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Top-10 talents of Europe (U18)

Some players have a very late breakthrough in professional football. For example, Jamie Vardy, who signed at Leicester City when he was 25 years old. The year before he played at a non-league club, and look at what kind of career he is having now. But there are also players who have a start of their career which is the other way around and make their debut at a very young age. We analyzed the biggest U18 talents, based on our data. Let’s take a look.

10. Luka Romero – Lazio – Player Level of 1130

Luka is the son of Diego Romero, an old professional football player who played for clubs in Argentina, Slovenia, Mexico, and Ecuador. He did not have as much potential as his son Luka, though. The Argentinian right-winger or attacking midfielder played his youth at RCD Mallorca and moved to Lazio Roma last summer for a transfer fee of around €200.000. He already played nine games for the first team of Mallorca, where he became the youngest player to play for Mallorca, by far. When he was only 15-years and 7-months old he made his debut in the 2-0 lost game against Real Madrid. Since he came to Lazio, he has not played much. Currently, Romero has a Player Level of 1130. Hopefully, he can soon make more minutes in a first team. This way he can develop the best way possible and improve his Player Level.

9. Andreas Schjelderup – FC Nordsjælland – Player Level of 1397

A player from a lower league, but maybe this is key for fulfilling his potential. The 17-year old striker, who can also play as an attacking midfielder, already played 32 games for the first team in which he scored six and assisted four. Not bad statistics for a 17-year old! Schjelderup played in the youth academy of Confederations League-sensation Bodø/Glimt. In the summer of 2022, he signed for Nordsjælland. He made his debut against Brøndby about a year ago, which makes him the second-youngest player for Nordsjælland to make his debut for the club. Back then he was just 16-years and 8 months old. With a Player Level of 1397, he is very close to the Team Average of Nordsjælland, which is 1499. This means that Schjelderup maybe has to think about his next step when he keeps on developing as he does.

8. Álvaro Bastida – Cádiz CF – Player Level of 1669

With only 17-years and 9-days old, Bastida is the youngest player to make his debut for Cádiz, with a gap of more than a year to his runner-up. Since his debut, the central midfielder played ten games for the first team of Cádiz. He is also a youth international for the Spain U18 or U19 team, and with a Player Level of 1669 as a 17-year old, that is not really surprising.

7. Cristhian Mosquera – Valencia CF – Player Level of 1695

Another Spanish player in the list of biggest talents. The future looks bright for Spain, but also for Mosquera. This young central defender is only 17-years old and already played some matches for top-club Valencia. In January this year, he made his debut against Sevilla (1-1). And he did not come on from the bench, he was already a starter! With his Player Level of 1695, he is still far away from the Average Team Level of 3180. But still, when he can grab some playing time every now and then, he can become a great player.

6. Gonçalo Esteves – Sporting CP – Player Level of 1820

Gonçalo Esteves is a Portuguese right-back or right midfielder who played in the youth academy of FC Porto just like his brother Tomás Esteves (who still plays for FC Porto). He joined Sporting last summer and since then had a very good development in Lisbon. This even led to his debut against Gil Vicente on the 18th of December 2021. This made him the fifth youngest ever to play for Sporting, leaving behind some big names like Quaresma and João Moutinho. Esteves has a Player Level of 1820. That is not enough for a starter at a big club like Sporting CP, but of course, the Portuguese is still very young and has enough time to develop himself.

5. Lesley Ugochukwu – Stade Rennais FC – Player Level of 1864

Ugochukwu is a 17-year old defensive midfielder who sporadically plays his games for Stade Rennais in Ligue 1. He even started a few. He made his debut in the 5-1 win against Dijon when he was 17-years and 30 days old. This makes him the third youngest in the history of Stade Rennais. With Camavinga breaking through and now Ugochukwu who is about to break through, Stade Rennais demonstrated how to prepare young midfielders for first team football to the rest of the world. Just like many other 17-year olds, his Player Level is still a lot below the Team Average. But with his Player Level of 1864, he still has a lot of time to grow towards the Team Average of 2928.

4. Ilias Akhomach – FC Barcelona – Player Level of 2312

The first product of La Masía (the youth academy of FC Barcelona) on this list. Ilias Akhomach did not play too many games for Barcelona yet, but when he did, he really showed his potential. The Spanish right-winger with Moroccan roots made his debut on November the 20th in the Catalonian derby against Espanyol, in which they won 1-0. Since then he played another two games, but with concurrents as Dembélé, Ferran Torres and Adama Traoré on his position, it is not easy for the youngster to make minutes in the first team. Ilias has a Player Level of 2312, which is a lot slower than the Team Average of 4129. This is why he maybe has to think about a loan deal this summer.

3. Youssoufa Moukoko – Borussia Dortmund – Player Level of 2746

Moukoko is a player that has been in the news for years. The striker, who was born in Cameroon, has been scoring loads of goals and giving assists as a youth player. In the 2017/2018 season, he scored 40 goals and 7 assists in 28 games. In the season after that, he scored 50 and assisted 9, also in 28 games. This is why this player already made the headlines before he even made his debut for the first team. Eventually, he did. When he just had his sixteenth birthday he came on for super-striker Haaland. That made him the youngest player ever for Borussia Dortmund. Since that debut, Moukoko played 27 games for the club in which he scored 3 and assisted 2. The youngster has a Player Level of 2746. For a 17-year old that is very high, but it is still a lot lower than the Team Average of 3957. Moukoko has to keep training hard and maybe think about being loaned out to a club where he can make more minutes for a first team.

2. Daniel Samek – SK Slavia Praha – Player Level of 2766

After Daniel Samek made his way through the Slavia Praha youth academy, he made his debut at this club in May 2021 in the game against FK Jablonec. Back then he was only 17-years and 3-months old. Since then, the defensive midfielder already played 23 games for one of the bigger clubs of the Czech Republic. In these games, Samek already showed his productiveness with three goals and four assists. That is why he is now seen as one of the bigger talents in Europe. With his Player Level of 2766, his future looks very bright.

1. Gavi – FC Barcelona – Player Level of 4084

Of course, the number one on this list has to come from La Masía. After the breakthrough of Pedri in Camp Nou, Gavi is the next big thing of Barcelona. The boy who joined La Masía in 2015, made his debut against Getafe on the 29th of August 2021. He was the fourth-youngest player to make his debut for Barcelona, being even younger than Lionel Messi. After that, the youngster already played 26 games for the Blaugranas, in which he scored two and assisted three. When he is fit, he is assured of starting almost every time. And that is well deserved, looking at his Player Level. Gavi has a Player Level of 4084. With that, he is in ninth place in the FC Barcelona squad, and first in our top 10.

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