How UEFA’s 50 ‘Ones To Watch’ for 2018-19 have fared this season
In July last year, UEFA.com published a list of “50 for the future” looking at young players across Europe set to break through in the 2018-19 season.
With the season wrapping up, we thought now would be a good opportunity to revisit that list.
“How many of our 50 will be household names by this time in 2019?” they asked. It’s fair to say they’ve got some of their calls spot on. Others less so.
Ethan Ampadu – Chelsea
Two starts in the FA Cup and three appearances in the Europa League have given Ampadu a small taste of first-team football for Chelsea, but the highlight of the 18-year-old’s season was undoubtedly tw*tting Kasper Dolberg for Wales.
Houssem Aouar – Lyon
Described as “incredible” by Pep Guardiola last year, the midfielder, 20, has kicked on from an impressive campaign with seven goals and six assists in Ligue 1, plus three in the Champions League.
Jann-Fiete Arp – Hamburg
No goals and just 417 minutes in Germany’s second tier does not sound too impressive from the 19-year-old, but the forward has agreed a deal to join Bayern Munich and has been given the choice to either make the move this summer or spend another campaign with Hamburg.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – Chelsea
The goalkeeper deserves immense credit for making the League Cup final incredibly entertaining.
Leon Bailey – Bayer Leverkusen
Still just 21, Bailey has not been quite so explosive as in his breakthrough campaign for Leverkusen, recording fewer goals and assists. Scored a cracker of a free-kick against Bayern, though.
Nicolò Barella – Cagliari
The midfielder has won five senior caps for Italy under Roberto Mancini this season and has been linked with a host of top European clubs, having been labelled the Sardinian Steven Gerrard by Gazzetta dello Sport.
Sander Berge – Genk
Linked with Tottenham and Roma in January, Berge, now 21, has been playing senior football since the age of 15 when he made his debut in Norway’s second tier with Asker Football.
Fedor Chalov – CSKA Moskow
The forward has reached double figures for goals this season for the first time, including one strike against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and has earned his first caps for Russia after just missing out on the final World Cup squad last summer.
Federico Chiesa – Fiorentina
He’s good, very good. And likely on his way to Juventus.
Ante Ćorić – Roma
After a promising World Cup for Croatia, Ćorić has underwhelmed in Rome, playing just 22 minutes in Serie A during a season spent warming the bench.
Frenkie de Jong – Ajax
A key part of the best Ajax side in a generation, helping them to end a trophy drought with a domestic double. Barcelona could be getting a bargain at €75million.
Matthijs de Ligt – Ajax
The centre-half has caught the eye just as much as De Jong. A captain at 19, he’s been a colossus at the back, while goals against Juventus and Spurs had his team seconds away from the Champions League final.
He’s been linked with joining his Netherlands central defensive partner Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool but could yet follow De Jong to Catalunya.
Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis – Club Brugge
The Nigeria Under-23 international has featured prominently for the Belgian side this season, scoring eight goals in all competitions.
Mikkel Duelund – Dynamo Kyiv
After four years with Midtjylland, the Danish midfielder made the switch to join Alyaksandr Khatskevich’s exciting young Dynamo Kyiv side at the tail end of August. There were promising signs in the early months of the season, but he suffered a setback with an ankle injury.
Phil Foden – Manchester City
The Under-17 World Cup winner with England is seen as the litmus test for all future Man City academy prospects – if he doesn’t get opportunities, can anyone?
Twenty-five appearances in all competitions this season shows him progressing nicely, and he was even trusted to start against Tottenham in a crucial game in the title run-in, responding with the match-winning goal.
Martin Graiciar – Fiorentina
The 20-year-old Czech striker wasn’t trusted by former Fiorentina manager Stefano Pioli and has struggled for opportunities under his successor Vincenzo Montella.
Amine Gouiri – Lyon
A cruciate ligament injury suffered in August robbed the teenage striker of what many expected to be a breakthrough season at Lyon. Sidelined for over six months, he’s back and will be going to the Under-20 World Cup with France.
Dávid Hancko – Fiorentina
The Slovakian defender has just five Serie A appearances for Fiorentina this season but looks firmly in the club’s plans for the future after they reportedly turned down bids of more than €20million.
Amine Harit – Schalke
The Moroccan midfielder, who featured at the World Cup for his country, joined a Schalke side in crisis, dwindling towards the bottom of the Bundesliga after finishing runners-up last season. He has still played more than 1000 minutes in the league, with five appearances in the Champions League.
It will be interesting to see how he develops under David Wagner going forward.
Ivan Ignatyev – Krasnodar
Ten goals in all competitions for the Krasnodar forward as his club have punched above their weight to challenge for a Champions League qualification spot.
Luka Jović – Eintracht Frankfurt
UEFA got this one spot on, Jovic has sensationally broken through this year.
The 21-year-old Serbian looks an absolute powerhouse for his age, scoring 27 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt as they pushed for a top-four finish in the Bundesliga, and were only a penalty shootout away from the Europa League final.
Rumours suggest he could be joining Real Madrid this summer.
Kirill Kirilenko – BATE Borisov
The 18-year-old left winger made the switch to his country’s biggest club midway through the season from Dinamo Brest. He’ll develop his talents with their B team for the foreseeable future.
Justin Kluivert – Roma
One of the most highly-rated products of this generation of Ajax talents, he’ll perhaps look back at his former team-mates and wish he’d stayed a season longer.
Roma have suffered a frustrating season, and Kluivert hasn’t hit the ground running as many expected, but he’s still provided six assists in Serie A.
Hirving Lozano – PSV Eindhoven
Another good season for the Mexican, but he’ll miss out on silverware this time around as PSV look to have been pipped by Ajax in a relentless Eredivisie title race.
At 23, this summer could have been the time for him to a bigger European league, but he was stretchered off with a knee injury in April, ending his season early.
Malcom – Barcelona
It’s been limited opportunities for the Brazilian after he joined from Bordeaux last summer, given just five La Liga starts. But at least he can say he’s scored an El Clasico goal, as Barcelona knocked Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey.
| #CopadelRey |
Happy 22nd Birthday to Malcom! 🎂🔵🔴
He found the equaliser against Real Madrid a couple of weeks ago and may play an important part for Barcelona tomorrow night… pic.twitter.com/up3b7AZXBd
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) February 26, 2019
Dennis Man – Steaua
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has impressed enough for Romania manager Cosmin Contra to give him starts for the national team and is ticking along well at Steaua.
Sergej Milinković-Savić – Lazio
Last year, the dynamism and pace of Milinković-Savić drew comparisons to fellow former Serie A breakout star Paul Pogba. His stock has fallen this year after a less impressive individual campaign, but he’s added a Coppa Italia to his honours list, scoring in Lazio’s final victory over Atalanta.
David Neres – Ajax
One of many to catch the attention of the wider footballing world with some sensational performances in Ajax’s Champions League run. Now a full Brazil international, he could well be part of an exodus this summer.
Pedro Neto – Lazio
The Portuguese teenager’s Lazio career amounts to a few substitute appearances and fewer than 45 Serie A minutes. He’ll have to bide his time.
Benjamin Pavard – Stuttgart
The World Cup winner – who will forever be remembered for that strike against Argentina – surprised many by staying at stuttering Stuttgart. He’s due to move to Bayern for €35million in the summer, with his last game for his current club set to be a relegation play-off.
Go on, watch it again.
Rodri – Atlético Madrid
The central midfielder has slotted straight into Diego Simeone’s system at Atletico after moving from Villarreal last summer and is reportedly earmarked as Fernandinho’s heir at Manchester City – watch this space.
Abel Ruiz – Barcelona
Another La Masia talent, this wasn’t the breakthrough year that some expected for the 19-year-old, but he has continued his development for the B team and UEFA Youth League, and made his first team as a substitute against Getafe in the closing weeks of the season.
Roland Sallai – Freiburg
He got off to a flying start on his debut for Freiburg after moving from APOEL in the summer, scoring and winning a penalty in a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg. But it’s been just five starts for the Hungarian, who has struggled with a groin problem all season.
Jadon Sancho – Dortmund
Arguably the most exciting teenager in world football, the 19-year-old England international has helped fire Borussia Dortmund’s title challenge by scoring 11 goals and providing 14 assists.
Expect to get extremely bored of seeing his name in the gossip columns.
Malang Sarr – Nice
A versatile defender who can play either as a centre-half or a left-back, Sarr has been an ever-present at the back for Patrick Vieira’s Nice, who have the second-best defensive record in Ligue 1.
Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham
Sessegnon hasn’t adapted to Premier League football quite as seamlessly as anticipated, cooling any chat about a senior England cap.
Given he’s made over 100 league appearances for Fulham, it’s easy to forget he’s still just 18, and this difficult season will have provided valuable experience.
Volodymyr Shepelev – Dynamo Kyiv
Ukrainians are expected big things of Dynamo’s 21-year-old defensive midfielder, but this season’s Europa League campaign gave him and his team-mates something of a reality check. He was sent off against Rennes and struggled as Chelsea ran out 8-0 winners on aggregate at the round of 16 stage.
Milan Škriniar – Inter Milan
The Slovakian centre-half, now 24, looks to have established himself as a top-level player, becoming an integral part of Inter’s defence.
Manor Solomon – Shakhtar Donetsk
Israeli football’s golden boy moved from Maccabi Petah-Tikva to Shakhtar Donetsk during the winter window. The Ukrainian giants have a proven track record of developing players, but the left winger is yet to get a look-in.
Mile Svilar – Benfica
The Belgian became the youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history when he made his European debut, aged 17, against Manchester United two years ago. But now he’s back on the sidelines, not featuring in Benfica’s title challenge.
Martin Terrier – Lyon
Lyon’s attacking midfielder comes off the bench more often than he starts, but he’s enjoying a good spell of form in the final weeks of their season, scoring six goals in his last nine appearances.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll get some perfect nominative determinism with the Frenchman turning out for Huddersfield any time soon.
Kieran Tierney – Celtic
Widely regarded as the hottest prospect in Scottish football, many have said he’s stagnated this season at Celtic, although it’s likely he’ll end it with another three domestic trophies on his honours list.
He’s been suggested as a potential replacement for Ben Chilwell, should the England international leave Leicester.
Lucas Torreira – Arsenal
After a brilliant World Cup with Uruguay, he was a revelation in his early months at Arsenal, adding the tenacity they’ve desperately lacked for years. After starting to tire after Christmas, he won’t get the rest it looks like he needs with the Copa America this summer.
Ferrán Torres – Valencia
Touted to be the next Spanish prodigy, Torres is starting to make waves at Valencia. With 34 appearances across all competitions this season, he’s swiftly becoming a first-team player. Expect to hear more about the right-sided midfielder in the coming years.
| GOAL! |
That pass from Ferran Torres is exquisite 🤤
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) May 5, 2019
Viktor Tsyhankov – Dynamo Kyiv
The 21-year-old Ukrainian been a regular for Andriy Shevchenko’s national team since 2016. The inside forward has continued his development in Kyiv this season.
Felix Uduokhai – Wolfsburg
With just two Bundesliga appearances at Wolfsburg this season, Uduokhai looks unlikely to usurp John Brooks or Robin Knoche in their backline.
Dayot Upamecano – RB Leipzig
Hampered by a bad knee injury, the 20-year-old, highly-rated prospect saw his season come to a premature end in January.
The imperious Ibrahima Konate, 19, has stolen his thunder somewhat – but both centre-halves could have very bright futures.
Hannes Wolf – Salzburg
Following in the footsteps of Naby Keita and Amadou Haidara, Wolf will be the latest to make the switch from RB Salzburg to Leipzig this summer. Playing in a No.10 role, the club’s manager Ralf Rangnick is a huge fan of the Austrian teenager.
Yusuf Yazıcı – Trabzonspor
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has been so impressive at Trabzonspor that Manchester United have reportedly sent scouts to keep tabs on his performances this season.
Szymon Żurkowski – Górnik Zabrze
So impressive were the young Polish midfielder’s performances for Górnik Zabrze that Fiorentina signed him in January before loaning him back to them.