10 youngsters we can't wait to see in the Champions League this season
Frenkie de Jong (Ajax)
It’s already been quite the season for Frenkie de Jong. The 21-year-old stole the show during his international debut for the Netherlands against France this month, while both Spurs and Barcelona have reportedly had £40m-plus offers for his signature recently turned down. Had Ajax failed to beat Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League play-off in August, it’s unlikely that the Dutch midfielder would still be sporting red and white colours.
However as Ajax get ready to battle it out with Benfica and AEK Athens for that Group E runners-up spot behind Bayern Munich, the man whose silky skills have lead to comparisons with Luka Modric has decided to stay put and see what his side is capable of. If De Jong continues his early season form, Ajax should be more than capable of progressing to the knockout stage.
One potential superstar Barça did manage to get their hands on this summer was mazy Brazilian forward Malcom, although even that wasn’t exactly straightforward. The 21-year-old was all set to join Roma from Bordeaux, until the Spanish giants muscled in just moments before he was due to board a flight to the Italian capital.
To add insult to injury, Malcom then scored against the Giallorossi in a pre-season friendly. In a side which already boasts Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele, it’s unlikely the youngster will start many Champions League games. But Barcelona will no doubt want to prove that all the behind-the-scenes drama was worth it by sending him on as a super sub.
Justin Kluivert (Roma)
Roma, on the other hand, will be hoping that their earlier (and more successful) young transfer target will make the Malcom disappointment irrelevant. Justin Kluivert, the son of former Barça striker and Champions League winner Patrick, was a pivotal member of the Ajax side that finished runners-up in the Eredivisie last season, scoring 10 goals including his first ever hat-trick.
Although his time in Serie A has been limited to just two substitute appearances so far, the Dutch attacker’s vital assist in August’s 1-0 win over Torino suggests it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through to the first team properly.
Timothy Weah (PSG)
Justin Kluivert isn’t the only son of a footballing legend tipped to follow in their father’s footsteps this season. Timothy Weah, the youngest child of the 1994/95 Champions League’s top scorer George, spent most of last season playing for PSG’s second side in the fourth tier of the French game.
However the 18-year-old striker has broken through to the first team this season, netting against both Monaco in the French Super Cup and Caen in a 3-0 Ligue 1 victory. Appearing to have inherited the pace and skill that made his father a PSG favourite, the young striker – already a USA international – may well be a concern for the defences of Group C’s Napoli, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade.
Goncalo Guedes (Valencia)
Like Frenkie de Jong, Goncalo Guedes also reportedly rejected a move to a north London club this summer, choosing Valencia over Arsenal (among many others) as he left PSG in a deal worth €40m. The Portuguese winger isn’t exactly a stranger to the Spaniards, having played 33 Liga games for them on loan in 2017/18, scoring five goals in the process to help them finish fourth.
Yet this season the 21-year-old, who also impressed for his country at the World Cup, will enjoy his first taste of Champions League football in a group which includes Manchester United, Young Boys and Juventus.