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Best Young Midfielders of 2021

Tue 02 November 2021 | 14:30

Join us as we take a look at the top young players from Europe’s best leagues in 2021 to find out who are the best young midfielders of 2021:

With 2021 almost over we have started a survey of the European leagues in order to find out who are the best players that have either broke through this year or have become established players and household names. Previously we focused on finding who are the

best young forwards in Europe

currently and found out that players like Lille’s Jonathan David, Ajax’s Antony and Bologna’s Musa Barrow were only some of the youngsters that have been under the radar in the past few months. But now we move on to midfielders in order to find out who are the

best young midfielders of 2021

.

Unlike young forwards who usually get less chance in the first team, young midfielders are trusted with a lot more game time early on their career, firstly because without it they don’t get the maturity that is required from a midfielder and secondly because they are less pressured to deliver on goals and assists and there are usually a lot more places and chances for a midfielder to be included in the first team as most teams have 3 or 4 midfielders as opposed to 1 or 2 strikers. As such these players that are included here are all experienced players that are well on their way to become the best in the world, from defensive midfielders to playmakers and wingers. So join us as we take a look at these top young midfielders:

Best Young Midfielders

Since we could only pick 10 players to be amongst these best young midfielders of FIFA 21, we have tried to mix and match some of the more well-known players with some who we think have gone under the radar. Players like Mason Mount and Declan Rice who are already experienced internationals are also not present on the list since they are already established superstars on their own:

Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax, Netherlands)

Any list of

best young players

is bound to have an Ajax player on it and for our best young midfielders of 2021 we have Ajax’s Ryan Gravenberch on the list. A defensive midfielder by trade, Gravenberch is already a regular for both Ajax and Netherlands at just 19 years of age, something which many players can only dream of, and he is bound to be the next big star coming out of Ajax and Eredivisie for the Europe’s elite to chase after.

Brn to Surinamese parents, Gravenberch came through the academy ranks at Ajax and impressed the Ajax hierarchy by his performances with Jong Ajax while still not being 16. He then made his debut during the 2018-19 season only to get more playing time in the following season. but he finally brok through the first team last season when he appeared in 47 matches for Ajax which eventually got him a call-up to Netherlands senior side and he eventually made it onto the Flying Dutchmen’s Euro 2020 squad.

His 47 performances for Ajax last season yielded 5 goals and 6 assists for the incredibly talented and athletic Gravenberch. He even got to start a game for Netherlands in the Euro this summer and as of writing this article has scored once by appearing in 11 matches for Ajax. There is no doubt that Gravenberch is one of the best under-21 players in the world in 2021 and with players like him alongside great leaders like de Jong, Depay and de Ligt, Netherlands’ future sure seems bright.

Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund, England)

Next on our list of best young midfielders of FIFA 21 in Europe with Dortmund and England’s Jude Bellingham. The 18 year old has dazzled everyone with his calm and collective performances in midfield for both England and Borussia Dortmund in the past year and was able to win a German cup as well as be included and make his debut for England in Euro 2020. All of which showcase Bellingham’s incredible talent and maturity of playing football at the highest level.

Bellingham who comes from a footballing family, with his dad being a prominent non-league player, joined Birmangham City when he was 8 and he swiftly climbed the ladders of development system and was already making an appearance for Birmangham’s U23 when he was 15. At the start of the 2019-20 season Bellingham found his way to the first team and scored to become Birmangham’s youngest ever goal scorer, by being 16 years and 63 days old.

Initially a winger, Bellingham slowly became a midfielder, a position he is now known for and is much more comfortable in. his dribbling skills along with his incredible stamina and defensive prowess are the ingredients of a really good central midfielder who can play as either a box to box midfielder or maybe can act as a deep lying playmaker further down his career. He has also shown a knack for joining the attack and scoring an odd goal here or there making him one of the best young players in Europe in 2021.

At the start of the 2020-21 season, Jude Bellingham, who was encouraged by the development of fellow Englishman Jadon Sancho as well as players like Giovanni Reyna, joined Borussia Dortmund in a £25 million transfer and has become a regular starter for

Die Schwarzengelben

. Bellingham has already broken the record for being Dortmund’s youngest ever goal scorer as well as being the youngest ever Englishman to start a Champions League match. Having won the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month award in September as well as VDV’s Newcomer of the Season, his 7 goals and almost as many assists in the 60+ matches for Dortmund shows why he is considered to be one of best young midfielders of 2021.

Dominik Szoboszlai (RB Lepizig, Hungary)

The 2019-20 season Austrian Bundesliga’s Player of the Year and RB Leipzig’s current superstar is the next player on our list of Europe’s best young midfielders, Dominik Szoboszlai. The Hungrian International who just turned 21 last week, made headlines while playing in the Austrian Bundesliga, first for the Liefering who are a feeder club for

RB Salzburg

and then for the Salzburg itself. His performances at RB Salzburg and in the Champions League made him a target for many clubs, including Arsenal and a few other Premier League teams, but since the start of this season he has joined Salzburg’s sister club in Germany, RB Leipzig.

Operating mostly as a no.10 or a second striker, Dominik Szoboszlai is not unlike a player like Kai Havertz due to his height and technique. His great dribbling ability coupled with his physical strength makes him a good ball carrying midfielder. Add to these his ability to create space and chances with his passing and you’ll end up with a great player who is one of the

best young midfielders of FIFA 21

in football right now. Szoboszlai is also a great set piece taker, having assisted and scored from them on numerous occasions both with RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig.

Having bagged 12 and 9 goals in the previous two seasons respectively as well as several assists in both seasons, since his move to Leipzig this season, Szoboszlai has scored 5 and assisted 3 in only 12 games. His transition to a bigger league has been smooth and he has proven that he is in fact one of the best young midfielders of 2021. While his move to RB Leipzig seems to be going pretty well there is no doubt that bigger teams will once again come for his signature but for now, dominating

Bundesliga

will suffice!

Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, USA)

Another brilliant product of Borussia Dortmund academy to feature on our list of best young midfielders of 2021 is none other than USA’s Giovanni Reyna. While still being only 18, Reyna has already become one of the main sources of creativity in a Borussia Dortmund team packed with creative players. Reyna who can play as both an attacker and a midfielder was previously featured in our list of best young forwards of 2020 and his performances in 2021 has earned him a place amongst the

best under-21 players in the world in 2021

.

Son of the Premier League veteran

Claudio Reyna

and US Women’s Soccer international Danielle Egan, Giovanni Reyna started his career in football at

New York City

youth academy but like his compatriot, Christian Pulisic, made the switch to Germany and Dortmund in 2019 in order to fast-track his development. After being featured in the youth academy for a couple of month he finally made his debut for Borussia Dortmund’s first team in the January of 2020.

Reyna who has broken a couple of records including the youngest player ever or scorer in Bundesliga and DFB Pokal has shown a keen eye for assisting goals as well as occasionally scoring from long range shots. His partnership with Erling Haaland in particular has secured a lot of points for the BVB. It’s appearant that he has also learnt a lot from BVB’s skipper and playmaker, Marco Reus, as his playing style is kind of similar to that of him.

While Reyna played under 400 minutes in the 2019-20 season, he made his breakthrough last season and was featured for nearly 2000 minutes, delivering 7 goals and 6 assists which is not at all bad numbers for a then-17 year old. He has already scored 2 goals this season as well and while he has become one of the best

young football players of 2021

, if he continues his development at this rate, he will certainly become one of the best in football in the coming years. 

Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal, England)

When it comes to developing young players and trusting them to perform, Arsenal is one of the best teams out there. Their prestigious Hale End academy has produced some seriously talented players in the last decade including the likes of Jack Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi but their mose recent graduates seem to be the best of them yet as both Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka make it ono our list of

best young midfielders of 2021

.

While there were rumblings that he might make it to the first team in the

Arsene Wenger era

, it was actually Unai Emery who gave Smith Row his first start in the 2018-19 season. loan spells at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield followed where he especially impressed at Huddersfield before being called back by Mikel Arteta to play a bigger role at Arsenal. With Mesut Ozil being left out of the squad entirely and veterans like Willian not performing, Arteta turned to Smith Rowe to give them a spark of creativity that Arsenal so desperately needed.

And that is exactly what the youngster did. With his blistering pace and undeniable technique, Smith Rowe brought that much needed creativity to Arsenal, helping them string together several good result at the end of the season. he even managed to score twice against Chelsea in 2021, helping the Gunners get a double over their London rivals.

A dynamic playmaker who likes to make space with his dribbles rather than inch-perfect passes,

Arsenal

’s new number 10 is frighteningly fast at moving with the ball at his feet, something which makes him unique amongst the players on our list. He can operate as either a winger or a number 10 and has helped Arsenal in the past season by scoring 4 and assisting 7. He has already matched his goal tally of 4 goals from last season in the 2021-22 season and is on his way to make his England debut. One of the best young football players of 2021, it is apparent that both Arsenal and England have a massive talent on their hand.

Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany)

Another player who had a breakthrough season last year was Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz, who is already is amongst the best young players in Europe while barely being 18. An attacking midfielder by trade, Florian Wirtz has climbed the development ladders quickly in the past two years to the point that he has already made his senior debut for Germany. Racking up 4 caps for Germany while he continues to turn out performances for Bayer Leverkusen.

There was a genuine opening for a new creative force at

Bayer Leverkusen

with Kai Havertz leaving the club in the past summer and as such they once again trusted one of their own and integerated Florian Wirtz into the first team. While the German teenager shares some similar attributes to Kai Havertz, Wirtz is a lot more dynamic and likes to cover the pitch a lot more.

Wirtz’s through passes and his incredible vision can be honed to be a deadly weapon in an attacking side like Bayer Leverkusen as the youngster has shown glimpses of his playmaking abilities. He has also a knack for scoring goals which has been prominent this season.

Last season, Wirtz played a huge part in Bayer Leverkusen’s first team by appearing in 38 matches, contributing with 8 goals and 7 assists in all competitions which is just mind boggling for a 17 year old at that level. He also scored became the youngest ever goal scorer in Bundesliga’s history by scoring against Bayern Munich. He is undoubtedly among some of the best under-21 players in the world in 2021 and some of the best young midfielders that European has to offer and he is sure to have a bright future in Bundesliga.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal, England)

Another product of Arsenal's Hale End academy that became one of the best young players in the past year or two was Bukayo Saka. Saka who, despite his very young age, has extensive experience playing in several role ranging from a left back to a right winger, was even included in England’s squad for the Euro 2020 and even went on to play a big role in the tournament as well as the massive role he has played at Arsenal in the past year.

Saka, who has been part of the Arsenal’s academy since before he was 10, joined the ranks of the first team at the young age of 17 and actually became the first player born in the 21st century to make his Premier League debut when he did so against Fulham in 1 January of 2019. He has since made 100 senior appearances for Arsenal, scoring 13 goals and providing 18 assists. While Unai Emery utilized Saka in more of a defensive role as a wing-back, Arteta has moved him to more

attacking roles at Arsenal

where the 19-year-old is more comfortable

Quick and unrelenting in both attack and defense, Saka’s work rate and attitude has made him a favorite of many managers, allowing him to climb the development ladder really fast. And even though he was set back by England’s nightmarish Euro 2020 final in which he missed the last penalty, his incredible performances this season has shown what a strong character he has and that he has learned to move on and learn from adversity which definitely puts him amongst the

best young players in Europe in 2021

.

Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid, France)

Real Madrid are known for splashing the cash on already established superstars with their Galacticos mentality demanding that they sign the best players in the world. They are not exactly known for ther shrewd signings but that is precisely what happened when they went and signed the incredibly talented Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes this summer. Sure, Camavinga might have been known to football fans to be one of the best young players around but no one expected the 18-year-old to be a hit at Madrid straight away, which he has been!

Eduardo Camavinga who turns 19 in under two weeks from now, made his professional debut for

Rennes

in the 2018-19 season and it was soon apparent that there will be a fight to sign him in the following seasons. Camavinga who is a defensive midfielder, can also operate further on the pitch on the count of his great technique, composure and his understanding of the game. He could also be utilized as a box to box midfielder and can be perhaps honed to be a player in the style of France’s own Paul Pogba.

With Camavinga already making his debut with France and impressing with his performance as well as his incredible performances in Ligue 1 and with his contract coming to an end in summer of 2022, it was only matter of time that a team snatched him up and that team turned out to be Ancelotti’s Real Madrid. He quickly became integrated in Real Madrid’s first team and made his debut against Celta Vigo and later scored in that same match. One of the best young midfielders of 2021, Camavinga is sure to have a bright future at Madrid and for France if he is coached properly! 

Phil Foden (Manchester City, England)

As part of a great generation of Manchester City’s academy players like Jadon Sancho, Kelechi Iheanacho and Brahim Diaz, Phil Foden was always headed for big things. while his former teammates at Man City’s academy all decided to move to new teams, Foden’s decision to stay and play for Perp Guardiola paid in droves as he has certainly become one of the best young midfielders of 2021 and best midfielders in general.

After a striker shortage at Manchester City last season forced Guardiola’s hand to look for new options and tactics to bolster their attack, the Spanish manager started utilizing players like Foden and Sterling in more advanced roles as False-9s. this resulted in Man City having a great start in 2021 in which Foden played a big hand in. this resulted in Foden getting over 1500 minutes of playing time in a star-studded Manchester City despite him being only 21.

With the help of midfielders like Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan, Manchester City went on a streak of 19 wins in the league which all but confirmed their champions status. they also managed to reach the final of League Cup and Champions League, winning the former against Tottenham and losing the latter against Chelsea. Foden contributed by scoring 16 and assisting 8 in all competitions which is more than most midfielders in Europe!

Foden’s performances from last season earned him a Player of the Year and

Young Player of the Year

nominations. He won the latter and was included in Champions League Team of the Season for the 2020-21. He then took part in England’s Euro 2020 in which they reached the final but lost to Italy. Sicne the start of this season, he has picked up from where he left off last season as he has already scored 4 and assisted 5 in 10 appearances.

Pedri (Barcelona, Spain)

Last but not least is Europe’s most hard-working player, Pedri. The Spanish midfielder played an incredible 73 matches last season making him the busiest player in all of Europe after he took part in multiple competitions with Barcelona, then travelled for Euro 2020, playing in all of Spain’s matches until they were knocked out in the semi-finals then travelling to Japan to help Spain reach the Olympics final which they eventually lost to Brazil, earning Pedri an Olympic Silver Medal.

However, it’s not only Pedri’s work-rate and mentality that gets the attention but also his talent as well since Spain’s manager, Luis Enrique, has claimed that he has never seen an 18 year-old play as well as Pedri has in Euro 2020, going as far as comparing Pedri to “Don Iniesta”. The Barcelona youngster plays with the maturity of a playmaker in his prime and has benched the likes of Thiago and Coutinho to play every single minute of Spain and Barcelona’s matches from the last season.

Pedri, who is a product of Las Palmas academy, broke out into the first team in the 2019-20 season where he played almost the entire campaign despite only being 17 at the time. His excellent performances in the Segunda Division for Las Palmas were enough to make may big clubs interested in him but it was Barcelona who brought him to Nou Camp and unlike many of their recent signings, Pedri actually delivered. Pedri made 37 appearances for Barcelona in La Liga (52 in all competitions), pushing the likes of Coutinho and Miralem Pjanic out of the starting line-up for the entirety of the season. he even won the Copa del Rey in his debut season with Barcelona.

And if that all wasn’t enough for you to be convinced that Pedri is one of the

best young midfielders of 2021

, honestly we don’t know what might! Although Pedri has got a long way to go to even come close to Iniesta’s levels, he is off to a great start, being one of the best midfielders in Europe despite being only 18.

 

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source: SportMob

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