The Best Teenagers In Football - Young, But Lighting 2024 on Fire

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 29.5.2024.


It’s becoming redundant to say, but age matters less and less in modern football. At the age of 20, Jude Bellingham is already a superstar. Joao Felix was paid €126,000,000 as a teen. However, it still remains wildly impressive when a player becomes established in the big leagues before casting away his teenage status. These 10 best teenagers in football have already become household names in 2024 and if their careers are managed well, they’re on course of becoming the superstars of tomorrow.

We’re constraining our look into the best teenage football players to those who will stay in their teenage years even when 2024 comes to an end. So if you see your favourite young player missing from this select countdown, it’s most likely that they were born in 2004.

Looking into their career trajectory, games played, goals scored, assists made, trophies won, transfer fees, and overall general feel to their game, here are the 10 best teenagers in football as of mid-2024.

Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint-Germain & France) - 18 years, born in 2006

For a team with seemingly unlimited funds to give a starting lineup spot to one of their own youth academy products is a testament to undeniable talent. With 70 games already played for Paris Saint-Germain, 12 of which are in the Champions League, Warren Zaire-Emery has quickly become the backbone of PSG.

In those 12 CL outings, the central midfielder has recorded four goal involvements (1G/3A). While his total main statistical output comes down to five goals and seven assists. In a team of superstars, Zaire-Emery received enough trust to be an expected gear in the squad.

He is the only one of these best current teenagers in football who has a major trophy to his name - winning the Ligue 1 title twice. As well as the French Supercup. Didier Deschamps couldn't skip him over and the CM scored on his debut, making another cap afterwards.

Vitor Roque (Barcelona & Brazil) - 19 years, born in 2005

Vitor Roque

No player on this list of top teenagers in football has more senior game experience than Vitor Roque. Already representing his third club, all of them massive in their respective countries of continents, Vitor Roque has had quite the rise. Cruzeiro picked up the youngster in 2019 and in 16 games for the blue Brazilian club the centre-forward bagged six goals and one assists.

Atletico Paranaense smelled the talent and dished out €4,700,000 for the 172 cm tall forward. He returned the trust with fire and scored 28 goals and recorded 11 assists in 81 games for the club. Roque then secured a winter 2024 move to Barcelona for €45,000,000 and scored twice in his first 13 outings for Barca. A goal for every 155 minutes on the pitch.

Still waiting on his senior team call-up, but it's clear that Barca and Real will have competing centre-forwards from Brazil. Roque has won the South American Championship with the Brazilian U20 side, yet the real business starts now.

Mathys Tel (Bayern Munich & France) - 19 years, born in 2005

Mathys Tel2

One of two players on this list who have come through the Stade Rennais youth academy. Although Tel made the switch to the big league after just 10 games for the French side. In the summer of 2022, Bayern Munich's recruitment team thought they saw enough to dish out €20,000,000 for the young winger.With 15 goals and five assists in his first 66 games for Bayern, most of them started on the bench, they seemingly made the right choice.

Tel has represented France in the youth ranks, but it will be hard to cut it into the senior team at his left wing position. However, a place in Bayern Munich's squad could fast-track the teenager to Didier Deschamps' plan. As he is built like he’s been a senior player for some time now, Tel will likely be a powerhouse for both club and country.

Arda Guler (Real Madrid & Turkey) - 19 years, born in 2005

Derbide Fenerbahçe Yedek Oyuncu Arda Güler (2021-22 Süper Lig - Cropped).jpg
By beIN SPORTS Türkiye, CC BY 3.0, Link

Another solid proof of the total shift in team building Real Madrid has been conducting. Seemingly, after hitting gold with Vinicius Junior after a few seasons of waiting for the youngster out, Real shifted from buying established players to young ones that have the highest ceiling. Arda Guler is one such player that has arrived at Santiago Bernabeu in 2023 for €20,000,000.

The Turkish attacking midfielder isn't without valuable experience, as he played in 51 games for Fenerbahce. Usually matches with a lot of pressure. Despite it, the player who obviously reminds everyone of Mesut Ozil has managed to score nine goals and make 12 assists. Winning a Turkish Cup as well.

In his first half a season with Real, he bagged two goals in his first eight matches. Even better, he needed just 166 minutes on the pitch to do so. So it's not a surprise he was included in our list of the best current Turkish football players.

Pau Cubarsi (Barcelona & Spain) - 18 years, born in 2007

Pau Cubarsi

La Masia is a famed youth football academy, one of the very best, yet the Catalonia talent furnace usually produces technically adept, skilful attacking or midfield players. So when a defender comes through, and gets the chance right of the gate, without going on loans or getting picked up by other clubs, the Spanish footballing world takes notice. For Pau Cubarsi, the transitional period to senior football came fast and as quickly as we knew it, the centre-back was starting in an El Clasico. Derby of the season.

Cubarsi has become the youngest defender to start in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, aged only 17 years and 79 days.

The centre-back has already played 19 games for Barcelona's senior team, recording one assist too. Cubarsi's talent is on a level that he completely skipped playing for Spain's U18, U19, U20, and U21 teams, and has collected two caps for the senior squad of the Red Fury.

As is the case with any roundup of talented young players, this one has more than one La Masia product and more than one current Barcelona player.

Kenan Kenan Yildiz (Juventus & Turkey) - 19 years, born in 2005

One of two young Turkish stars that makes the cut for the best teenagers in football. However, Kenan Yildiz didn't make it into the top 10 Turkish players right now. But the clock is working in his favour. It also speaks volumes of the potential for the Turkish side to be one of the dark horses at the UEFA Euro 2024.

Yildiz's pedigree is one of the best on this list, as the German-born player went through Bayern Munich's football academy since 2012! Playing in the youth team of Juventus since 2022 and now being a regular player for the Old Lady. In 28 of his first senior matches, the versatile forward scored three goals and assisted one. As his head coach is Massimiliano Allegri, these goal contributions could be counted in dog years.

For his national team, Yildiz has five caps, scoring and assisting once. A technically adept player, with speed and proclivity for dribbling, Yildiz seems like a good player to pair up with a proper finisher. So a partnership with Dusan Vlahovic might be on the cards, with the right manager, that is.

Endrick (Palmeiras to leave for Real Madrid & Brazil) - 17 years, born in 2006

Endrick

Yet another proof of Real Madrid’s changed recruitment strategy. Or one could say it’s Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo 3.0 (forgetting about Reinier). Endrick, however, seems to have the hype and the talent of Neymar Jr. while having the maturity of Erling Haaland. Statements about his professionalism - from his and the mouths of those surrounding him - are crossing the ocean as often as his highlights.

The centre-forward has two seasons' worth of senior football under his belt at the age of 17, scoring 20 goals in his 75 games for Palmeiras. With another three assists. The 173 cm tall player has made his debut for Brazil as well, playing a total of four games and scoring against England and Spain.

Real Madrid paid €45,000,000 and as he turns 18 on July 21st of 2024, he will move to Santiago Bernabeu where he will face stiff competition. But also train with the players who threaded the same path as him.

Desire Doue (Stade Rennais & France) - 18 years, born in 2005

Lens - Stade Rennais (20-08-2023) 42.jpg
By Supporterhéninois - Own work, CC0, Link

Stade Rennais has launched two superstar players in recent years, Ousmane Dembele and Eduardo Camvinga. It seems that the next crop is going to be an attacking midfielder Desire Doue! The 18-year-old has already 73 appearances for Rennais, which is twice more than Dembele had before he made the switch to Borussia Dortmund, and along the lines of Camavinga's impact before moving to Madrid.

But Doue has been effective in those games, with 15 goal involvements already - scoring eight times and making seven assists. Of course, getting into the star-studded lineup of France isn't possible quite yet, but a move to a bigger club abroad and a senior debut are on the cards sooner rather than later for Doue.

Valentin Carboni (Inter on loan at Monza & Argentina) - 19 years, born in 2005

Valentin Carboni (cropped).jpg
By BugWarp - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Getting even one cap for the Argentina national team as an attacking midfielder - ever, not just as a teenager, is a massive feat. Valentin Carboni managed to do it just after turning 19. The tall for his country and position Carboni has been in Italy since 2019, first with Catania before getting picked up by the acclaimed Inter Primavera - youth squad.

Carboni registered six games for Nerrazzurri, but he made the most of his time out on loan with Monza. With 28 games under his belt, he managed to record six-goal involvements (2G/4A). Carboni is a left-footed number 10 who can play as a striker or an inverted winger. Of course, it's not surprising to hear that Lionel Messi is his biggest inspiration.

Lamine Yamal (Barcelona & Spain) - 16 years, born in 2007

Lamine Yamal

The youngest player on this list is also arguably the most exciting to watch. Sure, Lamine Yamal can make the occasional comically poor choice in action, yet he is still only 16! Most importantly, he would make it up in the next charge with a dribble that would make Catalonia hope again. Cautiously, as they had as high hopes for Ansu Fati and Bojan Krkic. But neither of the two had the playing razzle-dazzle of Yamal. Already the 16-year-old has played in 46 games for Barca, scoring six times and making eight assists.

Yamal's father is from Morocco and his mother is from Equatorial Guinea, but the right wing player was born in Spain and has already represented the country six times at a senior level. Scoring twice and making as many assists! That's a goal involvement every 78 minutes on an international level at the age where his voice isn't done forming. Oh, and those two assists came against Brazil.

Technically, the youngster has a La Liga title, yet almost all of his senior appearances have come in the 2023/2024 season. This is reminiscent of the trial by fire Pedri took on and is seemingly suffering from injuries due to it.

As much as the best teenagers in football need experience, they also need to be taken care of. Their playing style might resemble that of grown men, yet their bodies are still developing and hence can’t take the strain that the players in their prime can. Yet, few things are as exciting as watching almost unlimited potential make its first steps sprouting.




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