The next generation of football superstars are always an exciting discovery. Who will follow the footsteps of the so-called ‘God’s of the Game’ Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?
Well, every season a star-studded group of wonderkids turn up to receive worldwide recognition as the best under-21 players in the ‘top five European leagues’, so let’s check them out.
The 2017/18 season has recently ended and the World Cup is soon to begin. The following five prospect players are therefore ones to watch at the World Cup and beyond.
England: Gabriel Jesus, 21 years old
Comparison to: Real Madrid and Brazil legend Ronaldo
The Manchester City striker scored 13 goals in 29 games in the Premier League last season, to be the top scoring U-21 goalscorer in England. In fact, the Brazilian scored the last goal in the triumphant campaign for City to secure a record 100 points and crowned Champions of England for the fifth time. Jesus is likely to become Brazil’s youngest striker to start a World Cup match in 60 years. The former Palmeiras forward was deservedly picked to represent his country in Russia, as the top scorer in their qualifying campaign.
Italy: Patrick Cutrone, 20 years old
Comparison to: AC Milan and Italy legend Filippo Inzaghi
AC Milan target man Patrick Cutrone scored 10 goals in 28 games in Serie A last season, to be the top scoring U-21 goalscorer in Italy. Unfortunately, Italy rather surprisingly failed to qualify for the World Cup this year (first time since 1958), so we will not see more of the Italian dominate defences this summer, who would have surely been on the plane to Russia. However, Cutrone is thought of highly in his home country, and after a successful season, securing his position as first-choice striker for one of the biggest clubs in Italian football, just remember the kids name!
Germany: Leon Bailey, 20 years old
Comparison to: Bayern Munich and Netherlands veteran Arjen Robben
The Bayer Leverkusen winger scored 9 goals in 30 games in the Bundesliga last season, to be the top scoring U-21 goalscorer in Germany. The Jamaican speedster is a creative force, not only did he score goals but Bailey also supplied six assists for his team-mates, helping guide Leverkusen to a respectable 5th place finish in the top tier of German football. Bailey is yet to decide his international allegiance with Belgium, Germany and even England strong possibilities, whoever he chooses to line up for, they are sure to be a stronger team with his presence.
20-year-old Leon Bailey simply can't stop producing quality and he was at it again today ? pic.twitter.com/4BuNEFvuet
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 28, 2018
France: Kylian Mbappe, 19 years old
Comparison to: Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry
Paris Saint Germain attacker Kylian Mbappe scored 13 goals in 27 games in Ligue 1 last season, to be the top scoring U-21 goalscorer in France. The French forward is another double threat, not only did he score goals but Mbappe also supplied eight assists for his team-mates, ensuring PSG lifted the coveted league trophy for the seventh time. The youngest player in this article, Mbappe is described as a huge football talent with widespread comparisons to French legend Thierry Henry, just wait and see what the teenage phenom can do at the World Cup!
Spain: Maxi Gomez, 21 years old
Comparison to: Barcelona and Uruguay veteran Luis Suarez
Celta Vigo powerhouse Maxi Gomez scored 17 goals in 36 games in La Liga last season, to be the top scoring U-21 goalscorer in Spain and the top five European Leagues. The ‘new Luis Suarez’ was unstoppable for his club, the 21-year-old bagged three braces against Levante, Espanyol and Real Sociedad with other successful strikes against Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. You will be able to see more of ‘the Bull’ too at the World Cup for Uruguay, training and potentially playing with his world class compared compatriot Luis Suarez.
As we enter the summer transfer window, do not be surprised to see these names branded about with a whole host of football clubs reportedly interested worldwide. For club, they have set their respective leagues alight this past season so look out for some of these rising stars for country at the World Cup too, as they look to announce themselves on the global stage. Just remember you read it here first!