Young players are the lifeblood of football.
a youngster come through and develop in those formative years is one of
the best experiences a fan can have. And as luck would have it, right
now Europe is full of brilliant young players under the age of 23 that
are dominating divisions across the continent.
But who are the 10 best under 23 players in Europe right now? The cream of the crop? We’ve had a look and come up with a list.
10. Joe Gomez
Key Stat: Joe Gomez has kept more clean sheets this season (10) than he has lost Premier League games in his career (4).
Englishman began the season sat on the sidelines as Joel Matip looked
like first-choice. However, an injury to Matip let him back in and he
almost instantly returned Liverpool to their impervious best at the
Gomez has kept 10 clean sheets in his 14 league
appearances and was absent for the Reds’ 3-0 humiliation away to Watford
— in fact, Gomez hasn’t lost a game in over two years.
9. Gabriel Jesus
Club: Manchester City
No Man City player has scored more goals (5) or had more touches in the
box (39) in the Champions League than Gabriel Jesus this season.
Jesus is perpetually underrated and unappreciated. Sergio Aguero’s
gaudy goalscoring blinds everyone to the Brazilian’s brilliance, but he
still manages to make crucial contributions.
performance against Real Madrid, first playing as a defensive winger and
then a match-winning striker, was the kind of thing legends are built
8. Marcus Rashford
Club: Manchester United
Key Stat: Marcus Rashford has more goals (14) than any U-23 player in the Premier League this season.
United’s one-man attack for the vast majority of the season, Marcus
Rashford carried the Red Devils so much that it literally broke his
United’s early-season big-game prowess was built
almost entirely on Rashford’s quality in those matches (he scored or
assisted eight of the 11 goals United scored in those clashes).
7. Lautaro Martinez
Key Stat: Lautaro Martinez scored exactly 50% (5/10) of Inter’s Champions League goals in 2019/20.
tenacious Argentine has been in blistering form for Inter this season,
especially in Europe where he came perilously close to dragging the
Italian giants to the knockout rounds, only for their defence to
collapse underneath him.
His development has taken such a massive leap that Barcelona are reportedly ready to anoint him Luis Suárez’s heir.
6. Frenkie de Jong
Only Lionel Messi (165) has completed more dribbles for Barcelona than
Frenkie de Jong (55) in La Liga and the Champions League this season.
one of the best midfielders in Europe last season, De Jong took a huge
risk to leave his comfort zone in Ajax to join Barcelona.
not all gone to plan as he has looked less than spectacular as
Barcelona’s disjointed season has limped from game-to-game, but there
have been enough flashes of genius to remind us that he is an all-world
talent just in need of some stability.
5. Martin Odegaard
Club: Real Sociedad
Position: Attacking midfielder
Key Stat: Martin Odegaard has created more chances (54) than any other U-23 player in La Liga this season.
made a terrible move to join Real Madrid at 15 years old but having
“flopped” so early, he’s since gone on to build a very sensible career
that is heading into the upper atmosphere in San Sebastian.
Odegaard has been one of La Liga’s most electric playmakers this season and Los Blancos will be delighted he’s only out on loan.
4. Erling-Braut Haaland
Club: Borussia Dortmund (and RB Salzburg)
Key Stat: Erling Haaland is the first teenager to score 10 or more goals in a single Champions League campaign.
Haaland hit 2019/20 like a prime Mike Tyson right hook. The tall
Norwegian is an utterly devastating combination of size, speed and
supernatural finishing ability.
After tearing up the
Champions League group stages with RB Salzburg, he earned a move to
Borussia Dortmund and has been devastating the Bundesliga like some kind
of smiling juggernaut ever since.
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold
Key Stat: Trent Alexander-Arnold is the first-ever defender to notch 10+ assists in consecutive Premier League seasons.
rare to see a right-back be so dominant, let alone a 21-year-old
right-back be so dominant. Alexander-Arnold is genuinely one of the six
most important players in a Liverpool side that has run roughshod over
the Premier League.
Jamie Carragher called him “world-class” and, honestly, he’s not wrong. The best Englishman to cross a ball since David Beckham.
2. Jadon Sancho
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho has scored and assisted in the same match more times (9)
than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Sancho bet on himself back in 2017, and he’s cashing in his chips in
2019/20. The Englishman has been in utterly ridiculous form for Borussia
Dortmund, scoring plenty of goals while also being the Bundesliga’s
Sancho looks destined to become a
world-conquering wing wizard, the other question is who will win what is
sure to be a colossal auction for him when this season ends?
1. Kylian Mbappé
Kylian Mbappé has been directly involved in more Ligue 1 goals (84 – 64
goals, 20 assists) than he has played Ligue 1 games (76).
Mbappé has been so good for so long that it’s almost mundane now. The
Frenchman is only 21 yet he’s already won Ligue 1 for two different
sides, won a World Cup where he scored in the final, and reached such an
incredibly consistent level that you can almost guarantee that he’ll
score or assist if he plays.
That is frankly ludicrous for a player who wasn’t even born when France won their first World Cup in 1998.