A plethora of talented youngsters are on the cusp of making their name resonate with football fans across the globe. This article, in four parts, aims to highlight the 20 wunderkinds that are primed to set the world alight in the next 12 months.
A few criteria based on the author’s personal opinion have been set to determine this list. Firstly, the age criterion is not strictly imposed, a talent irrespective of whether he is 17 or 22 could be set for a breakthrough in the coming year.
Although this list includes those that might be known to fans tracking youth development or the players’ respective clubs, this list will try to refrain from including any youngster that is already significantly well known or has already been in the public eye for quite a while. A few examples are Leon Goretzka, Maximillian Meyer, Bernardo Silva, Ante Coric, Youri Tielemans, Marko Pjaca and Piotr Zielinski.
Another view that has been considered for the creation of this list is the situation a youth player finds himself in with his manager or the club. For example, Manchester United academy graduates like Timothy Fosu Mensah or Axel Tuanzebe are not included in this list, because even though Jose Mourinho admires their talent, he’s not known to promote youngsters.
A few others that have just missed out are Manchester City youngsters, Enes Unal and Marlos Moreno, as well as Andreas Pereira, Andre Silva, Gerson and Presnel Kimpembe.
#20 Hirving Lozano
We begin our list with a talent hailing from Mexico City, Hirving Lozano. The prolific young winger, who so far has been a one-club man playing for Pachuca, is a prodigy many believe to be the best of his generation in Mexico. The 21-year-old has certainly become the club’s most important player and it will not be long before he moves across to Europe to compete in a league where he could further his career.
In the recently concluded Liga MX, Lozano was the catalyst for Pachuca’s ascent to the 2nd spot in the table prior to being knocked out in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. During Pachuca’s run till the quarter finals and in the currently ongoing CONCACAF Champions League, Lozano has managed 12 goals and 6 assists in 18 appearances.
Nicknamed Chucky, he first came into the spotlight when he scored the winning goal against Club America on his debut. The tricky left winger is adept at playing across the attacking midfield positions and has been vastly impressive for not only his club but also for the national youth teams.
The Mexican rose to prominence by directly being involved in five goals in the first game of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship last year. The Mexico U-20 squad lifted the Championship, and Lozano was aptly awarded the Golden Boot for his feats during the tournament.
His exploits earned him rave reviews and he has since been constantly linked with a move away. The Dutch giants, PSV had a bid immediately rejected by the club.
During the time he was representing his country in the Olympics, his father-in-law claimed that he was primed to become the next Mexican at Manchester United. A move so far has failed to materialise but there is no doubt that he is one of the world’s finest talents and next year will be pivotal for his development should he finally arrive on the European continent.