Top 10 under 21 best players 2020
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Luka Jovic has been superb since moving to the Bundesliga, but he could easily be leading the line at any of Europe's mega-clubs. J'rgen Fromme/Firo Sportphoto/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP Photo
10. Luka Jovic, FW, Real Madrid/Serbia
Why he's on the list: The Serbian Luis Suarez, with less bite
Estimated transfer value: €70 million / $78 million
This season's breakout star in the Bundesliga is one of the main reasons Eintracht Frankfurt made it to the semifinals of the Europa League and were in contention to finish in the Champions League places. Jovic, 21, was the most prolific member of the Eagles' superb trio of attackers, alongside Ante Rebic and Sebastian Haller and you can count on one hand the number of players his age who have scored as many goals in Europe's top five leagues.
Jovic isn't particularly strong or fast, but he has a natural feel for making the right moves in the box and a habit for finishing with calm and precision. He's also tenacious, happy to hunt down balls, hassle defenders and create opportunities with his relentless work rate.
What's next? In mid-April, Frankfurt exercised a buy-option to make his two-year loan from Benfica permanent until 2023. The fee was rumoured to be €12m / $13.4m, which is almost indecently low considering his output and market value. Frankfurt then turned around and sold the 27-goal man to Spanish giants Real Madrid un June 4 for an initial €60m. Jovic will be tasked with leading the line for Zinedine Zidane's new-look Madrid in 2019-20 and figures to be a household name soon. -- Raphael Honigstein
Marcus Rashford has been in the Man United first team for only three years but should be the man around which the super-club rebuilds. Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Sipa USA/AP Photo
9. Marcus Rashford, FW, Manchester United/England
Why he's on the list: The future at Old Trafford
Estimated transfer value: €114m / $128m
Marcus Rashford is now established as Man United's first-choice forward at the age of 21, having enjoyed a rapid rise to stardom since scoring twice on an unexpected debut as an 18-year-old in February 2016. The Manchester-born player repeated his debut heroics with two goals on his Premier League debut against Arsenal and a goal on his England debut against Australia in May 2016. A product of United's youth system, Rashford is blessed with blistering pace, two quick feet and awareness of those around him. In short, he is a player United will build around.
What's next? Rashord signed a new four-year, €250,000-a-week contract to ensure his future at Old Trafford. Rashford grew up a United fan in Manchester, but interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid had previously led to speculation that Rashord could leave for Spain. The striker will be key for Man United as they aim to show they are serious about winning the major trophies again. -- Mark Ogden
Gianluigi Donnarumma's future seemed unsettled last year, but the Milan-loving goalkeeper will surely stick around. Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA/AP Photo
8. Gianluigi Donnarumma, GK, Milan/Italy
Why he's on the list: The next Buffon
Estimated transfer value: A new world record for a goalkeeper
It's kind of weird that a 20-year-old feels like he has been around for ages, but he's already in his fourth season at Milan and unsurprisingly ranks as the youngest player to make 100 appearances in Serie A, beating other precocious types such as Gianni Rivera, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Mancini and Francesco Totti. Loads of Italian goalkeepers have been proclaimed the next Gigi Buffon over the years, but Donnarumma is the only one who comes close.
What's next? Donnarumma would have been at PSG if his agent, Mino Raiola, had his way. Unconvinced by Milan's former owners, he thought the Parc des Princes was the right place for his client to develop. Last season, the war around his future unsettled Donnarumma, who, as a Milan fan, wished to stay. It's hard to imagine him moving elsewhere in the near future. Now that Leonardo Bonucciis gone, Donnarumma is Milan's highest-paid player. -- James Horncastle
Frenkie De Jong is, at a few weeks over 22 years old, already one of the more exciting midfielders in soccer. Ajax's loss is Barcelona's gain. Pro Shots/SIPA USA/AP Photo
7. Frenkie de Jong, MF, Barcelona/Netherlands
Why he's on the list: The next Cruyff
Estimated transfer value: €75 million / $84m (in January)
De Jong is, quite simply, the most exciting midfielder in world football. He can pass the ball for fun, showing courage in the tightest of spaces, but the extras in his game make him special. His dribbling and acceleration, often from deep areas of the pitch, can completely open a game, as Luka Modric discovered when De Jong famously left him sprawling with one turn and burst of speed during Ajax's majestic win at the Bernabeu in April.
Comparisons to the original Dutch master, Johan Cruyff, are both frequent and inevitable, but perhaps he will prove capable of even more. De Jong has style and guts to match the silk. The frightening thing is that this is surely only the beginning.
What's next? Joining Lionel Messi & Co. In January, Barcelona announced that they had signed him to a five-year contract, which he will begin in July. -- Nick Ames
Vinicius has made his big move to Real Madrid. Now it's a case of becoming their talisman as the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema age. David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images
6. Vinicius Junior, FW, Real Madrid/Brazil
Why he's on the list: The Neymar whom Real wanted when they didn't get Neymar
Estimated transfer value: €140 million / $157m (his buyout clause not public but his market value is gigantic)
Vinicius is phenomenal in the literal sense of the word. Phenomenally good, yes -- that's a decent beginning. He possesses the power and balance of the young (Brazilian) Ronaldo, only his "beat" is the wing (preferably the left) rather than rampaging down the middle of the opponents' half toward the penalty area.
Take away his football prowess, and you'd see that Vinicius is a truly special athlete -- you'd hate to have to face him ... or chase him. Real president Florentino Perez is a massive fan: When the club missed out on signing the current PSG man to Barcelona, Perez started the hunt for the alternative there and then. They succeeded.
What's next: There's no doubt whatsoever that Vinicius is not only committed to Real Madrid but also romantically thrilled to be there. He recently admitted what was an open secret in Spanish football: Barcelona not only courted him but also made a more lucrative offer than the one he accepted from the Bernabeu. Simply put, Vinicius is loving life at Real Madrid. He always wanted to play for them. -- Graham Hunter
Kai Havertz is already the playmaker Germany sorely need to push the next generation to contending for international titles. He should be Bayern's next anchor too. Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon/Picture Alliance/DPA/AP Photo
5. Kai Havertz, MF, Bayer Leverkusen/Germany
Why he's on the list: The next Mesut Özil
Estimated transfer value: €100m / $112m
Germany's most talented player of his generation has the world at his feet. Havertz is a classic playmaker: the man who brings structure to the centre and feeds attackers with killer passes. There's an effortlessness to his game too. He floats through midfield, evades challenges, calmly distributes the ball and moves up into the box to score. His playing intelligence also allows him to shine in a number of central positions.
What's next? There has been strong interest in the 19-year-old from Chelsea as well as Barcelona, but Bayern are expected to come in the hardest for him. The Bavarians have made no secret of their attempts, but Bayer 04 Leverkusen have little intention of selling him this summer and reportedly rejected a €90 million offer from Bayern for him. Ultimately, he could play four to five years in Munich before setting his sights on one of the Spanish or English giants. -- Raphael Honigstein
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been a revelation for Liverpool since breaking into the first team. Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Getty Images
4. Trent Alexander-Arnold, DF, Liverpool/England
Why he's on the list: The next great two-way English defender
Estimated transfer value: €69m / $77m
The Liverpool right-back, born and raised in the city, has progressed through the club's youth system since he was spotted by local talent scouts at 6 years old. As a schoolboy, Alexander-Arnold's talent was singled out by Steven Gerrard, who in his autobiography described the youngster as a star of the future. Blessed with pace, strength and an athletic physique, Alexander-Arnold has become a key figure in Jurgen Klopp's team. His development the past two years has seen him become a regular in Gareth Southgate's England squad.
What's next? Liverpool have moved quickly to secure Alexander-Arnold to a long-term contract, with the player signing a new deal earlier this year that runs until June 2024. With Liverpool once again a force in English and European football and Alexander-Arnold a self-confessed supporter, having grown up within a short distance of Anfield, it's difficult to envisage him playing anywhere else. -- Mark Ogden
Matthijs de Ligt is linked with joining former Ajax teammate De Jong at Barcelona but hasn't decided yet. Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
3. Matthijs de Ligt, DF, Ajax/Netherlands
Why he's on the list: The new Maldini
Estimated transfer value: €80m / $90m
The way de Ligt flung himself at the ball to head home Ajax's stunning winner at Juventus in April was reminiscent of a gnarled, uncompromising veteran. But he is only 19, and the surprises do not end there. He is the captain of this remarkable side, a teenager with the physique and mentality of a player who has seen and done it all.
When de Ligt was younger, he excelled at both tennis and hockey; he is an all-rounder on the pitch too, blessed with exceptional technique and a rare knack for leadership. It is virtually impossible to think of a defender with comparable maturity in the modern era -- not to mention an emerging player who simply adores the art of defending.
What's next? De Ligt has always been coy when discussing his future, but earlier this month, local media suggested that he would join Barcelona or Bayern Munich. "We don't talk about players from other teams, although I know where he will play next year," Barca director Guillermo Amor said Tuesday. Juventus are also expected to make a move for the Dutchman, with the Old Lady to looked to inject some youth into their ageing defence. -- Nick Ames
Jadon Sancho has been a revelation in the Bundesliga following his exit from Man City, but is a return to the Premier League in the cards for the young English attacker? Ina Fassbender/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP Photo
2. Jadon Sancho, FW, Borussia Dortmund/England
Why he's on the list: Dortmund's latest success story
Estimated transfer value: €114m / $128m
The 19-year-old Londoner was originally spotted by Watford, who had Sancho on their books from the age of 7 before losing him to Manchester City as a 14-year-old. City identified the forward as one of the first players to emerge from their academy, but having grown frustrated by a lack of opportunities at the club, he made the bold move to leave England for Germany by signing for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017. Sancho has since taken the Bundesliga by storm, even pushing Pulisic to the subs' bench. The English international's pace down the wing and ability to create chances has made him one of the most sought-after youngsters in Europe.
What's next? It's no surprise that the Premier League's biggest clubs are interested in Sancho, with Manchester United leading the chase to sign the youngster. But it won't be that easy: With Pulisic no longer at Dortmund, the club might be inclined to fight to see Sancho unless they get an offer in the region of €114m / $128m for a player they signed for €9m / $10m less than two years ago. -- Mark Ogden
Kylian Mbappé has nothing left to prove in France? Surely, a move out of Ligue 1 is coming soon. SIPA/AP Photo
1. Kylian Mbappe, FW, Paris Saint-Germain/France
Why he's on the list: The future Ballon d'Or winner
Estimated transfer value: €250m / $280m
Mbappe burst onto the scene as a teenager two seasons ago, making a name for himself at Monaco, where he took the Champions League by storm in the second half of the 2016-2017 season. The French prodigy never looked back. He joined PSG in the summer of 2017, like Neymar, and continued his progress in the French capital. He was one of the stars of the 2018 World Cup, which he won with France, and he has been peerless in Ligue 1 this season. He has frightening pace, incredible skills on the ball and is a finisher too. Mbappe plays wide as a winger for France but more as a centre forward for PSG, and his future is probably as a proper No. 9