Marcus Rashford was thrust into the Manchester United limelight, grabbing braces on his Europa League and Premier League debuts just days apart.

For the first time since his surprise emergence, the United forward is starting to put together consistent form, playing well when he isn’t scoring, constantly harassing and harrying his opponents, matching that typical Cristiano Ronaldo-type arrogance with substance this season.

Leading Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s young guns is a big responsibility, and while the team around him isn’t yet up to standard, Rashford is doing a damn good job in showing he can carry one of the world’s biggest clubs if he has to.

8. Joao Felix

Joao Felix

Club: Atletico Madrid

Age: 20

Joao Felix started 2019 as a relative newcomer for Benfica in Liga NOS, yet ends it as the European Golden Boy, the centrepiece behind an Atletico Madrid rebuild and – most importantly – number six in 90min’s list of best young players.

While injuries and Diego Simeone’s stubborn style means we are yet to see a full-flowing Felix at the top level, the glimpses we’ve been teased too leave a strong appetite for more, a will to just watch his highlights on YouTube over and over.

The peak of Felix’s powers remain years away, yet you can already sense that he’s going to be giving defenders nightmares every step of the way to glory.

7. Lautaro Martinez


Club: Inter

Age: 22

By his lofty standards, Lautaro Martinez endured a slow debut season at Inter, but is now fit, firing and showing just why the Nerazzurri were so eager to bring him to Europe in the first place.

With a blend of physicality, technical ability and a real hunger to find the net however possible, Martinez takes a little from the games of the great Argentine strikers who have come before him – Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, maybe even a little Lionel Messi.

Now the perfect compliment to Romelu Lukaku under the rigorous Antonio Conte, Martinez will surely be soaring football’s highest heights for years to come.

6. Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie De Jong

Club: Barcelona

Age: 22

‘The youngster has earned comparisons to Sergio Busquets for his ball retention and incisive passing, and Xavi says De Jong is exactly the sort of player who could take over from Busquets at Barcelona’. Six months later, Frenkie de Jong went to Camp Nou. 

It was an obvious move that was bound to happen – a revolutionary defensive midfielder being replaced by another revolutionary defensive midfielder at another club leaning on Johan Cruyff’s ideologies.

5. Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 19

Get used to this face staring you down when he puts four past your club in the near future.

It’s hard to believe that Erling Haaland has already scored 10,284 career goals, but that’s what you’d expect from a scoring machine that was built in a factory with the sole purpose of kicking balls into goals – that’s the only plausible explanation for his ability.

Moving to Borussia Dortmund should prove to be an important and potentially fruitful venture in what should be a long and successful career.

4. Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Club: Liverpool

Age: 21

Listen, you’ve got to be really bloody good to come in at number four while playing exclusively as a right-back. Fair play, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

So often the catalyst behind Liverpool’s attacks, whether through via a delightful cross-field ping or a pinpoint cross, the 21-year-old is one of world football’s most feared offensive weapons already, a key component behind Liverpool winning the Champions League.

The range of Alexander-Arnold’s game is exciting, and after becoming the first defender to tally up the most assists in a Premier League season, who knows just how far his legacy could go?

3. Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 19

Just a kid from Kennington who wanted to play professional football, and fair play to the lad in heading to Germany in order to make his dream come true.

After reaching double figures in goals and assists for Borussia Dortmund last season (and well on his way to doing so again), the world knows Jadon Sancho’s name, they’ve heard it loud and clear from the Yellow Wall.

A summer move to a super-club seems most likely, and you’d put your house on Sancho entering any side and instantly becoming a key player.

2. Matthijs de Ligt


Club: Juventus

Age: 20

This guy really captained Ajax to their first league title in five years and sailed off into the sunset to join Juventus for €75m before being able to buy a pint in the USA. What have you done with your life, buddy?

Matthijs de Ligt is simply one of the best defensive prospects to ever play the game, perhaps the greatest 20-year-old defender ever. While he is relatively experienced for a man his age, the Dutchman plays as if he were a World Cup-winning captain still going strong at 31.

1. Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappe

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Age: 21

What more can be said about the lad that hasn’t been done to death already?

Kylian Mbappé is the most obvious candidate who would still need to be ID’d at Tesco if they were buying a six pack of Stella Artois to win a Ballon d’Or one day, and despite some truly generational talent appearing on this list, it isn’t particularly close.

39 goals in 43 games in all competitions for PSG during the 2018/19 season is all the proof you need that his development is well on track, and Nike have spent the last year showcasing him around the globe before eventually releasing his signature collection in December. Forget being a global footballer, the guy is a global celebrity.


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