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Best Young Forwards of 2021

Sat 30 October 2021 | 8:30

After 2020 which was mostly influenced by the global pandemic, football has really come alive in 2021 and has introduced us to so many young talents. So join us as we take a look at the best young forwards of 2021

It used to be that, young players were only introduced to top-tier football when they went through a steep learning process and after being loaned out several times. but as football has become more aggressively competitive in recent decades, this process has shortened considerably. This is in part due to the excellent youth facilities most clubs in the top 5 European leagues possess, which allows them to cultivate and develop young talents and fast forward them to the first team.

As such,

like we did in 2020

, we have decided to take a look at these incredible young talents across European football and find out who these players are.

best young forwards of 2021

are up first. These incredibly young talented strikers have all shown the maturity of established goal scorers and have all produced goals or put in incredible performances at the highest level. So let’s see who they are:

Best Young Strikers in the World

Just like we did last season, as we introduced players who we thought were the best young strikers in the world, this list will take into account the entirety of 2021 which would include the tail end of the last season, the summer tournaments (Euros, Copa America and Olympics) and this season so far. So here they are: 

Antony (Ajax, Brazil)

We start off our list of best young strikers in the world with an Olympic Gold-medalist and an Ajax striker, Antony. The Sao Paolo native, Antony Matheus dos Santos who is simply known as Antony joined Ajax at the start of 2020 after impressing at Sao Paolo in the two years that he represented the club. he has since become one of the finest Eredivisie players and one of the

top youngsters in football

.

The incredibly talented Antony is a left-footed winger/striker who likes to drop deep and collect the ball, operating mainly on the left-hand side of the pitch. Antony is one of those quintessential Brazilian talents who dazzles with his dribbling skills but his game is so much more than doing tricks on the pitch as his positional awareness as well as his vision are what make those dribbles count as they usually lead to him creating chances for Ajax or Brazil.

Last season Antony scored 10 in all competitions for Ajax, almost double his expected goal ratio of 4.6, and he has so far scored 4 goals this season. but his contributions to Ajax’s attack are in his assists too as he assisted 8 times last season making him incredibly dangerous as both a creator and a finisher. Antony also took part in this summer’s 2020 Olympics and played an important role in Brazil picking up the Gold medal. He has also gotten his full debut for Brazil’s senior side and has even scored for the Celesao. One of the best young forwards of 2021, you will undoubtedly hear more about Antony in the upcoming seasons.

Myron Boadu (Monaco, Netherlands)

Another talent from the Dutch league, Myron Boadu has been one of the best young football players 2021 after his impressive performances for

AZ Alkmaar

last season. born in Amsterdam, Boadu joined AZ Alkmaar’s academy ranks in 2013 and went on to make his senior debut for the club in 2017, when he was only 16. Since his debut, he continually impressed and more importantly produced goals over the last four seasons before getting his big move to Monaco this past summer, in a deal that cost around €17m to the French side.

It’s hard to describe Myron Boadu as only a striker since his skills allow him to not only score but create chances. He likes to invade spaces but also can pick up the ball deep and dribble past several defenders to create space for himself. Boadu is incredibly direct and is also has an excellent link-up play which brings his teammates into the game, especially in the final third. He can either play as a winger on both sides of the pitch, a false 9 or even a natural striker.

Although a long-term injury hampered his development early on in his career, Boadu managed to score 20 and 15 goals in his last two seasons at AZ Alkmaar respectively. He has also made an appearance for the Dutch national team in which he scored a goal, making him the first player born in the 21st century (2001) to ever feature and score for the Flying Dutchmen. Boadu has not yet established himself at Monaco as he has scored only 1 goal for them this season but there is no doubt that with enough time he will prove why he is considered to be one of the best young forwards of 2021.

Mason Greenwood (Manchester United, England)

Manchester United’s next big star is undoubtedly Mason Greenwood who is undoubtedly one of the best young football players 2021. Greenwood, who made his breakthrough in the 2019-20 season after scoring 17 goals in all competitions despite being only 18, is now a regular starter for the Red Devils alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Rashford and ahead of players like Sancho and Martial. Greenwood is also a part of England’s impressive

next generation of young players

alongside

Foden

, Mount, Saka and

many others

.

While Greenwood has mainly been used as a right-winger at Manchester United, he has shown that he is also capable of playing upfront due to his great finishing, smart positioning and lethal left foot capable of scoring from almost anywhere. Greenwood is also ambidextrous which allows him to take free kicks or even penalties with his right foot making him extremely dangerous and unpredictable for defenders in the final third.

Last season Mason Greenwood was able to score 12 times for Manchester United in all competitions in addition to assisting 3 times and this season he is already off to a great start by scoring 4 goals in 9 matches so far. Despite losing out on the chance of reaching the Euro 2020 final due to injury, Greenwood will certainly play a big part in both England and Manchester United’s future as he is undoubtedly one of the best young forwards of 2021. 

Musa Barrow (Bologna, Gambia)

Musa Barrow may be a tad older than some of the players on this list (22) but the Gambian striker totally deserves recognition for what he has done in Serie A in the past few seasons as he is undoubtedly one of the top youngsters in football. Compared to some of the other players on this list, Barrow had humble beginnings as he was still playing in the streets of Gambia by the age of 16 and it was only then that he was scouted by Atalanta and brought to Italy.

After spending a season with Atalanta’s youth squad, Barrow made his debut for the senior side during the 2017-18 season and went on to impress mainly in cup competitions. He then joined Sinisa Mihajlovic’s

Bologna

in the January of 2020, initially on loan with an obligation to buy (€13 million) at the end of the season. in his first few months, Barrow managed to score 9 goals in 18 matches firmly establishing himself as Bologna’s starting striker.

A physically strong player, Musa Barrow possesses a considerable amount of technique and can run circles around defenders. He is also capable of taking shots from distance, resulting in him scoring a few screamers last season. he can also operate as a left-winger which has resulted in him assisting 8 times in addition to the 9 goals he scored last season. he has taken his game to the next level this season, already scoring 4 and assisting 3 in the 8 matches he has played for Bologna, making him one of the

best young forwards of 2021

.

Moise Kean (Juventus, Italy)

After making his breakthrough for Juventus during the 2018-19 season and becoming one of the

best young strikers in the world

, Moise Kean was suddenly shipped out to Everton on a transfer that many thought was due to disciplinary issues. The move netted Juventus a hefty price of €27.5 million but landed Kean in a team that didn’t utilize him well and he ended up having to nightmarish seasons with Everton.

But he was finally saved when he was transferred to PSG at the start of last season. there Kean found his spark pretty soon, scoring a brace in his second match. His pace, technique and strong physique as well as his innate ability to be a poacher in front of the goal led the young Italian to become a success at

PSG

, even getting a start before veteran goal scorers like Mauro Icardi. The change in managers of PSG with Tuchel leaving the club mid-season to be replaced by Mauricio Pochettinho changed nothing and Kean remained a mainstay in the first team.

After scoring 17 goals in all competitions for PSG, becoming their 2nd top scorer after Kylian Mbappe, Kean thought to stay with PSG and make his contract a long-term one but the arrival of Lionel Messi saw him shown the exit door at PSG and after long speculations about his future, Kean decided to join his old club, Juventus, in a loan deal with a €28 million obligation to buy.

Despite his good form, Kean was not included in Roberto Mancini’s Euro-winning team but since joining Juventus he has continued his good form of last year scoring 2 goals in the limited time he has been given this season, making him one of the best young forwards of 2021.

Karim-David Adeyemi (Red Bull Salzburg, Germany)

Next on our list of the top youngsters in football is perhaps Germany’s next big star, Karim-David Adeyemi. Originally a part of

Bayern Munich

’s youth setup, Adeyemi decided to leave the club after disagreements were made on his contract extension. He eventually found his way to RB Salzburg in Austria, which is known for developing young players and was subsequently loaned out to their feeder club, FC Lieferung, to continue his development.

Like most great modern strikers, Adeyemi is an all-around player who possesses great speed, technical prowess and even great pass delivery. His positional sense is also great as he can always invade the space left by defenders making him a great center forward or even a greater second striker. Although his preferred foot is his left, Adeyemi has no problems operating with his right, with many of his goals coming from his right foot.

Last month Karim-David Adeyemi made history after being called up to Germany’s national team becoming the first player post-World War that did so by playing for an Austrian side. The 19-year-old had his breakthrough last year when he scored 9 goals in all competitions for

Salzburg

but this season he has taken his game to a whole other level by scoring 12 goals in 17 matches (including 3 in the Champions League). Adeyemi has already scored his first goal for Germany too despite playing less than 50 minutes for

Die Mannschaft

.  

Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad, Sweden)

Sweden's Alexander Isak was the subject of many discussions and speculation at the end of the last season and during Euro 2020 due to his amazing performances at the club and international level. Isak's incredible performances at Real Sociedad alongside the likes of Mikel Oyarzabal, led the club to the rare occasion of winning the silverware when they were able to claim the 2019-20 Copa del Rey. After a decent Euro 2020 campaign, Isak’s fine form of last season has continued this season and has helped Real Sociedad once again be among the elites at the top of the La Liga table.

Alexander Isak, who is the youngest ever goalscorer in Sweden’s national team, got his start pretty early as he was only 16 when he scored his first professional goal at senior level. Now at 21, he has had much experience after representing 4 clubs in 4 different European leagues. His career started at the local club AIK but he soon caught the eye of talent scouts all over Europe before making the switch to Borussia Dortmund, who are known for developing young talents.

But he didn’t exactly shine in his time at

Dortmund

so in order to get playing time, he left the club and ended up moving to the Dutch side Willem II on loan in 2018. He managed to score 14 goals in 18 appearances for the Eredivisie club before joining

Real Sociedad

permanently in the summer of 2019. Despite being tall(1.92m) Isak is mostly known for his incredible technique on the ball. He was able to hone his ball-carrying ability as well as his knack for scoring goals in his first season at Sociedad where he managed to score 17 goals in all competitions. His 7 goals in Copa del Rey were instrumental in helping the club win the competition last year.

With 16 and 17 goals in his previous two seasons respectively, many expected Isak who is one of the

best young football players 2021

to deliver again this season and he has so far by scoring 8 for club and country this season. although he may not still be the finished article, there is no denying the immense potential that Isak has which has made some people call him the new Zlatan!

Jonathan David (Lille OSC, Canada)

In the past couple of seasons, when there is talk of Canadian football almost everyone will mention Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, and rightfully so, as the left-winger/back has taken Bundesliga and even the Champions League by storm. However, because of all the ruckus that Davies has caused, the brilliant displays of another Canadian superstar have gone somewhat unnoticed which is just cruel. The player we are talking about is Lille’s Jonathan David who has already become a

Ligue 1

champion and broken records for Canada’s senior side.

Born to Haitian parents in New York City, David and his family moved to Canada early in his life where he soon began playing football for Ottawa’s local teams. Instead of focusing on getting into an MLS side like most of his peers in Canada, David had set his eyes on playing football in Europe and soon he got his wish when he joined the Belgian side, Genk. Being incredibly quick as well as technically gifted, David soon adapted to football in Belgium, turning in 14 goals in his debut season and bettering that record by scoring 23 in his second season.

David then decided to leave Genk, having scored 37 for the club over the course of two seasons before even turning 20. He joined Lille OSC in a €30 million that made him the most expensive Canadian player of all time but his start at Lille was not as smooth as he wanted it to be, since he had problems adjusting to the league at first and had a few months of dry spells. However, his fortunes soon turned around as contributed heavily to

Lille OSC

's shocking Ligue 1 triumph against the European heavyweights, PSG.

David managed to score 13 goals and assist 2 as Lille were crowned champions and has continued his brilliant for to this season, scoring 7 in 11 Ligue 1 matches, making him the competition’s top goalscorer as of writing this article. David has also incredibly scored 17 goals in 22 matches for Canada and is already their 5th top scorer of all time, 5 goals behind the top spot, which he will no doubt surpass soon. Alphonso Davies may have hogged all the attention recently but there soon will be a war for who signs Jonathan David as he is undoubtedly a generational talent and one of the

best young forwards of 2021

.

Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina, Serbia)

Speaking of the best young forwards of 2021 and best strikers of 2021 in general, we have Fiorentina’s outstanding young goal scorer, Dusan Vlahovic next. No matter who you support, there is something really exciting about a young player having a breakout season and performing way beyond what is expected of him, which is exactly what happened when Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic terrorized Serie A defenders all season last year. while the Serbian center forward has been at Fiorentina for 3 years now, he really came onto his own last year and became one of the top youngsters in football.

Joining from Partizan in 2018, Vlahovic played a bit-part role in his first season but came into his own in the 2019-20 season where he managed to score 8 goals in all competitions for Fiorentina. Even then scoring 8 goals as a teenager was considered a great achievement but no one expected Vlahovic to score as many as he did in the 2020-21 season where the Serbian striker scored an impressive amount of 21 goals in the Serie A alone, becoming the competition’s fourth-best top scorer of the season behind the likes of Ronaldo, Lukaku and Luis Muriel.

Vlahovic who is only 21 right now, showed all the characteristics of a great center forward in the making and he is already one of the best strikers of 2021. He has continued his impressive form of last season into this season and even has improved upon it despite there being speculations about him leaving Fiorentina and confirmation that he has refused to renew his contract with them. Vlahovic has already scored 7 for Fiorentina in the 

2021-22 season

 as well as 5 for Serbia in 2021, making him one of the most lethal strikers in Europe with a goal almost every 100 minutes!

Erling Braut Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)

Last but certainly not least is none other than the Machine himself, Erling Braut Haaland, who is undoubtedly one of the

best strikers of 2021

as well as one of the best players in world football. Erling who is the son of the former Manchester City and Leeds United midfielder, Alf-Inge Haaland, made a name for himself playing for Norwegian sides, Bryne and Molde before transferring to RB Salzburg in 2019. There he shocked everyone after scoring 4 goals at Anfield and becoming one of the best goalscorers in the UCL that season. and from then on the Machine has gone from strength to strength.

A complete forward in every sense, Haaland is capable of taking on defenders, creating chances for his teammates, scoring from long distances, leaving defenders in the dust with his ungodly speed and even doing some heavy defensive work by pressing high in the opposition’s half. Basically, anything that you could think of which makes a striker dangerous, Haaland does it and does it perfectly. He is unapologetically lethal in front of the goal and is always in the right place when an opportunity comes. And he does this all while still being 21.

After transferring to Borussia Dortmund in January of 2020, Haaland has barely had a game that he didn’t score in. sure there were a couple of dry spells here and there but his goal-per-game ratio is insanely good with him having scored 70 goals in 69 appearances for Dortmund since his arrival at Signal Iduna Park. Last season Haaland scored 41 goals in 41 appearances, winning the Champions League Golden Boot and Bundesliga’s Best Player of the season after scoring 27 and assisting 6 in the league.

He also finished 3rd in the top scorer race in

Bundesliga

but helped Borussia Dortmund win the DFB-Pokal in what was his first trophy with the Schwarzengelben. He continued his fine form and even improved upon it this season as he has scored 13 goals in 10 appearances for Dortmund this season including a couple of injury-time winners but it seems that a hip injury would sideline him for the rest of 2021. However, even then he is one of the

best young forwards of 2021

who is on his way to becoming one of the best ever if he continues like this!

 

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