The Best Teenagers in World Soccer Right Now
What were you doing when you were a teenager? For most of us, our teenage years were probably spent playing video games while trying to scrape through high school.
While the majority of people in their late teens are worrying about university or finding their first full-time job, a select few have already established themselves as some of the finest soccer players on the planet.
I will be taking an in-depth look at three of the top-rated teenagers in world soccer right now, based entirely on their current ability. I will then briefly focus on three younger players who I believe have the potential to make it to the very top in the coming years.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best soccer players who have yet to reach their 20s.
Jadon Sancho is arguably the most exciting teenager in world soccer right now. Hailed as a trailblazer for his generation, he is now reaping the rewards of his own hard work and bravery.
- Age: 19
- Nationality: English
- Club: Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho’s Background
Born in London to parents from Trinidad and Tobago, Sancho developed his skills playing on the streets and back alleys of England’s capital. He joined Watford’s academy at the age of seven. After continuing to establish himself as one of the country’s hottest prospects, EPL giant Manchester City snapped him up as a 14-year-old.
However, due to an abundance of well-established world-class players already at the club, competition for a place in Man City’s starting 11 was extremely fierce. So, realizing that his involvement with the first time would be limited, Sancho intelligently sought a move elsewhere.
The Big Move Abroad
At just 17, Jadon Sancho signed for German club Borussia Dortmund, and he hasn’t looked back since. He became the first ever Englishman to wear the famous black and yellow of Dortmund when he made his debut for the club in the 2017/18 campaign, but it wasn’t until last season that he really began to make a name for himself.
Sancho quickly transformed himself into a key player in Dortmund’s first team and went on to enjoy an outstanding breakthrough season. He featured in each of the club’s 34 Bundesliga games last term, scoring 12 goals and registering a league-high 17 assists (three more than his nearest challenger). This is a remarkable return for a player competing in their first full top-flight campaign.
Sancho has developed at a rapid rate, and he plays with a maturity far beyond his years. He has the ability to glide past players and beat defenders with ease. His acceleration is frightening, and his decision-making is superb.
I view Sancho’s decision to travel abroad as an extremely brave move, especially when you consider his age. His willingness to move to a different country in order to further his career is admirable, and it’s a move that has certainly paid dividends.
Sancho could have easily taken the safe option by choosing to stay at Man City. But this would have probably led to him spending the majority of his time either on the bench or playing for the under-23s. Instead, we have seen him flourish into one of the most exciting players of his generation.
What’s Next for Jadon Sancho?
After winning the under-17 World Cup, Sancho has set his sights on establishing himself as a regular starter for England’s senior side. He registered two goals and two assists in his first three UEFA Euro Qualifying matches for his country, and looks set to enjoy a long and successful career with England.
Rumors of a move back to the Premier League have been rife, with Manchester United reportedly interested in bringing the winger back to his homeland. One thing is certain, if Sancho is to leave Dortmund, then the German club is set to make an enormous profit on the player.
Dortmund signed Sancho for roughly €8 million, but I truly believe that he is worth in excess of €100 million in today’s market. Sancho is leading the way for an exciting new wave of English players. He plays without fear, and he isn’t afraid to express himself both on and off the pitch.
The 19-year-old has gotten off to a flier this season, picking up three goals and five assists in his first seven league appearances for Dortmund. If Sancho continues to evolve at such a rapid rate, I think he has the potential to not only become one of England’s greatest ever players, but one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen.
I feel as though Joao Felix’s rise stardom has been a lot quicker than many of the other teenage stars in the game. He’s sneaking onto this list, as he’ll celebrate his 20th birthday in November.
- Age: 19
- Nationality: Portuguese
- Club: Atletico Madrid
Joao Felix’s Background
Joao Felix joined FC Porto’s academy at eight years old in 2007, where he developed his skills for a number of years. However, after being faced with a lack of game time, he moved to one of Porto’s main rivals, Benfica, in 2015.
Following his promotion to Benfica’s first team in 2018, Joao Felix was named Primeira Liga’s Young Player of the Year after helping his team win the league title.
Joao Felix’s 15 goals and nine assists in the Portuguese top-flight were vital to Benfica’s success last season. After becoming the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the UEFA Europa League, it became clear that this youngster was destined for bigger and better things.
Prior to the start of the 2019/20 campaign, Spanish side Atletico Madrid signed Joao Felix for a club record transfer worth €126 million. This move made the Portuguese sensation the fourth most expensive soccer player of all time, and it was also the second-highest fee ever paid for a teenager.
Brought in to replace the departing Antoine Griezmann, Joao Felix definitely has some big shoes to fill. But judging by the early signs, I believe he is more than capable of surpassing Griezmann’s level. The 19-year-old generally plays as an attacking midfielder or winger, but his versatility allows him to influence the game from almost anywhere on the pitch.
He possesses all the attributes of an old-fashioned playmaker, with bags of creativity and a sensational range of passing. Under the guidance of Atletico boss Diego Simeone, Joao Felix is in safe hands. The Argentinian manager focuses heavily on the defensive aspect of the game, and this has been reflected in the forward’s performances so far this season.
Joao Felix is not just a threat going forward. His ability to track back and win the ball for his team allows him to initiate counter attacks at a frightening pace.
What’s Next for Joao Felix?
As you would expect, there has been no shortage of comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo. This is understandable, given that both players hail from Portugal. But I don’t think it’s entirely fair to measure the two players against each other right now.
Ronaldo is coming toward the end of his career, while Joao Felix is just getting started. The youngster will no doubt be flattered by the comparisons, but he will know that he still has a long way to go before he can be considered one of the greats.
With that being said, if Atletico Madrid’s history of world-class forwards is anything to go by, then Joao Felix is certainly in the right place to take his game to the next level. The Spanish club has been home to some of the game’s most potent goal scorers in recent times, and Felix looks set to be next on Atletico’s never-ending conveyor belt of top-quality marksmen.
David Villa, Radamel Falcao, Sergio Aguero, and Diego Forlan are just a few of the famous names that have played for Atletico, and they have all gone on to enjoy hugely successful careers. In my opinion, Joao Felix has the potential to eclipse the achievements of any Atletico player before him, and I’m very excited to see how he evolves in the coming years.
Phil Foden is the youngest ever player to receive a Premier League winners’ medal. His talent is clear for all to see, but can the youngster fulfill his potential at Manchester City?
- Age: 19
- Nationality: English
- Club: Manchester City
Phil Foden’s Background
Phil Foden is Manchester City through and through. Born just a few miles from the Etihad Stadium, Foden has been with his boyhood club since the age of eight. After shining at youth level, he signed an academy scholarship in 2016, and was included in the first team matchday squad later that year.
Foden made his Manchester City debut in November 2017. The following month, he became the youngest English player to start a UEFA Champions League match. This also meant that Foden became the first player born in the year 2000 to start a match in Europe’s premier club competition, and I believe this speaks volumes about his maturity.
Can Phil Foden Make It at Manchester City?
Foden is undoubtedly one of the most gifted players of his generation, but the English youngster has found it difficult to nail down a place in Manchester City’s starting 11. Manager Pep Guardiola has recently publicly apologized for not giving Foden more minutes on the pitch, but he can hardly be blamed when you look at the list of players currently ahead of the midfielder in the pecking order.
Nevertheless, Guardiola claims Foden is the best player he has ever coached, and this is extremely high praise when you consider that the Spaniard has worked with five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
One of Foden’s main strengths is his ability to carry to the ball with excellent close control. The midfielder’s low center of gravity allows him to effortlessly weave through opposition defenses while keeping his head up in search of the right pass.
He also protects the ball extremely well, enabling his team to swiftly transition between defense and attack. Despite his lack of first-team appearances, Foden has been outstanding whenever he has been given an opportunity. He often gets on the scoresheet when he features for Manchester City and will surely be pressing for regular involvement.
What’s Next for Phil Foden?
I think Foden’s career is being held back by false promises from Pep Guardiola. The City manager has widely acknowledged the fact that Foden should be given more game time, but still spent a club record fee of nearly €70 million on Rodri in the summer transfer window.
I believe if Guardiola honestly cared about Foden’s development, he would not have brought in yet another player who can play in the same position. Fans love to see homegrown players breaking into the first team, but it could be time for Foden take a leaf out of Jadon Sancho’s book and move elsewhere.
While Guardiola will argue that Foden is in the best possible place to further his career, the importance of playing regular soccer cannot be overstated, and this is something that is unlikely to be available to Foden at Manchester City.
The 19-year-old has made it clear that he is happy to remain patient and wait for his opportunity, but with players of a similar age playing on a regular basis, how much longer can Foden wait?
The Next Generation
If you think Jadon Sancho, Joao Felix, and Phil Foden are young, wait until you check out this next batch of players. These kids aren’t even old enough to drive, but they’re already making waves in some of Europe’s top leagues.
- Age: 16
- Nationality: DR Congo
- Club: Stade Rennais
Despite making just a handful of first-team appearances, Eduardo Camavinga has quickly become one of the most talked about teenagers in world soccer. He shot to stardom earlier this season with an eye-catching display against powerhouse PSG and picked up Ligue 1’s Player of the Month in August as a result.
Camavinga bossed the midfield, as Rennais secured a shocking 2-1 victory over the French champion. After watching the 16-year-old closely this season, I’m confident that he won’t be at Rennais for much longer.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester City are just a few of the clubs that have been following the youngster for a while, and they are likely to have stepped up their interest in recent weeks, following Camavinga’s outstanding start to the season.
Although Camavinga was born in Angola to Congolese parents, his family moved to France when he was two years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was asked to represent the French national side in the not too distant future.
- Age: 16
- Nationality: Guinea-Bissau
- Club: Barcelona
Just to give you an idea of how young this guy is, Ansu Fati was ruled out of a recent Barcelona match because of growing pains. Need I say more? Due to injuries to a number of the club’s key players, the pocket-sized winger has featured prominently for Barcelona in the early stages of the season and has unquestionably made an impact.
Not only did he recently become the youngest ever Barcelona player to start a game at Camp Nou, Ansu Fati is now the youngest player to score and create an assist in the history of La Liga, following a dazzling display against Valencia.
There is no denying the fact that the youngster wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to show us what he’s all about if it wasn’t for the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez picking up injuries. However, Ansu Fati has embraced the opportunity, and his pace and directness have attracted a lot of attention.
He is being managed carefully by the Barcelona coaching staff in order to prevent a burnout, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we see him featuring for the first team on a consistent basis.
- Age: 16
- Nationality: English/Scottish
- Club: Celtic
When a viral video emerged in 2016 of a 13-year-old playing for Celtic’s under-20 side, many people, including myself, were intrigued to find out more. The youngster in question was Karamoko Dembele, and he was playing with and against players who were up to seven age groups above him.
Dembele has since signed his first professional contract with Celtic. He made his senior debut for the Scottish club towards the end of last season, just a couple of months after his 16th birthday.
The tricky winger has already represented England and Scotland at youth level, and he is also eligible to play for Ivory Coast. Remarkably, Dembele doesn’t look out of place in Celtic’s first-team. He has excelled at every level so far in his short career, and I’m eager to track his progression as the season unfolds.
Relevant Betting Markets
There’s some serious money to be made when it comes to predicting which club a player will join next, and this is the market that really stands out to me when it comes to betting on teenage soccer players.
As he continues to evolve into an exceptional talent, Jadon Sancho has been heavily linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. Let’s take a look at the frontrunners for Sancho’s signature in next year’s summer transfer window.
Manchester United is the clear favorite to sign Sancho, but I don’t see the Englishman wanting to join a club in decline. United has made a dismal start to the season, and it no longer looks like a club capable of attracting the world’s top players.
Sancho’s old employers Manchester City are level with PSG at 7.0. It’s unlikely that he will return to the club that let him go as a 17-year-old, and I also don’t think moving to France is an attractive option for the player.
So, merely for the potential profit, I’m backing Jadon Sancho to join Real Madrid at 12.0. Sancho has already proven that he’s not afraid to make big changes in his career, and Real Madrid has a history of forking out for some of the world’s most expensive players.
Jadon Sancho to Sign for Real Madrid in Summer 202012.0
With more and more young players being given the opportunity to play at the world’s top clubs, it’s certainly an exciting time for soccer.
Let me know if you’ve got your eye on any other promising teenage players by leaving a comment below. Also, make sure you head over to the best online sports betting sites to find all the top soccer markets.