4 teenage attackers to watch out for next season
In the world of professional football, few things are as valuable as talented young players and once a youngster shows signs of extraordinary talent, agents and teams fall over themselves in a bid to sign him and build their future around the player.
Phrases like 'catch them young' have been immortalized in the football lexicon while words like prodigy, whizkid, and teenage sensation are bandied about by the media.
History is littered with scores of prodigiously talented young forwards who displayed high levels of performance from their teenage years. Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, and Kylian Mbappe are some of the more notable examples in the last 15 years, while going further back, we find names like Ronaldo de Lima, Raul Gonzales, Michael Owen and probably the greatest of them all; Pele who all held their own on the highest stage from a very young age.
The heightened pressure for success in the current era means that an ever-increasing amount of responsibility is placed on such young players, with little margins for error or development, and while some revel in the spotlight like Kylian Mbappe and Marcus Rashford, others fall by the wayside (think Renato Sanches).
Every era ushers in its own crop of talented young players from whom much is expected and there are more than a fair share of teenagers in the game today who have shown an immense amount of promise.
In this piece, we shall be highlighting four teenage attacking sensations to watch out for in the coming season.
#4 Callum Hudson-Odoi - 18 years (Chelsea)
Callum Hudon-Odoi shot to fame after playing a starring role when England finished as runners up in the 2017 UEFA European U-17 Championship and was also instrumental in their World Cup win at the same level a few months later. For his efforts in the latter competition, he was voted into the team of the tournament.
A Chelsea player through and through, the 18-year-old has been a part of the Blues academy since he was seven years old and helped the club to consecutive FA Youth Cups in 2016 and 2017 as well as the U18 Premier League in 2017.
Given his high-performance levels for the reserves, it was only a matter of time before the Ghanaian-English national made the step up to the senior team and his full Chelsea bow came on January 1, 2018, in an FA Cup clash with Newcastle.
Last season was expected to be the one where Odoi cements his stake in the Chelsea lineup, but despite showing promise on the occasions when he was played and making his international bow, Maurizio Sarri still showed a distinct lack of faith in his abilities.
The Italian gaffer's treatment of the Chelsea youngster was a major cause of consternation between him and the fans and seemingly concerned about his long-term future at the club, Callum Hudson-Odoi sought a way out of Stamford Bridge.
In what was a strong indicator of his esteem, one of Europe's biggest clubs Bayern Munich went all out in their bid to sign the 18-year-old, with the England international even handing in a transfer request all of which were turned down by Chelsea.
Eden Hazard's departure has opened up a world of opportunity for Callum and the appointment of Frank Lampard who showed a high affinity for giving young players a chance during his spell at Derby County bodes well for the youngster's chances.
Indeed, there are reports that Hudson-Odoi is close to signing a new contract with Chelsea, while he could also inherit Hazard's vacated number 10 jersey.
The 18-year-old is expected to feature heavily next season and Lampard would be hoping that he can step up as the club begins a new era post-Hazard.