Ranked! The 50 most exciting teenagers in world football

Ranked! The 50 most exciting teenagers in world football
(Image credit: Future)

The most exciting teenagers in world football today are already household names. You have the internet to thank for that, of course, along with modern life's obsession with "the next big thing". 

Once upon a time, these were the lads who would spend their formative years biding their time: now, they're able to hold employers to ransom for game-time and a full map of their development. While the previous generation flicked through the NME for tips on the next big bands, we now live in the age of Spotify's AI tools dropping new artists into your playlists – and in a culture of Football Manager wonderkids, it's no surprise to see talents under 20 scattered across a first-team XI.

FourFourTwo consulted analysts, scouts and writers to come up with a defined collection of the must-watch starlets of tomorrow. Remember their names – no pressure, of course, lads.

FourFourTwo's 50 most exciting teenagers in world football, 2023

50. David Kalokoh

David Kalokoh of Ajax U19, during the match between Ajax U19 v Liverpool U19 at the De Toekomst on October 26, 2022 in Amsterdam Netherlands

David Kalokoh in action against Liverpool U19  (Image credit: Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Club: Ajax
Nation: Netherlands
Age: 18

Taller than most of his contemporaries and a step ahead of them mentally, David Kalokoh might not be the most obvious superstar of his age group: but he has a lot more swagger than most. His turn of pace is fun but he loves a pause on the ball; his signature is to wait for defenders and goalkeepers to commit before dropping a shoulder. He's the footballing equivalent of Usain Bolt in that 100 metres final: It'll be fascinating to see how he plays with opposition stars – he's outgrown most around him.

49. Iker Bravo

Tobias Fleckstein of Duisburg (L) and Marlon Frey of Duisburg (R) challenge Iker Bravo of Leverkusen (C) during the pre-season friendly match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and MSV Duisburg at IMS Arena on July 09, 2022 in Velbert, Germany.

Iker Bravo in action against Duisberg while at Leverkusen (Image credit: Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

Club: Real Madrid B (on loan from Bayer Leverkusen)
Nation: Spain
Age: 18

So, this is a fascinating origin story: snared by La Masia, Iker Bravo ended up at Bayer Leverkusen but went back on loan to Spain… to play at Real Madrid's Castilla side before permanently joining next year. Bravo surpassed Florian Wirtz as Leverkusen's youngest-ever player, yet his imposing style already fits in with senior football. Leverkusen said he made a mistake by leaving: he could be on the way to becoming the next Benzema.

48. Amario Cozier-Duberry

Amario Cozier-Duberry of Arsenal during the PL2 match between Arsenal U21 and West Ham United U21 at Meadow Park on August 11, 2023 in Borehamwood, England.

Amario Cozier-Duberry of Arsenal in action against West Ham United U21 (Image credit: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Club: Arsenal
Nation: England
Age: 18

Unplayable. That's what Jack Wilshere said of Amario Cozier-Duberry, who was taken to the United States on preseason with the senior Arsenal side. The youngster feels very stylistically similar to Bukayo Saka – and with Mikel Arteta yet to find a suitable backup for his Starboy, perhaps the answer in waiting in the wings: he's slight, slippery and can raise the tempo as much as he can slow it down. No wonder he got Wilshere's seal of approval. 

47. Adama Bojang

Adama Bojang of Gambia celebrates after scoring the first goal of his team during a FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023 Group F match between Gambia and Honduras at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on May 22, 2023 in Mendoza, Argentina.

Adama Bojang of Gambia celebrates after scoring at the FIFA U-20 World Cup (Image credit: Buda Mendes - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Club: Stade de Reims
Nation: Gambia
Age: 19

Adama Bojang is known as 'the Gambian Hurricane' – and for good reason. The teen is a whirlwind: leggy, confident and despite his stature, he doesn't blast the ball, choosing more often than not to place it. The replacement for Folarin Balogun at Reims, he's going to be fun to watch in France. 

46. Alfie Devine

Alfie Devine of England smiles during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023 Group E match between Uruguay and England at Estadio La Plata on May 25, 2023 in La Plata, Argentina.

Alfie Devine of England in action during the FIFA U-20 World Cup (Image credit: Tim Nwachukwu - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Club: Port Vale (on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Nation: England
Age: 19

Being a midfielder often requires a player to do just about everything on the pitch to a decent standard with a few key traits here and there. Alfie Devine is one of those youngsters who's at least a 7/10 in every aspect of a No.8's role. He can affect the game in the final third nicely, his movement off the ball is particularly good – and he's been unlucky not to have made a league performance for Tottenham. That'll come in time, no doubt.

45. Mohamed-Ali Cho

Real Sociedad's French forward #11 Mohamed-Ali Cho is pictured during the Spanish Liga football match between Real Sociedad and Girona FC at the Reale Arena stadium in San Sebastian on August 12, 2023.

Real Sociedad forward Mohamed-Ali Cho in action against Girona (Image credit: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Real Sociedad
Nation: France
Age: 19

The 'new Alexander Isak' tag might hang heavy to some but a boy named Mohamed-Ali is aptly charismatic enough to bear the burden. Real Sociedad have a fascinating attack with a resurgent Take Kubo out on the right (a previous member of these lists), captain Mikel Oyarzabal able centrally or left and Ander Barrenetxea a slippery winger to complement them. Where his team-mates in the frontline are graceful, Cho has the pace, finishing and power to bulldoze. Who knows how complete he'll look in a few years' time. 

44. Soungoutou Magassa

Soungoutou Magassa of AS Monaco looks on during the warm up prior to the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between AS Monaco and RC Lens at Stade Louis II on September 02, 2023 in Monaco, Monaco.

Soungoutou Magassa of Monaco in action against Lens (Image credit: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

Club: Monaco
Nation: France
Age: 19

The path to becoming a defensive midfielder is often an interesting one: it makes sense to go from centre-back to shielding a backline. That's what Soungoutou Magassa has done on occasion, though he may still make a defender yet. The young French talent is tall, calm on the ball and a good carrier: at Monaco, he'll no doubt get ample opportunities over the coming months.

43. Kobbie Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo of Manchester United in action during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Olympique Lyonnais at BT Murrayfield Stadium on July 19, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kobbie Mainoo of Manchester United in action during pre-season against Olympique Lyonnais (Image credit: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Club: Manchester United
Nation: England
Age: 18

Manchester United's early season has been marred by controversy and bad luck – and Kobbie Mainoo is a part of the latter. A confident, ambipedal talent who seems to operate in his own space and evade presses across the pitch, it would have been fun to see him start the season – it'll be interesting to see how he matures from hereon in and whether he becomes a bright spark in what's shaping up to be a difficult season at Old Trafford.

42. Leny Yoro

Lille's French defender #15 Leny Yoro celebrates with an opening goal during the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais FC and Lille LOSC at The Roazhon Park Stadium in Rennes, western France on September 16, 2023.

Lille defender Leny Yoro celebrates with an opening goal during against Stade Rennais (Image credit: SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Lille
Nation: France
Age: 17

Watching Leny Yoro in youth football was like seeing someone's big brother come to play with the year group below. Now, the defender has taken to Lille's first team and not looked out of place. He towers over forwards, can tackle with both feet and his anticipation is excellent. He's a superstar in the making for a country that already has a quite frankly ridiculous wealth of talents in that position. 

41. Myles Lewis-Skelly

Myles Lewis-Skelly of Arsenal during a pre season friendly between Boreham Wood and Arsenal U21 at Meadow Park on July 29, 2023 in Borehamwood, England.

Myles Lewis-Skelly of Arsenal in preseason against Boreham Wood (Image credit: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Club: Arsenal
Nation: England
Age: 16

There's something about Arsenal's Hale End academy and its ability to spawn midfielders this good. Myles Lewis-Skelly is delicate, thoughtful on the ball, but has the kind of intensity whenever he's out of possession that modern coaches wish they could teach. He seems tailor-made for Mikel Arteta's No.8 position – is he one of the principle reasons Granit Xhaka was never properly replaced when he departed north London?

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