Ranked! The 50 most exciting teenagers in world football

30. Myles Lewis-Skelly

Myles Lewis-Skelly of Arsenal during a training session at Al Nasr Leisure Land Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Myles Lewis-Skelly in action in a training session at Al Nasr, during Arsenal's Dubai winter warm weather camp (Image credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Club: Arsenal
Nation: England
Age: 16

Hale End is becoming a breeding ground for midfield talent in the wake of Jack Wilshere. Myles Lewis-Skelly might become the best yet.

No, really. MLS is too raw to know exactly how to control a game yet: he's brash and bold but he's naturally artistic on the ball. He has unbelievable pace, vision, he can dribble like a winger and he's a good ball-winner, too. He has elements of a No.10, No.8 and No.6 – and he's just 16. 

He's essentially a playdough player, ready to mould into anything and mentally, he's reportedly got a drive and leadership that Bukayo Saka himself had. No wonder Arsenal took him away to their warm weather camp in Dubai in December: he could be the next big superstar that no one's ever heard of. 

29. Castello Lukeba

Lyon's French defender Castello Lukeba (up) fights for the ball with West Ham United's English midfielder Michail Antonio during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final second-leg football match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and West Ham United at the Groupama stadium in Decines-Charpieu near Lyon, central eastern France, on April 14, 2022.

Lyon's French defender Castello Lukeba fights for the ball with West Ham United's Michail Antonio during the Europa League quarter-final second-leg last season (Image credit: JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Olympique Lyonnais
Nation: France
Age: 19

Why are all Lyon starlets suddenly slept on? Castello Lukeba has shown more than enough to be one of the most highly-rated defenders in Europe yet the vultures aren't circling to give him Champions League football. 

At 19, he's a vital component of Lyon's defence, able to defend deep or pushed forward and he's solid on the ball. Left-footed, too – and a leader at youth level. Who would be shocked if he became a £50m centre-back by the age of 25? 

28. Momo Cho

Momo Cho centre-forward of Real Sociedad and France during the La Liga Santander match between Elche CF and Real Sociedad at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on August 27, 2022 in Elche, Spain.

Momo Cho of Real Sociedad in action against Elche In La Liga (Image credit: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Club: Real Sociedad
Nation: France
Age: 18

Replacing Alexander Isak was always going to take a special player – and with physicality apt for a lad named Mohamed-Ali and the crispest of finishing, Momo Cho (he's rebranded) has an interesting background. Born in France, raised in England, with the expressiveness, pace and finishing that either nation would want in their ranks. Now in a fantastically impressive Real Sociedad side and still only 18, he's only going in one direction. 

27. Alex Scott

Tyler Morton (6)of Blackburn Rovers in a challenge with Alex Scott (7) of Bristol City during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City at Ewood Park, Blackburn on Saturday 3rd September 2022.

Tyler Morton of Blackburn Rovers (left) challenges with Alex Scott of Bristol City in the Championship (Image credit: Mike Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Club: Bristol City
Nation: England
Age: 19

No, not that one. 

Plenty of teams play a 3-4-3 but fascinatingly for Bristol City fans, No.7 Alex Scott can play wing-back or in midfield. His vision, balance and low centre of gravity make him a threat in a variety of spaces on the pitch, with Nigel Pearson mainly using him in transition to get up the pitch. 

But just imagine what he could do in a possession-based side. He makes every move count: Scott could be unbelievably good when matures a little more. 

26. Paul Wanner

Paul Wanner of FC Bayern Muenchen controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern München at Veltins-Arena on November 12, 2022 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

Paul Wanner controls the ball for Bayern Munich against Schalke (Image credit: S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

Club: Bayern Munich
Nation: Germany
Age: 16

It's not the name of a superstar but Austrian-born Paul Wanner certainly has the beginnings. Playing for Bayern Munich at the age of 16 is not to be sniffed at. An artist in tight spaces, either centrally or wide, Wanner is one of those youngsters who seems just as quick on the ball as off. 

Typically for a German footballer, giving him the ball is like locking it in a safe – and his eye for the spectacular is enough to convince any Die Roten fan to give him the breaks in the first team already. 

25. Giorgio Scalvini

Giorgio Scalvini of Atalanta BC battles for possession with Davide Frattesi and Luca D'Andrea of US Sassuolo during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and US Sassuolo at Gewiss Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Bergamo, Italy.

Giorgio Scalvini of Atalanta battles for possession with Davide Frattesi and Luca D'Andrea of Sassuolo in Serie A (Image credit: Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Club: Atalanta
Nation: Italy
Age: 18

It was Paolo Maldini who once claimed that if he had to tackle, he had already made a mistake. The idea behind the quote was not that good defenders don't tackle but that great ones are already in the right position to intercept. 

There's an exception to every rule, though – and though Giorgio Scalvini was born months after countryman Maldini lifted the Champions League in Manchester, he makes tackling an art form. Almost two metres tall and having represented Italy at every level – including senior, now – his outstretched lunges from the back look almost choreographed. His reading of the game is excellent, he makes back-three football fun in his lanky darts forward and it's going to be fascinating to see how he adapts to a four-at-the-back formation one day. 

His passing is good too, he loves stepping out for a Maguire-like run and in recovery, he seems to activate gadget legs. Atalanta have done it again.

24. Ethan Nwaneri

Ethan Nwaneri (R) of Arsenal applauds the fans next to Gabriel Martinelli following the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Arsenal FC at Brentford Community Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Brentford, England.

Ethan Nwaneri (right) of Arsenal applauds the fans next to Gabriel Martinelli following the Premier League victory over Brentford (Image credit: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Club: Arsenal
Nation: England
Age: 15

The Premier League's youngest-ever player was so young, in fact, that he had to get changed on his own when he made his senior debut. Not yet 16 – yet he gave Mikel Arteta "an instinct" to deploy him as a sub.

No.8s were diminutive when Pep Guardiola reinvented the game with Xavi and Iniesta. However, Nwaneri has the potential to be a duel-winning, physical presence in that position – yet still able to find a killer ball across the field: his ball striking is ferocious, he moves well in possession and his maturity is already apparent. That Brentford cameo will be far from a one-off. 

23. Alejandro Balde

Alejandro Balde of Spain controls the ball against Ritsu Doan of Japan during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Spain at Khalifa International Stadium on December 01, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Alejandro Balde controls the ball against Ritsu Doan during the World Cup 2022 match between Japan and Spain (Image credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Club: Barcelona
Nation: Spain
Age: 19

Alejandro Balde was a late call-up for the injured Jose Gaya at the World Cup. He was a like-for-like replacement for Jordi Alba as the Spanish destroyed Costa Rica and gave a glimpse into what they could be like in the future. Really, that substitution was indicative of his own pathway.

Full-backs aren't just Gary Nevilles in Catalonia and Balde's trajectory to replace the legendary Alba looks set. He has Bissau-Guinean heritage like Ansu Fati and electric heels to match: more like an orthodox left-winger at times but unafraid to romp in-field, he could become one of the finest left-backs at the club in time. 

22. Ayman Kari

Ayman Kari of PSG during the UEFA Youth League Group H match between Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain at Juventus Training Centre on November 02, 2022 in Vinovo, Italy.

Ayman Kari during the UEFA Youth League match between Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain (Image credit: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Nation: France
Age: 18

It's not just than Ayman Kari is physically elite already, strong enough on the ball to venture through midfield – or even that his passing range and ball-winning is superb, either. It's that everything about the teen is minimalist. 

Kari operates with ultimate efficiency, like he's watching himself from the stands. He has the air of a La Masia graduate in his decisiveness and intelligence but far from going for the flashy at any point, he uses his superpowers for good. He's reserved, able to keep flow and never overplays. 

Vertically, too, he's phenomenal. He's a one-man midfield able to win the ball and play the final pass. He has degrees of each of France's great midfield generals, from Vieira to Pogba, all in his play. He could dominate for the next decade if he's used correctly. 

21. Joao Veloso

Noel Aseko Nkili (R) of u17 Germany challenges Joao Veloso (L) of u17 Portugal during the Algarve Cup U17 match between U17 Portugal vs U17 Germany at Estadio Municipal de Lagos on February 11, 2022 in Lagos, Portugal.

Noel Aseko Nkili (right) of Germany U17 challenges Joao Veloso Portugal during the Algarve Cup (Image credit: Ricardo Nascimento/Getty Images for DFB)

Club: Benfica
Nation: Portugal
Age: 17

Portugal are blessed right now. They have Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Neves and Bernardo Silva to pick from in midfield. In a few years, they might have all three in one.

That's how good Joao Veloso looks. He has the confidence to stop dead on the ball, to attempt rabona crosses or to shoot from 40 yards. He has pace, tight control, a sumptuous array of passes in his locker and he's taller than most in his age range, too. But perhaps most staggeringly, the midfielder's decision-making looks like that of a player 10 years his senior. He is going right to the top – sooner rather than later. 

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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.