FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Teenagers in the World 2017: 60-51
55. Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Arsenal)
Need to know: Mesut Ozil, minutes after helping Arsenal best Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final, suddenly demanded a cameraman’s attention. He pointed towards a surprised Reine-Adelaide, who was suited among a crowd of Arsenal players, and declared: “This is the Arsenal future.”
With his zeal for flair, the 19-year-old midfielder has enraptured onlookers while playing for Arsenal’s reserves and French youth sides, though he has been urged to add goals to his game.
Reine-Adelaide has eight Arsenal appearances to his name so far, but he's yet to add to that tally this season.
Highlight so far: The Frenchman’s unpredictable dribbles were key to France’s 2015 European U17 Championship conquest. He was duly named in its Team of the Tournament.
54. Dan-Axel Zagadou (Borussia Dortmund)
Need to know: Borussia Dortmund’s first gamble on a French teenager banked them an astronomical profit – and the early signs are that giant defender Zagadou will prove a similar hit.
Youth specialists Dortmund plucked the 18-year-old from PSG’s youth ranks, despite competition from Manchester City. Zagadou, who can play at centre-back or left-back, went straight into Peter Bosz’s starting XI and has stood out with his frame-defying dribbles and forcible defending.
Highlight so far: Dortmund kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 games of 2016/17. With the France U18 captain in their backline, they began their Bundesliga campaign with five successive shutouts.
53. Carles Alena (Barcelona)
Need to know: Alena joined Barcelona as an eight-year-old, at which point he’d have loved to know that Xavi would be raving about him a few years later.
His Messi-esque wonder goal against Roma in the UEFA Youth League had Planet Football salivating, and it came as little surprise that the 19-year-old’s new contract (penned in September 2017) had a whopping €75m release clause in it – despite just three La Liga appearances to his name.
Alena, 19, possesses all the inventiveness an apprenticeship at La Masia imparts into players, and is viewed as Andres Iniesta’s successor.
Highlight so far: “If there’s anybody who won’t freeze on the big stage, it’s Carles.” Alena’s Barcelona B coach Gerard was right: on his Barcelona debut in November 2016, the left-footer thumped in a 33-yard screamer to grab a 1-1 draw at Hercules.
52. Federico Valverde (Deportivo La Coruna, on loan from Real Madrid)
Need to know: The hopeful heir to Toni Kroos’s throne at Real Madrid, Valverde boasts dynamism, a turn of pace, stamina, skill and a fearsome shot. His best attributes are his laser vision and pinpoint passing.
Madrid bought Valverde from Penarol in 2016 and loaned him to Deportivo La Coruna for the 2017/18 season. The Montevideo native seized the Silver Ball at the 2017 U20 World Cup, and helped Uruguay qualify for Russia 2018 with three appearances.
Highlight so far: Valverde marked his senior Uruguay debut with a 30-yard long-ranger in a 2-1 victory over Paraguay in World Cup qualifying.
51. Alejandro Pozo Pozo (Sevilla)
Need to know: With Pozo's impeccable touch and pristine passing in mind, it’s surprising to consider that he started out as a right-back. It was as an attacking midfielder that he began intriguing Barcelona, however, prompting Sevilla to tie him down until 2020.
The youngest Spaniard to play for Sevilla Atletico – the Seville heavyweights’ B team – ‘Pozito’ was nominated for the 2017 Golden Boy award ultimately won by Kylian Mbappe, and is a mainstay for Spain’s U19s.
Highlight so far: In November 2016, the then-17-year-old’s smashing volley earned Sevilla Atletico a 1-0 victory over Mirandes in the Spanish second tier.
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