Best Under-21 XI in the world right now
Four years ago, around the FIFA World Cup time, I picked out the best Under-21 XI in the world at that time and almost every single player in that XI has gone on to live up to the hype. In fact, all XI players in that list currently play for a club from Europe’s Top 5 leagues that finished in the top 3 of their respective leagues.
Six of those players are now crucial members of their country’s present World Cup squad, three players play for a country that didn’t qualify for the World Cup and only two players missed out on a World Cup squad.
Now it is time to pick the current best Under-21 XI in the world and that is no easy task. There are so many amazing young players out there representing some of Europe’s Top clubs and that means, some tough decisions have to be made.
We have gone with the classic 4-4-2 formation for this XI and also given emphasis to the player’s form in recent seasons.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Still only 19, Donnarumma has been playing at the professional level for three seasons now.
The Italian has played 125 games for AC Milan and has played every single minute of Milan’s previous two league campaigns. In his 106 Serie A games for Milan, he has kept 34 clean sheets.
The teenager is one of Milan’s brightest prospects. However, the club’s failure to return to the pinnacle of European football could affect his future soon and if Donnarumma is to move to a new club, there will be no shortage of suitors for him. Any club that signs him will have a top goalkeeper between the sticks for many years to come.
Donnarumma is considered as the long-term replacement for his idol, Gianluigi Buffon, in the Italian National Team and he has already played 6 times for the Azzurri after making his debut in 2016.
Honourable mention: Alban Lafont (Toulouse FC)