FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Teenagers in the World 2017: 50-41
45. Ludovic Blas (Guingamp)
Need to know: There’s little doubt that Blas is destined for great heights – it’s just a question of how quickly he’s going to reach them.
The Colombes native operates on the right wing for France’s youth sides but plays in central midfield for Guingamp, who have also used him as a holding midfielder and in behind a lone striker.
Tenacious, quick, skilful and direct, the 19-year-old Blas is in his third season as part of Guingamp’s first team and has aroused interest from Inter Milan, Liverpool and Lyon.
Highlight so far: Blas formed a deadly attacking triumvirate with Kylian Mbappe and Jean-Kevin Augustin at the 2016 European U19 Championship, propelling Les Bleuettes to glory.
44. Sam Field (West Brom)
Need to know: The baby-faced Field looks south of his 19 years, but plays north of them. “Sam’s very mature – a good decision-maker for his age, a brilliant passer, very clever,” said his West Brom manager Tony Pulis, who described his pupil as being “as gifted as any footballer I've seen at that age”.
The midfielder, who has represented England at various youth levels, has said he used to watch former team-mate Darren Fletcher in training – no bad role model, of 323 Premier League appearances.
Highlight so far: Field thrived on his first Premier League start against Middlesbrough in August 2016, impressing with his immaculate control and passing.
43. Hannes Wolf (Red Bull Salzburg)
Need to know: A 15-year-old Wolf hid his teary eyes by wearing sunglasses on his first few days after leaving Graz to live at the Red Bull academy.
The attacking midfielder found a tonic for his homesickness, however, by putting in extra hours on the training pitch – something he was inspired to do by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wolf, 18, scored four goals in as many appearances for Salzburg in August and was rewarded the following month with a call-up to Marcel Koller’s senior Austria squad.
Highlight so far: Wolf scored seven goals and provided four assists as Salzburg upset the likes of Manchester City, PSG, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to win the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League.
42. Exequiel Palacios (River Plate)
Need to know: “I would have loved to have played alongside a player like Exequiel,” said River Plate Marcelo Gallardo of his multifaceted midfielder.
Palacios has the sharp-sightedness of a veteran, a silky touch, is an excellent tackler, can retain possession when he has no right to, and is a fine passer.
Amid growing interest from Europe, Palacios – who represented Argentina at the 2015 U17 World Cup and the 2017 U20 edition – recently committed his future to River until 2021.
Highlight so far: “I was overcome with emotion,” said a tearful Palacios after scoring his first River Plate goal in a Copa Argentina defeat of Defensa y Justicia in October.
41. Nicolas Gonzalez (Argentinos Juniors)
Need to know: “He reminds me of [Mario] Kempes,” said Argentinos Juniors coach Alfredo Berti of his 19-year-old forward.
Gonzalez, after scoring the goal that sealed his club’s promotion, has taken the top tier by storm. Four goals in his first five starts have already led to talk of him being a future Argentina international.
He is an elusive mover with a knack for being in the right place at the right time. As an excellent finisher, he gets a lot of late goals.
Highlight so far: Gonzalez raised the roof as a sub at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona in July, blasting home a last-gasp winner against Gimnasia Jujuy to secure Argentinos Juniors a return among Argentina’s elite.
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