FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Teenagers in the World 2017: 30-21
25. Alban Lafont (Toulouse)
Need to know: Lafont is only 18, but the goalkeeper has already made 72 appearances for Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse – particularly impressive numbers for a young net-minder.
The Burkina Faso-born France U20 international has kept clean sheets against the likes of Marseille, Nice and PSG, earning praise for quick reflexes, speed off his line and ball-playing ability.
Former France custodian Gregory Coupet is a fan, telling Canal Plus: “He’s a smart goalkeeper who reads the game well… a great career is ahead of him.”
Highlight so far: At 16 years and 310 days old, Lafont became the youngest goalkeeper in Ligue 1 history in November 2015, keeping a clean sheet against Nice on his debut. Nice. GL
24. Alexander Isak (Borussia Dortmund)
Need to know: Isak has had to remain patient for game time since his move to Borussia Dortmund in January, but there’s no doubt the Sweden international has got an extremely bright future ahead of him.
The comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic go beyond Isak’s nationality: he’s a physical and technical center-forward; quick, strong and confident in possession.
Isak also has the advantage of being able to either drop deep and link the play or run in behind, leaving defenders constantly guessing.
Highlight so far: Isak became Sweden’s youngest ever goalscorer when he struck in a 6-0 thrashing of Slovakia aged 17 years and 114 days. GL
23. Patrick Cutrone (Milan)
Need to know: Despite his club’s summer spending spree, Cutrone has succeeded in making the breakthrough at Milan this term.
The 19-year-old striker has been a rare bright spot amid the Rossoneri’s poor start to 2017/18, scoring three goals – two in Serie A, one in the Europa League – and impressing with his movement, touch and link-up play.
“Who’s impressed me the most? Cutrone. I knew about the others, but he’s impressed me so much,” recent signing Lucas Biglia said in September.
Highlight so far: Cutrone scored on his first Serie A start for Milan, netting a near-post header in the opening-day victory over Crotone. GL
22. Ismaila Sarr (Rennes)
Need to know: Sarr made headlines in the summer when he admitted to rejecting Barcelona in favor of Rennes, believing it was too early in his career to join one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Such self-awareness and maturity will stand the speedy and direct winger in good stead going forward, and the Senegalese has already established himself as a key player at Roazhon Park this campaign.
Highlight so far: Sarr scored the first goal in the 2-1 win against Nancy-Lorraine that effectively ensured Metz’s survival in Ligue 1 last term. GL
21. Xadas (Braga)
Need to know: Pirouettes, nutmegs, defense-piercing through-balls and a left boot capable of curlers and thunderbolts alike: it’s all in the armory of Portuguese teen Xadas, who unlike many of his promising peers hasn’t been schooled at national giants Benfica, Porto or Sporting.
Braga is Xadas’s playground, though Portugal’s three superpowers, plus Lazio and Monaco, are all captivated by the 19-year-old. A couple of wonder goals from the playmaker – he never seems to score a simple strike – have helped Braga make a fine start to 2017/18.
Highlight so far: Xadas delivered a stellar performance in the last 16 at the 2017 U20 World Cup, scoring a fine first and even better second goal as Portugal beat hosts South Korea 3-1. MW
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