As the season heats up with high intensity, teams are rallying to get the best out of their players, while aiming for laurels and silverware in just 2 months' time. Looking at the 2020/21 season which is ongoing, we have picked out some of the young stars of the season so far.
Here are 6 of the best young players in the world.
Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
He is one of the shining lights in what was a dreadful start to the season for Arsenal. Arsenal endured their worst start to a campaign in more than half a century under Mikel Arteta. Bukayo Saka, who burst onto the scene last season and has continued to thrive despite the poor performances of those around him. The 19-year-old’s youthful exuberance has shone through and Saka has emerged as perhaps Arsenal’s most important player, a youngster willing to shoulder responsibility even during a difficult period for his side. No player has provided more assists (7) for the Gunners since the start of last season, whilst only Jadon Sancho (23) has provided more assists amongst U21 players in one of Europe’s major leagues and European competition over the same period. Saka’s talent and versatility have underlined his status as one of England’s most promising players, a teenager who is comfortable in a variety of positions – a trait unlikely to be lost on Gareth Southgate as he plans his squad ahead of this summer’s European Championships.
Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund
Haaland proved his worth in Norway and then Austria and now Dortmund. The Norwegian is growing from strength to strength. A haul of 12 goals came in his first eight matches in Dortmund. Across Europe’s top 5 leagues only Cristiano Ronaldo (13) had scored more goals in 2020 before football’s suspension. Haaland can seemingly do everything, with his imposing physical frame and deceptive turn of pace, along with eerie ruthlessness in front of goal that is reminiscent of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one of the best finishers the game has ever seen.
Jadon Sancho - Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho's current performance level dictates that he is the best - and most sought-after - young talent in the world. In fact, his performances already mark him out as one of world football's best talents regardless of age. The 20-year-old already has 66 goal contributions in 88 career games and was the first player across Europe's top five leagues to register double figures in goals and assists this season. In the truncated 2019-21 season, he has 16 goals and 17 assists across 31 games in the Bundesliga and Champions League. Remarkable. Sancho is a provider first and a scorer second yet only Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (25) and Leipzig's Timo Werner (21) have scored more goals than the Londoner and only Erling Braut Haaland and Borussia Mönchengladbach captain Lars Stindl have a better shots-per-goal ratio than Sancho's 3.3. By any measure, Sancho is already one of the best players in the world. Fun Fact: Sancho grew up in Camberwell, South London, which has proven a hotbed for young English talent. So much so that Sancho and Arsenal's Reiss Nelson played on the same five-a-side team in their youth. He is fairly unique in as much as players as skillful as Sancho are rarely as ruthless in front of goal as the England international. He idolized Ronaldinho growing up and despite his efficiency, Sancho definitely has a touch of the showman. Openly? Manchester United. Probably? Every elite club in world football.
Curtis Jones – Liverpool
Curtis Jones has enjoyed a rapid rise since announcing himself as a Liverpool player with a spectacular Merseyside derby winner almost a year ago, the teenage academy graduate’s match-winning intervention demonstrating his highly-rated talent. Jones was rewarded with a handful of league appearances towards the season’s end to claim a Premier League winners’ medal, before becoming a fixture in Jurgen Klopp’s plans over the opening months of the 2020/21 season. The summer departure of Adam Lallana and a host of injuries have handed Jones his opportunity, one he has seized in some style with a number of impressive performances – making 18 appearances in all competitions and scoring three goals. Jones possesses a self-confidence not often seen from players with such little experience, his unwavering belief in his own ability having seen him make a seamless transition from youth level to the senior side. Liverpool are currently stacked with midfielders but in Jones they have a player who provides a unique option, a youngster with intelligence, flair and the confidence to ghost forward in search of goals. The 19-year-old compiled a fine goalscoring record at youth level and his ability in tight spaces around the penalty area has already been evident in the senior side, Jones having rarely looked out of place since his introduction into one of Europe’s best teams.
Mason Mount – Chelsea
The most established name on this feature but a player who is somehow still just 21-years-old, Mason Mount has built on a promising first season in the Chelsea first team to cement himself as an indispensable figure under Frank Lampard. Mount has had no shortage of detractors with many questioning his status for both club and country, though the midfielder has proven just why he is so highly regarded over the opening months of the campaign. The England international has played predominantly from a midfield three this season and it is a position that has extracted the best from his talents, with the youngster ranking fourth for chances created and key passes in the Premier League this season. Mount’s improving ability to influence games and tireless pressing play has made him fundamental to the Chelsea side, his performances having seen him emerge – ahead of several big-money signings – amongst the most important players to Lampard’s plans. Mount ranks first amongst Premier League players aged 21 or under for big chances created, shot-creating actions, progressive passes and successful pressures, whilst his three assists is also the joint-most amongst players in that age bracket. Chelsea remain a side in transition but have a number of young players in which to build around, Mount emerging as arguably the pick of their academy graduates. Player Analysis: Why critics of Mason Mount are only proving their own lack of football knowledge privacy settings
Eberechi Eze – Crystal Palace
Wilfried Zaha has shouldered Crystal Palace‘s attacking responsibility for several seasons and the summer window saw the Eagles look to alleviate some of the pressure on the Ivorian, securing the signing of Eberechi Eze from Queens Park Rangers for a fee of £17m. Eze had sparkled in the second tier for QPR before making the move to their London rivals and the Premier League, where he has quickly found his feet as an exciting creative talent for Roy Hodgson’s side. The 22-year-old possesses a showmanship style and effortlessly glides past players, whilst showing an ability to influence contests tangibly with two goals and two assists so far this season. Eze scored a sensational solo goal in Crystal Palace’s win over Sheffield United this week as he waltzed past a succession of challenges and appears to be growing in confidence, the midfielder’s flawless close control and technique belonging at Premier League level. After several seasons of being labelled a one-man team, Palace finally have a more than able supporting cast for the talismanic Zaha.