20th – Sergino Dest (Ajax)

Age: 19 Position: Right-back Contract until: 30 June 2022
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It is tough to be the poster-boy of US Soccer. The sport has taken off in the country in this millennium but yet the national team continues to dramatically underperform, best demonstrated by the embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Yet despite that there appear to be more and more young American players making waves in Europe. Sergino Dest is just the latest, even though he didn’t come through the youth systems in America, growing up instead in Holland.
Dest is your archetypal modern full-back. Comfortable on the ball, excellent going forward, and tactically disciplined. Oh and he’s got a bunch of pace to boot.
Fun Fact: Dest, who was born in Holland to a Dutch mother and a Surinamese-American father who was a serviceman stationed abroad, never visited America until 2014 when a trip to New York opened his eyes…
"We were on a shuttle bus and, as we came out of a tunnel, we were in the middle of the city," Dest said in an interview with the USMNT-focused Scuffed podcast.
"My eyes were instantly open."
Player Comparison: Dani Alves. At least on the pitch. If Dest has similar personality traits to the extrovert Brazilian we certainly haven’t seen them yet. However when he is on the pitch Dest, a quiet and reserved individual by and large, lets his play do the talking.
He’s brilliant with the ball at his feet and loves to bomb up from right-back, either down the flank or even into the middle at times - hardly a surprise from a player who has been schooled in the Ajax academy.
Who’s interested? Bayern Munich seem to be one of the big players in the race for Dest and appear to be furthest along. However recent reports have suggested that they have pressed pause on any potential move due to the coronavirus. Barcelona, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all been credited with an interest as well.
Market value: £16.2 million (All figures courtesy of Transfermarkt)

19th - Rayan Cherki (Lyon)

Lyons French forward Rayan Cherki celebrates after scoring a goal during the French Cup round of 64 football match between Bourg-en-Bresse (FBBP) and Lyon (OL) on January 4, 2020 at the Stade Marcel-Verchere Stadium in Bourg-en-Bresse. (Photo by ROMAIN LA

Image credit: Getty Images

Age: 16 Position: Attacking midfielder Contract until: 30 June 2022
Impudence. If we had to pick one characteristic of the 2003 class at Lyon it would be that and Cherki is no different. He grew up in the Lyon suburbs – to a father of Italian origin and a mother of Algerian origin – and he has no problems whatsoever with anything put in front of him on a football pitch, including when it comes to making opponents look very silly.
There’s plenty reminiscent of Hatem Ben Arfa in the way he plays, but observers will hope he instead follows in the footsteps of Karim Benzema in utilising his immense talent.
Cherki is an attacking wildcard who can play in any of the attacking positions in a 4-2-3-1. At the age of 16 he has all the tools he needs to make it to the top, all he needs is to have his head screwed on.
Fun fact: Just to get across how young this remarkable man is, he is the second youngest player in Champions League history and the youngest ever scorer in Lyon’s history.
Player Comparison: Hatem Ben Arfa
Who's interested? He seems very committed to Lyon already as a product of the club's academy but that hasn't stopped rumours that Real Madrid are already keeping tabs.
Market value: €18m

18th - Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV)

Age: 18 Position: Attacking Midfielder Contract until: 30th June 2023
The boy born in Utrecht to Moroccan parents and raised in the PSV academy is one of those number 10s you can’t help but watch. His technical ability, especially for his age, seems almost unlimited and he is able to play as a central player in a 4-2-3-1 or out wide in a 4-3-3. Nicknamed 'Motje' he can carve you up with his left foot, or whizz by you in a flash with his close control. This season he was a key player in Ernest Faber’s system.
This is a player who accumulated the most PSV appearances before turning 18 (31), surpassing Piet Giesen’s 57-year-old record. There is still work to do, he needs to develop himself tactically, but that will come and then who knows what the limit is in terms of what club he can play for. Internationally he has chosen Netherlands.
Fun fact: His childhood idol was Ibrahim Afellay, who after a long time away returned to PSV. That has allowed 'Motje' to realise one of his dreams, to play together with his hero. Ihattaren is already a firm fan favourite, and PSV supporters have their own song for him.
Player Comparison: Hakim Ziyech
Who’s interested? The Premier League vultures are circling. Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton are all credited with interest.
Market value: €20m

17th - Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Bukayo Saka

Image credit: Getty Images

Age: 18 Position: Left-back Contract until: June 30 2021
Saka hasn’t looked back since breaking into Arsenal’s starting XI this season. After playing left wing, he has made the left-back position his own, while he played an integral role in Arsenal’s eight-game unbeaten run in the Premier League before the postponement.
His filthy assist against Newcastle had tongues wagging, while his exquisite cross for Eddie Nketiah in the 3-2 win over Everton a game later caught everyone by surprise. “What a cross from Saka,” Gary Neville said on commentary. “I was having a mundane chat because I thought nothing was on.”
Saka has been the beneficiary of Arsenal’s willingness to experiment in the Europa League, and he has already proved himself ready for the step-up to the Premier League.
Fun Fact: In his GCSEs, Saka achieved four A*s and three As - six months before his Arsenal debut
Player Comparison: It would be easy to suggest former Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, but perhaps more appropriate would be Gareth Bale, who began his career at the back before being pushed further up. Saka has slotted in at left-back easily, but Mikel Arteta would have no hesitation putting him on the left wing either.
Who’s interested? With Saka entering the final year of his contract, Arsenal are reportedly desperate to tie him down on a long-term deal, but soon-to-be Premier League champions Liverpool have been linked with making a summer move for the youngster. Perhaps that could prove too tempting for Saka, although displacing Andy Robertson would be a difficult task.
Market value: £18 million

16th – Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)

Age: 17 Position: Attacking midfielder Contract until: 30 June 2021
Son of two US internationals, born in the north of England and forging a path in Germany, Giovanni Reyna is certainly your archetypal modern teenager isn’t he? In fact in many ways he is the archetypal footballing wonderkid, in the sense that it already feels as if he has been around forever.
Yet Reyna is still just 17, and only made his Bundesliga debut in January.
Born to former internationals Claudio and Danielle, Gio has said it felt as if there was a sense of inevitability he would follow in the family footsteps; football fans just need to be happy he didn’t rebel and choose basketball.
For in 2020 whilst new team-mate Erling Haaland has stolen the headlines at Dortmund, Reyna hasn’t been far behind. He announced himself in some style with an absolute rocket of a first goal against Borussia Dortmund before playing his part in Dortmund’s victory over PSG in the Champions League.
Like his compatriot Christian Pulisic, Reyna is thriving at a club that gives young players an opportunity and already some are labelling him Captain America, a moniker previously reserved for the now Chelsea forward.
Fun fact: He is named after his dad’s former team-mate Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Player Comparison: Kaka. It’s quite hard to find a good comparison to Reyna. Both his physical and technical attributes are off the charts at his age. His pace and power separates him from players his own age but his awareness and passing ability allow him to look right at home amongst far more experienced players. He can play wide and centrally and it will be fascinating to see what sort of player he develops into.
Who’s interested? Reyna’s dad Claudio was part of City Football Group and so was Gio, briefly, during his youth career so it’s no surprise that Manchester City are reportedly interested in the American. There was also some suggestion that England might be interested in his services at national team level but Reyna has made it clear he only wants to play for the United States.
Market value: £12.15 million

15th – Eduardo Camavinga (Stade Rennais)

Edouardo Camavinga #18 of Rennes during the Nimes Olympique V Stade Rennes, French Ligue 1, regular season match at Stade des Costieres on January 15th 2020

Image credit: Getty Images

Age: 17 Position: Midfielder Contract until: 30 June 2022
Ask anyone in football what the hardest position to break into the first team is as a teenager and universally they will say defensive midfield. Centre-back is right up there too but defensive midfielders need so much tactical discipline, general awareness and time both on and off the ball that it is hard for young players to fulfil that role in a senior set-up.
And that is what makes Eduardo Camavinga so special.
This kid has so much time you think he might have actually discovered time travel. He never, ever looks under pressure and will happily take the ball in any circumstances under any level of pressure. He is simply never fazed: two of his best performances this season came against PSG and Marseille.
He has achieved so much and is so grounded at such a young age that it is scary to think what he may be able to achieve.
Fun fact: Camavinga is the youngest player in history to be named Ligue 1 Player of the Month.
Player Comparison: Sergio Busquets. This is a really tricky one. Camavinga can fulfil pretty much every role in the midfield. He has been compared to compatriots Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi. Those are the trio who helped France to win the World Cup, yet they are very different players and that might be the biggest compliment you can give to the wide skill-set that Camavinga possesses.
His composure however is what is eerily reminiscent of a young Busquets, who changed the way the defensive midfield position was seen in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side.
Who’s interested? Manchester United are interested but it is Spanish giants Real Madrid who are thought to be leading the race for the teenager’s signature. In fact it is reported that were it not for the coronavirus pandemic he would already be a Real player…
Market value: £33.75 million

14th - Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Age: 19 Position: Central midfielder Contract until: 2024
Still only 19, Foden burst onto the scene when winning the Golden Ball in England U17’s World Cup-winning campaign in 2017, and ever since he has been trying to break into Manchester City’s first team.
That is no mean feat when you have David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho for company, but Foden’s minutes have been increasing year after year. Not as many minutes as some would like him to have, particularly with other English youngsters in this list now first-team regulars, but to have the opportunity to rub shoulders with such quality, while also being coached by Pep Guardiola, means good things will come to Foden if he waits.
The big moment for his City future will be when David Silva leaves. That will be at the end of this season, whenever that may be, and all eyes will then be on Guardiola and the recruitment team at City to see whether they search for a replacement or accept this is Foden’s time to shine. It would be a body blow for the 19-year-old if the club looked elsewhere.
Fun Fact: Foden became a father at 18, a couple of months before he became City’s youngest ever Champions League goalscorer in March 2019
Player Comparison: There have been some lofty comparisons, such is the quality people see in Foden. Former City former youth coach Jim Cassell called him ‘Messi-like’, while Foden has himself laughed off the 'Stockport Iniesta' tag – although the parallels are there to be seen with the Barcelona great.
Who’s interested? Silva’s impending departure means Foden has not really been linked with a move away himself, while he has also shunned loan moves in pursuit of more minutes at City.
Market value: £24.3 million

13th – Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)

Mason Greenwood of Manchester United celebrates scoring their sixth goal during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Tranmere Rovers and Manchester United at Prenton Park on January 26, 2020 in Birkenhead, England

Image credit: Getty Images

Age: 18 Position: Forward Contract until: 2023 (option for one extra year)
Why wax lyrical about Greenwood when we can get Robin van Persie to do it for us…
"I think he will be very good because during every game he tries to copy me," Van Persie said on Europa League’s Instagram story. "My style, my technique, my left foot, my way of finishing... so, I'm sure he will end up there [at the top]."
Greenwood’s ice-cool composure and natural finishing ability has understandably got fans at Old Trafford excited. Left foot, right foot – 51-49 left-footed according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Greenwood possesses the traits capable of making him United’s next great forward.
He is being carefully managed by Solskjaer, who has started Greenwood four times and brought him on 18 times in the league this season, but the youngster is taking his chances, averaging a goal every 110 minutes in the Premier League and Europa League so far.
Fun Fact: Solskjaer saw the potential in Greenwood when the player was eight, recalling: "The first time I saw him he stood out and I took a picture with him. He's now here. It's just what we do. I asked him for the picture because I knew he was going to be a player. He has probably got it, or his dad has probably got it.”
Player Comparison: Robin van Persie, of course.
Who’s interested? ESN reported Borussia Dortmund were keen on bringing Greenwood to Germany in return for Jadon Sancho, but in truth there is little by way of rumours linking Greenwood with a move away from Old Trafford. He’s a keeper (and a centre forward).
Market value: £26.1 million

12th – William Saliba (Saint-Etienne, on loan from Arsenal)

Age: 19 Position: Central defender Contract until: 30 June 2024
In the past pure athleticism might have been enough to see a young centre-back earn a place in the first-team. However in this day and age, as with goalkeepers, the modern centre-half needs a wide array of skills. Not only do they need the requisite defensive abilities, they also need awareness, calmness on the ball and a great reading of the game; such is the way so many coaches want to play.
That is why it is so impressive when young centre-backs earn first-team minutes and impressive is certainly one word you could use for William Saliba. The 19-year-old made his debut when he was just 17 and immediately cemented himself as a key part of the Saint-Etienne defence.
He has everything you would expect: big physical profile, excellent positional ability and a composure that belies his years. He’s also excellent on the ball and should fit right in when he arrives in the Premier League. He’s joining a team that is crying out for a defensive rock, perhaps he can finally answer the fans’ prayers…
Fun fact: He was born in the same commune as Kylian Mbappe and was coached by the forward’s dad when he was younger.
Player comparison: His former youth coach Fabio Frasconi likened Saliba to World Cup winner Raphael Varane. It’s a big comparison, Varane is one of the best defenders in the world, but it is an apt one. Back in July when Arsenal signed him, Eurosport France’s Martin Mosnier pointed to Saliba’s reading of the game at such a young age as one of the key comparisons with Varane. He also pointed out that he thinks he has more potential than fellow Saint-Etienne alumni Kurt Zouma.
Who’s interested? Arsenal signed Saliba last summer and sent him back to Saint-Etienne on-loan. Odds are he will return to North London for next season to take up a role in the heart of the Gunners’ defence.
Market value: £20.25 million

11th – Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge on September 28, 2019

Image credit: Getty Images

Age: 19 Position: Winger Contract until: 30 June 2024
If we were talking earlier about players feeling as if they have been around for ages, Hudson-Odoi feels as if he has been around for so long that we’ve reached the stage where people have started to give up on him.
To some extent you can understand their reasoning: injuries have really hampered his progress plus he has competition at Chelsea in Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Willian, Pedro and the imminent arrival of Hakim Ziyech.
However Hudson-Odoi is still just 19, Frank Lampard is clearly a fan and he has all the talent in the world. It’s rare to find a combination of his pace, trickery, awareness and power, it’s what immediately made the Stamford Bridge faithful fall in love with him. There is still work to be done but everything he has shown at Chelsea and with England suggests he can go right to the very top.
Fun fact: Hudson-Odoi’s brother Bradley is also a footballer and plays in non-league. They got their ability from their dad, a player in Ghana.
Player comparison: Eden Hazard is perhaps a lazy comparison but in terms of everything he does and will potentially mean to Chelsea fans it might be a good one. He is at his best on the left, terrorises opposition defences with his pace and close control and he is a big goal threat.
Who’s interested? Bayern Munich had a long-standing interest until Hudson-Odoi finally committed himself to Chelsea with a big new contract. It looks likely that for the time being he will be staying at Stamford Bridge.
Market value: £28.35 million
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