There has been a plethora of young talent bursting onto the football scene in recent years.
One such player, Kylian Mbappe, announced his arrival in the 2016-17 season. He scored 15 Ligue 1 goals and six Champions League goals for Monaco to catch the attention of PSG.
The French giants soon snapped up the then-teenager, who went on to register 132 goals and 61 assists across all competitions to win a plethora of titles with the club. He has also shone on the international stage, becoming the first teenager since Pele (1958) to score in the FIFA World Cup final.
Similarly, other young players like Jeremy Doku and Ryan Gravenberch, to name a few, have also produced impressive performances for club and country despite their tender years.
On that note, let’s take a look at the five most valuable 21-year-old players in the game at the moment:
#5 Matthijs de Ligt – €75 million
Matthijs de Ligt is widely regarded as one of the best young defenders in the game at the moment.
The young centre-back led from the front as Ajax made a fairy-tale run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19 to catch the attention of Europe’s top clubs. Juventus won the race for his signature, snapping up the then-teenager for €75 million.
Strong in the air, good on the ball and possessing keen positional awareness, De Ligt took his time to get going in his new surroundings. However, he soon became a key player in the first team and has won a Serie A and Copa Italia title in his two seasons in Italy.
De Ligt, who is also a mainstay in the Netherlands team, is the subject of interest from many top clubs across the continent. However, he is expected to stay at Juventus and continue his development.
#4 Phil Foden – €80 million
Since debuting in the Premier League in 2017, Phil Foden has improved by leaps and bounds under Manchester City’s legendary manager Pep Guardiola.
Foden, a three-time Premier League winner, has registered 15 goals and eight assists in 69 games in the competition. The 21-year-old enjoyed a career-best nine-goal, five-assist season in Manchester City’s triumphant league campaign last season.
Phil Foden, who also scored thrice and assisted as many in Manchester City’s run to their maiden Champions League final, has received high praise from Guardiola. The Spanish tactician has called Foden the most talented player he has ever seen, saying:
“He (Phil Foden) is the most talented player I have ever seen. The best is Messi, first. (But), I didn’t meet Leo Messi at 17 when I met Phil (Foden), and (at) that age, I’ve never seen a player with (Foden’s) potential. But you have to see it on the pitch and on the biggest stages.”