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20 Best Teenagers in World Football Right Now

Max TowleAnalyst IApril 10, 2013

20 Best Teenagers in World Football Right Now

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    With the likes of Lucas Moura, Stephan El Shaarawy and Paul Pogba having turned 20, now is a perfect time to assess the next generation of teenage talent in world football.

    There is a huge wealth of burgeoning youngsters competing for recognition—this list of the top 20 teenagers in the game could easily have been a top 50.

    You'll find Raphael Varane, Viktor Fischer and Romelu Lukaku here—players who are household names already.

    Who else made the cut?

20. Adryan

2 of 21

    Club: Flamengo

    Age: 18

    Position: Attacking midfield

    We kick things off with a diminutive Brazilian whose name has been on the lips of scouts across the globe for several years now.

    Adryan is a tricky attacking midfielder who has been hailed as a future great of the Brazilian national side, despite some recent set-backs in form.

    A few weeks ago, the 18-year-old signed a new contract with Flamengo, signalling his intention to develop as a player in his home country (via

19. Lazar Markovic

3 of 21

    Club: Partizan Belgrade

    Age: 19

    Position: Forward

    Few outside of Serbia may have heard of Lazar Markovic, but the pacy forward has been an established member of the Partizan first team for some time now.

    The 19-year-old has already been capped six times for the Serbian national team, scoring once.

    In February he was linked with a future move to Chelsea but downplayed the rumours in an interview with local newspaper Sportski Zurnal (h/t The Express).

18. Mateo Kovacic

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    Club: Inter Milan

    Age: 18

    Position: Central midfield

    Mateo Kovacic's sudden €11 million move to Inter Milan from Dinamo Zagreb at the end of January caught many pundits off-guard.

    But the Croatian midfielder has long been hailed as a future great—Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni described him as "an extremely skillful player" who is "perfectly capable of playing anywhere in the middle" (via ESPN).

    A creative central player, Kovacic has the potential to eventually develop into a deeper-lying regista.

17. Jurgen Locadia

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    Club: PSV

    Age: 19

    Position: Striker

    Few teenagers in European football can boast a strike rate as good as powerful striker Jurgen Locadia's.

    The Dutchman has scored nine goals in 16 appearances for PSV this season, including an 11 minute hat-trick in his Eredivisie debut.

    Last year, Liverpool were linked with a move for the 6'3" striker's services (via Daily Mail).

    A more integral role in Dick Advocaat's first team is expected for the 19-year-old.

16. Leandro Paredes

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    Club: Boca Juniors

    Age: 18

    Position: Attacking midfield

    It is surely only a matter of time before the prodigious Leandro Paredes earns a move to one of Europe's top clubs.

    The 18-year-old Boca Juniors attacking midfielder is an exceptional passer and is renowned for his imagination and creativity with the ball.

    It was recently claimed that AC Milan and Juventus top the list of suitors eager to acquire his services (via

15. Oliver Torres

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    Club: Atletico Madrid

    Age: 18

    Position: Central midfield

    The supremely talented Oliver Torres is yet to make waves in the Atletico Madrid first team, but this is surely only a matter of time.

    The Spain U21 international has excellent technique and has earned praise for his vision and range of passing.

    Last summer, it was reported that Chelsea had seen a "dizzying offer" for the 18-year-old rejected by Atletico (via Daily Mail).

14. Lucas Piazon

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    Club: Malaga (on loan from Chelsea)

    Age: 19

    Position: Forward

    Lucas Piazon's loan move to Malaga for the rest of the season should give the young Brazilian a setting in which he can thrive.

    In February, the gifted forward revealed "I really enjoy playing this type of game, and feel much more comfortable on the pitch" (via The Express).

    Piazon is best known for his prolific days in the Brazil U17 team, for whom he bagged nine goals.

    Before leaving Stamford Bridge, Roberto Di Matteo described he and fellow Brazilian Oscar as "very good players and a joy to work with" (via 

13. Lucas Digne

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    Club: Lille

    Age: 19

    Position: Left-back

    It should come as no surprise that Manchester United have been repeatedly linked with a move for Lille's Lucas Digne.

    Earlier this year, it was claimed that "United have turned to Digne as the club step up their hunt for a long-term successor to Patrice Evra" (via Metro).

    The 19-year-old is an exceptional physical specimen who loves to get forward and contribute to his team's attacking play.

12. Gerard Deulofeu

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    Club: Barcelona

    Age: 19

    Position: Left winger

    One of the stars of Barcelona's La Masia youth system has to be the lightening-quick Gerard Deulofeu.

    The 19-year-old is capable of playing both on the flanks and as a second forward—where he featured several times for the Blaugrana's B team.

    The skillful Deulofeu is also a regular for Spain's U21 side and has already struck three goals on international duty.

    Manchester City have been linked with a potential transfer (via Daily Mail), but why would the youngster want to leave Barca?

11. Kurt Zouma

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    Club: Saint-Etienne

    Age: 18

    Position: Centre-back

    Kurt Zouma has been a key member of the Saint-Etienne side that has rocketed up the Ligue 1 standings in recent weeks.

    The 18-year-old centre-back is a physical yet tactically able player who has been capped at every level for France's youth teams.

    The Independent claim that Manchester United lead the chase for his signature and have scouted him extensively in the past few months.

10. M'Baye Niang

12 of 21

    Club: AC Milan

    Age: 18

    Position: Forward

    AC Milan's 18-year-old phenom, M'Baye Niang, is one of the best prospects in the Serie A.

    Though his physicality is the first attribute that springs to mind, the Frenchman is surprisingly adept with the ball at his feet and has been tipped for a role on the wing.

    His goalscoring record may not be flash, but these are early days indeed, and his talent has already been evident at the highest level.

9. Paulo Dybala

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    Club: Palermo

    Age: 19

    Position: Forward

    Paulo Dybala's innate ability has shone through this season, despite Palermo's struggles in Serie A.

    The Argentine forward is an outstanding talent—his awareness, agile dribbling and clinical finishing are all worth mentioning.

    It is little wonder he's drawn comparisons to fellow countryman Sergio Aguero. If the Rosanero go down this season, expect Dybala to get another chance at a top club.

    Check out his fine double against Sampdoria earlier this season here.

8. Raheem Sterling

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    Club: Liverpool

    Age: 18

    Position: Right winger

    When Raheem Sterling made his debut for Liverpool aged only 17, he looked raw and perhaps unready for the rigours of the Premier League.

    But his improvement this season has been meteoric, despite him having to sit on the sidelines for much of 2013 with a nagging thigh injury.

    The England international has pace and skill in abundance and is quickly developing into the clinical finisher the Reds need him to be.

7. Julian Draxler

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    Club: FC Schalke

    Age: 19

    Position: Attacking midfield

    Julian Draxler is a name that has been on the lips of world football's top scouts for some time now.

    The German attacking midfielder made his debut for Schalke aged 17 and has been a regular fixture in the side's starting lineup since.

    He is a powerful yet technically supreme player. He is comfortable running with the ball at pace and is known for tracking back and helping out his defensive teammates in times of trouble.

    Addressing the inevitable transfer rumours, the player recently told reporters "It's great to have teams interested. But I feel good at Schalke, and I want to take my career forward" (via

6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    Club: Arsenal

    Age: 19

    Position: Right winger

    In Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the future of England's wings is in safe hands.

    The Ox was lured to Arsenal from Southampton in 2011 for a £12 million fee, potentially rising to £15 million in add-ons—a fair indication of his fantastic potential.

    He has quick feet and loves to run with the ball, and for a player of his position, his robust physicality is also worth mentioning.

    Under Arsene Wenger, the 19-year-old could develop into an excellent all-round player.

5. Romelu Lukaku

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    Club: West Bromwich Albion (on loan from Chelsea)

    Age: 19

    Position: Striker

    Romelu Lukaku's achievements at West Bromwich Albion this term shouldn't be underestimated.

    He has been a regular goalscorer and a vital member of a team that has surprised some with its attacking efficiency.

    The Belgian is a beast—a stocky, 6'3" striker with a thunderous left boot and capable of leaping higher than most defenders to nod a cross goalwards.

    He is one of many young players from the European nation threatening greatness.

4. Viktor Fischer

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    Club: Ajax

    Age: 18

    Position: Forward

    Viktor Fischer's potential has long been hyped by fans and pundits alike, but it's been this season that has seen his talent explode into full view for Dutch side Ajax.

    The Danish forward is a clinical finisher with an intelligent head on his shoulders. He has scored 10 goals in all competitions this season.

    Manchester United are just one of the continent's elite clubs who are known to be chasing his signature (via The Mirror).

3. Marquinhos

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    Club: Roma

    Age: 18

    Position: Centre-back

    Marquinhos has come out of nowhere to suddenly become one of the most highly sought-after defenders in Europe.

    The aerially dominant Brazilian teenager is a regular starter in Roma's first team, forming an effective partnership with Leandro Castan in the Serie A side's back line.

    He's not thinking about apparent interest from Manchester City and Real Madrid, though. The 18-year-old recently told La Gazzetta dello Sport "I am not thinking about a transfer. I owe Roma a lot for the chance they gave me" (h/t

2. Adam Maher

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    Club: AZ

    Age: 19

    Position: Central midfield

    The hype currently surrounding AZ's midfield genius Adam Maher is fully deserved.

    The Dutchman thrives playing a free flowing, pass-and-move type of game. He is calm on the ball and always on the lookout for the killer pass. Perhaps most importantly, he is a focused, down-to-earth individual off the pitch.

    Last month it was reported that Arsenal and Manchester City were engaged in a bitter transfer battle for his services (via Daily Mail).

1. Raphael Varane

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    Club: Real Madrid

    Age: 19

    Position: Centre-back

    Topping the list is Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane—a mature 19-year-old who has already become one of the best players in his position in La Liga.

    His consistent performances have seen him given a healthy run of games in the side's defence by coach Jose Mourinho, and he has proved a trustworthy choice for the biggest fixtures on the calendar.

    The Frenchman is a dominant tackler but also possesses prodigious technical abilities for a central defender. He is perfectly capable of making a tricky pass under pressure or bringing the ball out from the back by himself.

    After Real's Copa del Rey draw against Barcelona earlier this year, Spanish newspaper El Pais led with the headline "Barca can’t handle Varane," saluting his performance against the Blaugrana (h/t National Post).

    He is surely the best teenager in world football right now.


    Who else might have made this list? Who has the potential to feature within the next 12 months?

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