FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Teenagers in the World 2017: 60-51
60. Josip Brekalo (Stuttgart, on loan from Wolfsburg)
Need to know: ‘The Croatian Arjen Robben’ is Brekalo’s nickname – and not just because of the pace that could have earned him a career as an 800m runner.
Brekalo, like the Dutchman, constantly demands possession and has the tricks to make full-backs dizzy. Wolfsburg paid Dinamo Zagreb €6m for the left-winger in 2016 before loaning him to Stuttgart.
Brekalo has made over 60 appearances for Croatia at youth level.
Highlight so far: In just his second appearance for Stuttgart, Brekalo came off the bench, spun his Heidenheim marker and, with the ball running away from goal, somehow rocketed a shot in off the angle from way out.
1:40 for Brekalo’s beauty
59. Amadou Haidara (Red Bull Salzburg)
Need to know: Box-to-box midfielder Haidara’s arsenal includes volcanic shooting power and the instinct to get himself into range – which is basically anywhere within 35 yards of goal.
Haidara announced these gifts at the 2015 U17 World Cup, where his two screamers and combative performances helped Mali finish as unforeseen runners-up.
This year the 19-year-old has helped Salzburg conquer the UEFA Youth League, bagged a couple of goals in his first few starts for their first team – belters, naturally – and debuted for Mali.
Highlight so far: Haidara’s ball recovery, infectious energy and eagerness to put Belgium on the back foot were central to Mali pulling off an upset and reaching their first FIFA final in 2015.
58. Viktor Tsygankov (Dynamo Kiev)
Need to know: “He's cut from the same cloth as Andriy Shevchenko,” said Dynamo Kiev president Ihor Surkis of Tsygankov: a pacy, prolific left-footer who prefers to play on the right wing.
‘Sheva’ was suitably impressed – he handed Tsygankov his maiden senior Ukraine call-up in 2016 when he was just 18.
Born in Israel, where his goalkeeper father Vitaliy was playing, Tsygankov counts Mario Gotze and Lionel Messi as his heroes and has considerable experience for his age.
Highlight so far: Tsygankov snatched Dynamo a point at Besiktas in the Champions League with his first touch after coming on, becoming their second-youngest European marksman after… well, you know who.
57. Giuseppe Pezzella (Udinese)
Need to know: Calcio embraces full-backs who can use both feet, and Pezzella has begun his mission to emulate Paolo Maldini, Gianluca Zambrotta & Co. strongly.
Neapolitan Pezzella helped Italy finish runners-up at the 2016 European U19 Championship, and third at the 2017 U20 World Cup. The combative left-back joined Udinese from Palermo for €4.5m after the latter’s Serie A relegation in 2016/17.
Highlight so far: Pezzella was instrumental in Italy’s last-16 upset of France at the U20 World Cup, producing a fine cross for Riccardo Orsolini’s opener and an admirable tackle to deny Jean-Kevin Augustin.
56. Juan Foyth (Tottenham)
Need to know: Foyth has been likened to Gerard Pique and John Stones, and his elegance and ball-playing have strong roots – he was a No.10 in the Estudiantes youth ranks until being abruptly converted into a centre-back just before he turned 16.
Having impressing for the Rat Stabbers and been lauded by their chairman Juan Sebastian Veron, Foyth was courted by PSG – but Tottenham ultimately wooed him, largely thanks to having a former Argentine defender in Mauricio Pochettino at their controls.
Highlight so far: The Argentina U20 international did well on his Spurs bow against Barnsley in the League Cup, standing out with his neat ball work, precise passing – and even a 50-yard run.