3 teenagers in Europe who have exceeded expectations this season
The 2019/20 season kicked off with much excitement in August this year, with the Premier League, Serie A, LaLiga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 promising the usual mix of last-minute goals, drama and footballing narratives. This has been especially true in the Premier League, where the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee has thrown up a whole new avenue of discussion and controversy.
Each European league has had its fair share of different storylines and headlines, whether it is the fact that Liverpool have started the season like a house on fire, that the Bundesliga title race is tighter than it has been for several years, or that minnows Granada are amongst the big boys in LaLiga.
In the opening stages of the season, we have been wowed by the array of stars plying their trade in Europe and players such as Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne have lit up their respective leagues so far this season. Add to the mix emerging and exciting young talents and there is certainly no shortage of entertainment to be had this term.
This list is dedicated to the youngsters, or more specifically, teenagers who have surprised us all this season with their consistently stellar performances and have grabbed their opportunity at the highest level. It seems as though 2019 has been the year for youth, as the likes of Mason Greenwood, Marc Guehi, Brandon Williams, Mohamed Ihattaren, Per Schurrs and Marash Kumbulla have burst onto the scene this season.
For this list, we are looking only at players who have exceeded expectations, or who have just broken out this season, so the likes of Jadon Sancho and Alphonso Davies will not be considered.
Honourable mentions: Eduardo Camavinga (Stade Rennais, age 16), Dwight McNeil (Burnley, age 19), Sergino Dest (Ajax, age 18), Hamid Junior Traore (Sassuolo, age 19), Mohamed Simakan (Strasbourg, age 19)
#3: Dejan Kulusevski
Club: Parma (on loan from Atalanta)
Not many heads were turned when the news emerged that Atalanta youth prospect Dejan Kulusevski would be moving to Parma on loan for the 2019/20 season. Indeed, it was seen much as any other loan move would be- as a chance for the player to gain exposure to first-team football, and for the team to gain a solid player for the season.
However, Kulusevski has impressed one and all with his performances for the side from northern Italy, who currently occupy ninth place in the Serie A table. As a left-footed player on the right-wing, Kulusevski tends to drift inside and look to influence play from a more central area. His unusually large build, for a winger (he stands 6 ft 1 in tall), means that he sometimes struggles to beat his man on the outside and whip in a cross, but he more than makes up for it with his close control in tight areas.
So far this season, he has made 10 appearances, even starting 3 matches as a number 10, which is testament to the influence he can have in the middle of the park. His total of 7 goal contributions (2 goals and 5 assists) is more than anyone else in the Parma squad, and he also puts up impressive creative numbers, with 2.7 key passes per game for the likes of Andreas Cornelius and Gervinho to feed off of.
Kulusevski has played for his country at nearly every age level, and is certainly deserving of a call-up to the senior squad sooner rather than later.