Best Teenage FootballERS

Gravenberch Lepenant Sher Zakharyan Virginius

On this page, we have put together our eight latest scouting reports on a collection of the best young teenage footballers. More of our profiles can be found in the defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers sections.

Here, you’ll find reports profiling a players background and taking a closer look at their style of play, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

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.

We will be keeping this page updated regularly with new reports, as well as updating existing profiles.

Have a player that you want us to profile? Let us know at admin@scoutedftbl.com.

Click on the player’s name to automatically scroll to its mini profile.

Last Updated: September 1, 2021

Ryan Gravenberch

Ryan Gravenberch is a rangy, ball-progressing midfielder with immense athletic aptitude – even if he doesn’t always exert himself as such. Educated in the ways of AFC Ajax, Gravenberch is silky but severe on the ball, pivoting well for a player with a 6’3″ frame.

In carrying the ball, Gravenberch is a trump card for Ajax and the Netherlands – he can transport possession through lines and carry confidently into spaces where more creatively-inclined teammates can pick defensive locks.

The 19-year-old is effective all over the pitch, but predominantly in attacking transitions with the ball at his feet. Although best suited to a No. 8 role, do not be surprised to see Gravenberch drop between the centre-backs to receive like a No. 6 or join the attacking line, gliding into gaps in the final third, where he shoots well from range.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Even though Gravenberch possesses superb standout attributes, there is a lot to be desired when it comes to the teenager’s work-rate. His nonchalance can be misconstrued as laziness – he is hardly an ardent presser and predominantly relies on opposition players running into his zone where he can use his sprinter’s legs to wrestle possession free.

Simultaneously rugged and flowing, rigid and yet so fluid, Gravenberch has a silk to his game, but also the required organisation and resilience to not just survive at the top level, but succeed – even at such a young age. He brings presence to the midfield with his height, and purpose as he drives through midfield with his ball carrying ability.

While there are still weaknesses in his game off the ball, his impact when his team are in possession (which at Ajax, is most of the time) is enormous; a ball-carrying, short passing, and goal-scoring threat.

Last Updated: 07.06.2021  | Joe Donnohue

Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson

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.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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.

Last Updated: 07.06.2021  | Llew Davies

JohaNn Lepenant

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 this past season. He played just over 1,000 minutes for SM Caen in Ligue 2, and is likely to be a regular starter next season.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

A six at youth level, his minutes in senior football have come as an eight, where he has the freedom to move between both boxes, linking play with his passing and breaking it up with tenacious defending. Johann Lepenant is an up-tempo player, which makes up for his relatively small stature. He is a very nimble athlete – able to twist and turn to suit the situation, and quick over short distances – but lacks strengths in contact. He definitely 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, his passing in particular. He is adept at creating angles to receive the ball at any level of the pitch and is able to control it with clean, positive touches that often lead directly into his next action. His technique is compact and crisp which, when coupled with his good awareness and vision, enables him to punch the ball into different zones. At youth level, he consistently showed excellent passing over range too when receiving the ball in deeper areas. In general, Lepenant’s mobile passing provides an efficient, 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, cconstantly 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, impressive for his age, and uses his sharp accelerations to compress space quickly. 

But he is often too quick for his own good, especially when engaging in duels. His own tempo is used against him, with simple touches eliminating him from situations. 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 and prominent youth internationals that make up for their lack of size with high-level, up-tempo tenacity. He could certainly play in Ligue 1 right now, and will do so in the near future, and there is little to suggest that Lepenant couldn’t reach the levels Caqueret is currently playing at.

Last Updated: 07.06.2021  | Llew Davies

Aimar Sher

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 has stunted his start to the 2021 season. Regardless, he remains a prominent member of the first-team group and an exciting prospect at Hammarby, along with Akinkunmi Amoo.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Most of his minutes in senior football have been played in a double-pivot, which highlights the strengths and weaknesses of his skillset. 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. That enables him to play with decent tempo and fluidity.

He is an aesthetic player, languid in style. That is especially apparent in his distribution at the base of midfield, which is already of a good level. He has an impressive range of passing, able to play a variety of passes over most distances, and executes them with effective accuracy and pace. He also has promising touch as a creative passer, able to find clever angles, spot and play in runners – even if he lacks some consistency in execution.

The most impressive aspect of Sher’s skillset currently is his dribbling and ball-carrying. He is strong in these situations for a number of reasons, one of which is he has a good sense of his surroundings. Moreover, he decent close control and is quite sturdy in contact which 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 is quite tall/leggy and has a decent burst off the mark, but he struggles to shift his feet in a lot of situations and is very one-paced over bigger distances. Opponents regularly blow by him in open space, and he doesn’t have the pace to recover. He doesn’t possess the adequate athleticism to adjust in direct defensive situations either, which makes him easy to beat with the ball when he steps to engage. He does read the game quite well, though.

Aimar Sher has already been linked to a number of intelligent clubs in higher-level leagues, but another year (at least) in Sweden’s Allsvenskan would suit his development best. Regular minutes for Hammarby offers him a stable platform to continue improving his on-ball skillset and, hopefully, become a more dynamic athlete. He does possess a press-resistant skillset that is increasingly important at higher levels. A move to the Eredivisie or Pro League is a matter of when, not if, currently.

Last Updated: 07.06.2021  | Llew Davies

Mohamed Toure

Mohamed Toure 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.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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.

Last Updated: 07.06.2021  | Stephen Ganavas

Christos Tzolis

Born in the coastal city of Thessaloniki, Christos Tzolis has enjoyed a rapid rise for boyhood club PAOK.

The teenager was rewarded for his prolific form at youth level with a first team call up and has not looked back since.

In his first full season, Tzolis contributed to more goals (17 goals, 10 assists) than any other first team player and earned a call-up to the Greek national team.

He has since moved to Norwich after their promotion to the Premier League.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Tzolis averages 1.1 successful dribbles per 90 which shows his reluctance to beat defenders, instead relying on movement from teammates to vacate space where he can then do damage.

The teenager is a high-volume shooter and currently averages 2.7 per 90 – more than any other teammate with Andrija Živković his closest challenger on 1.7 per 90.

His first-time finishing is extremely decisive, thanks largely to his clean ball-striking ability and trust in his own technique to find corners.

Tzolis struggles to generate power and accuracy on his weaker side – much more reliant on his right foot – which makes him predictable at times.

His role is very specialized (low touch, inside forward) which means accommodating him into a ‘top side’ might be difficult.

The Greece forward is inconsistent in his fundamentals, first touch can be loose and his passing too.

Last Updated: 01.09.2021  | Phil Costa

Alan Virginius

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.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

Virginius is a right-footed attacker who has played on the right-side of the attacking line, an increasingly rare profile, in his early senior minutes at Sochaux. Despite being largely restricted to substitute appearances and struggling to be consistently involved in a low-possession side, Virginius has been impactful in his minutes this season.
His athletic profile is impressive for his age. He’s a strong runner with excellent top-end speed which covers ground quickly, especially over longer distances; his body control is decent, which enables him to shift direction fluidly; and 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 a bit inconsistent. He retains the ball pretty well in smaller spaces by shifting/manipulating it through defenders. Virginius’ final action is of a similar standard. He has shown quality as a ball-striker (as a finisher and crosser) throughout the season but needs to become more consistent in his execution to capitalise on the areas he gets into.

Alan 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, but don’t be surprised if clubs try to get ahead of his breakout and move for him this summer. All in all, he is an exciting wide attacker – athletic and dynamic in the threat he offers, with obvious upside to develop some of the weaker aspects of his skillset.

Last Updated: 22.05.2021  |  Llew Davies

Arsen Zakharyan

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.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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.

Last Updated: 07.06.2021  | Stephen Ganavas