World Football: The 40 Best Teenage Footballers in the World

Peter Webster@@petercwebsterContributor IIIFebruary 29, 2012

World Football: The 40 Best Teenage Footballers in the World

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    Football is now so vast and expansive that it becomes a rare occasion when a player is discovered later on in his career playing at a lower level than he should be.

    Scouts are scouring the globe for the next big players to sign for their team, and the competition just gets harder and harder.

    As teenagers, some players are yet to make that final push to stardom, whereas others have embraced it and are fast becoming legends.

    Here are 40 of the top teenagers in world football today—in no particular order!

    Enjoy.

Thibaut Courtois

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    Thibaut Courtois is currently plying his trade at Atletico Madrid on loan from parent club Chelsea.

    Courtois is already considered to be an accomplished goalkeeper and that is reflected in his 23 league appearances so far this season.

    Courtois is a full Belgian International and is likely to be the long term replacement for Petr Cech.

    Courtois is 19 years of age.

Ryo Miyaichi

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    Arsenal winger Ryo Miyaichi is currently enjoying a loan spell at fellow Premier League team Bolton Wanderers.

    The Japanese player is known for his startling pace and hard work.

    If the youngster makes good progress at Bolton, he could force his way into Arsene Wenger's plans sooner than anticipated.

    Miyaichi is 19 years old.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    Arsenal have a plethora of young talent coming through the ranks as usual, and another that has caught the eye is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Chamberlain is just 18 years of old but has featured in seven league games for the Gunners so far this season, scoring two goals along the way.

    Big things are expected.

Jon Flanagan

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    Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan faces a tough task at the Merseyside club because he his behind Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly in the pecking order for his position.

    That's not to say the 19 year old isn't capable though.

    Flanagan has looked solid and composed in all of his eight senior league apperances and will likely go on to become a star.

    Whether that is for Liverpool or not remains to be seen.

Philippe Coutinho

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    Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho is currently on loan at Espanyol receiving rave reviews.

    Coutinho is an exciting prospect and has plenty of tricks in his locker—unsurprising for Brazilian.

    Despite being just 19 years of age, Coutinho has a senior Brazil cap to his name already.

Raphael Varane

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    Real Madrid central defender Raphael Varane has made five league appearances for the first team and scored one goal.

    At 6ft 3ins tall, Varane has the right frame for his role and will be looking to displace some of the more senior places over the remainder of the season.

    Varane is just 18 years old and a member of the French Under—21 team.

Erik Lamela

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    Of all the young talents that feature in this article, Erik Lamela is possibly one of the most stand out candidates to hit the big time.

    At 19 years old, Lamela is already a regular player for Roma in Serie A and has forced his way into the Argentinean national side.

    Roma's fee for signing Lamela from River Plate could rise to as much as €19 million.

Stephan El Shaarawy

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    Stephan El Shaarawy currently plies his trade in Serie A for Italian giants AC Milan.

    El Shaarawy has made 14 first team appearances so far, scoring two goals—not bad for a 19 year old.

    The Italian under 21 International plays as a striker.

Romelu Lukaku

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    Chelsea moved to sign Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht in 2011 for a fee in the region of £13 million which could rise to £18 million with add ons.

    Since then Lukaku has only made six league appearances for the club, but with Drogba aging and Torres mis-firing he could get some more pitch time yet this season.

    Lukaku is a Belgian International and is just 18 years of age.

David Alaba

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    Bayern Munich can boast the services of David Alaba in their team after he progressed through their youth system.

    Alaba is a left midfielder by trade and has featured in 26 league games for Bayern Munich to date.

    He is 19 years old and a full Austrian International.

Luc Castaignos

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    Inter Milan signed Luc Castaignos in 2011 after the youngster impressed playing for Feyenoord Rotterdam.

    Still only 19 years of age, Castaignos has made four league appearances for Inter Milan and is a member of the Netherlands Under 19 squad.

Iker Muniain

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    If Iker Muniain continues to develop at his current rate, he is surely set to be the next big player to come out of Spain.

    The Athletic Bilbao forward has played 84 league games in La Liga and is still 19 years old.

    A host of clubs are believed to be wanting his signature in the summer.

Mario Gotze

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    Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Gotze was described by German footballing legend Matthias Sammer as "one of the best talents we've ever had."

    Need any more be said?

    Gotze is 19 years old and plays as an attacking midfielder.

    He has already won 12 full International caps for his country.

Lucas Moura

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    Sao Paulo midfielder Lucas Moura is perhaps more commonly known as just Lucas.

    The 19 year old Brazilian has been linked with the likes of Liverpool over the past few months and is already a full Brazilian International with 11 caps to his name.

    If you're 19 and play for Brazil, you're good.

Raheem Sterling

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    Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling has been talked about for a long time but the 17 year old is yet to make an appearance for the first team as yet.

    Sterling is a winger by trade and plays for the England under 17 national team.

Jonjo Shelvey

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    When I started writing this article, Jonjo Shelvey was 19 years old. When I finished it I realised he had turned 20 a couple of days ago.

    Seen as though he was already in here, I decided to let him stay.

    Shelvey has been knocking on the Liverpool door for some first team action after featuring as a substitute on a fair few occasions for the Merseyside club.

    Shelvey was signed from Charlton Athletic and plays for the England Under 21 national team.

Connor Wickham

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    Sunderland signed Connor Wickham in 2011 following some impressive displays as a striker for Ipswich town.

    Wickham is just 18 years of age but has begun to feature more and more for the Premier League team, racking up 13 league appearances with one goal to date.

    Wickham is a member of the England Under 19 squad.

Josh McEachran

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    Chelsea's Josh McEachran was beginning to get used as a substitute fairly frequently for the Blues before Andre Villas Boas decided he would benefit more from a loan spell with Swansea City.

    McEachran has only made 3 league appearances for the Swans since January but will be hoping to improve on that before the season is out.

    McEachran is 18 years of age and a member of the England Under 21 National team.

John Guidetti

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    As if Manchester City don't have enough talented strikers in their squad, they have this young star also.

    Guidetti is a 19 year old striker of Swedish nationality, currently on loan at Feyenoord where he has scored 18 goals in 16 league appearances.

    Pretty impressive.

Souleymane Coulibaly

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    Tottenham Hotspur moved to sign striker Souleymane Coulibaly after he won the golden boot for Cote d'Ivoire at the FIFA under 17 World Cup.

    Coulibaly is yet to feature the Spurs first team and is currently 17 years of age.

Marc Muniesa

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    Marc Muniesa is probably seen as the long term replacement for the aging Carlos Puyol.

    Muniesa was the second youngest ever player to feature for Barcelona when he made his debut appearance as a substitute. He didn't last long and was subsequently sent off.

    Muinesa has played for Catalonia and big things are expected of the 19 year old.

Jordan Ibe

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    Liverpool snapped up striker Jordan Ibe after his youth career blossomed at Wycombe Wanderers.

    Ibe is currently 16 years of age so it could be some years before he is seen in the Liverpool first team.

    He was born in Bermondsey, England and can also play as a winger if required.

Ravel Morrison

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    West Ham United signed Ravel Morrison from Manchester United in January 2012 for an undisclosed fee.

    The 19 year old striker had been highly thought of at Manchester United's youth academy and is a member of the England under 19 squad.

Ross Barkley

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    It's widely considered that Ross Barkley would be an Everton first team regular this season if he has not got himself injured during the beginning of the campaign.

    Barkley is 18 years of age and a member of the England under 21 squad.

    He plays as a midfielder and has featured in five league games for the Merseyside club to date,

Enzo Zidane

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    If you father is Zinedine Zidane, it stands to reason that you ought to be rather good at football also.

    Real Madrid also thought way and Jose Mourinho recently invited the 15 year old Enzo Zidane to train with the first team squad.

    The midfielder has yet to feature in any first team league action, but surely it is just a matter of time.

Matija Nastasić

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    Fiorentina defender Matija Nastasić has featured in six league matches for the Serie A side, despite being just 18 years of age.

    Nastasić has been called up to the full Serbian national team this year but has yet to win his first cap.

    He has plenty of time though.

Zakaria Labyad

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    Zakaria Labyad has played almost 30 league games for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie.

    Not bad for an 18 year old at a highly respected club.

    The winger initially played for the Dutch Under 17 side before switching allegiance to Morocco and featuring in their Under 23 squad.

Kevin Volland

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    Bundesliga side 1899 Hoffenheim are the parent club of Kevin Volland, but he is currently on loan at Bundesliga two side 1860 Munchen until 2015.

    The move means that Volland—currently 19 years old—will return to the club when he is 22 with a lot more experience.

    Volland is a striker and has played for the German Under 20 team.

Bernd Leno

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    Bernd Leno is another German youngster currently keeping goal for Bayer Leverkusen.

    Leno has only two league appearances to date, but at 19 years of age that's unsurprising.

Ezekiel Fryers

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    Manchester United defender Ezekiel Fryers has already featured in a couple of league games for the Red Devils, looking competent in both.

    Fryers can play left back or centre back and is 19 years old.

Jordi Amat

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    Espanyol have wasted no time in getting Jordi Amat involved in first team action as the 19 year old defender has already played 36 league games for the La Liga side.

    Amat has played one game for Catalonia.

Julian Wießmeier

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    19 year old Nuremburg striker Julian Wießmeier has played and scored for the Bundesliga first division side, but is currently developing in the reserves.

    Wießmeier is a German Under 20 International.

Fernando Lucas Martins

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    Perhaps better known as simply Fernando, Fernando Lucas Martins is a Brazilian Under 20 International midfielder who currently plays for Gremio.

    Fernando is 19 years of age but has featured in 16 league games for his club so far.

Paul Pogba

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    Paul Pogba is the current France Under 19 captain and is very highly thought of at Manchester United.

    With just one league appearance to date, the 18 year old midfielder will be looking to improve on those statistics as soon as possible.

Denis Suarez

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    Manchester City not only have David Silva, they also have a player who plays just like him in Denis Suarez.

    Any Manchester City fan will tell you they are looking forward to the emergence of this 18 year old Spanish starlet.

    Suarez is an attacking midfielder with the Spain Under 18 squad.

Carl Jenkinson

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    Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson has played in seven league matches for the Gunners so far, despite being just 20 years of age.

    Ok, I know he's not technically a teenager anymore, but his birthday was in February so cut me some slack.

    Jenkinson plays right back and has featured for the England Under 21 National side.

Neymar

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    I really am running out of teenagers to put in this slideshow.

    Having turned 20 in February, 20 year old Neymar is perhaps the hottest property on this list.

    Having been linked with a move to Barcelona already, the Santos forward has played in over 150 league games for his club and has featured 15 times for the Brazilian national team scoring eight goals in the process.

Jon Toral

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    Arsenal moved to sign Jon Toral as a 16 year old from Barcelona in the summer of 2011.

    In a move similar to that of Cesc Fabregas at that age, Arsene Wenger will be hoping this teen will be just as successful.

    Only time will tell for the young Spaniard.

Manuel Lanzini

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    If your nickname is the jewel, then you ought to be considered a pretty good player—even at 19 years of age.

    Lanzini is an attacking midfielder who currently plays his football for Fluminense on loan from River Plate and was born in Argentina.

Casemiro

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    February was his 20th birthday—tell me something I don't know.

    Casemiro will finish this run down today, the Sao Paulo midfielder has played 39 league games for his club and has already earn't a call up to the Brazil National squad.

Afterthoughts

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    Whilst there is clear talent in this list, there is also a clear gulf in class between some that have developed and others that are not quite there yet.

    You only have to look at the likes of Neymar compared with the similar aged Jonjo Shelvey, or Mario Gotze and Lucas Moura compared to the likes of Ravel Morrison.

    The difference in current ability is astounding.

    Nevertheless, expect to see all of these players making some headlines over the next 12 months.

    Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Serie A vs. La Liga and which league is better.

    On twitter? Follow me @petercwebster where I post all my B/R content.