FourFourTwo's 59 Best Under-21 Wonderkids in the World: 30-21
Words: Andrew Gibney, Jonathan Harding, Priya Ramesh, Michael Yokhin, Tom Kundert, Joe Brewin.
30. Jean-Kevin Augustin, 19 (PSG)
He may not have picked up as much game time as he’d have hoped at PSG, but there’s no doubt that Jean-Kevin Augustin is regarded very highly for both club and country.
The striker finished top scorer as France’s U19s won the European Championship in Germany this summer, equalling the tournament’s individual goal haul en route. His strike in the 4-0 final rout against Italy took his tally to six, the same amount as Alvaro Morata managed in 2011.
He may have only scored twice for PSG, but there’s much more to come from the young striker. Augustin has it all: he's quick and can drift out wide, but he has also developed his upper-body strength and control of the ball. With a deadly right foot to cap it off, at 19 he has all the tools to become a top-class forward. AG
29. Emre Mor, 19 (Borussia Dortmund)
One of Dortmund’s attacking summer signings, Mor was bought from Nordsjælland for his ability to outwit opponents in tight spaces. So far the Denmark-born Turkey international is certainly proving a bright spark when it comes to using his feet to find answers.
The pint-sized trickster has remarkable control, and uses it to duck and dive between opponents almost as if to deliberately embarrass them. Given that he so often takes on players, his success rate (currently 61% in 2016/17) is impressively high.
He can be guilty of trying to do too much, which sometimes means that his good work is wasted with a late or poor pass, but that will be ironed out under Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund. Seeing more of… er, Mor will be very exciting. JH
28. Davinson Sanchez, 20 (Ajax)
It’s not often that Ajax scout in South America (that’s usually PSV’s realm) – instead, the Amsterdam club tend to focus on the Scandinavian countries. But that changed with the recruitment of scout Henk Veldmate, and they picked up two bright young talents in Colombian duo Mateo Cassierra and Davinson Sanchez. While the former is still adapting to Dutch football, the latter has turned out to be arguably one of Ajax’s best acquisitions in recent memory.
Sanchez, who was scouted by Barcelona in May, is a monster of a defender. He frequently wins aerial duels, completes his tackles cleanly and recently even scored twice in an Eredivisie game against PEC Zwolle.
While his long passing from the back still has room to improve, Sanchez is already going a long way towards justifying why he was rated as one of the best young talents in the Copa Libertadores (which he won with Atletico Nacional earlier this year, playing every minute of every game). PR
27. Breel Embolo, 19 (Schalke)
Swiss star Embolo is all about the power. Power running, power shooting – it’s what he quickly made a name for at Basel. It’s why he averaged a goal every three games and an assist every four. It’s why he’s so hard to get off the ball when he’s in control and why he can be so formidable on the frontline.
It’s also why Schalke smashed their transfer record to bring him to the Bundesliga for €20m this summer. The Gelsenkirchen side needed pace, power and intelligence in their attack, and the 19-year-old gives them all of it. Embolo is exciting to watch when he holds the ball up and turns a defender in a strong move more becoming of an experienced player.
However, off the back of a quiet Euro 2016, he hasn't really hit the ground running at his new club. He’s not been helped by Schalke’s dreadful start, nor by struggling to find his best position just yet, but two goals against Borussia Monchengladbach last time may well light the touchpaper for a brighter short-term future. JH
26. Jairo Riedewald, 20 (Ajax)
Before their first match of the new season, Ajax released a small promo video looking back at the pain of losing the title on the last day of last season. Its pay-off declared a desire to give everything to ensure it didn’t happen this time around. The narration was done not by captain Davy Klaassen or even vice-captain Joel Veltman, however, but youngster Jairo Riedewald. “F*** doubt,” he proclaimed.
Riedewald follows an illustrious line of ball-playing, versatile defenders at Ajax that includes Ruud Krol, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. The 20-year-old’s passing is sublime, and his ability to spot and execute long, vertical passes is at a fantastic level.
Riedewald isn’t the tallest or strongest of defenders but has a keen ability to read attacks, which allows him to influence play either as a stopper or in midfield. The Dutchman has the potential to be a top-quality centre-back in the future, but needs to ensure that his versatility and ability to play in different positions at Ajax doesn’t hurt that. PR