Ansu Fati, Alphonso Davies, Erling Braut Haaland, Jadon Sancho, and Jõao Felix are some of the huge young stars that have burst onto the scene at the highest level of football, with a massive emergence in the talent pool lately.
There are so many young, talented players, that it’s quite challenging to pick out 13 of the brightest stars, The VideoScope have set out to do just that. There are no strict rules to who we’ve picked (as you will see 5 out of the 13 players will be from 2 clubs), but rather these players have caught our attention for one reason or another. Before you guys scream at us for some of these players being wonderkids on Football Manager, we know! There’s a reason in real life why they’re talents in the game!
13. Maarten Vandervoordt (Genk)
People might go straight to the stats and mention to us that the lad has hardly played, but it’s what we’ve seen from those minutes and his performances in the youth ranks that make Maarten Vandervoordt such an interesting keeper to keep an eye out for.
On the 10th of December 2019, Vandevoordt, aged 17 years 287 days, became the youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history (in a game where they lost 4-0 to Napoli) but still, showed a lot of poise and promise! Belgium has produced a lot of fine goalkeeper exports including Thibaut Courtois, Matz Sels, Koen Casteels, and even the greatest goalkeeper of all-time, Simon Mignolet.
There haven’t been a lot of high potential shot-stoppers making a lot of buzz since Gianluigi Donnarumma burst onto the scene with Milan, but Maarten Vandervoordt might be the next one!
12. Michaël Cuisance (Marseille on loan from Bayern Munich)
Look, Bayern Munich is one of the best-run clubs in the world and despite a record huge loss in the books, they’re going to be fine for the foreseeable future (I mean, they just signed Dayot Upamecano…..) So why on earth are they letting some of their best talents like Michaël Cuisance go? Especially after he scored this:
While I understand that Bayern are incredibly stacked in midfield, it makes no sense for them to give up on such a promising midfielder who has all the makings of a quality midfielder in the Bundesliga. I mean seriously… he can score bangers, is a great dribbler, shoots with great curve (you saw the goal), and is also able to provide decent passes. Marseille might thank their lucky stars as they might have found their successor to the wonderful Dimitri Payet.
11. Max Aarons (Norwich)
Poor Max Aarons. While Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis were able to leave Norwich for Premier League play, Norwich played hardball when FC Barcelona came knocking for Aarons, so he couldn’t join the La Liga giants. It is pretty insane to think that a player of his quality is having to play in the Championship, but he’s pivotal in Norwich’s current domination of the English second tier.
If a bigger team were to sign him, they would get a very attack-minded right-back, who’s very good at crossing, passing, and making blocks. The only downside is that he is a very weak aerial threat and will lose out on headers.
10. Jens Petter Hauge (AC Milan)
The brightest talent to come out of the Norwegian “Eliteserien” since Chidera Ejuke, Jens Petter Hauge is yet another highly talented individual from Norway. The latest in the line of successes like Erling Braut Haaland, Martin Ødegaard, and Sander Berge, to name a few. While he is slightly older than the established Haaland, JPH is similarly supremely confident, bordering on cocky at times, but for good reason.
JPH was one of the main reasons his Norwegian team Bodø/Glimt became one of the most dominant teams in Norwegian league history, smashing records as they destroyed every challenger and easily won the league. Hauge was almost unstoppable out on the left-wing, making fools out of every full back in the country with his dribbling, while linking up well with the rest of his teammates at the well-oiled machine in Bodø. He impressed so much when the team nearly knocked out Milan in the Europa League qualifiers, that the Italian giants saw no other option than to bring him in.
9. Takefusa Kubo (Getafe, on loan from Real Madrid)
As the figurehead of the Asian infusion in Spanish football, this former La Masia product turned Real Madrid talent, is the brightest upcoming Asian star along with Valencia’s Lee Kang-In. Takefusa Kubo, also known as the “Japanese Messi”, got to go up against his former team and the Argentine superstar last season on loan with Mallorca and was their best player.
Kubo shares a lot of the same traits as Messi, with his balance and dribbling at the forefront of his abilities. With quick touches, believable body feints and sharp acceleration, it’s hard to get the better of Kubo, who can also fire an accurate shot at a whim. The Japanese sensation has struggled more in his second season than his successful first campaign on loan at Mallorca, but the 19-year-old has more than enough time to establish himself at the top level.
8. Joshua Zirkzee (Parma, on Loan from Bayern Munich)
Parma has lucked out because Joshua Zirkzee is part of the new generation of Dutch players who are emerging on the European scene. While some people might note that he didn’t get much playtime with Bayern, he scored pivotal goals during their revival midseason with Hansi Flick, scoring 4 goals in 3 starts for Bayern.
What Bayern fans got to see was a physical player who has good headers and great finishing, which makes it all that more surprising that Bayern are letting him leave (his loan includes a buy option for only €15 million)! If you want it spelled out, he is an obvious successor to Robert Lewandowski!
Instead, Parma could end up with a striker with the similar success that Edinson Cavani once had for them. A huge move for most parties involved, except Bayern who will need to hold the L on this one.
7. Mohammed Kudus (Ajax)
Ajax has always been and continues to be a talent factory and with guys like Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech, Donny van de Beek and Sergiño Dest leaving them the past few years, the attention turns to their next generation.
Ajax’s next crop of exports has similarly high potential, highlighted by the fact that Mohammed Kudus is our first of three Ajax talents on this list. I’ve always had a soft spot for Ghana and this attacking midfielder is the Black Star’s biggest potential star.
Kudus impressed mightily at the start of the season with his quick-moving, ball juggling, through passing prowess, but sadly had to go off injured early when he was about to introduce himself on the biggest stage in the Champions League against Liverpool. He’s still working himself back to fitness, but once he starts playing regularly again, there aren’t many more entertaining players to watch out there.
6. Thiago Almada (Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield)
Anyone who’s played Football Manager the last few years will know exactly who Thiago Almada is and his FM-skills translate into real life. This Argentinian wonderkid is blistering fast, a great dribbler, can pass extremely well and is also able to score from most positions. He boasts a very high penalty conversion rate as well.
Despite being only 19 years old, Almada looks like he can become the latest Argentinian export to do well out in Europe. Manchester United, FC Barcelona, and several other top clubs are reportedly scouting the player and will be readying a bid in the summer. We would love to see him play in the very technically gifted La Liga, but he can honestly thrive wherever he goes!
5. Riqui Puig (Barcelona)
Barcelona has struggled the last few seasons as they continue to infuse their team with young, exciting players. Before Ansu Fati burst onto the scene, it had been a while since the Barcelona academy La Masia had produced the future big name stars they usually churn out. That drought is about to end.
If you wanted to encapsulate the La Masia and Barca DNA archetype into one player, you might end up with Riqui Puig. The Catalonian-born midfielder is like a fusion between Barca legends Xavi and Andrés Iniesta. He controls the middle of the pitch with smart movements, finesse dribbling, quick turns, and pinpoint passing, despite his miniature stature.
Puig is a joy to watch, hardly puts a foot wrong, and looks to have finally convinced Ronald Koeman that he can play a big part in Barcelona’s future. It’s about damn time. He recently completed his first 90 minute start for the club this season, which ended with a big 5-1 victory. Puig makes every Barca fan say yes to the future.
4. Antony (Ajax)
Antony arrived at Ajax from Sao Paulo before this season and he’s already turning heads. Not just the heads of sorry Eredivisie full-backs who see him easily go past them, but the heads of bigger and better clubs than the Dutch giants.
His feet move as quick as drumsticks when he puts on the gas, something he uses to full effect by standing still first and making the defenders second guess themselves. Antony is yet another skillful Brazilian winger, with shades of Neymar at times. With a dangerous left foot, he is already on course for double-digit goals and assists in the league this season.
Give yourself a treat by watching Antony and Ajax go up against the almost equally talented Lille in the Europa League. There’s yet another Ajax breakout star to come in this article.
3. Ilaix Moriba (FC Barcelona)
Moriba should be part of a future midfield trio at Barcelona that consists of Riqui Puig, Frenkie De Jong, and himself. Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets be damned! Ilaix Moriba is constantly compared to Paul Pogba and it’s hard to disagree considering the great passes, vision, shooting, and unbelievable “tekkers” that the young Spaniard possesses.
If Moriba’s play in youth football translates into senior football, he could become a player that many talks about after his career is over. Let’s just hope people don’t unnecessarily jump on him as much as the English media have done with Pogba. Many have also suggested that Puig and Moriba should already send Busquets and Pjanic into the transfer market, so the buzz for these young talents is incredibly high!
2. Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax)
This kid seriously has it all. While he might be just 18 years old, it’s no wonder that Ajax constantly produces excellent central midfielders as Ryan Gravenberch has the presence of someone who has been playing at the top level for several years.
While he’s already garnished comparisons to Paul Pogba, it has to be said that he actually was an attacking midfielder who sometimes even got to play at left-wing. So the talented youngster has played in several positions but has found a home deeper in midfield, where his predecessor Frenkie De Jong bossed out for several years before leaving for FC Barcelona (where he currently is excelling!).
He’s capable of shooting and passing exceptionally well, but Ajax coach Erik Ten Haag has also developed Gravenberch to make sure he can tackle like a beast too. It might feel like we’re overhyping the young Dutchman, but give it time. You will all see just how spectacular Ryan Gravenberch truly is.
1. Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)
While Ligue 1 is filled with bright, young talents, especially league leaders Lille who are spearheaded by the “veteran” Renato Sanches, no talent in the French league is bigger than Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year-old midfielder is already being tapped up by the likes of Real Madrid, PSG, and Manchester United. He likely secures his big move in the summer.
While Camavinga might not have as flashy attacking highlights as the other players on this list and doesn’t have the imposing physique of other youth stars like Haaland or De Ligt, the only recently turned 18-year-old Frenchman is everything you want in a centre mid. Ball control and retention, passing accuracy, well-timed tackles, and a roulette feint Zinedine Zidane would be proud of. Camavinga will dominate world football for the next decade+.