After Mason Greenwood signed a new contract at Manchester United, we took a look at how his form compared with the other teenagers in Europe’s big five leagues. There are 25 players under 20 currently ahead of Greenwood for goals and assists this season. Here are the top 10…
10) Nathanael Mbuku – Reims
Reims introduced Mbuku steadily throughout last season with the teenager, who starred for France at the Under-17 World Cup, making only three starts. This term, the 18-year-old has become a regular fixture, especially after doing this against Montpellier in October…
9) Pedri – Barcelona
“Pedri is the signing of the decade,” declared Marca after his performance in the Champions League against Juventus in October. The midfielder moved to Barca from Las Palmas last summer for an initial fee of £4million but his performances suggest the Catalans could be liable for the full £13million due in performance-related bonuses. Whether they can afford it is another matter, but only five outfield players have amassed more minutes for Barca this season.
8) Adrien Truffert – Rennes
“We had said we were not looking for a new left-back, that we were counting on him,” said Rennes coach Julien Stephan after Truffert’s stunning Ligue 1 debut back in September. Introduced just before half-time against Monaco, the then-18-year-old set up Steven Nzonzi’s equaliser before scoring a stoppage-time winner himself. Truffert has since made his France Under-21s debut while establishing himself as a Rennes regular in a variety of roles on the left.
7) Adil Aouchiche – Saint-Etienne
The 18-year-old saw no route to the PSG first team so he departed the Parc des Princes to sign his first professional contract with St Etienne last summer. Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona and Arsenal were all said to be sniffing but the midfielder was content with his decision: “I am joining a great club in Ligue 1, which is carried by the fervour around it. The supporters are magnificent. The city breathes football. I made the right choice.”
Featuring in all but three of St Etienne’s Ligue 1 matches this season, including 10 as a starter, vindicates his decision, which saddened Thomas Tuchel at the time: “Of course, I’m not happy, he has a lot of talent.”
6) Ansu Fati – Barcelona
The 18-year-old has been ranked as the world’s best young footballer – born in 2001 or later – by L’Equipe having established himself in Barcelona’s attack at the start of the season. His inclusion in this list is all the more impressive given Fati hasn’t played since the first week of November because of a knee injury. With another procedure looming, he may not play again this season.
L'Equipe have ranked the best 50 young players in world football (born 2001 or after). pic.twitter.com/zbV4BAw2Wc
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) February 12, 2021
5) Matthew Hoppe – Schalke
With this lad up front and a centre-back seen by Liverpool as the answer to their problems, it’s a wonder Schalke have as sh*te as they have been. Without Hoppe’s goals, the outlook would be even more bleak for the Bundesliga strugglers. His hat-trick ended a 30-game winless run last month and subsequent strikes against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne suggest it was no fluke. No wonder the vultures are circling.
The votes are in and January's #BLRookie of the Month is… 🥁
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 12, 2021
4) Arnaud Kalimuendo – Lens
The 19-year-old forward made his debut for PSG against Lens on the opening weekend of the Ligue 1 season before joining the blood and gold on loan for the remainder of the campaign, sent on his way with a new contract in his back pocket. Kalimuendo made an immediate impression, becoming the first Lens player in 70 years to score in each of his first three starts.
3) Giovanni Reyna – Borussia Dortmund
It’s just over a year ago since Reyna became the youngest American to ever play in the Bundesliga aged 17 years and 66 days, beating Christian Pulisic’s previous record. He missed Pulisic’s record as youngest American goalscorer by 100 days when he netted his first of the season back in September, while three of his five assists came in the same game against Freiburg.
It all took its toll on the 18-year-old: “It’s been a crazy season,” Sunderland-born Reyna admitted last month. “I’ve never been so mentally and physically exhausted as I was after the Union Berlin game before the winter break.” Reyna is yet to offer a goal or assist since but he’s certainly not the only Dortmund player struggling for form.
Gio Reyna has been voted U.S. Soccer's Young Male Player of the Year for 2020.
The future is bright ⭐️
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 22, 2020
2) Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
“He’s playing really well,” said Mikel Arteta of Arsenal’s shoo-in for their Player of the Season award. “He can still get much better.” How so, Mikel?
“He’s got that room, he’s got the intelligence and he’s got the desire so his aim has to be to do better, to score more goals, be more efficient in the final third and there’s a lot of things he needs to do better defensively as well to improve day by day, because he’s got the ability.”
Crack on then, kid.
1) Florian Wirtz – Bayer Leverkusen
The 17-year-old is the first ever player to score five goals in the Bundesliga before turning 18, which is even more impressive when you consider that Wirtz is a midfielder. Since becoming Leverkusen’s youngest ever debutant last May in the first game after Covid-enforced break, the former Cologne youngster has also made his mark as the youngest ever player to represent Germany Under-21s, beating Julian Draxler’s previous record by almost half a year. Kai who?