With the Under 19 European Championships taking place in Georgia, plenty of rising talent will be on hand. Rising stars break through every season in Europe and this past season was no different. Many young phenoms have risen through Europe’s top leagues and I’ve compiled the 5 top players in the world under the age of 19.
5. Kasper Dolberg (Ajax)
The young Dane announced himself to Europe this past season as Ajax’s biggest attacking threat. The prolific hit man put on an impressive 23 goals and 7 assists as Ajax finished runners up in the Eredivisie and the Europa League. He would announce himself quickly in his first Eredivisie start by bagging a brace against Roda to salvage a draw for his side. He’d go on to have two more games where he’d net a brace, against PEC Zwolle and Twente. The teenager would even put up a hat trick on November 20th against NEC Nijmegen in Amsterdam. His name would become known through Europe through his wondrous form in the league but the Danish striker would ring shockwaves in the Europa League as well. He’d put on a Man of the Match performance against Celta Vigo on November 3rd, and scoring 4 goals in the knockout rounds. Playing for one of the strongest player developing teams in the history of world football, Dolberg is sure to develop into one of Europe’s best strikers.
4. Theo Hernandez (Real Madrid)
The proclaimed heir to Marcelo’s left back spot. Theo was nurtured by noisy neighbors Atletico Madrid, who sent him out on loan to Alaves this season. He truly proved just how skillful he was when he tormented Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final out on the left. He brought Spain to a grinding halt with a sublime free kick from the right corner of the box with his left foot. He wonderfully placed masterpiece looped up and over the out stretched hand of ter Stegen, for it to fall into the left side of the goal as he sent the Vicente Calderon into a frenzy. It was his official announcement to Europe as Real Madrid were already long into the works of acquiring his services from the grip of his parent club. Quick, athletic and skillful on the ball, he could be the next in the line of great Madrid left backs. He’s a real threat to come forward with the ball and be able to create space for himself before sending in clever balls into the box. Marcelo is still in the prime of his career after coming off what was his finest season in the Madrid shirt this past season, but Madrid have acquired his understudy. Zinedine Zidane has also proven so be a fine developer of youth as evidenced by Casemiro, Isco and Asensio. He won’t be looking to give up that La Liga crown anytime soon as he continues to reload on youth.
3. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan)
An absolute star for AC Milan in Italy, Donnarumma is absolutely no doubt, the next great Azzurri keeper. He’ll assume his place as Italy’s number 1 keeper once the 2018 World Cup ends and Gianluigi Buffon retires. “Gigio” made his debut for Milan at 16 years old and has held onto the starting keeper spot ever since as he’s developed well beyond his years. He has already proven to the world that he’s one of Europe’s top shot stoppers, reaching the Coppa Italia Final in 2016, losing out to Juventus 1-0. Donnarumma got his 1st piece of silverware last August when Milan reigned supreme in the Supercoppa Italia. Statistically, the 18 year old Italian was the finest keeper in Europe’s top leagues as he beats out Jordan Pickford and Yohann Pele for the highest average rating with 7.05. He’s also 1 of 9 keepers in Europe’s top 5 leagues to play in every single league game this past season. Milan may have failed to clinch a spot for any sort of European football but he’ll be looking to lead a revolution at the San Siro, as it’s been 6 years since anyone, not named Juventus, reigned supreme in the Italian top flight. With Milan’s wonderful signings that include Leonardo Bonucci and Andre Silva, Donnarumma could overtake Buffon directly for the Italian title as early as this upcoming season. The gap is closing quickly, and it’s Donnarumma’s Milan who’s closing it.
2. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
The electric new Captain America for Dortmund, the rapid rising Pulisic has already shattered records such as being the youngest player to appear for the United States, youngest to score for the United States in a World Cup Qualifier and the youngest player to score for the United States in general! He became the youngest foreigner to score a goal in the Bundesliga, and became the youngest player in Bundesliga to score two goals, both achieved in April and May of 2016. Dortmund have been stockpiling talent as of late with Pulisic being a part of that young arsenal, and the American could play a big part in Dortmund’s march back to the top of the Bundesliga. Pulisic has already been able to be a part of a silverware winning season this past year as Dortmund snatched the DfB Pokal over Frankfurt in the Final and notably over Bayern in the Semifinal. He can be deployed anywhere on the attack and has dizzying dribbling ability, that can be used to create space for himself. He’s always looking to pick out the most dangerous ball and prefers to play short, precise balls as opposed to long ones. Pulisic fits into the Dortmund system as well (that is unless new poss Peter Boez changes the system) and his development should continue to show as he earns more minutes for Germany’s traditional runners up. He’ll looking to help make Dortmund, Germany’s new dominant force.
1. Kylian Mbappe (Monaco)
Theo Hernandez has been the only one on this list that has switched teams over the course of the summer but the young Mbappe could make that two. Hailed as the second coming of Thierry Henry, Kylian Mbappe has all the attributes to make him one of Europe’s finest goalscorers and attacking players in Europe. Gifted with blinding pace to go along with a decent set of skills on the ball, Mbappe announced himself as one of Europe’s most exciting prospects when he introduced himself to Tottenham in the group stages of the Champions League. The young Frenchman put on staggering numbers for the French Champions scoring 26 goals and 8 assists in 44 games in all competitions as Monaco asserted themselves as the best team in France with their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years. Now the new electric striker has been courted by just about every top side in Europe, most notably the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Manchester City as absurd figures have been discussed like 100 and 120 million Euros being thrown out there as he’d become the most expensive purchase in the history of world football. The summer is revolving around the French hitman as he ponders what’s next in the dawn of his career, and wherever he goes, he has the ability to shoot that squad to the very top of their league.
Statistics presented by Whoscored.com