FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Teenagers in the World 2017: 40-21
Words: Mark White, Greg Lea
40. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Need to know: Ashley Cole 2.0? An English David Alaba? The who’s who of superpowers linked to Sessegnon – including Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United and many more – suggest those lofty juxtapositions may not be hyperbole.
The left-back made his Fulham debut just 81 days past his 16th birthday, since when he’s racked up 48 first-team appearances for the Cottagers. And he only turned 17 in May.
Sessegnon’s attacking class may ultimately dictate that he plays in a more advanced position permanently, as was the case with fellow left-footer Gareth Bale.
Highlight so far: Being integral in England’s 2017 European U19 Championship conquest, posting a brace in a 4-1 thrashing of Germany and finishing as the tournament’s joint-leading marksman. MW
39. Salih Ozcan (Cologne)
Need to know: Tim Wiese, whose career began in Cologne, quit football to join the WWE. Ozcan went in the opposite direction, quitting wrestling to concentrate on a career with Cologne.
The attacking midfielder has settled seamlessly into the first team and recently won the Fritz Walter Medal – an award previously bestowed upon Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Timo Werner – for being the best German U19 footballer.
Ozcan has represented Germany at every level from U15 to U19, but is still eligible to play for the senior Turkey side.
Highlight so far: Just 60 seconds into his Bundesliga debut in September 2016, Ozcan befuddled two Schalke players, leaving Naldo on his backside to present Simon Zoller with a tap-in. MW
38. Justin Kluivert (Ajax)
Need to know: He may look like his old man. He may have been showered with hype in his mid-teens and become one of Ajax’s youngest debutants. But that’s about where the similarities end between Justin Kluivert and his father.
While Patrick was a hulking striker renowned for his aerial ability and poise in front of goal, his 18-year-old son is a diminutive winger exalted for his speed and sorcery.
Kluivert broke into Ajax’s starting XI in early 2017.
Highlight so far: The Holland U21 international wowed the Ajax Arena against Go Ahead Eagles in May, pulling off one of his patented sombreros and thumping home the opener from distance. MW
37. Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar)
Need to know: Garcia has already been tipped for greatness by Marco van Basten, and broken a couple of Dwight Yorke records. The Trinidadian packs sprinter’s pace, hypnotic trickery and, unlike several wingers, is hard to knock off the ball. He can’t half whack a ball, too, according to Van Basten – an apt judge of a venomous shot.
Garcia has made a flying start to life with AZ in the Eredivisie, having initially joined them upon his 18th birthday in 2015, and also in the red of Trinidad’s Soca Warriors.
Highlight so far: Sixteen minutes into his international debut, away to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the 18-year-old substitute had bagged a brilliant brace to snare Trinidad and Tobago a much-needed 3-2 win in Russia 2018 qualifying. MW
36. Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Need to know: Jurgen Grabowski, Andreas Moller, Jay-Jay Okocha. They certainly love their entertainers in Frankfurt, and with Barkok the Eagles have another on their hands.
The 19-year-old has some of the fastest feet in football, studies clips of Zinedine Zidane, and isn’t shy to go for a killer pass or speculative shot.
“He is a dream footballer,” said Eintracht coach Niko Kovac of the attacking midfielder, who Arsenal have reportedly courted. Barkok, of Moroccan descent, has represented Germany at multiple youth levels and made 18 Bundesliga appearances last season.
Highlight so far: Rose from the bench to bag a smashing last-gasp winner on his Bundesliga debut against Werder Bremen last season. MW