11 FIFA teenagers who should be on your radar
Talk in recent days and weeks has focussed on football's next superstar, Kylian Mbappe. The young Frenchman became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958. Nor is he the only teenager winning admirers in world football. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Christian Pulisic and Matthijs de Ligt are celebrated by the masses. None of them joined Mbappe at the World Cup. Their respective countries, Italy, the United States and the Netherlands failed to qualify. Each has made his mark in top UEFA leagues, though, and there are more up and coming stars just waiting for you to notice them.
Here are 11 of the best teenage footballers on the planet.
Alban Lafont won't turn 20-years-old until January but already has over 100 senior appearances. He made his debut for Toulouse in November 2015 and has been first-choice for the French side ever since. Lafont was born in Burkina Faso but moved to France in his youth. He has represented Les Bleus at various underage levels. In his century-plus, he has managed to keep an impressive 35 clean sheets while maintaining Toulouse's Ligue 1 status, often by the skin of their teeth.
Lafont's performances didn't unnoticed. He has just signed for Fiorentina in Serie A for a fee in the region of £7 million. He will be expected to go into the team straight away. Last season's first choice, Marco Sportiello, was only at the Viola on loan from Atalanta. He has now been loaned to Frosinone.
Just how closely did you watch the World Cup? Do you remember Senegal's right-back? He scored in the 2-2 draw with Japan, becoming the youngest African player to score a goal at a World Cup. At 19, he has already been capped 13 times. Wague looks like an extremely talented prospect.
He is playing for Eupen in Belgium. After falling out with the boss, last term, he won his place back in the season-ending playoffs. Following his work in Russia, bigger clubs will begin inquiring. The young Teranga Lion could make a move before the new season begins.
Talented youngsters always have opportunities to play at a relatively high level in the Eredivisie. Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia might be the Dutch league's next breakout star. Still only 18, he cracked the Feyenoord first team in December. He didn't hold down his place in the first eleven but made nine starts between the league and Champions League and came off the bench three times.
Malacia has been capped by the Netherlands at various underage levels. He is well-placed to continue developing over the next few seasons, his table set for successful careers for club and country.
The 19-year-old was eligible to play international football for Austria, Ghana and England. Born in Austria to Ghanaian parents before moving to England, he was blessed for choice. After selecting his country of birth, he has won six caps. His career began with MK Dons before he joined Augsburg's youth team in 2014. He has made his way through the ranks to earn 23 Bundesliga appearances since the 2016/17 campaign's run-in.
Danso has been linked with a move to Liverpool.Jurgen Klopp keeps up with developments in his home country. For now, however, the youngster will remain in the Bundesliga.
Just what the world needs, another talented French kid. France won the World Cup with a team has at least one more World Cup cycle in it, if not two, but the conveyor belt of talent is not slowing. Kounde broke into the Bordeaux first team in January and stayed there. he missed just one league game after his debut.
Kounde is 19. He has a great deal of promise for someone only 5' 10". His height may shift him to the flanks or into a holding midfielder role. Nevertheless, he has the skills to succeed.
The Bundesliga has been a hotbed for young talent in recent years. Arne Maier of Hertha Berlin stands out. Maier has been at Hertha for a decade but his debut for the first team in 16/17. This past season was a milestone. He started 14 league games and came off the bench three times as Hertha finished tenth in the Bundesliga.
Maier possesses an all-round game. He is comfortable on the ball but can also do the hard work in defence for his team. At 19, he will only improve. A future with die Mannschaft remains in the frame with caps won at progressive levels in Germany's international setup.
Kamara can do a job in central midfield or as a centre-back. The Marseille man is still only 18. To start of the season, he was used more in midfield but has since dropped back into defence. Kamara played six times in Marseille's run to the Europa League final but was an unused substitute in the defeat to Atletico Madrid.
He also made six appearances for Marseille in Ligue 1, starting the campaign's final three games, one in midfield. He must be careful not to let his versatility keep him from mastering either position.
Abdulkadir Omur had an excellent season with Trabzonspor in the Super Lig. He is 19, made fleeting appearances in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, but emerged in 17/18 to become h first choice on the right wing for his club. Omur played 29 times for the Black Sea Storm, scoring three times and assisting on six more strikes.
A very talented player, he has already shown himself to be among his team's most creative talents. He is yet to win a senior cap for Turkey but has played for their youth teams. His lone call-up to the senior team was a sightseeing tour.
Argentina regularly produces diminutive attacking midfielders. You may have heard of one or two whose surnames begin with M. Despite the different initial, Ezequiel Barco is the latest. He began his career at Independiente before moving north to play for former Argentina and Barcelona boss Tata Martino at Atlanta United in MLS. Barco can play as a left winger, a striker or an attacking midfielder. Since moving to the States, he has scored four goals and registered an assist in 16 matches.
Barco has been capped by the Argentine U20 squad. He has the talent but the attacking queue for the Albiceleste is long. He might need to make the move to Europe to earn recognition with the senior side.
The last time Santos had a promising young left-sided attacker, rolls were something you used to keep hot dogs from burning your palm. Real Madrid missed out on Neymar, who briefly chose Barcelona. Real made sure it wouldn't happen twice by paying €45 million for 17-year-old Rodrygo. With Peixe since he was 10, Rodrygo broke into the first team this season. To date, he has scored five goals in the Brasileiro Serie A and one in the Copa Libertadores.
He will remain with Santos this season before moving to Madrid next season. It remains to be seen what impact the Brazilian teen will have, but the early signs are extremely promising.
Romero is an extremely talented player but even at 19, it appears he might not realise his full potential due to injuries. He has already suffered a serious injury to his knee. The damaged cruciate cost him a move to Arsenal. He eventually moved to PSV Eindhoven in January where injuries have held him back again. He is yet to debut for the Dutch champions.
Before moving to the Eredivisie, Romero played for Velez Sarsfield in Argentina, making 40 appearances after debuting at 17-years-old. He scored nine goals for Velez. By now, he is desperate to net his first for the Boeren as long as he has been sidelined.