Nothing quite captures the imagination like seeing a youngster blooded at first team level. There’s always a keen sense of anticipation amongst supporters who will have no doubt eagerly tracked the player’s progress up through the youth team ranks, already having their own high expectation of what’s to come.
There’s a lot of pressure before a balls even been kicked. Some cope with it, some don’t. So when Moise Kean trotted out for his Juventus debut in that iconic black and white shirt, becoming the Old Lady’s first player born this side of the millennium to do so, you can imagine what must of been going through his head. Having already been compared to the likes of Mario Balotelli, Romelu Lukaku and Didier Drogba, many think they are looking at a future world class striker.
Below I have assembled a team of young players (23 & under) away from England that have been playing out their skin this season. This bunch of talented youngsters have shown they can mix it with the very best having put in some marvellous displays thus far. So without further ado, here are some of footballs brightest starlets.
GK - Gianluigi Donnarumma
Team & Age: AC Milan, 17
Starting with the teams youngest player, Donnarumma has begun this season in the same vein of form that saw him break into the first team set up last term. Standing at 6ft 5? the Italian is an excellent shot-stopper with good distribution.
CB - Presnel Kimpembe
Team & Age: PSG, 21
One of the French capital’s finest talents. With David Luiz having left for Chelsea, Kimpembe has seen game time aplenty and has not disappointed. Composed on the ball, the indigenous talent seems to have the future heart of the PSG defence covered with Brazilian Marquinhos by his side.
CB - Davison Sanchez
Team & Age: Ajax, 20
Famed for their youth production, it appears Ajax have unearthed yet another gem. Sanchez has a nice blend to his game, capable of bringing the ball out from the back but also putting in a tough tackle where necessary.
LB - Alejandro Grimaldo
Team & Age: Benfica, 21
Having risen up through La Masia’s ranks, the Barcelona product opted for a move to Benfica last January and hasn’t looked back. Blessed with bags of technical ability and stamina, Grimaldo has made short work of Liga NOS so far this season.
RB - Ricardo Pereira
Team & Age: Nice (loan from Porto), 23
Many players can be accredited for Nice’s ongoing success in Ligue 1 this year but whilst Balotelli has been grabbing the headlines, Pereira has been quietly producing sterling defensive displays. Equally comfortable going forward as well, his loan from Porto has bore instant fruit.
DM - Fabinho
Team & Age: Monaco, 23
Many may recognise Fabinho as a promising right back but this season the Brazilian has become an exceptional holding midfielder. He has synonymously moved position whilst maintaining great awareness and passing. Reminiscent of Philip Lahm.
CM - Raphael Guerreiro
Team & Age: Borussia Dortmund, 22
Another who established himself as a fullback. Seemingly in keeping with the modern-day trend, Thomas Tuchel was so impressed with Guerreiro when playing as an inverted fullback that he decided to change his position all together.
CM - Naby Keita
Team & Age: RB Leipzig, 21
With the engine of N’Golo Kante and ball retention of Luka Modric it’s safe to say big things are expected to come from the current league leaders best central midfielder. The Guinean is a phenomenal athlete with the skill to match.
AM - Juanpi
Team & Age: Malaga, 22
Oozing with class, Juanpi is destined for a glittering career. Happy using both feet, the Venezuelan can pick those ‘eye of the needle’ passes unlocking even the best defenses. Having become an established part of the Malaga set-up it won’t be long until a big offer is on the table for the starlet.
ST - Gabriel Jesus
Team & Age: Palmeiras (loan from Man City), 19
Perhaps the best of the bunch. Jesus possesses lightening fast dribbling combined with deadly finishing. It’s a potent combination that has seen the Brazilian help his country to an Olympic gold medal and his club to a league title.
ST - Andre Silva
Team & Age: Porto, 21
Having recently scored a hat-trick for his native Portugal after only a handful of caps, Silva looks the real deal. He is also free scoring in Liga NOS and the Champions League making him one of Europe’s most lethal marksmen.