FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Teenagers in the World 2017: 40-31
35. Maximiliano Romero (Velez Sarsfield)
Need to know: Nicknamed ‘El Tigre’ after former boy wonder of Argentine football, Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, Velez Sarsfield predator Romero has been chewing up prey of late.
Despite being only 18, Romero can hold his own physically and score with both feet. He bagged braces in Velez’s first two 2017/18 Primera Division matches, immediately vanquishing fans’ concerns about the departure of principal goalscorer Mariano Pavone.
Romero believes only ligament damage put paid to Arsenal’s pursuit of him last year.
Highlight so far: El Tigre undid Tigre in the opening round of Primera Division action in August, with a stretching volley and violent rocket spurring Velez to a 3-0 away win. MW
34. Axel Tuanzebe (Manchester United)
Need to know: “Alexis Sanchez knows his name now,” remarked Jose Mourinho after Tuanzebe, on his Premier League debut, kept the Chilean in handcuffs.
The teenager played right-back that day, but excelled in central midfield at the end of 2016/17 and was invariably a ball-playing center-back for United’s youth sides.
Born in Congo but raised in Rochdale, Tuanzebe joined United’s ranks as an eight-year-old, gave his first television interview aged 11, and in 2015 became the maiden first-year scholar to captain their U18 side since Gary Neville in 1991.
Highlight so far: Tuanzebe’s top-flight bow may have ended in a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates, but his display made him the talk of Twitter and Sanchez the subject of some unflattering hashtags. MW
33. Ben Woodburn (Liverpool)
Need to know: Woodburn has been likened to former Liverpool strikers Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen since making his professional debut last year, but it’s still not clear whether he’ll go on to play through the middle – the Welshman has spent much of his early career operating from the left.
Regardless of his future position, Woodburn is a wonderfully gifted youngster who packs a range of exciting attributes including speed, intelligent movement and clinical finishing.
He became Liverpool’s youngest ever scorer when he netted at the age of 17 years and 45 days against Leeds last season.
Highlight so far: How about bagging a second-half winner from 25 yards on your full Wales debut? Woodburn made the perfect impact against Austria to keep the Dragons’ hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup alive. Alas, however, the youngster will have to wait for a taste of tournament action. GL
1:05 for Woodburn's fine strike
32. Sander Berge (Genk)
Need to know: Genk have helped develop some brilliant players in recent years, with Kevin De Bruyne, Kalidou Koulibaly and Thibaut Courtois all among the Belgian outfit’s successful alumni.
Berge will hope to be regarded in the same light as those stars one day, having hit the ground running following his transfer from Valerenga in January.
A 6ft 5in holding midfielder, Berge relies on his technical ability more than his physical gifts and excels at starting attacks from deep.
Highlight so far: Berge made six appearances in the Europa League last season as Genk reached the quarter-finals via triumphs over Athletic Bilbao, Astra Giurgiu and Gent. GL
31. Mateus Vital (Vasco da Gama)
Need to know: Vital has already experienced more ups and downs than his division-yo-yoing club. As a five-year-old he joined Vasco da Gama; aged nine he witnessed his mother being fatally shot.
Football was always his escape, and the playmaker thrived for Brazil’s U15s before being promoted to his club’s first team.
Vasco were relegated into Serie B, with Mateus demoted back to the youth team – but after inheriting their No.10 shirt in July, things have been looking up for the wispy right-footer.
Highlight so far: Belatedly broke his Vasco duck – two years after his debut – with the winner against Gremio in September. MW
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