EUROPE’S MOST EXCITING TEENAGERS

Recently, I have found myself playing lots of FIFA and on my managerial career mode I decided to create a team that was full of youngsters. After researching the best young talents in Europe, I decided that this would make an interesting post. So, this week I have analyzed the five most exciting teenagers in European Soccer.

MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax (19)

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First in the list is 19 year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt. De Ligt is a permanent fixture in Ajax’s starting line-up and has become a regular member of the Dutch national team. The young centre-back has already achieved so much in his short career and has been tipped to reach the very top of soccer. At the age of 19, de Light was made captain for Ajax an honour that is usually reserved for more experienced players.

A product of the legendary Ajax Youth Academy, de Light has cemented himself as a fan’s favorite. De Ligt is fantastic on the ball and has an understanding of defending that defies his age. The teenager was awarded the 2018 Golden Boy Award, given to the most promising player in Europe under the age of 21, and his talents have attracted the interests of Europe’s major clubs.

The young centre-back’s defensive numbers have been great this season as he averages 1.3 tackles per game, 1.3 interceptions per game and a staggering 3.8 clearances per game. When you couple his defensive work with his passing accuracy, which is at 90.1%, you can see why people label him as a complete defender.

The defender is a supreme talent and is the kind of person that you would want to build your team around. Being awarded the captaincy at such a young age is almost unheard of, but Ajax’s hierarchy believes in de Ligt. The young centre-back is entrusted with the responsibility of representing Ajax, who is one of soccer’s most historic and revered clubs, and that speaks volumes about his character. His playing style is widely talked about, but more attention needs to be given to his mentality and maturity. De Ligt’s game and mind-set makes a mockery of his age.

JADON SANCHO: BORUSSIA DORTMUND (19)

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Jadon Sancho is the brightest English prospect of the last 20 years. The English media have a habit of overhyping young English prospect, but Sancho is worthy of all the plaudits he has received. The fast and tricky winger has been excellent in the Bundesliga this season.

This past summer, Borussia Dortmund signed Sancho from Manchester City in an $11 million dollar deal; which now seems like an absolute bargain. Sancho’s talent was no secret in England, but nobody could have predicted that Sancho would go on to have the season that he has had. The winger has been incredible this season and now reports have emerged that Manchester United are plotting a $160 million dollar move for the attacker.

The English talent has been very productive this season and his attacking numbers are exceptional. Currently, Sancho has scored 9 goals for Borussia Dortmund and has 13 assists to his name. This is an incredible return for someone playing professional soccer for the first time. Also, Sancho’s offensive averages make for excellent reading as he averages 3.2 dribbles per game, 1.2 shots per game and 1.8 key passes per game. When you view the totality of Sancho’s numbers, you can see why he is regarded as one of Europe’s brightest prospects.

VINiCIUS JuNIOR: REAL MADRID (18)

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In the summer of 2017, Real Madrid purchased Vinicius from Brazilian side Flamengo in a $51 million dollar deal. Many ridiculed Real Madrid for paying such a hefty fee for a little-known player. However, a few of us saw this as a shrewd move by the Los Blancos as Vinicius has the ability to become one of the best players in the world.

Vinicius has all the attacking flair that you come to expect from a Brazilian and is one of the most exciting dribblers that I have watched this season. As Vinicius gains more experience, you can expect to see his game improve but he has already made key contributions this season.

Vinicius has scored 4 goals for Real Madrid and has 2 assists to his name; which is a decent return for an 18-year-old. The Brazilian’s attacking numbers have also been excellent as he averages 2.1 dribbles per game, 1 key pass per game and 2.3 shots per game. Though the youngster has much that he can improve on, like his 80% pass accuracy, his offensive output means that he is one of the most productive teenagers in European soccer.

JOaO FeLIX: S.L. BENFICA (19)

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Felix is the most exciting Portuguese prospect since Ronaldo and the youngster can play in a variety of attacking positions. Felix is a mazy dribbler, instinctive finisher and precise passer. Due to these attributes, Felix has been compared to a young Lionel Messi. Felix has made an incredible impact at Benfica and is being touted as the next teenager to make a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs. According to reports, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United are all interested in signing the young talent.

In 18 league matches, Felix has contributed with 10 goals and 4 assists meaning that he is one of the most productive teenagers in European soccer. Felix’s attacking output is phenomenal for a player so young as he averages 2.2 shots per game, 1.1 dribbles per game and 1.1 key passes per game. As these averages indicate, Felix is contributing greatly to Benfica’s offensive capabilities and he has become an integral part of the side.

Felix almost gave up soccer as he was released by his first club, FC Porto, for being too small. However, his father persuaded him to continue playing and it will not be long before we see Felix at one of Europe’s elite.

KAI HAVERTZ: BAYER LEVERKUSEN (19)

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Kai Havertz is a midfielder who plays for Bayer Leverkusen and the German national team. Havertz is best utilized as an attacking midfielder and he has become a must watch in the Bundesliga. The starlet became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 league caps and Bayern Munich have already made enquiries into signing the midfielder.

Havertz’s attacking numbers are incredible as he has scored 13 goals for Bayer Leverkusen this season and has 6 assists to his name. The starlet also averages 2.5 shots per game, 1.1 key passes per game and 1.4 dribbles per game. These fantastic numbers show how Havertz is one of the most exciting midfield prospects in European soccer.

An aspect of Havertz’s game that is often overlooked is his playmaking abilities. Do you remember the way in which Andrea Pirlo would dictate the tempo of the game? Well, Havertz can play in a similar role. This is because he is extremely efficient with the ball as his pass accuracy of 86% indicates. Havertz’s ability to play in a variety of positions, throughout the midfield, is due to his mastery over the fundamentals of soccer. His positional flexibility shows how much of a talent he is.

Kai Havertz has been earmarked as a player that is going to have a long and illustrious career in European soccer. I have seen a lot of him this season and I must say, he has been one of my favourite players to watch. He is so elegant on the ball and the way that he carries himself like a veteran is so impressive. I cannot wait to see how he develops.

So, there you have it folks, the 5 youngsters in European soccer that have excited me the most. Have I missed anyone out? Get in touch and let me know who you’d have in your top 5!

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