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The In-Form Young Footballers in 2019

The In-Form Young Footballers in 2019

Sunday, 3 March, 2019 - 07:30
Kai Havertz, Kylian Mbappé, Marcus Rashford and Gianluigi Donnarumma are all in sparkling form. Composite: AFP/Getty Images; Reuters; PA; International Champions Cup/Getty Images
London - Martin Laurence
10) Kai Havertz, 19, Bayer Leverkusen

Peter Bosz’s arrival as Bayer Leverkusen head coach just before Christmas has had a galvanising effect on a number of his players. Kai Havertz has certainly profited from the Dutchman’s possession-based approach. The teenager, now operating in a midfield three, has scored in three of his last four leagues games and boasts a pass accuracy of 87.4% in 2019. Rating: 7.42

9) Sofiane Alakouch, 20, Nîmes

Nîmes began the year with an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to third-tier Lyon-Duchère in the Coupe de France, but they have bounced back strongly. Sofiane Alakouch got the ball rolling for the club in their first league game of the year, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Nantes. The 20-year-old right-back has also been in great form defensively, with a whopping 41 tackles and interceptions combined in his five league appearances so far this year. Rating: 7.50

8) Tyler Adams, 20, RB Leipzig

When RB Leipzig secured the signature of Tyler Adams from New York Red Bulls, few expected the 20-year-old to break into the starting line-up so soon. However, the USA international has started three of his four appearances in the Bundesliga so far, winning 16 and completing eight dribbles as he proves his ability in and out of possession in the middle of the park. Rating: 7.51

7) Marcus Rashford, 21, Manchester United

Marcus Rashford has been in scintillating form since Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over at Manchester United in December. The England striker has scored in four of his five league appearances in 2019, with no player taking more shots since the turn of the year. In fact, 47% of his shots this season have been in his last five games. Rating: 7.51

6) Nicolo Zaniolo, 19, Roma

Nicolo Zaniolo ended 2018 strongly, scoring his first senior goal in Serie A on Boxing Day, and he has stepped it up again in 2019. The 19-year-old has scored two more league goals for Roma and he also hit a match-winning brace in the Champions League against Porto. He has also set up two further goals in his five league starts in 2019. Rating: 7.74

5) Gianluigi Donnarumma, 19, Milan

After an outstanding campaign in 2016-17, Gianluigi Donnarumma regressed last season and many began wondering if the young keeper had been overhyped. He started this season well and his form in recent months has been excellent. Remarkably still just 19 years of age, the Italy international has been key to Milan’s assault on the top four in Serie A, conceding just twice in five league appearances since the turn of the year. Rating: 7.82

4) Achraf Hakimi, 20, Borussia Dortmund

When Real Madrid allowed defender Achraf Hakimi to leave the club on loan in the summer, Borussia Dortmund showed no hesitation in snapping up the Moroccan international. Real Madrid spent €35m on Álvaro Odriozola, paving the way for Hakimi to leave, but while Odriozola has struggled at the Bernabéu, Hakimi has been a revelation in the Bundesliga. Despite filling in on his unflavoured left side for the majority of the season, the 20-year-old has attacked with great purpose, having a direct hand in six league goals. In 2019 alone he has made 10 tackles, 12 interceptions and completed 13 dribbles in four league appearances. Rating: 7.89

3) Ibrahima Konaté, 19, RB Leipzig

Having arrived at Leipzig on a free transfer in 2017, Ibrahima Konaté did not take long to force his way into the first team. The centre-back has become an important part of a very strong defensive unit this season. The 19-year-old has started four of his side’s league matches since the turn of the year, scoring in the convincing win at Dusseldorf and weighing in with 10 tackles and 13 interceptions. His ability to bring the ball out from the back has also been increasingly evident, completing eight dribbles from the heart of the defence so far this year. Rating: 7.90

2) Jadon Sancho, 19, Borussia Dortmund

If there were any doubts as to whether Jadon Sancho would be able to maintain his sparkling early-season form after the Winterpause in Germany, the English teenager has quashed them quite emphatically. He’s added another goal and two assists to his league tally in 2019 and become one of the first names on the teamsheet, creating 12 chances and completing a remarkable 29 dribbles in five appearances – six more than any other player in the Bundesliga. Rating: 7.91

1) Kylian Mbappé, 20, Paris Saint-Germain

To include Kylian Mbappé in a list of top youngsters almost seems unfair to the competition nowadays. He has only just turned 20, but the PSG forward has been one of the very best players in the world for some time. He proved as much on the grandest stage in Russia last summer and has continued to do so all season in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League. He has scored in each of his last three games for PSG, taking his tally to eight for 2019. Rating: 7.93

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