BEST YOUNG FOOTBALL WINGERS

Antony Phil Foden Harvey Barnes Dejan Kulusevski Yunus Musah

Want to get to know more about some of the most exciting wingers in the world? We’ve got you covered.

We’ve put together some mini-profiles on some of our personal favourites, giving you some compact insights into their style of play as well as a bit of background on their careers so far. Where applicable, we’ve have also provided some links out to where you can read more about them on our website or in one of our Handbooks where they have featured.

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 monthly with new reports, as well as regularly 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

Antony

Antony agreed to sign for AFC Ajax in February 2020 after impressing for boyhood side São Paulo. He is a flighty, explosive right-sided winger with a penchant for a looping cross towards the back post after cutting back onto his left foot.

Antony excels in one-on-one situations when going inside onto his favoured foot, but can be restricted by being shown down the line. However, with his sharp drops of the shoulder, low centre of gravity and excellent acceleration, it is difficult to stop him wherever he intends to go.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Growing up in the working-class city of Osasco in São Paulo’s metropolitan region, Antony’s humble roots are reflected in his style of play. He is an individual whose work-rate is off the charts, even if the care and attention of his defensive work is far from refined.

Dribbling is one of Antony’s standout traits, capable of carrying the ball long distances, which would make him an asset certainly in teams who thrive in attacking transitions. His shooting is to a good standard, often hitting the target, even from range, although his shot locations can be questionable at times.

His output since signing for Ajax has taken plenty by surprise, with the team sitting atop the Eredivisie unlike the perception that they may have found themselves licking their wounds over the loss of Hakim Ziyech.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  | Joe Donnohue

HARVEY BARNES

Harvey Barnes is a product of the EFL loan circuit with a very specific set of strengths and weaknesses. He is an excellent ball-carrier, arguably one of the best in the Premier League, and certainly one aspect of his game which alerted Leicester City to ending his Championship loan with West Bromwich Albion early back in 2018-19.

Barnes is the perfect complement to Jamie Vardy out wide. He fills the spaces Vardy cannot laterally, but is equally proficient at going through the middle, often after long-distance carries. His current rate of progressive carrying is one of the best across Europe’s top five leagues, as is his non-penalty xG.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Barnes is a high-intensity ball-carrier, usually operating from a left-wing position. However, due to his technical attributes, he has also been deployed in a central No.10 role. In a 3-4-3 system, Barnes is being developed to excel in any of the front three positions.

His technical prowess is enhanced by a strong, stocky athletic base. Not only is the Leicester local blessed with extreme speed, but his stamina allows him to tap into his physical gifts from the first whistle until the last.

The England international is relentless in his progression of the ball. His direct, high-octane style is eye-catching and effective. Excellent at finding space, whether through off-the-ball movement or producing it himself with his buccaneering dribbling, the foundations to become a consistent double-digit goal-scorer are set.

His speed and dribbling ability combine to make him Brendan Rodgers’ ideal counter-attacking complement to Jamie Vardy. Barnes is tasked with advancing the ball in transition, as seen by his impressive carry numbers on FBRef.com. Leicester’s No.15 ranks in the top three for carries into the final third and in the top 10 for carries into the penalty area.

A high-profile, top-tier forward that Barnes should aspire to emulate is Spurs’ Son Heung-min. Both possess elite speed, the ability to auto-manufacture shooting opportunities, neat association play, and devastating dribbling which, in its final form, can produce spectacular, pitch-long solo runs. The same path to becoming a pure goal-scorer could also be trodden.

By no means the same reliable two-footed shooter just yet, Barnes has the capability to learn to engineer and consistently execute efforts on goal with his weaker left side.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  | Jake Entwistle

Matheus Cunha

From the golden beaches of João Pessoa to the urban streets of Berlin, Matheus Cunha has travelled well for such a young player.

The forward was a standout performer for Hertha BSC despite their struggles, having played for FC Sion and RB Leipzig previously.

Capable of playing across the frontline and with a sharp eye for goal, Cunha should have no problems fitting in at his new home at Atlético Madrid.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Cunha is an excellent ball carrier and equally slick mover – often nutmegging opponents or nipping between two defenders to create space.

The Brazil international is shot heavy and boasts impressive ball striking ability, particularly from range where his power beats goalkeepers.

He is a useful counter-attacking threat and can play through the middle despite featuring mostly as a left-sided player during his time in Berlin.

The 21-year-old is no stranger to a yellow card. He can be quite petulant and gets frustrated easily, which leads to him making unnecessary fouls.

He currently averages a 71% pass completion rate which highlights need for improvement, but his intent alone unsettles defences and vacates space for others to exploit.

Cunha can frustrate team-mates by not releasing the ball quickly enough in promising areas, with his soloistic tendencies preferring to go for goal.

Last Updated: 01.09.2021  | Phil Costa

PHIL FODEN

Phil Foden is a footballer with elite-level potential, which is beginning to be realised with his increased involvement and responsibility under Pep Guardiola.

The U-17 World Cup winner has long been one of the most technically brilliant players within Manchester City’s entire first-team squad, and it is now he is beginning to display it in frequent starts.

Foden has a knack for neat inter-play in congested areas, is unafraid to use his sharp bursts of acceleration to beat players, accentuated by his slight frame, but it is perhaps his footballing intelligence which shines above all.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

His knowledge of where to position himself in attacking phases has been finely-tuned under Guardiola, allowing him to be milliseconds ahead of his marker or nearest opponent, which is all he needs to receive on the turn and skip away from pressure.

His underlying statistics back up his profligacy in the final third, averaging over 0.5 npxG+xA per 90 over the past year. Granted, he is playing for a superclub in Manchester City, but to have posted such numbers whilst not featuring regularly as a starter speaks to his alertness and preparedness whenever called upon.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  | Joe Donnohue

Dejan kulusevski

It took just 20 senior appearances before Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici decided he had seen enough. Parma’s on-loan winger Dejan Kulusevski had been so dynamic in his short stint in Serie A, that Juve parted with €35 million to bring the Swede to Turin.

Teething problems were inevitable, as Kulusevski adjusted from more familiar surroundings in a counter-attacking system to playing in a more ball-dominant team, but he has certainly not looked out of place in black and white.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Kulusevski is ready to do anything Andrea Pirlo asks of him. Already this season he has played at least three or four distinctly different roles; from striker to wing-back and in between. The primary aspects of his skillset that allows him to be functional in a range of different position are his speed, his massive engine and his willingness to pressure and be active defensively.

Pirlo’s 3-5-2/4-4-2 set-up this season does not really have a place for the Swede to play his most natural role, so he is having to adapt to his surroundings. While we have seen some of his better traits shine through – progressive ball-carrying, chance creation, and his left-footed finishing – there are certainly improvements to be made in his all-round combination play. Kulusevski is a damaging player when afforded space to run in behind the defence, but needs to be more effective when dropping deeper and having to thread needles through a deep block.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  |  STEPHEN GANAVAS

DWIGHT McNEIL

Dwight McNeil is an arduous, hard-working wide midfielder in Burnley’s rigid 4-4-2 under Sean Dyche. He supplies the rare glimpses of ingenuity and genuine creative craft in a team which is predominantly a very rudimentary, pragmatic outfit.

McNeil differs from traditional wingers in the way that he gets through much more defensive work than his positional peers. He ranks highly for pressures, blocks, clearances, tackles and interceptions, painting a picture of a well-drilled, disciplined creative player.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

In a team devoid of brilliant ball-carriers, McNeil has quite the responsibility for transporting Burnley up the pitch; he is twice as likely to make a progressive carry than he is to make a progressive pass. 

From attacking positions, he is adept with his crossing, although his success in this area is helped by the two thick-set target men he is invariably aiming for. Posed with the task of playing in a more expansive team, McNeil could certainly boost his creative numbers.

It would not be surprising to see McNeil perhaps even utilised as a wing-back in future given how blurred wide positions have become recently.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  | Joe Donnohue

Yunus Musah

Yunus Musah, at 17 years old, already has two huge footballing nations battling for long-term allegiance to their national team.


Despite representing England up through the under-18 level, Musah accepted a call-up to the U.S. men’s national team in November. He made an instant impact starting in both friendlies that month and developed a natural chemistry with Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams in midfield.


He’s been a mainstay in Valencia’s starting lineup this season, though at right wing, and already has Premier League teams including his former club Arsenal looking to sign him.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Darlington Nagbe was the gold standard for a box-to-box, press-resistant midfielder within the U.S. player pool, but Musah is close to raising that bar.

His physical strength and explosiveness on the turn make him an ideal ball progressor out of midfield, breaking the first line of pressure and distributing the ball into the wide channels for his more creative teammates in the final third.

At Valencia, however, Musah is one of the players the team looks to play out of pressure through in a wider position. On the right side of midfield, Musah’s cultured touches allow him to weave in and out of tight spaces and push Valencia up the field on the counter.

Defensively, Musah is no slouch either. His work rate out wide or in the middle is consistent and it’s complimented a all-around robust American midfield with Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams playing alongside him.

His one caveat is his reluctance to play the final ball, but Musah’s ability to remove defenders from a play individually makes finding the teammates capable of doing so easier.

Musah is a remarkably polished 17-year-old, and his unique skill set as a progressive midfielder will make him a highly sought-after player at the club level as well as the international level.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  | JustIn Sousa

Pedro neto

Having arrived in England with little fanfare, Pedro Neto has already developed into one of the Premier League’s most exciting young players.

The forward is a standout performer for Wolves despite their struggles, having played for SC Braga and Lazio previously.

This has led to international recognition for Portugal and big clubs will soon be fighting for his signature despite signing a new five-year deal in November.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

Despite playing in advanced areas, his offensive statistics – shots, dribbles and key passes – are surprisingly low. But there is a conviction to his actions that means he is often decisive.

Neto is confident on either foot which makes him hugely unpredictable, meaning he can play (and shoot) in a variety of different positions.

The 20-year-old is fleet-footed and likes to weave between defenders, with quick hip movements also encouraging sharp changes of direction. His acceleration is impressive.

For someone with such impressive ball striking ability, his shots often blaze over or wide after rushing. Taking time to settle and place his efforts will benefit him significantly.

Neto is occasionally guilty of delaying passes in promising situations or counter attacks, more through uncertainty as opposed to selfishness.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  | Phil Costa

Viktor Tsygankov

Viktor Tsygankov is one of the jewels of Ukrainian football; a set-piece specialist, with sublime technique who strikes the ball with vigour and tenderness in equal measure.

The Dynamo Kyiv man has consistently delivered in the final third, registering double figures for both goals and assists in two of the past three seasons. In 2020-21 he is on track to repeat this feat.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

STYLE OF PLAY

At international level, Tsygankov has emerged as a regular in Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine setup, most recently scoring a wonderful, instinctive effort past Spain’s David De Gea.

On the pitch, he thrives in the right-hand half space, gliding infield to make decisive passes, and take powerful shots from around 18 yards with his sweet left foot. He is much more of an inside forward rather than a player who will seek to drag his marker and the ball out wide before curling an effort into a danger area. 

He is more of a goal-scorer than a creator, but the disparity between his goals and assists tallies is borne out of Tsygankov’s own self-confidence to be able to make those decisive, game-changing interventions.

It’s little surprise a set-piece specialist has excellent technique, but Tsygankov’s is fantastic in open play instances as well. He is an asset to any side; creative, ruthless, and industrious – any club would be richer with him in the team.

He is a man for the big occasion too; frequently he is Dynamo’s most influential player in contests against UEFA Europa League or UEFA Champions League opposition. This is indicative of the long-term potential Tsygankov possesses, and suggests he would only improve at this premium of levels in a better side.

Last Updated: 01.03.2021  |  STEPHEN GANAVAS

There are some good inexpensive options for building a dominant wide duo as you move up through the divisions in career mode. Lincoln City’s Brennan Johnson or PAOK’s Christos Tzolis are fine choices to develop on the left wing. While Lanús’ Pedro de la Vega and Joelson Fernandes are strong options to patrol the right flank.

Filling out a Football Manager squad?

A good idea would be to buy these two young wingers: Kamaldeen Sulemana and Noni Madueke.