Vinicius, Weah & Europe’s young stars to watch out for in 2018-19

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With the rest of the continent's 'Big Five' leagues set to get under way this weekend, Goal lists 15 players aged 21 or under to follow this season

  1. #1 Musa Barrow (Atalanta)

    In recent years, no club has proven itself more adept at producing and nurturing young talent than Atalanta, and the Bergamo-based outfit look to have unearthed another gem in Musa Barrow. 

    The Gambian striker only made his Serie A debut in January but impressed so much during the second half of the season – in which he scored three goals in 14 appearances – that Juventus began to monitor the 19-year-old closely.

    They may well come to regret not making a bid for Barrow, who looks poised to make an even bigger splash this season, having already kicked off his campaign by racking up four goals (including a hat-trick against FK Sarajevo) and two assists in three Europa League qualifiers.

  2. #2 Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg)

    Big things have been expected of Josip Brekalo ever since he joined Wolfsburg from Dinamo Zagreb as an 18-year-old in 2016 for €6 million.

    The Croatia Under-21 international has taken his time to settle in Germany, spending some time with the Wolves' second team before being sent out on loan to Stuttgart. 

    However, Brekalo is now back at the Volkswagen Arena and, with his natural pace (he used to be an 800-metre runner) and scintillating dribbling skills, looks poised to finally make his mark on the Wolfsburg first team.

  3. #3 Andrea Favilli (Genoa)

    Andrea Favilli made the most of the fact that Juventus had to do without a number of star players for their pre-season programme, scoring three times in just four outings for the Old Lady.

    Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri was hugely impressed by the performances of the 21-year-old striker, who bagged a brace against Bayern Munich, describing the former Ascoli attacker as "a young player of great potential". 

    However, he will spend the upcoming campaign at Genoa, who have paid Juve €5m to take Favilli on loan for the 2018-19 season, with the option to make the deal permanent next summer for an additional €7m.

    The Luigi Ferraris has proved an excellent place for young strikers to hone their skills in the past and it's now expected that Favilli will do likewise this term.

  4. #4 Phil Foden (Manchester City)

    On May 13, the then 17-year-old Phil Foden became the youngest ever recipient of a Premier League winners' medal, after making five appearances during Manchester City's title procession. 

    The classy and versatile midfielder is now set to play an even bigger role in his club's bid to hold on to their crown. As coach Pep Guardiola enthused, "He was ready [for the first team] last year but now he is one year more mature."

    His composed performance in the season-opening Community Shield win over Chelsea certainly belied his tender age, with Foden creating the game's opening goal, for Sergio Aguero. 

    The teenager may not have started against Arsenal last weekend but there is so much more to come from one of the most gifted players England has produced in years.

  5. #5 ​Willem Geubbels (Monaco)

    Rarely can such fuss have been made over a player to have featured so little at senior level.

    Willem Geubbels only saw 87 minutes of game time for Lyon last season but, in doing so, the 16-year-old forward became the first player born in the 21st century to appear in Ligue 1, and the Europa League.

    Monaco certainly liked what they saw, as this summer they paid €20 million (£18m/$23m) to beat some of Europe’s biggest clubs to the signature of the France Under-18 international.

    Geubbels may have been an unused substitute in last weekend's season-opening win at Nantes but Monaco are quietly confident that they have got another Kylian Mbappe on their hands.

  6. #6 Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)

    Having been plying his trade in Ligue 2 with Lorient, Matteo Guendouzi was the least known of Arsenal's summer signings. 

    However, the 19-year-old defensive midfielder, who represents France at Under-20 level, was the surprise star of the Gunners' pre-season campaign and is already beginning to look like a bargain buy at just £7 million.

    Indeed, the Paris Saint-Germain product was included in the starting line-up for the season-opening clash with Manchester City on Sunday and although his inexperience was exposed at times, Guendouzi still impressed with his energy and fearlessness in possession.

    Unai Emery claimed immediately after signing the French youngster that Guendouzi would "play a big part" in Arsenal's season and, on the evidence of what we've seen so far, there is no reason why he cannot. 

  7. #7 Gorka Guruzeta (Athletic)

    Gorka Guruzeta is 21 years of age and has yet to make his first-team debut for Athletic Club but this should be the season that the wondrous winger finally makes his breakthrough in Bilbao.

    The San Sebastian native is coming off the back of an excellent campaign with the Basque club's reserves, during which he showcased his fantastic footwork, delightful dribbling skills and keen eye for goal, as evidenced by the fact that he struck 16 times in 37 outings.

    His fine form attracted interest from England but Athletic have managed to hold on to Guruzeta, who is now being tipped to become the new darling of the San Mames.

  8. #8 Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

    Kai Havertz only turned 19 in June but he is already a Bayer Leverkusen regular, and has been for some time.

    Indeed, in April of this year he became the youngest player in history to rack up 50 Bundesliga appearances, while he is also his club's youngest ever debutant and goalscorer. 

    Given his technique, vision, versatility and height (1.88m), the Germany Under-19 attacking midfielder has been described as a cross between Mesut Ozil and Michael Ballack.

    It will, therefore, come as no surprise to learn that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is a huge admirer of a player destined to collect many more fans before the 2018-19 season is out.

  9. #9 Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

    New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has been at pains to point out that Callum Hudson-Odoi is not guaranteed first-team football this season but even the Italian couldn't help but get excited by the forward's potential on the back of his pre-season performances, admitting that the 17-year-old is going to become "very famous". 

    Hudson-Odoi certainly has the pace and trickery to excel at the highest level, as underlined by the fact that the Englishman is being tracked by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

    Luckily for Chelsea, the Under-17 World Cup winner has already admitted that he is savouring Sarri's brand of high-energy, high-pressing football and is edging ever closer to signing a lucrative five-year contract with the Londoners after being included in the starting line-up for the Community Shield match against Manchester City.

  10. #10 Arne Maier (Hertha Berlin)

    Arne Maier made his big Bundesliga breakthrough last season, racking up 17 appearances for Hertha Berlin, 14 of which were starts. 

    The defensive midfielder impressed all and sundry with his vision, excellent range of passing and coolness in possession. 

    The challenge now will be for the 19-year-old to build upon his impressive 2017-18 campaign but Hertha sporting director Michael Preetz is in no doubt that the best is yet to come from Maier.

    "He has mastered the leap from junior to senior level and has shown how much potential he has," he enthused. "We’re convinced that his great development up to now is far from over." 

  11. #11 Lautaro Martinez (Inter)

    With everyone at Inter getting very excited about Lautaro Martinez, it has been left to coach Luciano Spalletti to try to attempt to ease the growing sense of expectancy surrounding the club's latest Argentine arrival.

    The forward scored a spectacular volley in last week's International Champions Cup win over Atletico Madrid but his new boss pointed out afterwards that the €22.7m signing from Racing Club had been sloppy in possession and had not linked well with his team-mates.

    However, Spalletti is well aware that the 20-year-old is a special talent, one who has already struck up an excellent rapport with star striker and skipper Mauro Icardi. 

    Inter will manage Martinez carefully, and he is unlikely to be a regular starter in the opening months of the new Serie A season, but he undeniably has the ability to quickly become a fan favourite at San Siro.

  12. #12 ​Martin Terrier (Lyon)

    Perhaps no one has caught the eye in pre-season quite as much as Lyon attacker Martin Terrier, who spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan to Strasbourg from Lille.

    OL swooped to sign the 21-year-old from Lille in January, paying €11m for his services, but sent him straight back to Strasbourg to see out the remainder of the season at the Stade de la Meinau. 

    He impressed with Racing, scoring three goals in Ligue 1, and creating four more, but suffered from injuries in the second half of the season.

    However, Terrier has looked fit and sharp since belatedly arriving at Parc OL and should develop rapidly training and playing alongside the likes of Nabil Fekir, Mariano Diaz and Memphis Depay this term.

  13. #13 Ferran Torres (Valencia)

    A member of the Valencia youth sector since the age of six, Ferran Torres is now a regular starter for the senior squad, with coach Marcelino describing the elegant right winger’s emergence last season as “a blessing”.

    Los Che are well aware that they have a potential star on their hands, though, having handed him a new contract until 2021 in April and, even more crucially, increased the 18-year-old’s buy-out clause to €100m, after Real Madrid, Barcelona and a host of Premier League clubs began to circle. 

    Torres made 13 appearances in La Liga last season but should better that tally by some margin this term, with the two-footed teenager expected to prove why just so many people are comparing him to Marco Asensio.

  14. #14 Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

    After starring for Brazil at the Under-17 South American Championship, Vinicius Junior became the most expensive 16-year-old in football history when Real Madrid agreed to pay Flamengo €45m for the forward’s services last May.

    The teenager, who can play out wide or as a support striker, had only made his professional debut 10 days previously but the Blancos look to have pulled off a masterstroke in making such an early move for a ridiculously prodigious talent. 

    As coach Julen Lopetegui said, "He was a little shy at the start but he has come on in leaps and bounds."

    Indeed, while Cristiano Ronaldo's departure has cast a huge shadow over Real's pre-season, Vinicius has been their shining light, turning in a string of hugely encouraging displays that suggest both he and his new club have a very bright future ahead of them.

  15. #15 Timothy Weah (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Having a famous father can open doors but it can also be a tremendous burden to carry, particularly for a teenager trying to make a name for himself at one of the world's biggest clubs.

    However, Paris Saint-Germain ace Timothy Weah is making it all look ridiculously easy.

    The United States international, who is the son of Liberia's Ballon d'Or-winning legend George, has been in sensational form for the Ligue 1 champions this summer, impressing in the International Champions Cup before racking up his first senior goal in the Trophee des Champions route of Monaco and then getting off the mark in Ligue 1 last weekend, against Caen.

    A versatile forward blessed with blistering pace and a cool head in front of goal, Timothy Weah looks destined to become a star in his own right.