Revisiting Gazzetta’s 2015 list of the 50 best under-20 stars in world football

Quick Reads

Spotting a footballer with potential is easy. Spotting a football who will fulfil that potential is much more difficult.

In 2015, Gazzetta Dello Sport published a list of the 50 best players in world football aged under 20, and it must be said they did pretty well.

Obviously, there were a couple of stinkers, and we’ve revisited that list to see which players have lived up to the billing.

50. Jean-Kevin Augustin: The striker could never quite establish himself at PSG and, despite a promising debut campaign, has suffered a similar problem with RB Leipzig this year.

49. Laszlo Benes: Played in Slovakia at the time the list was published before earning a move to Borussia Monchengladbach, but the 21-year-old has just spent the second half of the season on loan in Germany’s second tier.

48. Dani Ceballos: A man in demand this summer, Ceballos earned a move from Real Betis to Real Madrid in 2017 but could be available after a couple of seasons on the fringes.

47. Lee Seung-woo: One appearance for Barcelona B was all Seung-woo had to show for his career at the Nou Camp, and the South Korea international can now be found in Serie B with Hellas Verona.

46. Leon Bailey: Not quite as explosive this season as in 2017-18, but the Bayer Leverkusen flyer – then of Genk – can be justified in his inclusion in this list.

45. Rodrigo Betancur: The midfielder has since left Boca Juniors for Juventus, adapting well to European football while collecting the first two of what you assume will be a few Serie A titles.

44. Renato Sanches: A revelation with Benfica, relegated with Swansea City, a reject at Bayern Munich.

43. Jeisson Vargas: Back on loan with Chilean outfit Universidad Catolica after failing to make a transfer to Bologna work. The 21-year-old is on the books permanently at Montreal Impact. Yeah, doesn’t sound good, does it?

42. Amadou Diawara: While the Guinea international is still establishing himself in Serie A, he has done enough to earn a move from Bologna to Napoli.

41. Olivier Ntcham: On loan at Genoa from Manchester City in 2015, Ntcham has spent the last two seasons at Celtic, where he was reportedly the subject of interest from Porto last summer.

40. Brendan Galloway: Oh, mate.

39. Ousmane Dembele: A year after this was published, Rennes sold Dembele to Borussia Dortmund for €15million. A year after that, Barcelona signed the winger in a deal worth up to €147million.

38. Giovani Lo Celso: Since been included on this list Lo Celso has moved from Rosario Central to PSG to Real Betis and, if reports are to be believed, could be on his way to Tottenham this summer.

37. Andreas Christensen: Considered one of the most promising defenders in Europe during a two-year loan with Borussia Monchengladbach, Christensen returned to Chelsea to feature heavily under Antonio Conte, albeit less so under Maurizio Sarri.

36. Kelechi Iheanacho: Missed out on a Premier League title with Manchester City by joining Leicester but did his best to win another for Pep Guardiola’s side with a glaring miss in the crunch game against the Foxes this season.

35. Viktor Kovalenko: Still at Shakhtar Donetsk with 20 Ukraine caps to his name.

34. Alban Lafont: One of a number of hot prospects making us really quite excited about Serie A.


READ: Whisper it quietly, but there are suddenly loads of ace kids in Serie A

33. Marco Asensio: After returning to Real Madrid from a loan spell with Espanyol, there was a spell in which everything Asensio touched seemed to turn to gold, but the attacker has struggled along with plenty others during a difficult season at the Bernabeu in 2018-19.

32. Milot Rashica: A Vitesse player who wasn’t on loan from Chelsea, Rashica joined Werder Bremen in January 2018 and the Kosovo international has a decent goalscoring record in Bundesliga.

31. Antonio Sanabria: Sometimes gets called Tonny Sanabria, so is definitely a gangster on loan at Genoa from Real Betis.

30. Gedion Zelalem: The only player on this list who was appearing in the Scottish Championship at the time, the former Arsenal midfielder, who was on loan at Rangers, is now in MLS with Sporting Kansas City alongside ex-Liverpool prospect Krisztian Nemeth.

29. Borja Mayoral: Still technically a Real Madrid player, albeit having spent the season on loan at Levante

28. Abdou Diallo: The defender has since left a loan spell at Zulte Waregem and found his way to Borussia Dortmund, establishing himself as a regular in an impressive debut campaign.

27. Goncalo Guedes: PSG won the race to sign Guedes in a €30million deal from Benfica, but the midfielder lasted only six months in Paris before being shipped off to Valencia, where he has spent the last two seasons.

26. Adalberto Penaranda: Finally at Watford after leaving Venezuela for Granada and Udinese, which is some going considering he was shot in the leg as a 17-year-old.

25. Richairo Zivkovic: The forward was on loan at Willem II from Ajax at the time but he has since moved to Belgium and now China, which doesn’t sound too promising.

24. Sebastian Driussi: An Argentine striker who left River Plate for Zenit St Petersburg, Driussl more than doubled his goal tally in his second season in Russia, which bodes well.

23. Julian Brandt: The man Jurgen Klopp wanted instead of Mo Salah, Brandt remains one of the hottest prospects in Bundesliga and is likely to leave Bayer Leverkusen for Borussia Dortmund this summer.

22. Dominic Solanke: The England striker – yes, really – was on loan at Vitesse at the time and has since scored one Premier League goal while generating transfer fees close to £25million.

21. Riechedly Bazoer: While Bazoer has hardly had a bad career to date, of all the young Ajax players to pick from, the 22-year-old defensive midfielder probably wasn’t the right one.

20. Marko Grujic: Liverpool pulled off something of a coup when signing the midfielder from Red Star Belgrade but, given the Reds’ embarrassment of riches in that area, Grujic’s future does not appear to be at Anfield after a loan spell with Hertha Berlin.

19. Martin Odegaard: Still just 20, Odegaard has enjoyed possibly the best season of his career on loan at Vitesse from Real Madrid.

18. Gabriel Jesus: After taking the Premier League by storm when he first joined Manchester City, Jesus’ form has been scrutinised in 2018-19, yet he has still ended the season with 21 goals in all competitions. F*ccckkkk.

17. Andrija Zivkovic: The youngest player to ever appear for Serbia and Partizan Belgrade’s youngest ever captain, the attacker is now in and out of Benfica’s starting XI.

16. Reece Oxford: His future seems to lie away from West Ham and in the Bundesliga after failing to develop in east London as hoped.

15. Almamy Toure: Monaco has been a hotbed of young talent in recent years, but Toure had to move to Eintracht Frankfurt in January after falling out of favour in Ligue 1.

14. Ante Coric: Formerly linked with a number of Europe’s biggest clubs while at Dinamo Zagreb, Coric moved to Roma last summer but has struggled to make an impact, playing 22 minutes of Serie A football.

13. Danilo Barbosa: A curious career, in which he has impressed enough to join both Valencia and Benfica on loan from Braga but ultimately failed to earn a permanent move to either. The defensive midfielder is now in and out of Nice’s first team.

12. Gabriel Barbosa: Remember when Gabigol was a thing? Inter wish they didn’t.

11. Mahmoud Dahoud: Perenially linked with the Premier League, Dahoud made an encouraging start to his Borussia Dortmund career after leaving Borussia Monchengladbach only to fall out of favour.

10. Kenedy: One good loan spell at Newcastle, one bad loan spell at Newcastle, which is better than most Chelsea loanees.

9. Gerson: The attacking midfielder has spent the season on loan at Fiorentina after underwhelming at Roma. It remains to be seen whether he has a future back in the capital.

8. Dele Alli: We really like Alli. When he nutmegs people he gets criticised for being too flashy and when he tones it down he gets criticised for not contributing enough. Maybe he’s just a really good, intelligent footballer?

7. Ruben Neves: We doubt anyone saw Neves joining Wolves when this list was published, although they probably did predict he’d be tearing it up in the Premier League.

6. Alen Halilovic: Halilovic’s CV reads permanent moves to Barcelona, Hamburg and Milan, yet he has only played regularly out on loan, most recently with Standard Liege.

5. Breel Embolo: Once the most sought-after young striker in Europe, Embolo has not kicked on as expected, partly due to a nasty injury, scoring just 12 times in three years at Schalke.

4. Gianluigi Donnarumma: Still only 20 and is nearing 200 appearances for Milan and Italy. We may genuinely have another 20 years of him.

3. Youri Tielemans: The midfielder may not yet have joined one of Europe’s elite clubs as expected, but his loan spell at Leicester has proved it’s only a matter of time.

2. Leroy Sane: Whether Pep trusts him or not, Sane is frighteningly good at football. IDST.

1. Kingsley Coman: A winner of titles in France, Italy and Germany at the age of 22. A fair enough shout.

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