Top 5 teenagers in Europe in 2016/17
How many of these youngsters will be the subject of big-money bids in the future?
Football has changed over the years as clubs look to take shortcuts to success by buying the best available talents in what has now essentially become a hyperinflated transfer market. As a result, we have seen clubs with better resources pull away from the rest of the pack and bridging the chasm between such clubs has become an increasingly difficult task.
However, there are a few clubs who still stick to developing a team with the talent available to them in their academies. These clubs have stuck to their ethos of giving youngsters chances and many of them have repaid the faith shown in them.
A select few are not even old enough to vote or drive but they have already made a name for themselves with a ball at their feet (or in their hands). We look at five such players who have impressed in the 2016/17 season.
5) Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan) – 18 years old
At 6’5” tall, it is hard to believe that Gianluigi Donnarumma has only just turned 18 years old. When he made an appearance for Italy against France at the age of 17, he broke the record for Italy’s youngest ever debutant – a record that belonged to another goalkeeper Piero Campelli and had stood for more than a century.
Having established himself as AC Milan’s number one for pretty much two seasons now, Donnarumma is the shining light in a Milan side that is in a rebuilding phase following their last Serie A title in 2011/12.
“He is a keeper who is demonstrating himself to be different than the others; he is an exception. He is young, but is already playing at a high level.” – Buffon
While Milan’s defence isn’t exactly the best in the league anymore, Donnarumma has been a huge factor in why they have kept so many clean sheets. In fact, he is tied for second with 10 clean sheets in the league this season – behind AS Roma’s Wojciech Szczesny (12) and tied with the likes of established powerhouses such as Juve’s Gianluigi Buffon and Inter’s Samir Handanovic.
No goalkeeper has made more saves in Serie A this season than Donnarumma (113). Among the top 10, he is the only goalkeeper under the age of 21!