50 for the future: UEFA.com’s ones to watch for 2018 – UEFA Champions League – News
We asked UEFA.com’s team of reporters across the continent to pick out some rising stars of the current campaign. How many of our 50 will be household names by this time in 2019?
Ethan Ampadu (WAL, 17 – Chelsea)
Defensive midfielder made senior Chelsea debut in September and first Premier League appearance in December; capped twice by Wales.
Houssem Aouar (FRA, 19 – Lyon)
A striker who has been compared to Paris prodigy Kylian Mbappé; has scored in Ligue 1 and UEFA Europa League this season.
Jan-Fiete Arp (GER, 17 – Hamburg)
Extraordinarily prolific for Germany at U17 level and has scored twice in nine Bundesliga games; one of his country’s greatest hopes.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (ESP, 23 – Athletic)
A U19 EURO winner in 2012, Kepa is Athletic’s regular No1 in the Liga; made senior Spain debut in a 5-0 friendly win in November.
Leon Bailey (JAM, 20 – Leverkusen)
Almost as quick as compatriot and friend Usain Bolt, the ex-Genk attacking midfielder is now scoring regularly in the Bundesliga.
Nicolò Barella (ITA, 20 – Cagliari)
Likened to Marco Verratti and even Andrés Iniesta in some quarters, the midfielder’s supposed €35m asking price reflects his ability.
Sander Berge (NOR, 19 – Genk)
The 1.90m-tall midfielder comes from a family of basketball players, but is showing huge promise with the ball at his feet in Belgium.
Fedor Chalov (RUS, 19 – CSKA Moskva)
On UEFA.com’s radar since 2016, the forward is quick, perceptive and getting regular football from the bench with the Army Men.
Federico Chiesa (ITA, 20 – Fiorentina)
A left-winger with a powerful shot, the son of ex-Italy striker Enrico Chiesa is a key player for the Viola and Serie A’s brightest young thing.
Ante Ćorić (CRO, 20 – Dinamo Zagreb)
Closing in on 100 league games for Dinamo, the little attacking midfielder is routinely linked with more high-profile clubs; has four senior caps.
Frenkie de Jong (NED, 20 – Ajax)
“The next Johan Cruyff”, no less, according to some, De Jong’s vision, touch and ability to find space has got regular Ajax observers excited about his future.
Matthijs de Ligt (NED, 18 – Ajax)
Just 17 when he played in the 2017 UEFA Europa League final, the central defender has three senior caps and is an Ajax regular.
Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis (NIG, 20 – Club Brugge)
A #UEL regular with Zorya Luhansk in 2016/17, the forward is scoring more regularly since moving to Belgium – six goals in 16 league games.
Mikkel Duelund (DEN, 20 – Midtjylland)
A Wayne Rooney fan, the Midtjylland ace ended 2017 in fearsome form, with eight goals in 11 outings for club and Denmark’s U21s.
Phil Foden (ENG, 17 – Manchester City)
Branded “a gift” by City boss Josep Guardiola, Foden starred as England won the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and made his club debut in December.
Martin Graiciar (CZE, 18 – Slovan Liberec)
Loaned back to Slovan following a summer switch to Fiorentina, the forward was voted top Czech prospect in a winter poll of the nation’s youth coaches.
Amine Gouiri (FRA, 17 – Lyon)
Top scorer at last summer’s U17 EURO, Gouiri was eased into the Lyon first team with a series of substitute appearances in the autumn.
Dávid Hancko (SVK, 20 – Žilina)
Regarded as the new Paolo Maldini in Slovakia, the central defender is a Žilina and U21 international regular: expect a big move soon.
Amine Harit, (MAR, 20 – Schalke)
Signed from Nantes, the midfielder has sparkled in the Bundesliga; played for France at U21 level but senior caps have come with Morocco.
Ivan Ignatyev (RUS, 18 – Krasnodar)
This season’s UEFA Youth League top scorer with ten goals, Ignatyev was “born a scorer” according to ex-Krasnodar sports director Aleksei Zinin.
Luka Jović (SRB, 20 – Eintracht)
At Jović’s first club, Crvena zvezda, director Zvezvdan Teržić said: “Jović will become the best striker in Europe.” Now showing promise in Germany.
Kirill Kirilenko (BLR, 17 – Dinamo Brest)
Touted for a good few years as Belarusian football’s best prospect, the U19 international winger made his senior club debut in 2017.
Justin Kluivert (NED, 18 – Ajax)
Starting and scoring regularly in Amsterdam, the left-winger eclipsed his father Patrick by netting an Eredivisie hat-trick in November.
Hirving Lozano (MEX, 22 – PSV Eindhoven)
‘Chucky’ hit the ground running in August with goals in his first three Eredivisie games; had racked up 11 by the winter break.
Malcom (BRA, 20 – Bordeaux)
The Brazilian flanker became a favourite following his 2016 move from Corinthians; big English sides are tracking him despite €30m-plus valuations.
Dennis Man (ROU, 16 – FCSB)
A €50m release clause was slapped on the midfielder when he joined FCSB in 2016; now justifying that billing with FCSB and Romania’s U21s.
Sergej Milinković-Savić (SRB, 22 – Lazio)
Already a €100m-rated superstar in Italy, the Spanish-born midfielder came to Lazio via Vojvodina and Genk; is clearly going places.
David Neres (BRA, 20 – Ajax)
Recruited following his breakthrough at São Paulo, Neres has notched eight goals in 16 Eredivisie matches for Ajax this season.
Pedro Neto (POR, 17 – Lazio)
Lazio have the option to buy the winger – along with fellow Braga loanee Bruno Jordão – for €26m; might that look like a bargain in years to come?
Benjamin Pavard (FRA, 21 – Stuttgart)
Signed from Lille, Pavard helped Stuttgart to promotion last term and has prospered in 2017/18, winning his first France caps too.
Rodri (ESP, 21 – Villarreal)
Tipped as the next Sergio Busquets, the tall Rodri is expected to return to first club Atlético in the summer for a big fee.
Abel Ruiz (ESP, 17 – Barcelona)
Spain’s all-time U17 top scorer with 27 goals, Abel Ruiz was a U17 EURO winner in 2017 and will hope to play in Barcelona’s first team in 2018.
Roland Sallai (HUN, 20 – APOEL)
Having impressed without scoring in the #UCL group stage, the Hungarian forward is being linked with bigger clubs.
Jadon Sancho (ENG, 17 – Dortmund)
Signed from Manchester City to replace Barcelona-bound Ousmane Dembélé, the midfielder could force his way into the first team in 2018.
Malang Sarr (FRA, 18 – Nice)
The central defender has been on the books at Nice since he was five but may soon move on, with foreign clubs tracking his form.
Ryan Sessegnon (ENG, 17 – Fulham)
Closing on 50 league appearances in England’s second tier, the left-back’s experience is showing for England’s Under-19s.
Volodymyr Shepelev (UKR, 20 – Dynamo Kyiv)
The central midfielder made his first Dynamo appearance in February and ended the year as a regular; won first two Ukraine caps too.
Milan Škriniar (SVK, 22 – Inter Milan)
Inter’s absence from Europe has kept the Slovakian’s profile low, but the ex-Sampdoria man is one of Serie A’s leading centre-backs.
Manor Solomon (ISR, 18 – Maccabi Petach-Tikva)
Liverpool and Juventus were both reported to be tracking the 1.65m-tall winger, who received his first senior Israel call-up in 2017.
Mile Svilar (BEL, 18 – Benfica)
An eventful run of #UCL appearances in the autumn showcased the goalkeeper’s raw talent: expect to see more of him in 2018.
Martin Terrier (FRA, 20 – Strasbourg)
On loan from Lille, Terrier is being linked with a winter switch to Monaco; has scored seven in five U21 outings for France.
Kieran Tierney (SCO, 20 – Celtic)
The left-back has captained both Scotland and Celtic, his profile further enhanced by #UCL appearances in 2017/18.
Lucas Torreira (URU, 21 – Sampdoria)
The 1.68m-tall playmaker has it all – nearly. His coach Marco Giampaolo said: “If he was 180cm tall, he would have cost €180m.”
Ferrán Torres (ESP, 17 – Valencia)
A winger of considerable promise, Torres became the first player born in the 2000s to feature in the Liga in December.
Viktor Tsyhankov (UKR, 20 – Dynamo Kyiv)
“Cut from the same cloth as Andriy Shevchenko” according to Dynamo president Ihor Surkis, the midfielder has oozed class in 2017/18.
Felix Uduokhai (GER, 20 – Wolfsburg)
Rescued from ailing 1860 München, the centre-back has been a revelation in the Bundesliga in the autumn.
Dayot Upamecano (FRA, 19 – Leipzig)
Once a trainee at Valenciennes, the teenager has become a commanding central defender at Salzburg and now Leipzig.
Hannes Wolf (AUT, 18 – Salzburg)
Things have calmed down since he scored in four consecutive Salzburg games in August, but the 2017 UEFA Youth League winner remains classy.
Yusuf Yazıcı (TUR, 20 – Trabzonspor)
Trabzonspor coach Rıza Çalımbay has touted the attacking midfielder’s potential and self-belief; Yazıcı has played all 17 Süper Lig games this season.
Szymon Żurkowski (POL, 20 – Górnik Zabrze)
Unknown abroad but touted as the new Zbigniew Boniek in Poland, the defensive midfielder has awesome stamina.