They are between 16 and 21 years old, but they are already entering the court of great footballers. Here are five young players to watch for the year 2021.
Dominik Szoboszlai (Leipzig)
He is surely the most confirmed of these five players. Dominik Szoboszlai is the hero of the Hungarian qualification for the next European Championship, during which his nation will rub shoulders with the French team. The 20-year-old winger has already registered his transfer in January from RB Salzburg (Austria) to RB Leipzig (Germany). “He has an exceptional right foot and he has a thing for set pieces,” said his future coach in Leipzig, Julian Nagelsmann. Szoboszlai has compiled 13 goals and 17 assists in 39 Austrian league appearances since the start of last season, and has also made a name for himself in the Champions League. Leipzig, semi-finalist of the last C1, spent more than € 20 million to enlist him according to the German press. The last player to leave Salzburg for the Bundesliga set the bar very high: it was Erling Haaland, Golden Boy 2020 in the Borussia Dortmund jersey.
Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax Amsterdam)
Ajax Amsterdam often rhymes with great hope. Just ask Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea), Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona) or Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus). Ryan Gravenberch, 18 years old and indisputable holder, seems set to enrich the list. The tall (1m90) midfielder relay remained on the bench for his first call to the selection of the Netherlands, last November. “He is developing in an incredible way, ignited the former player Rafael van der Vaart on Dutch TV. He is going to leave for 50 or 60 million euros. His game is more and more direct and his dribbling comes at the right time. It’s great to see. ” One of the comparisons that comes up often is that which associates him with Paul Pogba, for his ease with the ball, his lanky physique and his deceptively nonchalant attitude. In October, the daily Tuttosportmentioned the interest of Juve and Barça for Gravenberch, under contract until 2023 with Ajax.
Gravenberch’s superb goal against Midtjylland on November 25 (3-1)
Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund)
Here is a nugget which cuts the stages. At 16 years and 1 day old, Youssoufa Moukoko became the youngest player in the history of the German championship against Hertha Berlin on November 21 (5-2). Then the youngest scorer 27 days later, against Union Berlin (1-2). Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Moukoko did not leave the African continent until the age of 10. At the start of the season, he played with German under-20 internationals. According to Dortmund insider Jan Perret in the columns of The team, it was for him that the Federation had lowered the legal age for playing in the Bundesliga by one year, so that he did not have to wait until he was 17. A prodigious striker, the left-hander took advantage of Erling Haaland’s injury to continue starting. Could they play together in 2021? “If we think we need both on the pitch, then why not?” Suggested Borussia coach Edin Terzic who, like his club, is doing everything to hatch Moukoko.
Pedri (FC Barcelona)
At just 17 years old, Pedri had a full 2019-20 season in Spanish D2, in Las Palmas. His ease in dribbling and his vision of the game caught the eye of FC Barcelona. In a competitive squad this season, the attacking midfielder has played … all La Liga matches, more than half of which as the holder. The Spaniard took advantage of the injuries of Ousmane Dembélé and Ansu Fati, but above all eclipsed the star Philippe Coutinho (28) and the other rookie in his sector of play, the Portuguese international Trincão (20). His lucidity and maturity for his age are so many reasons for hope in a Barça in reconstruction, with the uncertain future of Lionel Messi. His full match on the lawn of Real Valladolid on December 22 (0-3), including a heel to serve Messi on a plateau, confirmed many observers: Pedri has a golden future in front of him.
Pedri’s first goal in the Champions League against Ferencvaros on October 20 (5-1)
Darwin Nuñez (Benfica)
Sporting director Pablo Longoria acknowledged it in an interview with the channel Telefoot : the Olympique de Marseille “was in the battle for Darwin Nuñez”. But it was at Benfica that the Uruguayan center-forward set down his suitcases last summer, from Almeria (Spanish D2) against € 24 million. For his debut in the Europa League, the one announced as the succession of Suarez and Cavani in his native country scored a hat-trick against Lech Poznan (4-2). A real threat in the air from the height of his 87 meter, he especially sketched a flexibility and a great creativity ball to the foot, showing that he does not live only by the goal. “He already has this capacity for decision, execution, finishing, and speed,” said Lisbon coach Jorge Jesus. The Catalan press ensures that FC Barcelona has ticked its name for the next mercatos. It remains to be seen whether a club will break the piggy bank for Nuñez as Atlético de Madrid had done for another Benfica offensive prodigy, João Félix, recruited for € 126m in the summer of 2019.