Best teenage XI in world football now

‘Magic hands’ – Mourinho reserves special praise for Gazzaniga

Since the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Trent Alexander-Arnold are no longer teenagers, it is time to create a new XI featuring the best teenagers in football at the moment.


Mile Svilar (Belgium/Benfica)

Fiorentina’s Alban Lafont and AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma turned 20 in January and February 2019 respectively. Therefore, Benfica’s Mile Svilar gets a place in this XI.

The 19-year-old is a product of the Anderlecht youth academy but signed for Benfica in August 2017 before making an appearance for Anderlecht’s senior term.

Svilar is the youngest goalkeeper to represent Benfica, the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in a Champions League game and also the youngest goalkeeper to save a penalty in a Champions League game.

He has represented Belgium up to the Under-19 level but he is also eligible to represent Serbia through his father who is a former Serbian goalkeeper.


Reece James (England/Chelsea)

Reece James is one of many promising youth products from the Chelsea academy and if Chelsea’s transfer ban isn’t lifted, then James may have a chance to break into the first team.

James is yet to play for the Chelsea senior team but he has impressed on loan at Wigan Athletic this season. The 19-year-old has featured in every game for Wigan so far and has put in five man of the match performances. 

The Chelsea man was part of the England U19 team that won the 2017 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.

Ryan Sessegnon (England/Fulham)

Ryan Sessegnon is still only 18-years-old but he has already played 112 games for Fulham and scored 25 goals.

Sessegnon started out as a left-back but converted to a winger. At the end of the 2017/18 season, he became the first Championship player to be nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

He was named Championship Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Apprentice of the Year. In addition, he was also named in the Team of the Season and EFL Club Developed XI.

The teenager is expected to leave Fulham at the end of the season if the club gets relegated and there will be many suitors for him.


Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands/Ajax)

Matthijs de Ligt is the most recent winner of the prestigious Golden Boy award and also the first defender to win the award. The Dutchman has already played over 100 games for Ajax, is the youngest captain of the club and also the youngest ever captain in a Champions League knockout game.

De Ligt has already represented the Netherlands in thirteen games and he has formed a potent centre-back partnership with Virgil van Dijk.

The 19-year-old is a target for most major European clubs and it will be interesting to see which club lands him in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Dan-Axel Zagadou (France/Borussia Dortmund)

Dan-Axel Zagadou is a product of the PSG academy but the Frenchman left the club without making an appearance for the senior team to join Borussia Dortmund.

Zagadou has represented Dortmund in 35 games so far and scored three goals. Although the 19-year-old prefers to play as a centre-back, he is also capable of playing as a left-back.

He has represented France up to the U20 level but is also eligible to represent Ivory Coast on the international stage.


Matteo Guendouzi (France/Arsenal)

Matteo Guendouzi was Arsenal’s most low profile summer signing but he has proved to be arguably their best summer signing especially because he cost the Gunners only around £7 million.

The 19-year-old has already represented Arsenal in 34 games in his debut season and has impressed the fans and pundits alike with his tenacious displays even in defeats.

Interestingly, Guendouzi spent most of his formative years at the PSG academy before leaving for Lorient and making his professional debut with the latter club.

Kai Havertz (Germany/Bayer Leverkusen)

Aged 19, Havertz already has 96 first team appearances for Bayer Leverkusen as well as three caps for the German national team.

The technically gifted two-footed midfielder drew early comparisons to Mesut Ozil but his impressive performances this season have seen him being compared to former Leverkusen players such as Toni Kroos, Arturo Vidal and Michael Ballack. 

This season, he has 13 goals and six assists to his name in all competitions for Leverkusen and he is attracting interest from other top European clubs.

Nicolò Zaniolo (Italy/Roma)

Inter Milan have a history of letting go of fantastic young players before they’ve realised their potential and some famous examples would be Philippe Coutinho and Andrea Pirlo. The most recent mistake from the Italian club would be Nicolo Zaniolo who they used as a makeweight in the deal to bring Radja Nainggolan from Roma last summer.

Zaniolo has broken into the Roma first team in his debut season and has made 28 appearances in all competitions scoring five goals. In September 2018, he was given his maiden senior international call-up for Italy even before making his Serie A debut but he did not receive any playing time.

The 19-year-old scored a brace for Roma in their Champions League Round of 16 clash against Porto and thus became the youngest Italian player to score twice in a single match in the competition.


Jadon Sancho (England/Borussia Dortmund)

Jadon Sancho took a bold step and moved to the Bundesliga in 2017 to get more first-team opportunities and he has gone on to cement his place in the Borussia Dortmund starting XI this season.

This season, he has nine goals and 14 assists in all competitions for Dortmund. In the league alone, he has 12 assists and this tally is the joint-most in Europe’s Top 5 leagues along with a certain Lionel Messi.

Sancho’s incredible rise to fame also earned him his maiden call-up to the England senior team in 2018.

Joao Felix (Portugal/Benfica)

Joao Felix is the hottest property in Portuguese football and is being linked with a potential move to several top European clubs.

The 19-year-old is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, a winger and a centre-forward. However, he has predominantly played as a centre-forward. In 32 games across all competitions, he has 12 goals and in the league alone, he has 10 goals and four assists in 18 games.

Felix’s impressive form has earned him a call-up to the Portugal senior team for their upcoming games against Ukraine and Serbia.

Vinicius Junior (Brazil/Real Madrid)

Real Madrid spent a fortune to sign Vinicius Junior in 2017 although he could only join the club in 2018 after he turned 18.

Vinicius took some time to break into the Real Madrid first team but he has racked up 28 appearances in all competitions while also scoring four goals and assisting ten more.

In February 2019, he received his maiden call-up to the Brazil national team but he had to withdraw because of an injury.

Honourable mentions – Rafael Leao (Portugal/Lille), Callum Hudson-Odoi (England/Chelsea), Moise Kean (Italy/Juventus), Justin Kluivert (Netherlands/Roma) and Alphonso Davies (Canada/Bayern Munich)