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NxGn 2020: The 50 best wonderkids in football

11:00 BST 31/03/2020
NxGn 2020 HP Rodrygo Fati Martinelli
Goal counts down the top 50 talents born on or after January 1, 2001 from all across the world
  • Pablo Moreno NxGn 2020

    #50 Pablo Moreno | Juventus

    Juventus shirts are now being spotted on the streets of Granada, and not because of Cristiano Ronaldo

    Local hero Pablo Moreno has yet to debut for the Bianconeri but the prolific forward, who is capable of playing in pretty much every conceivable attacking role, is expected to achieve great things in Turin.

    The 17-year-old, who scored more than 200 goals at under-age level for Barcelona, has already featured for Juve's Under-23s and was on the bench for a Coppa Italia game last year.

  • Luqman Hakim NxGn 2020

    #49 Luqman Hakim | Selangor

    A pocket-rocket of a forward with quick feet, Luqman Hakim has already turned out for Malaysia's Under-23s even though he only turned 18 earlier in March. 

    The forward was expected to join Vincent Tan-owned Belgian outfit K.V. Kortrijk, but the Covid-19 crisis put his move on hold for the time being, with the youngster joining Selangor instead for now. 

  • Luca Unbehaun NxGn 2020

    #48 Luca Unbehaun | Borussia Dortmund

    Having come through the youth team ranks at Bochum, Luca Unbehaun was snapped up by Borussia Dortmund in 2016 when he was still only 15 years of age. 

    The Germany Under-18 international has yet to make his first appearance at senior level at Signal Iduna Park but he has established himself as a regular for BVB's UEFA Youth League team and it should only be a matter of time before one of the country's most promising goalkeepers is given a chance by Lucien Favre.

  • Naci Unuvar NxGn 2020

    #47 Naci Unuvar | Ajax

    Naci Unuvar certainly does not lack belief. Even though Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was on spot-kick duty in Ajax's KNVB Beker clash with Spakenburg in January, the 16-year-old asked the veteran forward if he could take a late penalty.

    Unuvar converted with aplomb and, thus, became the youngest goalscorer in the Amsterdam outfit's history, taking the record away from Clarence Seedorf.

    Ajax's only problem now will be holding on to the Netherlands Under-18 international, who has already been scouted by the likes of Barcelona.

  • Daniel Maldini NxGn 2020

    #46 Daniel Maldini | AC Milan

    Daniel Maldini's father and grandfather may have starred as defenders for AC Milan, but the latest member of the family to represent the Rossoneri is a very different player.

    The 18-year-old, who made his senior debut in a Serie A draw with Verona at San Siro in February, may have started out at the back but he is now a multi-talented attacker. As his proud father Paolo told DAZN last year: "He is a playmaker, a goalscorer and a No.10. He is a poet with the ball."

  • Xavi Simons NxGn 2020

    #45 Xavi Simons | Paris Saint-Germain

    The loss of Xavi Simons to Paris Saint-Germain last summer came as a bitter blow to Barcelona, with the Dutch prodigy named after a Blaugrana legend.

    The 16-year-old midfielder, who can fulfil a variety of roles on account of his wide range of skills, had been at La Masia since 2010, captaining the Catalan club at various age grades, but even the dream of one day playing alongside Lionel Messi was not enough to dissuade Simons from turning down PSG, who put the new arrival straight into their Under-19 squad.

  • Youssoufa Moukoko NxGn 2020

    #44 Youssoufa Moukoko | Borussia Dortmund

    The youngest player ever to both appear and score in the UEFA Youth League, Youssoufa Moukoko only turned 15 in November, making the Cameroon-born Germany Under-16 international arguably the most exciting prospect in the game today.

    The striker will not be allowed to make his Bundesliga debut until the start of the 2021-22 season due to age restriction rules but, given just how many records he is presently breaking, the 'new Samuel Eto'o' should prove worth the wait.

  • Efrain Alvarez NxGn 2020

    #43 Efrain Alvarez | LA Galaxy

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic usually only reserves post-match praise for himself, so it was significant that the outspoken Swede hailed LA Galaxy prospect Efrain Alvarez as a "natural" talent after a win over Toronto last July.

    Ibrahimovic's seal of approval only ramped up the hype surrounding the 17-year-old attacking midfielder, who is at the centre of an international tug-of-war between the United States and Mexico.

    The LA native is presently lining out for El Tri at under-age level but the competition is only set to intensify for a fantastically creative player with a wand-like left foot.

  • Alessio Riccardi NxGn 2020

    #42 Alessio Riccardi | Roma

    Alessio Riccardi has yet to appear in Serie A for Roma, despite regularly featuring on the bench and making his professional debut in the Coppa Italia last year, but the Giallorossi moved quickly to secure the services of the Primavera star until 2023.

    The teenager, who turns 19 in April, had been attracting admiring glances from Juventus, among others. It is easy to understand why, given Riccardi is an elegant and versatile central midfielder with a keen eye for goal, as underlined by his impressive strike rate for Italy's Under-19s.

  • Bryan Gil NxGn 2020

    #41 Bryan Gil | Sevilla (on loan at Leganes)

    Less than 12 months after signing a four-year contract with Sevilla, Bryan Gil penned a new deal in December, this time until 2023. The Andalusians' desire to tie down the winger was understandable.

    After all, in April, 19-year-old Gil had become the first player born in the 21st century to score in La Liga before helping Spain win the European Under-19 Championship.

    Now on loan at Leganes, it should not be too long before Gil is back at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan starring for a team famous for nurturing gifted wide players.

  • Troy Parrott NxGn 2020

    #40 Troy Parrott | Tottenham

    Ireland have been crying out for an exciting young forward since Robbie Keane retired, and now it seems that one may have arrived at one of their record scorer's former clubs.

    Eighteen-year-old Troy Parrott, who has already made his international debut, was handed his first Tottenham appearance by Jose Mourinho earlier this season before recently committing his future to the north London club until 2023.

    A classic 'street footballer' with excellent technique and keen instincts, Parrott has been tipped to "play lots more matches for Ireland and Spurs" by former club-mate Christian Eriksen.

  • Konrad de la Fuente NxGn 2020

    #39 Konrad de la Fuente | Barcelona

    There is mounting fear at Barcelona that Konrad de la Fuente could become the latest talented and ambitious youngster to leave the club in search of game time elsewhere.

    The son of Haitian parents who left Miami for Catalunya in 2012, De la Fuente has spent the past eight years at La Masia, impressing all and sundry with his pace and dribbling skills.

    However, having been fast-tracked into the United States Under-20 team, the 18-year-old is now being linked with a summer move away from Barca.

  • Isaac Lihadji NxGn 2020

    #38 Isaac Lihadji | Marseille

    Had it not been for a fractured shin suffered during a trial with Barcelona in November 2013, Isaac Lihadji would probably be at La Masia right now.

    As it is, the left winger, who starred for France during last year's third-placed finish at the Under-17 World Cup, is at Marseille, though probably not for much longer.

    Although Lihadji made his professional debut for Andre Villas-Boas’ side at the start of the season, the 17-year-old has been frozen out of the first team due to his refusal to extend a contract that expires this summer.

  • Ander Barrenetxea NxGn 2020

    #37 Ander Barrenetxea | Real Sociedad

    The first Real Sociedad academy player to skip the B team and go straight into the senior side since Antoine Griezmann, Ander Barrenetxea went viral after being photographed leaving the Anoeta stadium on a bicycle after stealing the show in what was just his sixth senior appearance, against Getafe last year.

    The diminutive winger, who won the European Under-19 Championship with Spain last summer, has since been handed a new contract by the Basques which features a €60m buyout clause - unsurprising for a talent who netted his first professional goal against Real Madrid.

  • Marcos Paulo NxGn 2020

    #36 Marcos Paulo | Fluminense

    Last summer, Barcelona's Jose Mari Bakero flew to Brazil to try to wrap up a deal for Fluminense striker Marcos Paulo, but the Rio club rejected the Blaugrana's €5m offer.

    The 19-year-old's value has only increased in the interim, after four goals during the second half of the Serie A season helped his club beat the drop.

    Consequently, it now seems like only a matter of time before Barca and other members of Europe's elite return with bigger bids for the Portugal Under-19 international.

  • Lucien Agoume NxGn 2020

    #35 Lucien Agoume | Inter

    Omar Daf knew it would not be long before Lucien Agoume left Sochaux. "He's a kid who progresses from match to match," the coach said last season.

    So, while it was disappointing for the French club to lose Agoume to Inter during the summer, it certainly was not a surprise, particularly after the Paul Pogba-like midfielder had led France to the semi-finals of the 2019 European Under-17 Championship last May.

    Agoume then captained his country to a third-placed finish at the Under-17 World Cup later in the year before returning to Milan to make his debut for Inter in December.

  • Gabriel Veron NxGn 2020

    #34 Gabriel Veron | Palmeiras

    Like many other Brazilians, Selecao legend Bebeto knew very little about Gabriel Veron before watching "the No.7 producing beautiful plays" during the country's stirring Under-17 World Cup win at the tail end of 2019. 

    The winger waltzed away with the Golden Ball, after contributing three goals and two assists to the hosts' triumph, before then going on to net twice in just his second appearance for Palmeiras.

    It is, thus, already clear that the boy named after Juan Sebastian Veron has every chance of having just as successful a career at the highest level.

  • Billy Gilmour NxGn 2020

    #33 Billy Gilmour | Chelsea

    Billy Gilmour knew from an early age that he was never going to be the biggest midfielder on the pitch, so the 5'6'' Scot spent his formative years studying the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Luka Modric and Cesc Fabregas. 

    The 18-year-old's dedication to his craft is certainly paying off, with Gilmour having made his Chelsea debut last August after manager Frank Lampard had blocked a loan move because he rates the Rangers academy product so highly.

  • Ki-Jana Hoever NxGn 2020

    #32 Ki-Jana Hoever | Liverpool

    It did not take long for Ki-Jana Hoever to win over Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, with the Dutch defender holding his own against Mohamed Salah in his very first training session with the senior squad, in December 2018.

    The versatile right-back, 18, who won the European Under-17 Championship with Netherlands last summer, has since committed his long-term future to the Reds, much to the delight of his manager. "It’s just crazy," Klopp said in August. "He’s a fantastic footballer and I’m really happy that we have him for longer."

  • Benoit Badiashile NxGn 2020

    #31 Benoit Badiashile | Monaco

    Benoit Badiashile is the first to admit that he makes a lot of mistakes. But as the Monaco defender also regularly points out he has only just turned 19 and has come a long way since making his senior bow in November 2018.

    The France Under-19 international, who was linked with Valencia in January, models his game on Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti and there are certainly similarities between the two, given Badiashile is an imposing, left-footed centre-back with an impressive passing range.

  • Antonio Marin NxGn 2020

    #30 Antonio Marin | Dinamo Zagreb

    Antonio Marin signed his first professional contract with Dinamo Zagreb in September 2017, despite reported interest from AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus and is one of the most exciting youngsters to come out of the Croatian club's academy in years.

    The 19-year-old Croatia Under-21 international has climbed 13 places in this year's NxGn, having further enhanced his reputation over the past 12 months by showcasing his versatility, dribbling skills and pin-point deliveries in Dinamo's first team.  

  • Tomas Tavares  NxGn 2020

    #29 Tomas Tavares | Benfica

    A Benfica player since the age of nine, Tomas Tavares progressed rapidly through the Portuguese club's youth teams before being handed his senior debut in their Champions League clash with RB Leipzig last September. 

    The 19-year-old, who is just as comfortable at left-back as he is on his preferred right-hand side, went on to start five of the Eagles' six group games and it is thought to be only a matter of time before he breaks into the Portugal squad, having already represented his country at Under-21 level.

  • Yari Verschaeren  NxGn 2020

    #28 Yari Verschaeren | Anderlecht

    Yari Verschaeren is making his second consecutive appearance in the NxGn and his 20-place rise perfectly underlines his rapid growth over the past 12 months. 

    Although his 2019-20 campaign has been interrupted by injury, the 18-year-old attacking midfielder, who can play on either flank, has become a first-team regular at Lotto Park, while he also broken into the Belgium squad, netting his first goal in just his second appearance for Roberto Martinez's side.

  • Curtis Jones NxGn 2020

    #27 Curtis Jones | Liverpool

    There were never any doubts about Curtis Jones' ability at Liverpool. The only concerns were over whether the midfielder, whom Jurgen Klopp describes as an "unbelievable player", had the requisite patience to wait for his time to shine. 

    The 19-year-old has improved immeasurably in that regard over the past year and is now reaping the rewards. This season alone, he has captained his boyhood club, and scored the decisive spot-kick in a Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal, as well as the winner in a Merseyside derby.

  • Lassina Traore NxGn 2020

    #26 Lassina Traore | Ajax

    Having spent two years with Ajax Cape Town, Lassina Traore admitted he felt right at home when he joined Ajax in January of last year. 

    Hardly surprising, then, that the powerful forward – who made his Burkina Faso debut in May 2017 at just 16 years of age – has looked so comfortable every time he has taken to the field in Amsterdam, with Traore marking his first start for the club, against ADO Den Haag in December, with a well-taken goal.

  • Joao Pedro NxGn 2020

    #25 Joao Pedro | Watford

    Watford moved quickly to beat a host of clubs to the signing of Joao Pedro, snapping up the Fluminense forward in October 2018 - before he had even made his professional debut. 

    The 18-year-old Brazilian striking sensation eventually moved to England in January of this year, having been belatedly granted a work permit, and made his Hornets debut in the FA Cup just a few days later.

    The expectation now is that Pedro, who started out as a winger, will prove just as big a hit at Vicarage Road as compatriot Richarlison before him.

  • Karim Adeyemi NxGn 2020

    #24 Karim Adeyemi | Red Bull Salzburg

    Ognen Zaric worked with Karim Adeyemi in Unterhaching's Under-17s side and has never been in any doubt that the striker is destined to achieve great things. "He was born for the top," the coach told Goal last November. "With him, I see no limit."

    Zaric's faith in Adeyemi is understandable, given the 18-year-old Munich native spent the first half of this season scoring freely during a loan spell at FC Liefering before being recalled by parent club Red Bull Salzburg, who beat Chelsea and Liverpool to his signature in 2018.

  • Giovanni Reyna NxGn 2020

    #23 Giovanni Reyna | Borussia Dortmund

    As a young American making a name for himself at Borussia Dortmund, Giovanni Reyna is unsurprisingly being compared with Christian Pulisic.

    Interestingly, former BVB assistant coach Jorg Heinrich believes that the 17-year-old could be even more talented than the Chelsea winger, while Patrick Vieira sees elements of David Trezeguet's game in the youngest-ever goalscorer in the DFB-Pokal.

  • Joshua Zirkzee NxGn 2020

    #22 Joshua Zirkzee | Bayern Munich

    Joshua Zirkzee could not have announced himself to Bayern Munich fans as a potential superstar in quicker or more sensational fashion, with the forward netting decisive goals in a combined total of eight minutes across his first two Bundesliga appearances.

    Described by Sebastien Hoeness as "a special kind of striker that can't be found in the modern game", the Under-19 Netherlands international is a tall, graceful, two-footed attacker blessed with the kind of pace and agility that makes him a nightmare for defenders in one-on-ones.

  • Fabio Silva NxGn 2020

    #21 Fabio Silva | Porto

    Porto lost Fabio Silva to Benfica for a couple of years but managed to persuade the striker to return in 2017 and are now reaping the rewards, with the 17-year-old having since become the club's youngest ever player and goalscorer.

    Silva has also signed a contract with the Dragons until 2025 that features a €125m (£105m/$139m) buyout clause, and it is not difficult to see someone activating it one day, given this is a player that Sporting C.P. legend Manuel Fernandes believes is similar to Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age.

  • Myron Boadu NxGn 2020

    #20 Myron Boadu | AZ

    Myron Boadu had offers from Ajax and Arsenal when he was younger, but he instead opted to join AZ and it has proved a shrewd move, with the 19-year-old striker now banging in the goals at the AFAS Stadion.

    Boadu has already broken into the senior Netherlands squad, becoming the first player born in the 21st century to both represent and score for the Oranje, not that Under-21 coach Erwin van de Looi is surprised: “He is so cool in front of goal and so dangerous from deep. He has that ability to just score. That is really a talent.”

  • Thiago Almada NxGn 2020

    #19 Thiago Almada | Velez Sarsfield

    Ex-Velez Sarsfield boss Gabriel Heinze freely admitted last August that he was reluctant to lean so heavily on Thiago Almada because the attacking midfielder was only 18, but then he asked himself: "How can I not play him if he is so good?"

    Indeed, the kid from the same town as Carlos Tevez, Fuerte Apache, plays with the same drive and tenacity as the former Manchester City forward and, interestingly, the Argentina Under-20 international is now being linked with a summer switch to the Etihad Stadium.

  • Pedri NxGn 2020

    #18 Pedri | Las Palmas

    Pedri had played just three games at senior level when Barcelona agreed a €5m (£4.3m/$5.5m) deal with Las Palmas last September that could rise to €15m (£12.8m/$16.6m) should the attacking midfielder meet certain clauses after he belatedly arrives in Catalunya this summer.

    Las Palmas boss Pepe Mel is in no doubt that the 17-year-old is set for a long and successful career at Camp Nou: "Pedri is very similar to (Andres) Iniesta. He will fit perfectly at Barcelona. He stands out more when quality football players are around him."

  • Harvey Elliott NxGn 2020

    #17 Harvey Elliott | Liverpool

    After becoming the youngest player ever to feature in the Premier League last May, Harvey Elliott, who turns 17 in April, has continued to break records since leaving Fulham for Liverpool last summer.

    The Reds may boast one of the strongest squads in world football but the gifted winger has already featured for Jurgen Klopp's first team, with the German labelling Elliott "a special player" blessed with excellent technique, intelligent movement and a strong work ethic.

  • Adil Aouchiche NxGn 2020

    #16 Adil Aouchiche | Paris Saint-Germain

    It is not easy for academy players to graduate to the star-packed Paris Saint-Germain first team but, at just 17 years of age, Adil Aouchiche has already debuted and scored for the Ligue 1 champions this season.

    Of course, it is no surprise that Aouchiche is already off the mark at senior level, as this is a midfielder with a keen eye for goal, as he demonstrated by netting a remarkable nine times in just four outings at last summer's European Under-17 Championship in Ireland.

  • Bukayo Saka NxGn 2020

    #15 Bukayo Saka | Arsenal

    Managers may have come and gone during a season of uncertainty at Arsenal, but there is one thing that nobody is in any doubt about: Bukayo Saka is one of the most promising players to have emerged at the Emirates in years.

    Indeed, the only doubt surrounding the 18-year-old Londoner is over his best position, with the winger, who netted his first senior goal in the Europa League win over Eintracht Frankfurt in September, having excelled after being asked to fill in at left-back following injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.

  • Rayan Cherki NxGn 2020

    #14 Rayan Cherki | Lyon

    Kylian Mbappe knows more than most about prodigious talent, so it is telling that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar is a massive fan of Rayan Cherki, the latest gem unearthed by Lyon.

    The 16-year-old attacker is being touted as an exciting mix of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa and is already making history at the Groupama Stadium, having become his hometown club's youngest ever scorer by netting against Bourg in the Coupe de France on January 4.

  • Eric Garcia NxGn 2020

    #13 Eric Garcia | Manchester City

    Manchester City struggled badly without the injured Aymeric Laporte during the first half of the season but, as manager Pep Guardiola acknowledged, things would have gone a lot worse without Eric Garcia. 

    The Spaniard may have only just turned 19, but the Etihad outfit are ready to hand a new, improved contract to a centre-half that Guardiola has compared to Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets because of his desire to better understand the game and his role within it.

  • William Saliba NxGn 2020

    #12 William Saliba | Arsenal (on loan at Saint-Etienne)

    Arsenal may have agreed to loan William Saliba back to Saint-Etienne for the current campaign, but Claude Puel was understandably furious that the club decided to sell their "best player" in the first place.

    Indeed, former Gunners defender Mathieu Debuchy is among those who thinks that the France Under-20 centre-half will prove a bargain buy at £27 million ($34m), given the teenager's pace, power and technique.

  • Sebastiano Esposito NxGn 2020

    #11 Sebastiano Esposito | Inter

    It has been a remarkable 12 months for Sebastiano Esposito, who became the youngest player ever to line out for Inter in European competition last March, at 16 years and 255 days, before then firing Italy to the final of the European Under-17 Championship in May.

    The Nerazzurri rewarded the academy product with a three-year contract during the summer, and he netted the first of what should be numerous goals for the club in a 4-0 win over Genoa in December. 

    "He's bright," coach Antonio Conte said. "He has a great future ahead of him."

  • Ryan Gravenberch NxGn 2020 GFX

    #10 Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax

    Ajax have done it again. Less than a year after selling Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, the game's greatest talent factory has rolled out yet another fine footballer.

    Having already usurped Clarence Seedorf as the youngest player ever to represent Ajax in the Eredivisie in September 2018, Ryan Gravenberch is now lining out regularly for the senior team at just 17.

    Ronald de Boer even thinks that the midfielder, who has been compared to Paul Pogba, is a more promising prospect than De Ligt. 

    "Matthijs might have been exceptional at that age," the ex-Netherlands international told Fox Sports, "but Gravenberch has unrivalled qualities."

  • Takefusa Kubo NxGn 2020 GFX

    #9 Takefusa Kubo | Real Madrid (on loan at Mallorca)

    When former Barcelona academy star Takefusa Kubo finally made his first appearance at Camp Nou, he did so as a Real Madrid-owned Mallorca player. 

    Consequently, the Japan international was met by jeers rather than cheers, not that he minded.

    "They have to see me as a rival," the attacker mused, "not as an 18-year-old boy who plays football pretty well."

    That is something of an understatement, as Barcelona are still smarting from the loss of the 'Japanese Messi', who netted his first Liga goal in a 3-1 win over Villarreal in November.

  • Mohamed Ihattaren NxGn 2020 GFX

    #8 Mohamed Ihattaren | PSV

    Netherlands pulled out all the stops to persuade Mohamed Ihattaren to ignore a senior international call-up from Morocco, his parents' homeland, and pledge his future to Oranje.

    The attacking midfielder, who turned 18 in February, only made his professional debut in January 2019 but has already established himself as one of PSV's most important players.

    Ihattaren recently told Goal: "I must admit that I don’t really like talking about myself, but I do think I’ve got something special."

    Everyone connected with Dutch football would wholeheartedly agree.

  • Lee Kang-in NxGn 2020

    #7 Lee Kang-in | Valencia

    South Korean football fans have known for some time that Lee Kang-in is a rare talent, having first seen the winger showcase his skills on a reality TV show at the age of six.

    Now, though, supporters across the globe are familiar with the Valencia academy product, who claimed the Golden Ball award at last year's Under-20 World Cup after inspiring his country to a runners-up finish with two goals and four assists.

    Lee has since gone on to make his senior debut for the Taegeuk Warriors, and become the youngest Korean ever to appear in the Champions League.

  • Gabriel Martinelli NxGn 2020 GFX

    #6 Gabriel Martinelli | Arsenal

    Jurgen Klopp was reluctant to be overly critical of centre-halves Joe Gomez and Sepp van den Berg after Liverpool's 5-5 draw with Arsenal in October: "[Gabriel Martinelli] is a talent of the century!"

    As well as being a composed finisher, the 18-year-old Brazilian is also an industrious striker, with Arsenal coach Freddie Ljungberg enthusing that Martinelli is "like a Duracell bunny" that never gives defenders a moment's peace.

    Ronaldinho, meanwhile, has compared his compatriot to Ronaldo and the first teenager to hit double figures for Arsenal since Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99 certainly seems destined for superstardom.

  • Eduardo Camavinga NxGn 2020 GFX

    #5 Eduardo Camavinga | Rennes

    Sylvain Wiltord, Yann M'Vila, Ousmane Dembele – Rennes have nurtured some fine young footballers down through the years, but Eduardo Camavinga could prove the best of the lot.

    The Angola-born France Under-21 international only turned 17 in November but is already a first-team regular at Roazhon Park.

    Last August, he bossed a Paris Saint-Germain midfield containing Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler and Marquinhos as Rennes recorded a shock – but deserved – 2-1 victory over the Ligue 1 champions.

    Highlights of his dominant display quickly went viral, but the most encouraging aspect of Camavinga's spectacular emergence as one of the most exciting young players in world football is that the sudden media attention has not gone to his head.

    Nor is it likely to, according to former Rennes academy director Landry Chauvin, who says the youngster is as grounded as he is gifted.

    "Eduardo is a guy who respects the housekeeper of the training centre as much as the coach of the first team," he told Goal. "He has a good head on his shoulders and will not change."

  • Reinier NxGn 2020 GFX

    #4 Reinier | Real Madrid

    It is easy to understand just why Flamengo boss Jorge Jesus was so infuriated by his club's decision to sell Reinier to Real Madrid for just €35m (£29m/$39m) in January.

    The elegant attacking midfielder with an impressive work ethic only made his professional bow for Flamengo in July, coming on in the second leg of a Copa Libertadores clash no less, and went on to rack up six goals and two assists in 14 appearances in Serie A.

    Former team-mate Filipe Luis has acknowledged only time will tell if the early comparisons with Kaka are warranted but, encouragingly, the former Atletico Madrid full-back also told Marca: "Reinier has even more quality with his back to goal."

    The Brazil Under-23 international has only just turned 18 and will initially line out for Madrid's B team, but it looks like only a matter of time before he is playing alongside compatriots Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo in Zinedine Zidane's senior side.

    As Luis said: "He isn't 100 per cent ready yet. But it really is a great signing; I congratulate Real Madrid."

  • Mason Greenwood NxGn 2020 GFX

    #3 Mason Greenwood | Manchester United

    As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pointed out, it felt fitting that Mason Greenwood scored in the 4,000th consecutive senior Manchester United game to feature an academy product.

    Even at a club renowned for producing top talent, the versatile forward stands out. 

    After all, we are talking about a player so two-footed that he regularly takes free-kicks and penalties with his supposedly 'weaker' right. 

    The England Under-21 international has also got the seal of approval from a plethora of United legends.

    Robin van Persie sees himself in the Bradford native, Gary Neville believes the 18-year-old is already a better finisher than Marcus Rashford, while Solskjaer says Greenwood's potential was obvious from the first time he saw him play as a seven-year-old.

    Hardly surprising, then, that United have already handed a new contract to their youngest ever scorer in European competition.

    At a trying time for United, Greenwood has provided the fans with hope for the future.

  • Ansu Fati NxGn 2020 GFX

    #2 Ansu Fati | Barcelona

    On November 20, Barcelona academy director Patrick Kluivert made the perfectly sensible suggestion that Ansu Fati should drop down to the Blaugrana's B team to secure more game time.

    Just three weeks later, Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history by netting the winner in a 2-1 victory over Inter at San Siro aged 17 years and 40 days old.

    It was further proof – as if it were needed – that the winger has "something special about him", as former Barca boss Ernesto Valverde put it, and fully merits his place in the senior squad.

    Indeed, the Bissau-born teenager, who has already been capped at Under-21 level by Spain, has since become the youngest player to score twice in a Liga game, against Levante in January.

    Barca are wisely doing their best to play down the hype surrounding the fledgling forward but they are well aware of just how lucky they are to have beaten Real Madrid to the signature of a prodigious talent that is making the post-Lionel Messi era look far less frightening with his incessant record-breaking.

  • Rodrygo NxGn 2020 GFX

    #1 Rodrygo | Real Madrid

    Rodrygo's enormous potential was obvious from the moment he made his professional debut for Santos at just 16 in November 2017. He even ranked at No.5 in last year's NxGn list.

    However, even he has been taken aback by the speed of his rise to the top. After all, we are talking about a teenager who was shaking with nerves when he first met Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

    Even if the 19-year-old can be overawed off the pitch, we have yet to see a shred of evidence of him being fazed on it.

    Since arriving at Santiago Bernabeu last summer, the €45 million (£40m/$50m) signing marked his Liga debut with a goal after just 93 seconds on the pitch and scored a perfect hat-trick on his first Champions League start, with his history-making exploits earning him two Brazil caps. 

    "Things have moved even quicker than I expected," the versatile winger recently admitted. "Hopefully, I can continue in this vein."

    If he does, Rodrygo could rewrite the record books at Real.