Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo this week became the latest teenage sensation to make headlines in this season’s Champions League – which increasingly looks like a playground for the best young players to showcase their talent without any fear.
The 19-year-old midfielder scored two lovely goals as Roma beat Porto 2-1 in the first-leg of their last-16 clash and they surely won’t be his last strikes in the competition even if Roma can’t progress any further this year.
As Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s generation move into their mid-30s – and presumably the final years of their careers – we look at sixmore teenagers from which the new idols of world football will be drawn….
- 1. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) – the 18-year-old Londoner has been on fire in the Bundesliga this season – seven goals and nine assists for the leaders tells its own story.
- 2. Matthijs De Ligt (Ajax) the 19-year-old Dutch defender is cool on the ball and possesses the leadership qualities that could mean he captains his country one day. Juventus know a defender when they see one and they want him.
- 3. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) – Real paid a fortune to bring him to Europa from Flamengo and many thought he would take time to settle but not at all. The 18-year-old Samba star has assisted two goals in three Champions League appearances to date.
- 4. Dan-Axel Zagadou (Borussia Dortmund) the tall 19-year-old defender didn’t have his best game against Spurs this week but the potential is there for all to see.
- 5. Ferran Torres (Valencia) – the right-winger is still just 18 and learning his trade but has shown flashes of brilliance in la Liga and his three brief Champions League cameos.
- 6. Diogo Dalot (Manchester United) – expect the 19-year-old to become a cornerstone of the Red Devils’ back four in the next few years. They paid a huge fee to Porto to snag the teenager so they expect big things at Old Trafford.