FourFourTwo’s 100 Best teenagers in the World 2017: 70-61
65. Matias Zaracho (Racing Club)
Need to know: “He’s a footballer who knows how to do everything,” said Fabio Radaelli, under whose tutelage the midfielder was in the Racing Club youth ranks. “He’s a great decision-maker, creative, has two feet and, above all, is superb with his head.”
Indeed, it was with his noggin that the attacking midfielder scored – and made a goal-line clearance – in Argentina’s thrashing of Guinea at this year’s U20 World Cup. He also headed a maiden goal for Racing – not bad for a player who’s usually the smallest on the pitch.
Highlight so far: A player’s first professional goal is always special. Zaracho’s came with the extra gloss of being the winner against Colon – in front of Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli, no less. It earned him high praise from Racing legend Lisandro Lopez.
64. Faitout Maouassa (Rennes)
Need to know: Faitout, or ‘fait tout’ (means ‘does everything’ in French), is embracing his name. The 5ft 7in all-rounder started out as a forward, but has been stationed at left-back for the France youth sides, and operated as a central or left midfielder in Ligue 1.
Faitout is blessed with exceptional acceleration, instinctive movement, skill and a firm shot, but is also adept defensively. He contributed three goals and three assists in 19 2016/17 appearances for Nancy before joining Rennes.
Highlight so far: Helping France become European U17 champions in 2015 and, alongside Kylian Mbappe, U19 kings the following year.
63. Lovro Majer (NK Lokomotiva)
Need to know: Although nationality begs comparisons with Luka Modric, assist prince Majer is more like former Yugoslavia No.10 Dragan Stojkovic.
With mercurial footwork, an ability to side-step opponents with ease, play breathtaking through-balls and fire in goals from distance, the 19-year-old has been linked with Atletico Madrid, Everton and Sampdoria but, somehow, remains with Lokomotiva.
Given how regally Majer has been performing in the 2017/18 Croatian top tier, they’ll face an uphill task to keep him in January.
Highlight so far: Despite starting on the bench, Majer was handed the coveted No.10 shirt when he went on for his Croatia debut against Mexico in May.
62. Claud Adjapong (Sassuolo)
Need to know: He may be ‘Claudio’ to his Italian team-mates, but everybody in Serie A knows Adjapong’s name by now.
The attack-minded full-back, who’s able to play on both flanks or in midfield, has made a place in Sassuolo’s starting XI his own in 2017/18. The Modena-born player had a Ghanaian passport until 2016, but has since impressed for Italy’s U19 and U21 teams.
Highlight so far: The Sassuolo No.98’s tactical awareness, pace and craft in a 1-0 victory over Cagliari in September earned him praise from team-mate Paolo Cannavaro: “[Adjapong’s] good at all aspects of the game. He’s got a big future.”
61. Sergio Diaz (Lugo, on loan from Real Madrid)
Need to know: ‘The Paraguayan Aguero’, apparently. Diaz, a slight and bustling forward, played in the Paraguayan top flight when he was 15, scored in the South American U20 Championship when he was 16, and then the Paraguayan Superclasico at 17 – all records.
After impressing for Cerro Porteno and Paraguay at the Toulon Tournament, Diaz joined Real Madrid as an 18-year-old in 2016, and is gaining experience on loan at Segunda Division side Lugo. The bountifully-inked attacker made his senior international debut against France earlier this year.
Highlight so far: On his Libertadores debut, against tournament favorites Corinthians, the 17-year-old scored an Aguero-esque goal and provided an assist in a thrilling 3-2 win.
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