We’ve limited our search to the top ten leagues of Europe, so we’re acknowledging Belgium and Portugal but we will have no truck with Lithuania, Latvia or Scotland. Here are the 11 players who are 23 or under with at least 13 league goals this season…
11) Bertrand Traore (Lyon, Burkino Faso, 22, 13 goals)
Yes, the same Bertrand Traore who played a grand total of 16 games for Chelsea before being sold for less than £9m. His six goals in the last seven games of the Ligue Un season have been instrumental in helping Lyon claim a Champions League place. Alongside Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir, he has been a revelation; we suspect he is now worth rather more than £9m.
When Bertrand TRAORÉ (22) starts, he produces ⬇️
⏱ 36 games
⚽️ 17 goals
🎯 6 assists
⏱ 4 starts
17/18 @OL 🔵🔴
⏱ 43 games
⚽️ 18 goals
🎯 6 assists
— The Football Future (@footballfutur) May 20, 2018
10) Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City, Brazil, 21, 13 goals)
Still only 21 and yet a Premier League winner heading to the World Cup this summer with Brazil. His sumptuous touch and finish against Southampton on the final day took City to the 100-point mark for the season and himself to the 13-goal threshold. Oh and he has nine goals in 15 caps for Brazil, which is officially Not Bad.
— Vines Foot (@vinesfoot) May 19, 2018
9) Nicolas Pepe (Lille, Ivory Coast, 22, 13 goals)
When you claim 55% of the votes in your club’s Player of the Year poll, you know it has been a fine season. As Lille have narrowly avoided relegation (and the dreaded relegation play-off) much of the credit has to go to Pepe, who joined last summer from Angers for £9m. It is likely to be his first and last season at Lille as Borussia Dortmund are said to be very interested.
🥇 Nicolas Pépé – 55%
🥈 Kévin Malcuit – 16%
🥉 Yassine Benzia – 14%
Que o próximo ano seja de novos desafios e conquistas 💪 pic.twitter.com/hMPBhE1Yfi
— LOSC Lille PT (@LOSC_PT) May 17, 2018
8) Trezeguet (Kasimpasa, Egypt, 23, 13 goals)
What a season for the Egyptian likely to be on the ‘other wing’ at the World Cup this summer. Thankfully for Belgian club Anderlecht, he was only on loan at Turkish club Kasimpasa so they can reclaim him this summer and then collect a tidy profit after his successful season in the shop window. Latest reports suggest that he might join Watford for a bargain fee of only £5m.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 21, 2018
7) Rony Lopes (Monaco, Portugal, 22, 13 goals)
You may remember the name of Rony Lopes; he featured in Manchester City’s League Cup semi-final win in 2014 as an 18-year-old just before being shipped off to Lille on loan. He was then sold to Monaco, who shipped him off to Lille on loan once again. The summer asset-stripping of Monaco has finally given him a chance in the principality and he scored 11 goals after the turn of the year as they claimed a Champions League place once again. Still, it’s not enough to get him to the World Cup.
🤧🇵🇹 | Poor Rony Lopes (22)
50 Monaco Games? ✅
17 Goals? ✅
12 Assists? ✅
Top U23 Scorer in Ligue 1? ✅
9 Goals in 8 Matches? ✅
Place in Portugal WC Squad? ❌
What more can he do⁉️ pic.twitter.com/DbR2dziajO
— SidelineScouted (@SidelineScouted) May 20, 2018
6) Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, Germany, 22, 13 goals)
Fifth on this list last season behind the now-too-old Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Mauro Icardi and Andrea Belotti, Werner has done that rarest of things for a young player – been consistent. His 21 Bundesliga goals from last season have become 13 in this campaign. And he has scored seven in 12 for Germany too, so makes it into their World Cup squad with the honour of wearing the No. 9 shirt. No Champions League place means that he could be coming to a Premier League team near you this summer.
5) Kylian Mbappe (PSG, France, 19, 13 goals)
He is rather good, you know. The best teenager in world football right now, to be precise. He is the youngest player on this list by quite some distance, which underlines just why PSG will pay £166m for him this summer; he is only likely to get better. No goals since mid-March did not prevent him being called up to France’s ridiculously strong World Cup squad.
Only two players have won back-to-back Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year awards:
🇧🇪 Eden Hazard
🇫🇷 Kylian Mbappé
Contrasting attire though. 👀 pic.twitter.com/TXPlHrPTNV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 13, 2018
4) Giovanni Simeone (Fiorentina, Argentina, 22, 14 goals)
‘Son of’ and scorer of a hat-trick against Napoli in April that dented their title hopes. It’s difficult to see Simeone at Fiorentina for more than another season; who needs a physical, determined striker with the heart of a bull? Not Argentina for the World Cup, of course, which makes us English folk feel a tad sad about having no real choice but to call up Danny Welbeck.
Giovanni Simeone may not be the most technically gifted striker out there but he plays centerforward like his daddy played midfield: works his butt off for teammates…
— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) January 5, 2018
3) Raphinha (Vit. Guimarães, Brazil, 21, 15 goals)
It has already been confirmed that he will join Sporting this summer, as the Portuguese Big Three do not let exciting young players stay at clubs outside the Portuguese Big Three for long. Of course, he has no chance of a Brazil call-up any time soon, despite Jonas and Neymar being the only Brazilians to score more league goals across Europe this season. Not bad for a winger at a mid-table Portuguese club.
2) Maxi Gomez (Celta Vigo, Uruguay, 21, 18 goals)
Not too many players score against both Barcelona and Real Madrid in the same season. Gomez has taken no time at all to settle into La Liga football after arriving for just £3.6m last summer; will he be at the club beyond this summer after that spectacular debut season? And the boy is still only 21. He makes Uruguay’s provisional World Cup squad despite playing less than 45 minutes of international football. Yes, we are jealous of their options.
Everyone keeps going on about Argentina’s forwards going into the World Cup, but Uruguay’s ain’t too bad either:
Edinson Cavani (PSG) x 28
Luis Suarez (Barcelona) x 26
Christian Stuani (Girona) x 21
Maxi Gómez (Celta Vigo) x 18
Note: League Goals Only #WorldCup2018
— damirkulas (@DamirKulas) May 21, 2018
1) Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, England, 23, 18 goals)
“If it’s on, it’s on, but if it’s not, then I try to get in the box as much as I can. That’s mainly where I am now.” It certainly is, Raheem, which is why you are Europe’s most prolific young player (assists are the tie-break here, see below for details of his impressive overall game).
All he needs now is to start scoring for actual England again.
5 – The top players in terms of open play goal sequence involvement (involvement in the build up to an open play goal) this season in the Premier League:
46 – Kevin De Bruyne
44 – Mohamed Salah
37 – Raheem Sterling
34 – David Silva
31 – Harry Kane/Fernandinho
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 15, 2018