The 50 most exciting teenagers in English football
30. Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea)
There has been little reason for optimism at Portman Road this season as Ipswich hurtle towards League One – but Chalobah has stood out as a rare functioning cog in the Tractor Boys’ machinery.
While relegation is never a desirable addition to one’s CV, the physical tests and mental challenges of a difficult season in the Championship are sure to stand the 19-year-old in good stead for his next step.
29. Ben Brereton (Blackburn)
Another youngster showing that an exit from Old Trafford can open more doors than close them, Brereton spent his formative years in the Manchester United academy before moving on to Stoke and then Nottingham Forest.
It was at the City Ground where the clever striker really made his mark, scoring 20 goals in 15 games to break into Philippe Montanier first team while still only 17. His subsequent £7m transfer to Lancashire hasn’t yet lived up to expectations – just the three league starts in 2018/19 so far – but time is very much on his side to rekindle the spark that got fans so excited about him in the first place.
28. Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Manchester City)
Eight days shy of his 17th birthday, Harwood-Bellis lined up in front of nearly 15,000 fans at the Stadium of Light as Manchester City’s under-23s took on Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy last month.
The occasion hardly seemed to faze the Stockport-born defender, however, and such experience playing up in senior competitions will provide a perfect platform for one of the most highly regarded players in his age group.
27. Morgan Rogers (West Brom)
The Baggies consistently punch above their weight when it comes to producing elite talent, demonstrated most recently in their FA Cup clash against Brighton, when they ended extra time with four academy graduates on the field.
One of those was Rogers, who came off the bench five days after netting four goals in an U23s game. A striker with electric pace and versatility across the attacking line, his name will become more and more familiar – particularly if he stars in this summer’s U17 European Championship finals for England.
26. Joe Willock (Arsenal)
A goalscoring midfielder who has drawn stylistic comparisons with Paul Pogba, Willock made headlines with a brace against Blackpool in the FA Cup last month but has only been handed two minutes of senior football since.
If Arsenal have been trying to convince him not to follow older brother Chris – now of Benfica – out the door, they have failed to present a compelling case so far. Wherever he ends up, though, the England Under-20 international won’t stay quiet for long.
25. Oliver Skipp (Tottenham)
Much was made of Tottenham’s failure to recruit new players in the summer, but such hysteria underestimated both Mauricio Pochettino’s willingness to trust young players and his ability to improve them.
Skipp’s emergence as a reliable midfield understudy for one of the best sides in the country has been understated but no less impressive, prompting Pochettino to liken his teenage enforcer to “a 30-year-old man” after his first Premier League start in December.
24. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
The first 2001-born player to feature in the Premier League, Saka is in as much of a hurry to the top as he is to make an impact when crossing the white lines into battle.
The 17-year-old Londoner is comfortable at full-back or on the wing, like so many of today’s teenage widemen, and Unai Emery has already found ways to use his youthful exuberance. Saka is the latest in a long line of very promising players produced at Hale End recently.
23. Eric Garcia (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola hailed the personality, intelligence and vision of fellow La Masia alumnus Garcia after he made his Manchester City debut in December, then picked him again for both legs of the League Cup semi-final last month.
The Catalan centre-back represents everything City’s manager looks for in a modern defender; confidence and bravery in possession, pace in recovery and quick adaptation to the physical demands of English football.
22. Rekeem Harper (West Brom)
A Premier League debutant just five months after turning 17, Harper continues to wait for his second top-flight appearance 18 months on – but West Brom’s relegation has provided the prospect of more regular opportunities under Darren Moore in the Championship.
The England U19 international has featured in the Baggies’ last nine games since early January (starting eight of those), and looks set to be a pivotal part of their engine room as they push for an immediate return to the top flight.
21. Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough)
There are 13 teenagers with more minutes in the Championship this season, but none with more goals than Tavernier, who has netted once every 121 minutes on average this term – no mean feat in a team that has hardly scored freely.
The Leeds-born winger’s composure and movement have really caught the eye on Teesside, and Tavernier promises an exciting career ahead at the Riverside.
20. Danny Loader (Reading)
The fact that Loader made just two appearances in India at the Under-17 World Cup probably says more about the sheer depth in quality of England’s 2000-born age group than any slight on the Reading striker, who scored twice in his only 90 minutes at that tournament against Iraq.
The Royals’ struggles have opened a door for the forward, who now has to take his chance with performances and goals on the senior stage.
19. Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
Goals invariably follow Nketiah wherever he goes. He’s netted 26 in his last 29 starts in under-23 football, and even managed a brace in his first meaningful run-out for Arsenal in October 2017.
However, he’ll celebrate his 20th birthday before the end of the season and must face up the fact that he has little prospect of ousting Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the near future. With that, the Lewisham native may be the next English teenager looking for a foreign loan to springboard his career.
18. Jayden Bogle (Derby)
Frank Lampard’s third-most-used player this season has enjoyed a terrific breakthrough campaign at Pride Park under the former England midfielder.
Full-back Bogle hasn’t looked back since being promoted to the Rams’ first team in September, and even caught the attention of a handful of Premier League clubs in January. Whether or not the Rams make the play-offs, the emergence of their dynamic young defender is one significant plus point of 2018/19.
17. Ben Wilmot (Watford)
While most of his contemporaries on this list were cutting their teeth in academy football, Wilmot was starting for Stevenage Town in League Two as a 17-year-old centre-back.
A solid defender with natural maturity and an ability to read the game, his promise convinced Watford to part with almost £2m last summer, and the Hornets demonstrated their conviction in his quality with League Cup starts at Reading and Tottenham.
An intriguing loan move to Udinese in January will only accelerate the development of a player Javi Gracia believes could end up in midfield.
16. Max Aarons (Norwich)
Aarons is another defender who has grabbed his chance to shine this campaign, and his performances for the table-topping Canaries have earned him links with Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal since establishing himself in Daniel Farke’s starting XI.
Strong, athletic and attack-minded, he has more goals and assists than any other teenager in the Championship – having not missed a league game since August – and could be set for Premier League football next term one way or another.
15. Reece James (Chelsea)
No teenager has more appearances in the Championship this season than Wigan’s on-loan Chelsea youngster, who has played at right-back and in midfield as Paul Cook’s side look to secure safety.
James flew under the radar during his formative years in the excellent academy at Cobham, but the 19-year-old’s combination of physicality and technique have boosted his stock in the last two years. Now he is one of the Blues’ brightest prospects.
14. Jack Clarke (Leeds)
Clarke’s direct and effective play on the wing has made him one of the teenage stars of this Championship season, and he is now a trusted member of Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion-chasing Leeds side.
Two goals in 11 substitute appearance by New Year’s Day marked positive steps in his maiden senior campaign, and that string of impressive cameos off the bench were enough for him to start five of the Whites’ following six games before an untimely health scare.
The York-born 18-year-old has most recently been linked with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, after previous ties to more or less every other top-six club in the Premier League.
13. Domingos Quina (Watford)
Born in Guinea-Bissau, raised in Portugal and developed by the academies of Benfica, Chelsea and West Ham before his move to Watford in August 2018, Quina’s journey to a Premier League first team has been eclectic.
But it has surely been worth it for both him and the Hornets, who have already seen their paltry £1m investment pay off.
A European Championship winner with Portugal at U17 and U19 level, the 19-year-old’s neat passing, evasive movement and bravery in possession have elevated him to a full place in Javi Gracia’s matchday squad.
12. Ben Woodburn (Liverpool)
After bursting onto the scene weeks after his 17th birthday, becoming Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer with a League Cup strike against Leeds, Woodburn has racked up almost 30 senior appearances in the subsequent 24 months.
He hasn’t quite been able to maintain lofty expectations – the Wales international was recalled from a loan spell at Sheffield United in January after just one Championship start – but the technically gifted and intelligent forward remains highly rated by Jurgen Klopp.
11. Ruben Vinagre (Wolves)
The Portuguese revolution at Molineux has taken Wolves to heady heights, and this season could yet finish with European qualification for the West Midlanders.
Vinagre made 13 appearances for the club on loan from Monaco last term, and he’s already bettered that return since his permanent switch from Ligue 1 in the summer.
The 19-year-old’s speed and willingness to carry the ball forward from wing-back suit Nuno Espirito Santo’s 3-5-2 perfectly, while defensively he has also adapted quickly to Premier League demands.