BEST TEENAGE FOOTBALLERS

BRIEF SCOUTING REPORTS ON SOME OF THE BEST EMERGING TEENAGERS

Here’s our eight newest reports on a small selection of our favourite teenage talents. More profiles can be found in the young players, goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers sections. Below, you’ll find profiles covering backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses, while providing links to where you can find out more about them.

You can find our best and most detailed reports in the Scouted Football Handbook, our quarterly magazine in which we profile 25 of the world’s best up-and-coming talents, with additional features and interviews also included.

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LAST UPDATED: APRIL 24, 2022

Carlos Álvarez

Sevilla's Carlos Álvarez

DATE OF BIRTH

06/10/2003

positions

Attacking midfield

CLUB

Sevilla CF

NATION

Spain

HEIGHT

1.68 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

A regular Spanish youth international and already involved with the senior Sevilla squad, Carlos Álvarez has a big reputation in youth football circles despite his small stature.

He grabbed the spotlight in the 2021/22 UEFA Youth League season as well, starring for a Sevilla team for which he carried much of the attacking threat.

STYLE OF PLAY

Once you set eyes on Álvarez, it’s difficult not to think of the legendary Diego Maradona. Almost everything about him – his small and stocky size, his hair, his number 10 shirt – harks back to the legend that once played for Sevilla himself.

He even plays like Maradona. Álvarez plays between lines, instigating attacking situations with his close control and technical quality. He gets on the ball to dribble and drive, combine and create. One of his best skills is his ability to ride challenges, keeping his balance despite being bounced around, and it really does look similar to the Argentine icon.

He has a creative spark around the box as well, capable of opening up a defence with a quick combination or clever pass. Moreover, he’s a threat as a shooter with a promising ability to create shots out of little.

As he develops with Sevilla’s B team in the third division, Álvarez will be in contention for senior minutes before long. It will be interesting to see how – or where – he is integrated.

Lukas Ambros

VfL Wolfsburg's Lukas Ambros

DATE OF BIRTH

16/05/2002

positions

Attacking midfield

CLUB

VfL Wolfsburg

NATION

Czech Republic

HEIGHT

1.85 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Left

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Slavia Praha have one of the most productive academies in Europe, but Lukas Ambros might just prove to be the one that got away. Now with Wolfsburg, Ambros showcased his qualities in 2021/22 during the club’s UEFA Youth League campaign, one of a few shining lights in a difficult campaign for the German club.

STYLE OF PLAY

Ambros is a delightful, technical attacking midfielder. He is just a lot of fun to watch, slaloming through traffic in midfield, chopping and stepover-ing his way through challenges, drawing defenders into his orbit and opening spaces for others. His fabulous body control is key in all this, as he shifts his weight from side to side and making great use of hesitation moves to throw off his marker.

He is superb at receiving the ball with his back to goal either rolling his marker, or exploiting any defences that refuse to press him by turning and using his creative passing ability to spot up targets ahead of him.

His style is a little bit old school though, very different to the many of the other attacking midfielders at UEFA Youth League level. He is far less active off the ball. He likes to gamble on intercepting by drifting into passing lanes but is not very active as a front-footed presser.

Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson

FC Copenhagen's Isak Bergmann Johannesson

DATE OF BIRTH

23/03/2003

positions

CM, AM, RW

CLUB

FC København

NATION

Iceland

HEIGHT

1.81 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Left

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Born in Sutton Coldfield, Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson is the son of former Premier League footballers, Joey Gudjónsson. Since making his debut in senior football under his father at ÍA Akranes in his native Iceland, Jóhannesson moved to IFK Norrköping in Sweden and established himself as one of the Allsvenskan’s most exciting prospects before his move to FC København. He is also a regular in senior national team squads now, having been a standout at every youth level from under-15s upwards.

Since moving to Denmark, his involvement has been carefully managed – but you should expect to see much more of him in 2022, and beyond.

STYLE OF PLAY

2020 was Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson’s big breakthrough. He played 2,200 minutes as a 17-year-old in his fist senior season, doing so in a few different roles for IFK Norrköping: both wings, between lines in attacking midfield, and as a left wing-back. This season has been the complete opposite so far; Jóhannesson has been afforded a permanent role as part of a double-pivot.

What immediately stands out is his maturity, which is well ahead of his age and experience. He never seems rushed on the pitch, he consistently plays with a very impressive poise and control. He makes quick, sensible decisions and plays to the speed of the game. He also has a great awareness of his surroundings, which enables him to play with good tempo. That is no more evident in his passing, where Jóhannesson has a lot of potential. He moves the ball intelligently: he often pushes possession into attacking areas with line-breaking passes and keeps possession with crisp passing in smaller spaces.

His technique is of a high level in general. He has good touch and control, fluid coordination, and strong conviction in his final action. It means he is able to operate adeptly and be impactful in a range of different spaces and situations, whether as the first receiver in build-up phase, between lines, in wider areas, or around the opposition’s penalty area. He is also a clean ball-striker, consistently able to generate good power on his shots; he subsequently has legitimate potential as a scorer.

Where his game needs significant improvement is in defensive phases, where he often lacks awareness and engages with very raw technique. He should scan space more often to be aware of movements around him – he often reacts late to situations. Moreover, he needs to be more poised and agile when engaging the ball; he can be too upright and flat-footed currently.

Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson is (unironically) the future of Icelandic football; he has the potential to define the country’s new generation. His new role – contributing to almost every phase of play, especially in possession – suits him and should be the one he plays in the longer term.

Fedde de Jong

AZ Alkmaar's Fedde de Jong

DATE OF BIRTH

13/06/2003

positions

Attacking midfield

CLUB

AZ Alkmaar

NATION

Netherlands

HEIGHT

1.85 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

First there was Calvin Stengs, Myron Boadu and Teun Koopmeiners. And now AZ Alkmaar have Fedde de Jong (plus quite a few more). The star of AZ’s run to the UEFA Youth League round of 16 in 2021/22, De Jong looks poised to be the club’s next academy product to step into the senior team after a strong season in the Dutch second division with Jong AZ. However, with a contract expiring in the summer of 2022, his next steps are not yet clear.

STYLE OF PLAY

As European football broadly transitions to an aggressive pressing style, one of the qualities that seems to be overlooked more often is high quality creative passing. De Jong is a break from that trend.

The Dutchman combines excellent vision and immaculate technique to execute a range of high quality passes to put attacking players into quality positions. Even without access to advanced metrics for UYL or Dutch second division matches, he clearly has the ability to create huge shot volume for his team-mates.

Unlike the stereotypical pass-master we have come to expect though, De Jong looks very robust and combative out of possession. Though he is perhaps not the most mobile, this quality gives him the flexibility to play a variety of roles in midfield, whether it be as a regista, or more suitably as an attacking eight or ten in the mould of a Mason Mount.

Dijon Kameri

Red Bull Salzburg's Dijon Kameri

DATE OF BIRTH

20/04/2004

positions

Attacking midfield

CLUB

Red Bull Salzburg

NATION

Austria

HEIGHT

1.81 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Red Bull Salzburg have become famous for their ability to find talented players from Africa and integrate them into their second division and youth teams, but less well-known for bringing through their own local products. But Dijon Kameri has the potential to change that after exploding onto the scene during the 2021/22 UEFA Youth League season with a succession of excellent performances.

STYLE OF PLAY

If there is a throughball to be played, Kameri will play it. He has a passing range built to disrupt defensive structures in a Red Bull Salzburg team that spent the 2021/22 playing a style heavily predicated on attacking transitions.

With an outlet like Roko Šimić, this has been a successful approach. While Kameri’s approach can be slightly too forceful, there is no doubt that his willingness to play through a defence helps a player like Šimić exploit space in behind. He is a cultured ball striker that can take a great set piece.

The Austrian’s technique in possession is also fantastic, though he might need to drop slightly deeper just to allow himself to get more touches of the ball and showcase his ability to hold onto possession, ride challenges, and slalom through midfield.

Despite being a 2004 playing amongst many 2003s in the 2021/22 UYL, he looked decently-sized for an attacking midfielder and looked quite robust both as a presser, and on the occasions, he dropped deeper as Salzburg set up their defensive block.

 
 

 

 

Johann Lepenant

SM Caen's Johann Lepenant

DATE OF BIRTH

22/10/2002

positions

Number 6/8

CLUB

SM Caen

NATION

France

HEIGHT

1.76 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Johann Lepenant is part of an impressive 2002-born group for France. He was a member of the team that reached a European semi-final and finished third at the World Cup at under-17 level in 2019. Many of his peers have broken into first-team football since, and Lepenant did the same last season, as he played just over 1,000 minutes for SM Caen in Ligue 2.

Lepenant has carried that momentum into the 2021/22 season as well. Kicking the season off as the starter, he’s appeared in all but one league game this season. He’s also made the step up to France’s under-20 squad as well.

STYLE OF PLAY

A six at youth level, his minutes in senior football have come as an eight. Lepenant is an up-tempo player, which makes up for his relatively small stature. He’s a very nimble athlete – able to twist and turn, and is quick over short distances – but lacks strengths in contact. He has room to fill out his body over the coming years.

Most of what he does on the ball is executed at quick tempo too. He’s adept at creating angles to receive and is able to control it with clean, positive touches. His technique is compact and crisp which enables him to punch the ball into different zones. At youth level, he showed excellent passing over range too when receiving the ball in deeper areas. In general, Lepenant’s mobile passing provides an effective method of progressing possession.

That tenacity is a big factor in Lepenant’s defensive skillset too, and it makes up for his lack of physicality. He has a very good work ethic, constantly pressing, recovering and engaging with the ball which is reflected in his league-leading defensive metric outputs. He reads and reacts to play very well and uses his sharp accelerations to compress space quickly. 

His own tempo can be used against him. Slowing down in approach, simple improvements in technique and a bit more robustness in contact would make Lepenant a very effective ball-winner, even at the higher levels.

There are similarities between Lepenant and Maxence Caqueret: diminutive midfielders that make up for their lack of size with up-tempo tenacity. He could play in Ligue 1 right now, and will do so in the near future. There is little to suggest that Lepenant couldn’t reach the levels Caqueret is currently playing at.

Devyne Rensch

AFC Ajax's Devyne Rensch

DATE OF BIRTH

18/01/2003

positions

CB / RB

CLUB

AFC Ajax

NATION

Netherlands

HEIGHT

1.79 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

The emergence of many Ajax players at senior level seems stratospheric, but is almost always just a culmination of years of steady progression through De Toekomst. Devyne Rensch is no different. After winning an award in 2020 as Ajax’s best academy player, he has progressed into the first team naturally and solidified his place in the squad with solid contributions.

STYLE OF PLAY

Rensch perfectly blends the technical and tactical excellence we expect from an Ajax academy graduate with versatility. Capable of playing anywhere across the back four and in midfield, he has predominantly featured as a right-back at senior level, though he has been projected as a future centre-back.

To play in the middle, he will probably be helped a lot if he can grow a couple of inches over the next couple of years to really maximise his chances battling physically with big strikers. Across the ground though, he is extremely mobile, though tends to lack the engine to see out 90 minutes in his high intensity role.

But at the end of the day it is his technical quality that shines most. Rensch is projected to be a centre-back, but his current role sees him spend a lot of time receiving the ball in congestion when he tucks into midfield, with some additional combination play in and around the penalty box when he attacks the right half space.

Aimar Sher

Spezia's Aimar Sher

DATE OF BIRTH

20/12/2002

positions

Number 8

CLUB

Spezia Calcio

NATION

Sweden

HEIGHT

1.75 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Aimar Sher is the son of Iraqi immigrants, and is named after the famous Argentine playmaker called Pablo. 2020 saw him break into Hammarby IF’s first-team, the club he joined in 2014. 

After playing roughly 1,000 Allsvenskan minutes last season, he has been linked with a number of clubs in better leagues, but an injury had stunted his start to the 2021 season. Even so, after fewer than 1,500 minutes in top-flight Swedish football, he was signed by Serie A club Spezia in the summer of 2021 for €2.4 million.

STYLE OF PLAY

Most of his minutes in senior football have been played in a double-pivot. Much of what he does in possession is predicated on decent awareness; he scans space regularly, plays with his head up, and often has an idea of his next action before receiving the ball.

Sher is an aesthetic player, languid in style. He has an impressive range of passing, able to play a variety of passes over most distances, and executes them with speed and accuracy. He also has promising touch as a creative passer, able to find clever angles, spot and play in runners – but he does lack consistency of execution.

The most impressive aspect of Sher’s skillset currently is his dribbling and ball-carrying. Decent close control and fairly sturdy in contact, it enables him to retain possession and move through bodies. He also uses his body excellently by feinting and shimmying to freeze/deceive defenders before bursting past them.

Sher isn’t a dynamic athlete. He’s quite leggy and has a decent burst off the mark, but he struggles to shift his feet and is one-paced over bigger distances. Opponents regularly blow by him in open space, and he doesn’t have the pace to recover. He is a decent tackler from set positions though, and his reading of play is largely pretty good.

Since moving to Serie A, Sher has been on the fringes of Spezia’s squad. He would’ve been better served staying at Hammarby for another season, and will now likely need to drop down a level – temporarily, at least – to develop again.

Mohamed Touré

Adelaide United's Mohamed Toure

DATE OF BIRTH

26/03/2004

positions

Wide forward

CLUB

Adelaide United

NATION

Australia

HEIGHT

1.86 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Mohamed Touré stunned the A-League on his debut in February 2020, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the competition’s history when he came off the bench as a 15-year-old to score in a 2-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners.

He continued to impress in 2020/21, routinely coming off the bench as an impact sub, and still managing to score three goals in 349 minutes.

STYLE OF PLAY

Toure is an excitement machine. He is capable of playing anywhere across the front three, having already developed the physical qualities to play at A-League level, both as a striker and as a winger.

He is lightning fast, and is especially dangerous beating players of the dribble due to his explosiveness from a standing start. Toure loves to get on the ball, slalom through defenders and attack space in transition, although he does overdo it at times, running into dead ends when it might have been better to release the ball earlier.

When isolating defenders one-on-one, he shows obvious technical quality but lacks some decisiveness when trying to find a way past his marker. Throughout his career so far, his best moments in these situations have come either from blasting past defenders with his speed (which requires space) or by rolling challenges with his great bodywork.

Interestingly for a right-footed left winger, Toure likes to hit the by-line and is quite reliable at delivering cut-backs to team-mates in the penalty. Likewise, when he is able to get into central positions, he is very good at finding space at the back post to receive cut-backs: the source of a majority of his A-League goals thus far.

Alan Virginius

FC Sochaux's Alan Virginius

DATE OF BIRTH

03/01/2003

positions

Wide forward

CLUB

FC Sochaux

NATION

France

HEIGHT

1.75 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Alan Virginius is yet another exciting product of Parisian football. He started at his local club in the commune of Soisy-sous-Montmorency, a suburb of the French capital. He later entered a profession academy at Paris FC before leaving for Sochaux as a 15-year-old. He has broken into the first-team set-up this season, playing 550 minutes in total across 16 appearances in Ligue 2 and the Coupe de France.

In the 2021/22 season, Virginius hasn’t yet kicked one as he promised – althought his season has been hamepered by a horrible tackle he suffered in the third game of the season.

STYLE OF PLAY

Virginius is a right-footed attacker who has played on the right-side of the attacking line, an increasingly rare profile.

His athletic profile is impressive for his age. He’s a strong runner with excellent top-end speed, especially over longer distances; his body control is decent, which enables him to shift direction; his rangy, athletic frame looks considerably bigger than the 5’7” he’s listed as. He has a lot of potential to fill out in his body too.

In terms of attacking impact, Virginius’ impressive movement adds a dynamic threat. His strong straight-line running makes him a dangerous option into depth in transition, and he knows how to vary his movements in the final third to suit the situation. He can come inside or retain width, he attacks the box with out-to-in runs, runs off defenders’ blindside, and is intelligent in the way he re-adjusts to make another run secondary attacking phases. It’s an aspect of his game which has obvious high-level potential if developed.

His technical coordination is solid, if inconsistent. Virginius’ final action is of a similar standard. He has shown quality as a ball-striker (as a finisher and crosser) but needs to be more consistent in his execution to capitalise on the areas he gets into.

Virginius will be the next young player to step up to a high-level league, following in the footsteps of Maxence Lacroix. A full season as a starter in Ligue 2 would be best for his development. All in all, he is an exciting wide attacker – athletic and dynamic in the threat he offers, with obvious upside to develop.

Warren Zaïre-Emery

Paris Saint-Germain's Warren Zaïre-Emery

DATE OF BIRTH

08/03/2006

positions

Number 8

CLUB

Paris Saint-Germain

NATION

France

HEIGHT

1.78 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Warren Zaïre-Emery was the revelation of the this season’s UEFA Youth League. At just 15 years old, not only was he one of the youngest prospects to play in the tournament, he started all but one game as an exciting Paris Saint-Germain team reached the quarter-final stage.

He has been a prominent name in youth football circles for a little while now, impressing at the Al-Kass Cup. He’s now starting for a France under-17 team that will compete in the European Championship this summer.

STYLE OF PLAY

Zaïre-Emery is an extremely advanced and rounded player for his age; there aren’t any obvious weaknesses to his game, more specific skills which he can hone further as he grows and gains experience.

He can be whatever he needs to be in midfield, capable of adapting his role and responsibilities at short notice. He can sit and organise play from the base of midfield, he can be the driving midfielder between both boxes, he can be forward-breaking runner – he has it all to do it all. Plug-and-play would be a suitable label to tag Zaïre-Emery with. A versatile athletic profile underpins his game too; he’s highly-developed for his age in this regard too, with a solid core and smooth change of pace.

Expect to hear a lot more about Zaïre-Emery in the coming months and years. PSG will have to battle fiercely to keep hold of him – to do so, they will have to prove they can provide him the minutes his talent demands. He will be playing senior football before long, wherever he is.

Arsen Zakharyan

Dinamo Moscow's Arsen Zakharyan

DATE OF BIRTH

26/05/2003

positions

Attacking midfield

CLUB

Dynamo Moscow

NATION

Russia

HEIGHT

1.83 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Left

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Arsen Zakharyan made his debut for Dynamo Moscow in November 2020, started his first game the following February, and played 888 minutes in the 2020/21 Russian Premier League season.

In that time, his impact at Dinamo Moscow was so great that he was awarded the club’s Player of the Season award, as he contributed three goals and four assists largely playing off the right flank.

STYLE OF PLAY

While Zakharyan has predominantly played on the right, his future undoubtedly lies playing in an attacking midfield role. At the Under-21 European Championship group stage in March 2021, the Russian was hugely impressive as the fulcrum of the attack.

His ability to find and occupy spaces in central attacking areas is a standout trait. He has a knack for positioning himself perfectly within a group of defenders, and then has the technical quality to receive and the vision – when in transition – to seek out passing options as the defence collapses onto him.

He can still find these spaces against set defences, but finds it much more difficult to pick out a passing option; too often he will kick the ball into defenders as he tries to pass or cross the ball centrally.

For now, Zakharyan thrives in counter-attacking situations. It suits his best physical qualities; he is a tall, rangy, agile and quick athlete, that despite his height, is very uncomfortable competing in physical duels. He is very difficult to stop when he is able to take possession and build up speed, with his ability to shift his weight and his feet quickly making him particularly evasive. And, despite his unwillingness to get stuck into physical duels, he is quite good at riding and rolling challenges, and drawing fouls, as he glides through midfield with the ball.

It’s probably Jude Bellingham, with Florian Wirtz, Pedri and Jamal Musiala just behind him. Then comes the likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Ryan Gravenberch and Ansu Fati. Football is blessed with a swathe of high-achieveing teenagers currently.

Jude Bellingham, probably. Florian Wirtz as well, plus the likes of Pedri and Ryan Gravenberch. It’s very difficult to go wrong with any of those.

Youssoufa Moukoko is one of them Despite being just 17 years old, the Borussia Dortmund forward has the potential to become one of the truly elite players in your save. We love Rayan Cherki at Lyon, Tino Livramento as well.