Best Young Soccer Players Aged 20 or Younger

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 5.11.2023.

They grow up so quickly. Yesterday’s best young soccer players are winning Ballon d’Ors and Golden Boots today. Truly, the whole sport has hastened and the players tend to have more eventful careers in shorter time spans. While the talents are getting their chances at increasingly young ages. Hence, making the lists of best young soccer players all that more important not to be left out of the loop.

Best Young Soccer Players - U20 Edition

Looking at the players eligible for U20 selections, meaning 20 and younger on the date of writing in October of 2023, we take a look at the most accomplished young footballers!

While it's common for the attacking players to get the most attention when compiling such lists, we tried to include the top talents from all the positions. It happened without bending the rules as some youngsters simply bossed their club's defences for seasons now.

Alas, goalkeeping is still an old man's position. The youngest prospect goalkeeper is Illan Meslier, who is 23 and well beyond our age criteria.

Most prospects we have listed here are born in 2003, but few have managed to squeeze despite being born in (late) 2002. While others are even more impressive by far younger than the cut-off age.

Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid & England) - born in 2003

Jude Bellingham

While Jude Bellingham couldn't be condensed to stats alone, they do tell a lot about the England international. The 20-year-old has stats like he is a winger or at least a shadow striker, yet he plays in central midfield. With 41 goals and 30 assists, it's truly a feat that hasn't been replicated. Even the mere fact that he played 189 games of club senior football should be impressive enough, but when combined with 27 caps for England's A team, well it's no surprise Bellingham is the closest in hype to Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.

Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich & Germany) - born in 2003

Jamal Musiala

When Bayern Munich didn't immediately employ a new proper striker to replace Robert Lewandowski, it was clear they placed a lot of hope in Jamal Musiala's scoring ability. Even though he is primarily an attacking midfielder, the youngster fully delivered, scoring 35 goals and making 26 assists in his 136 games for Bavarians. Musiala is increasingly important for Germany too, for which he played in 25 games.

Pedri (Barcelona & Spain) - born in 2002


Another player who has shown that age isn't the most important factor. Nor where do you break through to first-team football, as Pedri did so in Spain's second division. After just a quick few matches in Barcelona, it was clear for everyone to see that Pedri was surely one of the top young football players. For Barca and Las Palmas combined, Pedri has played in 148 games, scoring 21 times and making 15 assists. The 18-times-capped Spanish international did not only win the prestigious Golden Boy award, but he did it two years ago.

Gavi (Barcelona & Spain) - born in 2004


Another from the new Barcelona class who has won the Golden Boy award, just a year after his two years senior and teammate Pedri. More impressively, the central midfielder has had an even bigger impact on the Spanish national team, with 25 games played already and five goals scored. Gavi needs to play in 15 international games per year for the next 12 years to be a record-holder for Spain. And he would still be only 31 then. Gavi went through La Masia and performed for Barca in 109 games so far, scoring seven and assisting twice more, winning the league already too.

Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen & Germany) - born in 2003

Florian Wirtz

Directors of Bayern Munich are smiling every time they're watching Florian Wirtz play. No, that's not a typo. Yes, Wirtz is playing for Bayer Leverkusen now, but the German wonderkid is bound for Allianz Arena and was even seen wearing the Bavarians' shirt. With a flair unseen in Bundesliga domestic talent... probably ever, Germany has a potential worldwide star on its hands. Wirtz's stats are insane at the age of 20, as he has 116 games for Leverkusen, with 38 goals assisted, and 28 scored! While recording 12 caps for his country too! Wirtz might be the most underrated out of these top young soccer players. Somehow.

Rasmus Hojlund (Manchester United & Denmark) - born in 2003

Rasmus Hojlund

With a transfer fee of €75,000,000, it's not a stretch to include Rasmus Hojlund as one of the most promising young soccer players. Even though he is young, Hojlund is at his fourth professional club. But most notably, he has scored 10 and assisted four goals in his lone season with Atalanta. His record for Denmark is even more impressive as the tall CF (another one) has bagged six in his first eight appearances. With the most pressure laid on him out of all these talented youngsters, Hojlund scored three in his first 11 games for Manchester United but showed his promise and a biting mentality.

With Erling Haaland as a clear guideline for Hojlund, Manchester, but also Denmark and Norway, may have a great rivalry to elevate the sport further.

Harvey Elliott (Liverpool & England) - born in 2003

Harvey Elliott

The hype was strong when Harvey Elliott burst onto the scene, and one might think that the attacking midfielder fell of his path if led by only news coverage. Yet, the reality is that Elliott gathered 78 appearances for LFC, scoring six and making four assists. In addition to his 45 senior games for Blackburn Rovers and Fulham. It seems that Harvey is still the talent the Reds are banking on and with 16 England U21 caps, they are not the only ones.

Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid & France) - born in 2002

Eduardo Camavinga

Out of all the players on this list, none has more appearances in the big league than Eduardo Camavinga. While he was born in November of 2002 and hence benefits from barely making the U20 cut, the 201 total club appearances speak volumes. Especially as 113 have come for Real Madrid. Yes, 113 already. Alongside 12 caps for the French national team that is equally brimming with quality midfielders.

Rico Lewis (Manchester City & England) - born in 2004

Rico Lewis

John Stones received a lot of deserved praise for adapting successfully to Pep Guardiola's peculiar demands. Yet what then should be said for the teenager Rico Lewis who goes wherever the manager tells him to? Right-back, defensive midfielder, left-back or even a centre-back. Lewis played in 31 games for City and almost as many positions. With versatility alone, the nominal RB deserves to be included. Especially knowing how demanding Pep is.

Julio Enciso (Brighton & Paraguay) - born in 2004

One of the rare inclusions on this list of best young soccer players that comes from South America. Which would be weird, if not that these countries placed some regulations on allowing their talents to leave only after their 18th birthday. Enciso earned his spot even though he has 28 appearances for Brighton, with nine goal involvements. Alongside the nine caps for Paraguay and nearly 30 goal involvements in 69 games in his home country. He is one of two BHA members on this list, which is a great credit to the way things are done on England’s south shore.

Xavi Simons (RB Leipzig & Netherlands) - born in 2003

Xavi Simons

Even though he is so young, Xavi Simmons had to endure getting written off by the broader football public, and then bounce back. As Xavi was known to the public since his early. teenage years. Not only did he rise like a phoenix in the style of Martin Odegaard, Xavi did something so impressive for a young player - he changed his position. Starting off as a central midfield talent, Simons has since moved to the wing and shown rare capability. With experience in three different leagues behind him already - Eredivisie, Ligue 1, and the current Bundesliga, Xavi is a seasoned 20-year-old. With nine caps for the Netherlands national team, as well 26 goals scored and 20 assists made in 73 games at a club level - Simons is back. Already.

Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Ireland) - born in 2004

A transfer fee number of €100,000,000 has been thrown around for Evan Ferguson already, showing that Brighton's second footballer on this list is the next great Premier League striker. With the expectations of the Irish nation on his back already, the teen has had quite the start to his 2023/2024 Premier League campaign, scoring five in 10. Overall, 15 goals and four assists in 41 matches for The Seagulls. With three goals in his first eight Ireland appearances, the top PL clubs are counting the pound bills they'll need in order to ensure Ferguson is their primary goalscorer for the next decade possibly.

Rayan Cherki (Lyon & France) - born in 2003

Rayan Cherki has several long transfer sagas behind him and it's weird he's eligible for this U20 list of top young soccer players. He is one of the few youngsters in general who can say they have over 100 games for a club in the top five leagues. The versatile attacking midfielder scored 14 and made 16 assists in his 111 games for Olympique Lyon. Arsenal, Juventus, and Liverpool were just some of the clubs interested in the France U21 international.

Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United & Argentina) - born in 2004

Alejandro Garnacho

With his national team, Alejandro Garnacho trains with Leo Messi. With his club, he trained with Cristiano Ronaldo. Playing as a winger, a youngster couldn't wish for better examples. Garnacho is playing with the tenacity that his countrymen are known for, while the technique isn't far off. Even though United spent over €200,000,000 on its two wingers, it seems that Garnacho is now the biggest hope of the Old Trafford faithful who love their wingers so much. In 48 games, the teenager scored six and made another five goals possible, while Argentinians saw him perform for their country three times despite the wild competition.

Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig & Slovenia) - born in 2003

The age of the tall centre-forwards has returned big time: Erling Haaland, Dusan Vlahovic, Alexander Isak, and Benjamin Sesko is looking like the next big, big thing. The 194 centimetres tall striker from Slovenia is a certified Red Bull footballing nexus product, going through Liefering, Red Bull Salzburg, and now graduating to Leipzig. In Austria's biggest side, Sesko scored 29 goals and made 11 assists in 79 matches. While in his new home, the German Bundesliga team, Sesko returned six goals in 12 matches so far! With nine finishes for Slovenia in 23 matches, it's easy to realize Sesko is not an ordinary talented youngster.

Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint-Germain & France) - born in 2006

Despite all the money in the world to spend, and nearly as much already paid, the 2006-born Warren Zaire-Emery has managed to get 43 appearances in the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain midfield! As the youngest top young soccer player on this list. A product of the PSG school, one that broke through finally, Zaire-Emery managed to get eight goal involvements so far. His contributions go beyond the two most common statistical columns and no one is questioning his spot in the starting eleven.

Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund & USA) - born in 2002

Giovanni Reyna

Even though he is so young, Giovanni Reyna's career is so eventful that he already had dips in it but bounced back from them. He is also one of the few players who has made over 100 appearances for a top European club. Borussia Dortmund is known for giving youngsters a chance, but their attacking midfield lineup has always been competitive. So Gio getting 111 caps in it is a big deal. Especially with a return of 17 goals and 16 assists! USA also employed the young gem born in England early on, with 22 caps to his name and six goals.

Antonio Silva (Benfica & Portugal) - born in 2003

Antonio Silva

No list of top young soccer players can exist without at least one Benfica player. Although it's slightly an uncommon occurrence for the Eagles, it's not a player from their stable of dribbling wingers, it's a towering centre-back. Yet one that is so good that he got six caps for Portugal already! Next to 56 games for Benfica's first time, in which he score six goals! As a centre-back! The 187 centimetres tall player rose through complete Benfica's ranks and sooner rather than later, he will leave the nest.

Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta & Italy) - born in 2003

Giorgio Scalvini

If you get to nine caps for Italy's senior team while you're still a teenager, and you play as a centre-back, well big things are expected from you. Alessandro Bastoni seemingly fulfilled them, now it's the turn of another Atalanta youth product! This one playing with his right foot mostly. So Bastoni (24) and Scalvini might be the Chiellini and Bonucci of the upcoming Italy generation. No pressure, boys. With 67 appearances for La Dea already, Scalvini is gathering the important experience as a hungry hound.

Alejandro Balde (Barcelona & Spain) - born in 2003

Alejandro Balde

A third Barcelona player on the list, and a clear sign that the Catalan club is returning to what it dominated with - having a core that grew up together. Balde is another La Masia product and has quickly taken the spot Jordi Alba held sovereignly. The left-back played in 61 games for Blaugrana and made seven appearances for the Spanish national team.

Honourable mentions as some of the additional top young soccer players have to go out to Fabio Miretti, Carlos Alcaraz, Mathys Tel, Youssoufa Moukoko, Destiny Udogie, and Milos Kerkez to name a few.


Share this article?
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Send it to your friends
Viber Whatsapp Facebook Telegram

Love what you're reading? Subscribe to our newsletter and have our articles delivered straight to your inbox, ensuring you never miss out on the latest updates.

Read These Next