Top 10 Young Canadian Soccer Players to Watch in 2021

By Ben Morris in Soccer
| February 15, 2021 2:31 am PDT
Best Young Canadian Soccer Players in 2021

Let’s be real for a second – Canada isn’t exactly famous for producing elite soccer players.

But in recent times, we have seen a large number of Canadian youngsters rise to prominence, not just in North America, but in Europe, too.

Obvious examples include Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, with the former winning multiple trophies with German giant Bayern Munich and the latter currently starring in Ligue 1 for French club Lille.

However, there are plenty of other exciting young Canadian soccer players that you should be watching right now.

Join me as I discuss the best young Canadian soccer players in 2021.

Alphonso Davies

  • Age: 20
  • Club: Bayern Munich
  • Position: Left-Back/Winger

Not only is Alphonso Davies one of the best young Canadian soccer players right now, but he is also on course to become one of the country’s greatest-ever sporting icons.

I mean, how many 20-year-olds can say that they’ve won the Champions League?

The majority of Europe’s top young players never even come close to getting their hands on the famous Champions League trophy, yet Davies played a pivotal role in Bayern Munich’s 2019/20 UCL triumph.

Not only that, but the former Vancouver Whitecaps prodigy already has two Bundesliga titles, two German Cups, and a Club World Cup to his name.

Best known for his electric speed and marauding runs, Davies’ versatility has seen him become one of the most sought-after young soccer players on the planet. He made a name for himself as a winger, yet he is equally comfortable operating as a full-back.

Davies is already Canada’s best young soccer player, although many believe that it is only a matter of time until he is viewed as the greatest Canadian soccer player of all time.

Jonathan David

  • Age: 21
  • Club: Lille
  • Position: Forward

There are only a handful of players worthy of challenging Davies for the “best young Canadian soccer player” tag – and Jonathan David is one of them.

Like Davies, David has already taken European soccer by storm. Having grown up in Ottawa, the pacey forward was snapped up by Gent, signing his first professional contract with the Belgian club when he was just 18.

But after racking up 37 goals and 15 assists in 83 appearances for Gent, along with finishing as the Jupiler Pro League’s joint-top scorer in 2019/20, it was clear that David was destined for bigger and better things.

On August 11, 2020, French side Lille paid Gent €30 million to acquire David’s services, making him the most expensive Canadian transfer ever.

Unsurprisingly, the prolific striker has continued to cement his status as one of Canada’s top young soccer players since moving to Ligue 1. If he continues to shine, a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs could be right around the corner.

Below is a list of David’s individual achievements to date.

  • CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Boot (2019)
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI (2019)
  • Canadian Men’s Player of the Year (2019)
  • Belgian First Division A Top Scorer (2019/20)
  • Gent MVP (2019/20)

Liam Millar

  • Age: 21
  • Club: Liverpool
  • Position: Winger

When Liam Millar netted a hat-trick on his debut for Liverpool U18s back in 2016, it was pretty obvious that he was going to be a star.

Now 21, the winger is yet to make a senior appearance for Jurgen Klopp’s side. But having shown heaps of promise during recent loan spells at Kilmarnock and Charlton Athletic, Millar’s best years are undoubtedly still ahead of him.

Millar was handed his international debut when he was just 18, with Canada head coach John Herdman featuring Millar in his starting line-up for a 2018 friendly against New Zealand.

The Liverpool youngster has since picked up eight international caps for his country, appearing at the 2019 Gold Cup, as well as the CONCACAF Nations League.

Ultimately, Millar may have to leave Anfield in search of first-team opportunities. But if he can continue to prove exactly why he is one of the best young Canadian soccer players at this moment, there is no reason why he can’t earn himself a high-profile transfer.

Liam Millar of Liverpool

Ballou Tabla

  • Age: 21
  • Club: CF Montreal
  • Position: Left Winger

Born in Ivory Coast, Ballou Tabla’s international soccer career wasn’t always certain.

Following a move to Quebec with his family as a child, Tabla represented Canada at various youth levels. But after being named the Canada U20 Male Player of the Year in 2016, he refused subsequent call-ups to the international squad, with the possibility of representing the country of his birth.

So, Canadian soccer fans blew a collective sigh of relief when the winger pledged his allegiance to Les Rouges in 2018 because, quite frankly, he’s an excellent young prospect.

Tabla enjoyed a phenomenal breakthrough season back in 2017, which eventually led to him joining Barcelona B. But after struggling to settle in Spain, he is now back at CF Montreal

Unfortunately, Tabla missed most of the 2020 MLS season due to a lengthy injury. He only ended up making four league appearances for Montreal, although he still managed to get on the scoresheet.

If he can remain injury-free this year, Tabla will be one of the best top Canadian soccer players in 2021; there is no doubting that.

BALLOU TABLA’S CAREER STATS
Team Appearances Goals Assists
CF Montreal 35 4 2
Barcelona B 30 3 2
FC Montreal 21 5 3
Albacete Balompie 2
Canada 2

Liam Fraser

  • Age: 22
  • Club: Toronto FC
  • Position: Defensive Midfield

It’s fair to say that Liam Fraser has been around for a while now. However, with over 30 MLS appearances already under his belt, it is hard to believe that he is still just 22.

The hard-working defensive midfielder made his Toronto FC debut back in 2018 and has since become an important player for the Reds, helping the club to reach the MLS Cup final in 2019 and secure a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference last year.

Fraser was a late relative bloomer on the international scene, although he has recently become an integral part of Herdman’s team. He started all of Canada’s games in 2020 and even managed to score his first international goal in a 4-1 thrashing of Barbados.

It won’t be long before Fraser is no longer classed as a young player. But right now, there is no denying that he is one of Canadian soccer’s top rising talents.

Toronto FC's Liam Fraser

Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty

  • Age: 16
  • Club: Toronto FC
  • Position: Right Winger

The youngest player on the list, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, certainly has a BIG future ahead of him.

At just 16 years of age, the TFC prodigy was handed his MLS debut back in October 2020, coming off the bench against Philadelphia Union. Two months later, he became the youngest player ever to earn a senior call-up to the Canada national team.

For someone so young, Marshall-Rutty’s technical ability is remarkable. He dribbles with a confidence far beyond his years, while his neat passing range enables him to unlock opposition defenses with ease.

If he continues to develop at his current rate, don’t be surprised if Marshall-Rutty follows in the footsteps of MLS exports like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David by crossing the pond and flourishing in Europe.

In fact, the promising winger was the second-youngest player to make a Major League Soccer appearance during the 2020 season.

YOUNGEST MLS PLAYERS (2020 SEASON)
Player Club Age
Erik Duenas LAFC 15 years, 11 months, 27 days
Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty Toronto FC 16 years, 4 months, 9 days
Christian Torres LAFC 16 years, 4 months, 16 days
Cade Cowell San Jose Earthquakes 16 years, 4 months, 23 days
Moses Nyeman DC United 16 years, 9 months, 25 days

Ralph Priso

  • Age: 18
  • Club: Toronto FC
  • Position: Defensive Midfield

If the end of the 2020 MLS season is anything to go by, Ralph Priso is destined for big things in 2021.

The 18-year-old was nowhere to be found for the majority of the previous Major League Soccer campaign. But after featuring in each of Toronto’s final five games, including the playoffs, Priso looks set to play a big role for TFC in the near future.

As a solid central midfielder, Priso is viewed by many as the ideal replacement for the aging Toronto FC captain, Michael Bradley. Indeed, with Bradley turning 34 this year, Priso is likely to find himself playing more regularly for the Reds.

After earning six caps for Canada U17, Priso was named to Les Rouges’ senior roster in January 2021. He is yet to make his debut for Herdman’s side, although I’m sure it won’t be too long before we see him pull on the famous red jersey.

Personally, I’m excited to watch Priso continue to establish himself as one of Canada’s top young soccer players in 2021.

Theo Bair

  • Age: 21
  • Club: Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Position: Forward

Since 2019, Theo Bair has been one of the Whitecaps’ standout performers.

He may only be 21, but he is already closing in on a half-century of appearances for Vancouver, contributing both goals and assists in the previous two MLS seasons.

Bair burst onto the scene midway through the 2019 campaign and ended up bagging two goals and two assists in the final nine games that year. He struggled to make the same impact in 2020, although 2021 is set to be a big year for the forward.

I mean, the youngster has scored goals at U20, U23, and senior-level for Canada, so he clearly knows where the back of the net is.

Bair’s stunning maiden MLS goal tells you everything you need to know about his undeniable quality.

Zorhan Bassong

  • Age: 21
  • Club: CF Montreal
  • Position: Left-Back

Having started his professional career in Europe, it feels like Zorhan Bassong is ready to make his mark on Canadian soccer in a big way.

The left-back learned his trade with Lille II in France before transferring to Belgian side Cercle Brugge in January 2019. But in December 2020, he joined CF Montreal on a two-year contract.

Along with Ballou Tabla, Montreal boasts a host of up-and-coming Canadian players right now. However, it could be argued that Bassong is in a stronger position than most to unlock his true potential and become a genuine star.

Not only will Bassong be looking to nail down Montreal’s left-back spot for the 2021 MLS season, but he will also be aiming to make that position his own for the Canada national team in the coming years.

If you’re interested in tracking the best young Candian soccer players, I recommend keeping a close eye on Bassong.

Zorhan Bassong of CF Montreal

Jayden Nelson

  • Age: 18
  • Club: Toronto FC
  • Position: Left Winger

Jayden Nelson may be fresh on the scene, yet when it comes to talking about the best young soccer players in Canada, you can’t leave the Toronto native out of the conversation.

During his debut season for his hometown club, Nelson only made eight appearances for TFC in 2020. Still, his eye-catching cameo performances will surely see him get a lot more game time throughout the 2021 MLS campaign.

Nelson’s displays for Toronto haven’t gone unnoticed by Herdman, with the Canada head coach using the winger in all of Les Rouges’ international matches in 2020. The 18-year-old repaid Herdman’s faith by scoring against Barbados, too.

There are plenty of exciting Canadian youngsters in Major League Soccer right now – and Jayden Nelson is definitely up there with the very best.

Final Words

Legends like Julian de Guzman, Atiba Hutchinson, and Dwayne Rosario have already written their names into the history books for the Canada national team.

But if modern-day stars such as Alphonso Davies and Johnathan David continue to develop their careers, the best young Canadian soccer players in 2021 could easily become the greatest soccer players that Canada has ever produced.

If you’re interested in learning about the best young players south of the border, make sure you check out the seven young USMNT stars destined to shine in 2021.

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