The new-era of football players are already making their names around the world. Trent Alexander Arnold is being dubbed as Liverpool FC's next captain at aged 21. It is sometimes easy to forget that World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe is only 21 years old. Erling Håland is creating havoc in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund, with 12 goals in 11 games. We have looked at 5 wonderkids you may or may not have heard about but are definitely worth keeping an eye out for!
Barcelona (Estimated Value - $46.5 million)
Ansu Fati broke into Barcelona’s first team this year and has already broken numerous records in his first 24 games. Before even making an appearance for the reserve team Ansu was named on the bench and came on as a late-substitute, making his the second-youngest player to ever play for Barcelona at 16 years and 298 days old. He scored his first professional goal at 16 years and 304 days and overtook Lionel Messi to become Barcelona’s youngest ever goalscorer. In his first professional start, he broke three records. Ansu became the youngest ever Barcelona player to start a game at the Camp Nou; within seven minutes of his full-debut he had become the youngest player to provide a goal and assist in the same game in the history of La Liga. His goal also made him the youngest goalscorer in the history of the Camp Nou. His record breaking began to venture into the UEFA Champions League, when he became the youngest player to play for Barça in the competition when he started against Borussia Dortmund. Ansu’s winning goal against Inter Milan in the group stages made him the youngest player to score in the competition. Ansu Fati is already being compared to football legend and his fellow teammate Lionel Messi and it is easy to see why because before Messi’s 18th birthday he had only score one goal whereas Ansu Fati already has five goals.
Real Madrid (Estimated Value - $96.8 million)
Real Madrid signed Rodrygo from Brazilian side Santos in the summer of 2018 for an estimated $49 million. Rodrygo made over 40 first-team appearances for Santos, scoring 9 goals. He made his debut for Madrid in September 2019 and scored his first goal for Los Blancos within a minute of being brought on as a substitute. Rodrygo scored a perfect hat-trick for Madrid in the Champions League against Galatasaray in their 6-0 win in the group stages. He was the second youngest player to ever score a hat-trick in the competition. However, due to Madrid boss Zidane preferring to start Vinicius Júnior over Rodrygo, it saw him being dropped to Real Madrid’s ‘B’ team, Castilla and since then he has made 3 appearances for them. His good start in Madrid did see him being called-up to represent Brazil in November 2019, in which he came on as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Argentina.
Manchester United (Estimated Value - $53.7 million)
Mason Greenwood has been in the Manchester United Youth system since he was six years old. He made his first-team debut as an 87th minute substitute against PSG in the Champions League when he was 17 years old and became United’s second youngest ever player to represent the club in the competition. Greenwood made his first senior start for the club on the last day of the 18/19 season in a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City. However, his real breakthrough came at the start of this season (19/20). Greenwood’s first senior goal came against Astana in the Europa League, making his United’s youngest ever goalscorer in a European Competition at 17 years and 353 days. He has made 40 appearances for the Red Devils and scoring 12 times over two seasons. Greenwood is a natural with the ball at both feet and takes penalties with his left-foot and free-kicks with his right! He has been described as the “real deal” by former Manchester United player’s Gary Neville and boss Ole Gunnar Solkjær.
AC Milan (Estimated Value - $28 million)
Rafael Leão is a Portuguese forward who currently plays for Italian side AC Milan. Leão is only 20 years old and has already made 65 first team appearances across four different teams. He joined Portuguese side Sporting’s youth side at age nine and played his first senior competitive game at 17 years old for Sporting B. Less than a year later he was promoted to Sporting’s first team. He only made a handful of starts for Sporting CP before singing for French side Lille on a free transfer. In one season, he scored 8 goals in 24 league starts. AC Milan then signed Leão in 2019 for an estimated $24 million in 2019 and since then he has made 22 appearances, scoring twice. Leão has been described as the Portuguese Mbappe and his coaches at Sporting CP suggested that he is better than Cristiano Ronaldo was at the same age.
Ajax (Estimated Value $15 million)
Ryan Gravenberch is a Dutch centre-midfielder who plays for Ajax. Gravenberch joined the Ajax youth academy when he was 8. He signed his first professional contract at the club when he was just 16 after being awarded the Abdelhak Nouri Trophy, which recognises the strongest talent in the Ajax academy. Gravenberch made his professional debut a few months later for Jong Ajax, who are Ajax’s reserve team. He made his debut for Ajax’s first team aged 16 years and 130 days, surpassing the previous record held by Clarence Seedorf, making him the youngest player to play for Ajax in the Eredivisie. Gravenberch has made 9 appearances this season for Ajax, scoring twice. He has already helped Ajax win the Eredivisie League Title and the KNVB Cup. Ryan Gravenberch is set to be the latest sensation to make their breakthrough in Amsterdam. Other notable players that have made their breakthrough at Ajax are Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Christian Eriksen, Matthijs de Ligt and Frankie de Jong.