Simons, Bynoe-Gittens and the best-performing wonderkids in the 2021-22 UEFA Youth League

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Since its advent in 2013, the UEFA Youth League has pitted the best teenage footballers in Europe against one another with a host of big names having got their first taste of continental competition.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Felix, Mason Mount and Matthijs de Ligt starred for their respective clubs when coming through the ranks, and more Youth League graduates are making their mark at the elite level each year.

So ahead of Monday's final between 2017 winners Red Bull Salzburg and three-time runners-up Benfica in Nyon, GOAL picks out the stars of this season's competition who have the potential to become star names in the next few years...

  • Jamie Bynoe-Gittens Borussia Dortmund 2021-22Getty Images

    Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (Borussia Dortmund)

    Injury meant that Bynoe-Gittens missed Dortmund's first four Youth League matches, but once he was fit to return, he set about dominating the competition.

    The 17-year-old scored six goals in five games for the German side, including both strikes and the winning spot-kick in their penalty shootout victory over Manchester United in the last 16.

    The English winger, who joined Dortmund from Manchester City in 2020, has since gone on to make his first-team debut for Marco Rose's side.

  • Samba Diallo Dynamo Kyiv 2021-22Getty Images

    Samba Diallo (Dynamo Kyiv)

    Few expected much from Dynamo Kyiv after they were pitted against Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Benfica in the group stages, but the performances of Diallo went a long way to helping them reach the knockout rounds.

    The 19-year-old scored five times in Dynamo's first four games of the competition, including a double in the 4-0 away win over Bayern and a further brace in the 4-1 home victory against Barca.

    His performances saw the Senegalese forward dubbed 'the new Sadio Mane', as Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Barca themselves showed interest in signing him.

  • Bradley Fink Borussia Dortmund 2021-22Getty Images

    Bradley Fink (Borussia Dortmund)

    No player managed more combined goals and assists in this season's Youth League than Fink, who found the net on five occasions while setting up seven further strikes for team-mates in just eight appearances.

    The 19-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for Dortmund's Under-19s in 2021-22, earning comparisons to Harry Kane for his ability to not just finish chances, but create them for others.

    The Switzerland youth international did miss a crucial penalty as Dortmund lost to Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, but he will still go down as one of the tournament's outstanding performers this season.

  • Djeidi Gassama PSG 2021-22Getty Images

    Djeidi Gassama (Paris Saint-Germain)

    PSG were one of the most exciting sides to watch throughout the competition, with winger Gassama's pace and dribbling prowess one of the main reasons why.

    Playing off the left side, the 18-year-old scored five goals and laid on two assists as the French side reached the quarter-finals, with his double away at Manchester City in the group stages a particular highlight.

    Premier League and Bundesliga clubs have since been linked with a move for Gassama amid reports that he is looking to leave PSG this summer in search of first-team opportunities.

  • Mads Hansen FC Midtjylland 2021-22Getty Images

    Mads Hansen (FC Midtjylland)

    As one of the oldest players in this season's competition, it was perhaps not a surprise to see Hansen top the scoring charts, although his performances did confirm the talent the forward possesses.

    In just four appearances he scored seven goals and laid on four assists, including playing a hand in all five goals in a 5-2 away win over Trabzonspor.

    Midtjylland reached the last 16, but by the time they were beaten by Benfica, Hansen had left the club, joining FC Nordsjaelland where he is already earning more first-team minutes.

  • Alejandro Iturbe Atletico Madrid 2021-22Getty Images

    Alejandro Iturbe (Atletico Madrid)

    Iturbe was first called-up to train with the Atletico Madrid first team at the age of 14, and the goalkeeper showed in this season's Youth League just why he is seen by many as being Jan Oblak's heir at Wanda Metropolitano.

    The 18-year-old conceded just six goals in his first seven appearances in the competition before Salzburg's superb strikeforce put five past him in the semi-finals, although he was largely powerless to stop any of the strikes.

    The highlight of his competition came in the quarter-finals when he made a stunning save to deny Borussia Dortmund's Bradley Fink from the penalty spot, before pulling off a number of other stops to maintain his clean sheet in Atleti's 1-0 win at Signal Iduna Park.

  • Dijon Kameri Red Bull Salzburg 2021-22Getty Images

    Dijon Kameri (Red Bull Salzburg)

    While his overall numbers (two goals, two assists) do not mark Kameri out as being one of the most decisive players in the Youth League, the forward has arguably been Salzburg's standout performer on their run to the final.

    Able to play as a No. 0 or wide on the left, the 18-year-old is key to the Austrian side's high press while helping create chances for others with his clever movement.

    His long-range stunner against Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals meanwhile highlighted his ability to deliver in the final third when given the opportunity.

  • Fabio Miretti Juventus 2021-22Getty Images

    Fabio Miretti (Juventus)

    Some sections of the Juventus fanbase have been crying out for Miretti to get more first-team minutes this season, with the midfielder seen as having the exact profile that Massimiliano Allegri's team are missing.

    Having modelled his game on Kevin De Bruyne, the 18-year-old is particularly adept at playing through the lines and creating chances for others from deeper areas.

    He also netted two goals on Juventus' run to the Youth League semi-finals, taking a particular liking to English opposition as he scored in wins over Chelsea and Liverpool.

  • Diego Moreira Benfica 2021-22Getty Images

    Diego Moreira (Benfica)

    Moreira was left on the bench for Benfica's opening game in the competition as they were beaten 4-0 by Dynamo Kyiv. Since then, the 17-year-old has started every match, and the Portuguese outfit have won on each occasion on their way to reaching a fourth Youth League final.

    Moreira has been their x -factor in attacking, scoring four goals and providing three assists from the left-hand side, including two of each in the quarter-final win over Lisbon rivals Sporting.

    Manchester City are now considering a move for the forward, but first he will be hoping to guide his team to glory on Monday.

  • Cisse Sandra Club Brugge 2021-22Getty Images

    Cisse Sandra (Club Brugge)

    It spoke of how well Cisse Sandra performed in the Youth League that the attacking midfielder was unavailable for Club Brugge's final group-stage match against PSG, as he was starting for the first team against Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in the Champions League.

    The 18-year-old scored five goals in six games overall, including a double against Manchester City that saw the Belgian outfit come from 3-1 down with 20 minutes left to win 5-3.

    That form looked like it might carry into the senior set up when Sandra scored on his professional debut in December, but that remains his only goal at that level despite continuing to make sporadic appearances.

  • Roko Simic Red Bull Salzburg 2021-22Getty Images

    Roko Simic (Red Bull Salzburg)

    The son of former Inter, AC Milan and Croatia full-back Dario Simic, Roko looks set to follow in his father's footsteps when it comes to plying his trade at the top of the European game.

    A goal in the final would almost certainly see the 18-year-old finish the competition as the outright top scorer, having netted seven times in his eight Youth League games so far this season.

    He has also provided three assists, with the striker's game likened to that of Dusan Vlahovic or Erling Haaland, with it expected he will become a first-team regular at Salzburg in 2022-23.

  • Xavi Simons PSG 2021-22Getty Images

    Xavi Simons (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Arguably the best player in terms of consistently high-quality performances throughout the competition, Simons could only watch on from the stands as PSG crashed out in the quarter-finals to Salzburg with their talisman suspended.

    The 19-year-old thrived playing as a 'false nine', scoring four goals and laying on six assists in seven appearances, earning himself a regular place in Mauricio Pochettino's senior squad as a result.

    The ex-Barcelona wonderkid could still leave Parc des Princes this summer as he searches for more first-team appearances, with it clear that playing alongside his peers is no longer a challenge for the Netherlands youth international.

  • Matias Soule Juventus 2021-22Getty Images

    Matias Soule (Juventus)

    Juventus are set to begin their search for their Pablo Dybala replacement this summer, but there are some who feel his Argentine compatriot Soule can be the man to pick up that mantle over the coming years.

    The 19-year-old attacking midfielder has it all to become a top-quality No 10, with his return of two goals and three assists in six Youth League games this season only the tip of the iceberg of what he can produce.

    Soule has already earned a couple of call-ups to the senior Argentina squad, and though he missed the crucial penalty in Juve's shootout loss to Benfica in the semi-finals, he can still look back on what has been a successful season.

  • Zalan Vancsa MTK Budapest 2021-22Getty Images

    Zalan Vancsa (MTK Budapest)

    MTK Budapest may not have made it past the second round of the Youth League's champions route, but Vancsa did enough in just four games to easily force himself into the competition's top 10 goalscorers for the season.

    The 17-year-old netted five times in that quartet of fixtures, as well as providing two assists for the Hungarian outfit.

    He has since joined City Football Group-owned Lommel in Belgium, with it expected that if his development continues, the striker will join Manchester City at some point after his 18th birthday in October.

  • Warren Zaire-Emery PSG 2021-22Getty Images

    Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Perhaps the true breakout player of this season's Youth League, Zaire-Emery started all but one of PSG's eight games in the competition despite not turning 16 until the week before their quarter-final loss to Salzburg.

    Despite being three or four years younger than the majority of his opponents, Zaire-Emery controlled matches from defensive midfield, with his ability to allude pressure and pick out team-mates with his passing particularly catching the eye.

    Bayern Munich are already showing an interest in signing the No 6, but PSG will hope they can hold onto a player who looks to have it all to become an elite performer in his position.