Best Young Footballers of 2020, Who Would Replace Today’s Stars?
Adel Belkacem Bouzida (Winger)
Although Bouzida is still to make his league debut for Paradou, scouts and agents have been monitoring his progress. He’s gifted with blistering pace and remarkable dribbling capabilities that could turn him to a full-back’s nightmare.
And with Paradou’s policy of exporting their brightest players, it seems only a matter of time before he will play in European leagues.
Zito Luvumbo (Winger)
After his performances with his club, Primeiro de Agosto, and the under-17 national team, Luvumbro has shined as a young talent at least in his continent, Africa. Luvumbo was particularly impressive in the Angolan Cup final last year, where he contributed to his team’s win by scoring a goal and a penalty. Not only in his continent, but also at an international level, the dynamic midfielder has caught the eyes.
Manchester United reportedly made an offer for him in February and West Ham United were also interested in his services but the work permit has been a hindrance so far. Luvombo can play on both wings and is skilled enough to utilise his pace to beat defenders, though he has still to improve his right foot.
Kenneth Taylor (Central Midfielder)
Captain Taylor, the beating heart of Netherlands under 17 national team, is the latest talented under-17 player from Ajax, though he hasn't yet made his first-team debut for the team.
Xavi Simons (Central Midfielder)
Few players choose to leave Barcelona's La Masia Academy on their own, but Simons did it to finally end his stay there after nine years and join PSG. No doubt the £1million-a-year contract, negotiated by Mino Raiola, had something to do with it.
Named after Barcelona legend, Xavi, and nicknamed 'golden curls' for his hair, Simons has been the captain of a number of Barcelona youth teams and a four-time winner of the youth Ballon d'Or award. “With a high technical quality and an excellent vision of the game… Xavi is among the most promising players in Dutch football," said a PSG official following his arrival in the French capital.
Despite his youth, Simons has already near 2 million followers in total across his various social media pages. His Instagram page is by far the most popular with 1.7 million followers (as of July 2019). He has also around 37000 followers on Twitter and 120000 likes on his Facebook page. Maybe with all these followers at such a young age, he’s by far ahead of other best under 18 footballers in 2020 in terms of popularity?
Eric Garcia (Center Back)
Another young and talented footballer schooled in Barcelona's academy who chooses to leave and try his luck elsewhere. Garcia made his first-team debut in the EFL Cup last season when he was allowed by Pep Guardiola to play against Watford in the Premier League.
Garcia is gifted with the ability to command the defense with maturity and maybe his comfort on the ball means he could appertain nicely to Man City’s side. Perhaps Garcia could be a solution in these dire times as Man City have to cope with several injuries in their defense?
Ansu Fati (Winger)
Few under-18 players around the world are as commanding as Fati is, the youngster who could become Lionel Messi's heir at the Nou Camp. Barca have already put a €100million release clause on Fati lest they might lose him. The fearlessness in his play and the exuberance of youth has seen him go through all the junior ranks at the club. However, he must be thankful to Messi’s injury at the start of his career that allowed him to be considered as a player fit enough to be in the first team.
Since his debut, Fati has become the second youngest first-team debutant in Barca’s history, the youngest player to score at the Camp Nou, the youngest Barca player to score and assist in the same game and the youngest ever scorer in the Champions League. His impact on the football world is similar to that of Messi’s 15 years or so ago. With all these triumphs, could he be a good candidate to replace Messi in the future among the best u18 footballers in 2020?
Willem Geubbels (Winger)
Having scored 12 goals in 21 games in France's youth teams up to under-18 level, Geubbels made his Ligue 1 debut last season at the age 16, becoming the first young footballer born in the 21st century to play in Ligue 1.
"Willem has already demonstrated a lot of qualities and great potential. With patience and a lot of work, we are convinced that he will arrive at the top level," said Monaco CEO, Vadim Vasilyev.
Sergio Gomez (Attacking Midfielder)
About two years ago, Gomez made headlines worldwide when plucked from Barcelona by Dortmund, who paid €3 million to bring him to Germany. Dubbed “the new Iniesta”, Gomez’s quick thinking and equally rapid feet when in small spaces is particularly impressive.
He can get himself out of the tightest situations to pick out a pass or unleash a ferocious shot with his preferred left foot. Scoring four goals in seven games, Gomez was voted the second best player at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India.
Takefusa Kubo (Attacking Midfielder)
Kubo was spotted by Barcelona’s scouts at the age of 11 and joined Barca’s La Masia Academy to shine in the Spanish club's schoolboy teams. However, his move to Barcelona was found to have violated FIFA transfer rules, so he was forced to get back to his homeland.
Kubo was one of the most exciting talents at Barcelona's academy before he was forced to return to Japan. He was expected to return to Barca after 18, but he shocked everyone by signing with Barca’s hated rivals, Real Madrid. Nicknamed “the Japanese Messi”, he excelled during the pre-season tour, and joined Mallorca on loan in August.
Romario Baro (Midfielder)
Baro, who has already made his senior debut this season, is a midfielder with tactical awareness, prying for an opportunity to hit on the break. He is also one of the loyal fans of Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane, and always tries to copy his style. “I am always watching videos of him on YouTube. He was an incredible player, I try to copy everything he did, the pirouettes, the shimmies…” Baro said recently.
In 2018/19 UEFA Youth League, Baro scored six goals in ten appearances contributing to Porto’s victories that finally won the title for them. In the final, he assisted Afonso Sousa for the last goal of a 3–1 win over Chelsea. With the B-team in the second division, he scored four goals in 28 games of the season.
Eduardo Camavinga (Defensive Midfielder)
Just like Kylian Mbappé, Camavinga is a player to shine at a very early age by winning records, becoming for example the youngest Rennes player to ever play for the first team (against Angers, in April 2019) and the first 2020 player among five big leagues to appear in a league game, at the age of 16.
What makes Camavinga so remarkable is that despite his young age, he plays in front of the defence in a midfield holding position, where even the smallest error can prove fatal. In the recent history of Europe's five major leagues, only Cesc Fabregas has managed to play in the same position at the same age.
Charlie Brown (Center Forward)
At the age of 19, Brown was the top scorer in the UEFA Youth League last season with his 11 goals, while his nearest rivals had only 6 goals in the bag each. On average he has scored a goal every 47 minutes against Europe’s best youth teams.
Charlie Brown joined Ipswich Town’s academy as an under-10, but later on he signed a three-year contract with Chelsea. He was mainly used as an impact substitute during his first season at the club, but managed to score 10 goals in 600 minutes of play, four of which were scored from the bench in the 13-0 win over Brighton.
Pablo Moreno (Forward)
Breaking a number of goal-scoring records during his time at Barcelona's La Masia Academy, Pablo Moreno, like many young footballers, has decided to continue his footballing education elsewhere, namely Juventus FC. But to be frank, he had shined even before joining Barca's La Masia Academy by helping Ciudad de Granada to the league title, the Federation Cup and the Andalusian Championship, scoring more than 100 goals during the progress.
Here are his records at Barca: In his first season with the Alevin A, or Under-12s, he scored 72 goals in 27 matches. He scored another 41 goals the following year, 66 goals the year after that and a further 34 goals in his final season at the club. Through such an impressive display, he became part of Spain's U16s squad just at the age of 14.
Sebastiano Esposito (Striker)
Although Esposito had played for other Under-age teams before joining Inter Milan, his talent only shone when playing for Inter’s youth teams. In the 2018-19 season, he was part of the Under-17 side that won the Italian title where he scored a brace in the semi-final and a hat-trick in the final.
In March 2019, he made his First Team debut as he played for Inter in the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt, becoming the Inter’s youngest debutant in the UEFA Cup/Europa League only at the age of 16 years and 255 days.
Sontje Hansen (Forward)
“He wants to be the best player in the world,” The Athletic has reported! Sontje Hansen, another product of Ajax academy, has scored in two important matches of Under 17 European Championship, namely a 5-2 win over England in the group stage and a 4-2 win over Italy in the final.
He has also scored six goals at the Under 17 World Cup in Brazil, including a hat-trick against Nigeria in the round of 16.
Dominik Szoboszlai (Left Miedfielder)
Szoboszlai was the captain of Hungary U17 team in the 2017 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Croatia, where he scored two goals and his team finished 6th in the tournament. His idol is Cristiano Ronaldo, though he has his own style of play.
Playing as a midfielder for Salzburg, Szoboszlai is regarded as one of the best teenagers in the football world and the highest ranked player outside Europe’s five major leagues according to Goal’s 2019 NxGn list. Up until now, he has played for Salzburg 16 times this season, scoring four goals in total.
A product of Vasco da Gama’s youth academy, the Rio de Janeiro club, who have won the Brasileirao on four occasions, Paulinho was a mainstay in the Brazilian squad at the U-17 World Cup in India, though he could not prevent his country from falling in the semi-finals, despite his brilliant performance.
Paulinho joined Bayer Leverkusen for £20m in April 2018, which is indeed a club-record deal for Vasco. Dubbed “the next Kaka”, he can play on both wings, though his right foot is more precise and powerful. He fits easily in different roles, and he could even change between them swiftly as needed; an ability that allows him to be a part of Leverkusen’s dynamic attacking setup.
Sandro Tonali (Central Midfielder)
A combination of Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi in style, Tonali caught the eyes last season, despite playing with Brescia in Serie B. He is a technically gifted playmaker who draws more similarity to Pirlo than any other Italian footballer. He shares Pirlo’s talent in free-kicks, but he is more robust and aggressive in his play than Pirlo was.
Tonali was called up to Italy’s senior squad while still playing in Serie B for Brescia last season. Could it be a record among the best young football players of 2020? Maybe! But if he’s not a record-breaker, he’s indeed a headline maker: Brescia’s owner, Massimo Cellino, has put a €300 million release clause on him after the match against Fiorentina that made top lurking clubs think twice before they make their move to snatch him away.
Catalin Cirjan (Midfielder)
Currently with Arsenal's U18s, Cirjan looks like a promising midfielder at the age of 17, who models his play on Aaron Ramsey’s style. Cirjan joined Arsenal in the summer from the Romanian club Viitorul Domnesti, and has already made a total of seven appearances in the under-18 Premier League, laying on three assists and scoring three goals.
Cirjan, when only 13, played a level above other players in Viitorul Domnesti, and now with a bright future on horizon, he's considered the most promising Romanian player ever since Gheorghe Hagi.
Alphonso Davies (Defender)
A product of the Vancouver Whitecaps academy, Davies often played as an attacking winger, but since has moved to Bayern, he’s been moved to left back role, where he has also excelled. In his 81 appearances with the Whitecaps from 2016-18, Davies scored 12 goals and provided 14 assists.
Although Davies is currently playing in a defending role at Bayern, he can at times get forward and find the back of the net for his club, too. He has actually scored three goals in his 25 appearances for Bayern. He scored his first goal for Bayern on March 17, which was indeed the final goal in a 6–0 win over Mainz 05, and by doing so at the age of 18 he became the youngest U20 player since Roque Santa Cruz, twenty to score for the club.