Ranked! The 50 most exciting teenagers in world football

40. Kobbie Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo of Manchester United celebrates scoring a goal to make the score 1-0 with Shola Shoretire (R) during the Premier League 2 match between Manchester United U21 and Brighton & Hove Albion U21 at Leigh Sports Village on October 8, 2022 in Leigh, England.

Kobbie Mainoo (left) of Manchester United celebrates with Shola Shoretire after scoring against Brighton and Hove Albion (Image credit: Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Club: Manchester United
Nation: England
Age: 17

Eligible for Ghana and England, Kobbie Mainoo is has made the bench for Manchester United already in the Premier League. The is confident, two-footed and able to create separation from his markers – with such fierce competition for places at Old Trafford, it'll be interesting to see how he matures from hereon in. 

39. Vitor Roque

Vitor Roque of Athletico-PR celebrates after scoring the first goal of his team during a Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2022 quarter final second leg match between Estudiantes and Athletico Paranaense at Jorge Luis Hirschi Stadium on August 11, 2022 in La Plata, Argentina.

Vitor Roque of Athletico Paranaense celebrates after scoring the first goal of the quarter-final second-leg match against Estudiantes (Image credit: Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

Club: Athletico Paranaense
Nation: Brazil
Age: 17

Endrick is already off the market, destined for Real Madrid after impressing at an obscenely young age. Vitor Roque is the hipster's choice, instead. 

Roque has a similar small stature and an ability to make the square foot of space around defenders' ankles his playground. Explosive, tenacious and a good ball striker, he's the typical South American forward… not that he'll be there for long if he continues like this. 

38. Wilfried Gnonto

Wilfried Gnonto of Leeds United celebrates their sides second goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and AFC Bournemouth at Elland Road on November 05, 2022 in Leeds, England.

Wilfried Gnonto of Leeds United celebrates scoring against Bournemouth (Image credit: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Club: Leeds United
Nation: Italy
Age: 19

One half of Yorkshire's greatest double act of 2022. Wilfried Gnonto set up Crysencio Summerville in consecutive heart-stopping Peacocks comebacks but the Leeds United forward has been coming for a while now. Italy's youngest-ever scorer, in the long-term at least he might just be an excellent silver lining to missing out on landing a big-name striker in the summer. 

37. Angelo

Angelo of Santos runs with the ball during the match between Santos and América MG as part of Brasileirao Series A 2022 at Urbano Caldeira Stadium (Vila Belmiro) on April 24, 2022 in Santos, Brazil

Angelo runs with the ball during the match between Santos and America MG (Image credit: Ricardo Moreira/Getty Images)

Club: Santos
Nation: Brazil
Age: 17

The youngest Santos player in the Copa Libertadores, surpassing Rodrygo, Angelo might be on the same path. A menace on the right-wing, able to cavort his way through opponents like cones, he's more of a creator than a finisher but could even become a midfielder in Europe. He's one to watch – if only to try and guess when on Earth he's going to release the ball. 

36. Malo Gusto

Angers French defender Enzo Ebosse (R) fights for the ball with Lyons midfielder Malo Gusto (L) during the French L1 football match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and Angers (SCO) at the Groupama Stadium in Decines-Charpieu, central-eastern France on April 3 2022.

Malo Gusto accelerates away from Angers defender Enzo Ebosse in Ligue 1 (Image credit: OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Olympique Lyonnais
Nation: France
Age: 19

Lyon's academy is well-celebrated by now. The mid-noughties tilt to produce stars rather than recruit following their insane title haul has brought dividends but now, players coming from l'OL seem to be underrated, simply because so many emerge year after year. 

Malo Gusto is mightily impressive, though. More than just a converted winger hacking it at full-back, he's excellent defensively, a good marker and assured when bombing down the right. He doesn't look 19, either in stature or playing style: he seems a natural fit for the French national side, too. 

35. Marcos Leonardo

Marcos Leonardo of Santos celebrate after scoring the first goal of his team during a Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana 2022 round of sixteen second leg match between Santos and Deportivo Tachira at Vila Belmiro Stadium on July 06, 2022 in Santos, Brazil.

Marcos Leonardo of Santos celebrates after scoring the first goal of the Copa Sudamericana last-16 second-leg tie against Deportivo Tachira (Image credit: Ricardo Moreira/Getty Images)

Club: Santos
Nation: Brazil
Age: 19

Direct, pacy and with a poacher's instinct, Marcos Leonardo looks a born striker, rather than just a tricky talent crowbarred into a forward's role to try and squeeze goals. Santos stars are burdened by the considerable 'next Pele' tag but this might be the best fit stylistically: he's a killer in front of goal – but still with that samba swagger. 

34. Liam Delap

Liam Delap of Stoke City celebrates after he scores their third goal during the Sky Bet Championship between Stoke City and Sheffield United at Bet365 Stadium on October 08, 2022 in Stoke on Trent, England.

Liam Delap of Stoke City celebrates after he scores the third goal of the Championship clash against Sheffield United (Image credit: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Club: Stoke City, on loan from Manchester City
Nation: England
Age: 19

Young centre-forwards are a mixed bag. Some are pacy, some are wiry; some look better paired, some better off the wing. It's natural that composure, strength, hold-up and hey, responsibility, will all come in your 20s. Liam Delap looks ready now. 

The son of long-throw merchant and Holding Out For A Hero YouTube compilation (opens in new tab) star Rory, Delap is now at his dad's old stomping ground – after tearing up youth football. But don't be confused by a Championship loan: he's good enough to start in the Premier League and arguably got the biggest ceiling of any forward in English football. 

The most complete English forward since Harry Kane? Stylistically, at least…

33. Fabio Miretti

Edin Dzeko of FC Internazionale is challenged by Fabio Miretti of Juventus during the Serie A match between Juventus and FC Internazionale at on November 06, 2022 in Turin, Italy.

Edin Dzeko of Inter Milan is challenged by Fabio Miretti of Juventus during Serie A action (Image credit: Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Club: Juventus
Nation: Italy
Age: 19

Fabio Miretti has been a rare shining light in the demise of Juventus: in a way, he's lucky that this side is so poor that he can simply step in. Italy have a plethora of young, Verratti-esque midfielders all with the composure of thought and control that Andrea Pirlo himself would be proud of, with Miretti maybe the most effortless in possession. He already looks like a complete midfielder in Serie A.

32. Rayan Cherki

Rayan Cherki of Lyon thanks supporters for standing during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Olympique Lyonnais and ESTAC Troyes at Groupama Stadium on August 19, 2022 in Lyon, France.

Rayan Cherki of Lyon thanks supporters after a match against Troyes (Image credit: Leandro Amorim/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Club: Olympique Lyonnais
Nation: France
Age: 19

Like Cristiano Ronaldo on the halfway line when United were camped in their own third… Rayan Cherki is waiting for the break. He burst through at 16 but hasn't made the leap to superstardom just yet.

That he's been written off by some is crazy – especially considering he's still only 19. But Cherki's early years have been underrated. He's been one of Lyon's best players for two years now yet the club haven't yet built around his unbelievable technicality. He's due his breakout season. 

31. 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 of Ajax U19 after scoring against Liverpool U19 (Image credit: Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Club: Ajax
Nation: Netherlands
Age: 17

David Kalokoh is mesmerising. He's taller than most of his opponents yet dances with a ball at his feet like he's starring in a Nike ad of the noughties. In reality, he's too young to remember what he's aping. 

The Dutchman is two pages ahead of everyone in the book. He loves to wait for defenders and goalkeepers to make their move before feigning and taking the ball past them, his touch is unbelievably cool and his turn of pace is frightening – though most of the time he looks like he's jogging anyway, like Usain Bolt in that 100 metres final (opens in new tab)

At just 17, it'll be fascinating to see how he takes to senior football. Because right now, he looks like he's toying with the year group below. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.