European football, at the moment, is replete with youngsters who have risen to prominence following exposure to top-tier football. Almost every league in Europe has a young player among its most influential stars.
CIES, the International Center for Sports Studies, recently released a study on under-20 players across the continent. There, the research organisation listed the U20 players who played the most minutes in 2021.
On that note, here's a look at the five U20 outfield players with the most minutes in 2021.
Note: Minutes per match has been used as the metric to rank the players.
#5 Jude Bellingham (70.2)
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is one of the most promising talents in European football. The 18-year-old joined the Bundesliga giants from Birmingham in 2020, and has gone on to cement a starting spot for himself.
Such has been his importance to BvB that he was one of the most active under-20 outfield players in 2021. He played a total of 4220 minutes in the calendar year, translating to 70.2 minutes per match.
The teenager has scored four goals this season, and provided ten assists in 28 games for Dortmund across competitions. He has been linked with a return to England recently.
If he keeps up the good work, one of the Premier League giants could snap him up in the near future.
#4 Charles de Ketelaere (74)
Club Brugge's Charles de Ketelaere rose through the club's youth ranks before graduating to the senior team in 2019. Now in his third season with the first team, De Ketelaere has become one of Brugge's most influential players.
The centre-forward can play across the attacking line, and can even couple up as an attacking midfielder. In 2021, the 20-year-old amassed 4536 minutes across competitions for Brugge.
The Belgium international has been in fine form this season, scoring 13 goals and assisting nine across competitions for the club.
Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City were linked with the player in the January transfer window, but nothing materialised.
#3 Jurrien Timber (80.7)
Ajax centre-back Jurrien Timber played a significant number of minutes in 2021. He moved to the senior team in 2020, and has since made 58 appearances for them across competitions.
A hamstring injury, COVID-19 and pancreatitis hampered the 20-year-old's 2020-21 campaign, but he has been a regular for them this term. In 2021, the defender played 4438 minutes, averaging 80.7 minutes per game.
While most of his appearances have come at the centre of defence for the Dutch giants, he can also play as a right-back. This season, he has made 27 appearances for Ajax across competitions.
#2 Ilya Zabarnyi (84.0)
Dynamo Kyiv defender Ilya Zabarnyi also racked up a lot of minutes among under-20 players in Europe in 2021. The 20-year-old was promoted to the club's senior team in 2020, and immediately made the centre-back position his own.
He made 36 appearances for the club across competitions last season, and has added another 23 under his belt this term. Overall, the defender played a total of 5006 minutes in 2021, which translates to 84 minutes per game.
Zabarnyi played a key role in Kyiv's 2020-21 domestic double. Chelsea were linked with the youngster last summer, but a move didn't materialise.
#1 Ryan Gravenberch (86.4)
Ajax's 19-year-old central midfielder Ryan Gravenberch played the most minutes among under-20 players in 2021. The Dutch international rose through the ranks at Ajax before joining the senior team in 2019.
In 2021, the 19-year-old registered 4687 minutes, averaging 86.4 per game. He has made 28 appearances for the Dutch giants across competitions this season, and is a vital cog in the team.
Gravenberch's consistent performances have forced the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City to take note.
The three European giants have been linked with the teenager recently, and he could be the subject of a transfer tug-of-war in the summer.