2020-21 Serie A: U20 Young Players To Watch

Richard Pike profiles 20 of the best Under-20 players to watch in the Serie A  for the 2020-21 season, one from each club!

As the start to the 2020/21 Serie A season draws ever closer, the tension and excitement amongst spectators continues to build. A new season give fans a chance to see established stars go once again alongside new signings. However, it also gives fans an opportunity to see young talent. Such talent could be youngsters debuting or those who we have already seen establishing themselves as regular first team stars. Here is one such player from all 20 Serie A clubs to watch in 2020/21.

Juventus FC // Dejan Kulusevski // 20 // Sweden

PARMA, ITALY – JULY 28: Dejan Kulusevski of Parma Calcio looks on during the Serie A match between Parma Calcio and Atalanta BC at Stadio Ennio Tardini on July 28, 2020 in Parma, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

A perfect indication of how high expectations at Juventus FC are were emphasised after their Champions League last 16 exit to Olympique Lyonnais and the sacking of manager Maurizio Sarri despite leading the club to their 9th straight Serie A title. Andrea Pirlo has been piloted into the managerial hot seat despite no previous senior coaching experience and he inherits a talented yet ageing Bianconeri squad. However, one young player who Pirlo may turn to is Dejan Kulusevski. The 20 year-old Swede spent the whole of the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Parma from first Atalanta and then Juventus, who signed him from the Bergamo outfit in January 2020. Kulusevski has terrific pedigree, 10 goals and 9 assists in 36 games for Parma saw him voted Serie A Young Player of the Year.

FC Internazionale Milano // Lucien Agoume // 18 // France

2019/20 will ultimately go down as a season of frustration for FC Internazionale Milano. They looked well placed to claim a first Scudetto since 2009/10, however, Nerazzurri’s inconsistency let them down and they eventually finished runners-up to Juventus. New summer signings such as Alexis Sanchez and Achraf Hakimi give Inter fans hope of Scudetto glory in 2020/21. Alongside these new signings, Inter possess in Lucien Agoume a talented young midfielder who could have a breakthrough 2020/21. Agoume made three substitute appearances for Inter’s first team in Serie A in 2019/20 alongside frequent appearances for their Under 19 Primavera team. Prior to signing for Inter in the summer of 2019 Agoume had already aged just 16 made 15 appearances in France’s Ligue 2 for Sochaux in 2018/19 alongside 25 caps for France at Under 17’s level.

Atalanta BC // Ebrima Colley // 20 // Gambian

2019/20 saw Atalanta’s remarkable rise under manager Gian Piero Gasperini continue. A second consecutive third place Serie A finish secured Champions League football for a second straight season in 2020/21. To top it all off, they reached the Quarter Finals of the Champions League and finished as Serie A’s top scorers with 98 goals from 38 games. As Atalanta gear up to go again in 2020/21, Ebrima Colley is a young prospect Gasperini may seek to integrate into an already talented attacking unit. The 20 year-old Gambian made five Serie A appearances all as a substitute in 2019/20 and scored his first goal for the club on Matchday 33’s 6-2 home victory against Brescia. Colley was a vital member of Atalanta’s 2019/20 Under 19 Primavera title-winning side scoring 12 goals and noting 4 assists from a variety of positions, including his preferred left wing role and centre forward.

SS Lazio // Andre Anderson // 20 // Italian

2019/20 will forever go down as a “what could have been season” for SS Lazio. Prior to the Covid-19 enforced stoppage, Alquilotti were within points of Juventus at the top of Serie A, however, the enforced congested fixture calendar post-Covid stoppage took its toll on a thin squad. With Champions League football to juggle alongside Serie A commitments, Simone Inzaghi will have to utilise his squad to the maximum this coming season. One player who could see his minutes increased is 20 year-old attacking midfielder Andre Anderson. Born in Brazil yet capped by Italy at Under 20’s level, Anderson made six substitute appearances for the Roman outfit in 2019/20 after spending 17 games on loan at Serie B outfit Salernitana in 2018/19.

AS Roma // Roger Ibanez // 21 // Brazil

5th place in Serie A in 2019/20 represented a steady debut season at AS Roma for Portuguese manager Paulo Fonseca. With new ownership having recently arrived in the shape of American billionaire Dan Friedkin, expectations have risen in the Italian capital for 2020/21. Giallorossi possess on the whole an experienced Serie A squad, however, there is a small contingent of young players looking to make their mark. One such player is Roger Ibanez, the 21 year-old central defender featured 11 times for Atalanta in all competitions in 2019/20 and arrives in the Italian capital on a season-long loan to add depth to Roma’s defence.

AC Milan // Matteo Gabbia // 20 // Italian

FERRARA, ITALY – JULY 01: Matteo Gabbia of AC Milan during the Serie A match between SPAL and AC Milan at Stadio Paolo Mazza on July 1, 2020 in Ferrara, Italy. (Photo by Chris Ricco/Getty Images)

After a disastrous start to 2019/20 which saw AC Milan lying in 12th in Serie A, Rossoneri hired Stefano Pioli as new manager, who following a strong finish to the campaign led Milan to an eventual 6th placed finish. Throughout the latter end of last season, it was speculated that Pioli would be moved aside as manager at season’s end for German Ralf Rangnick. However, Pioli’s results and Milan’s considerable improvement throughout the season meant the veteran 54 year-old was retained for 2020/21. One player who debuted for Milan in 2019/20 and could see more football as Milan juggle both domestic and European commitments in 2020/21 is central defender Matteo Gabbia. The 20 year-old Italy Under 21 international debuted and made 9 appearances for Rossoneri in 2019/20. With fellow central defenders Mateo Musacchio and Leo Durate injury prone, Gabbia has a great chance to establish himself as first choice reserve to regular central defensive pair Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer.

SSC Napoli // Eljif Elmas // 20 // North Macedonia

Despite an impressive Coppa Italia triumph, 2019/20 will go down as a season of disappointment for SSC Napoli in Serie A, as they finished a disappointing 7th place, missing out on Champions League qualification for 2020/21. Gennaro Gattuso will begin his first full season in charge knowing the pressure is on to return to Europe’s elite club competition as quickly as possible. One young player who could become a cornerstone of Gattuso’s Napoli going forward is 20 year-old North Macedonian central midfielder Eljif Elmas. In his debut season in Serie A in 2019/20 since arriving from Turkish giants Fenerbache SK, Elmas made 26 appearances in Serie A, equally split as a starter and a substitute. Increasing his minutes and starts will be the target for Elmas in 2020/21.

US Sassuolo // Hamed Junior Traore // 20 // Cote D’Ivoire

Now into their 8th straight Serie A season, modest US Sassuolo, hailing from the eponymous town of Sassuolo with a population of just over 40,000 inhabitants continue to overachieve in Italian football. After an 8th placed finish in Serie A in 2019/20, manager Roberto de Zerbi’s troops will have difficulties trying to dislodge one of the big guns in Serie A in 2020/21 and qualify for European football. However, as aforementioned, defying the odds suits Neroverdi just fine. One player who Sassuolo will hope continues to progress in 2020/21 is Hamed Junior Traore. After a breakthrough 2018/19 at Empoli, Sassuolo signed the 20 year-old Ivorian attacking midfielder on a two-season loan in the summer of 2019. After 4 goals and 1 assist for Sassuolo in 31 Serie A games in 2019/20, Traore will be hoping to further impress in the second season of his loan at Sassuolo to make his move to Neroverdi permanent.

Hellas Verona // Marash Kumbulla // 20 // Albanian

Another candidate for team of the season alongside the aforementioned Sassuolo in 2019/20 were Hellas Verona. The 1984/85 Serie A winners finished 9th in Serie A last campaign, a remarkable achievement for a newly promoted club. Notoriously, during this successful campaign, a promising youngster broke through in the shape of Marash Kumbulla. The 20 year-old Italian-born Albanian international debuted and made 25 appearances for Gialloblu during 2019/20. Had it not been for infrequent injuries, this appearance number could have been higher and this and further development will be targets for the young central defender in 2020/21.

ACF Fiorentina // Dusan Vlahovic // 20 // Serbian

After the disastrous 2018/19 campaign which saw them nearly relegated from Serie A with a 16th placed finish, ACF Fiorentina rebounded nicely in 2019/20 finishing in an upwardly mobile 10th place. Giuseppe Iachini’s troops will be looking to improve further in the second year of Italian-American businessman Rocco Commisso’s ownership of the Florence outfit. One young player who could become central to maintaining Fiorentina’s upwardly mobile curve in 2020/21 is 20 year-old Serbian forward Dusan Vlahovic. After arriving at La Viola in the summer of 2018 from Partizan in his homeland, Vlahovic broke out in 2019/20 with 6 goals and 1 assists in 30 Serie A matches with an equal playing time split between being a starter and a substitute.

Parma Calcio 1913 // Andrea Adorante // 20 // Italian

Inter Milan’s Italian forward Andrea Adorante is pictured prior to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second-leg football match Inter Milan vs Rapid Wien on February 21, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

2019/20 marked Parma’s second straight season back in Serie A after a traumatic period which involved bankruptcy, reformation and climbing back up through the leagues. An eventual 11th placed finish built nicely on the 14th place achieved in 2018/19 and ensures Crociati are permanent furniture in the Serie A living room once more. One young player who looked like he was going to have a breakthrough 2019/20 for the club was forward Andrea Adorante. After a breakthrough 2018/19 at Internazionale’s Primavera Under 19’s where he was a frequent goal-scorer, Parma paid EUR 3.6 million for Adorante’s services in July 2019. However, cruciate ligament rupture and knee injuries meant the young forward is still yet to debut for the Emilia Romagna outfit. Faced with competition for a starting spot in the striker roles from Roberto Inglese and Andreas Cornelius, can Adorante make up for lost time with a breakthrough 2020/21 campaign?

Bologna FC 1909 // Andres Skov Olsen // 20 // Danish

With finishes between 15th and 10th over the last five Serie A seasons (one of those being last campaign’s 12th place finish), Bologna FC 1909 are garnishing a reputation as a steady mid-table outfit in Italy. One of their young talents who will look to really progress in his second season at the club is 20 year-old Denmark Under 21 International Andreas Skov Olsen. Signed from Nordsjaelland in his homeland in the summer of 2019 for a fee of EUR 6 million, Olsen made 26 appearances, scoring just a solitary goal in 2019/20 for Rossoblu with many of the young Dane’s appearances coming as a substitute. Establishing himself as a more permanent fixture in Bologna’s team in place of recently capped Italian international Riccardo Orsolini 2020/21 though will be no easy feat.

Udinese Calcio // Mamadou Coulibaly // 21 // Senegal

A 13th placed finish in 2019/20 saw Udinese Calcio once again confirm their presence in Serie A for the following campaign. 2020/21 will be Udinese’s 26th straight season in Italy’s top flight, an impressive statistic for a modest club. Manager Luca Dotti’s troops will be hoping to continue this remarkable run in addition to moving further up the standings. One young player who could break through for Le Zebrette in 2020/21 is Mamadou Coulibaly. The 21 year-old Senegalese central midfielder spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at two Serie B clubs, Virtus Entella, where he struggled to make an impact and Trapani, where he emerged as a first team regular.

Cagliari Calcio // Sebastian Walukiewicz // 20 // Polish

Cagliari’s 2019/20 campaign was the classic tale of two halves. A strong opening half saw the Sardinian outfit lying in 6th place after 19 games. However, a tough second half of the campaign saw Isolani plummet down the standings to an eventual 14th place finish. For 2020/21, Cagliari have made a bold managerial appointment by naming former Sassuolo and Roma manager Eusebio di Francesco as new manager. One promising young player who the new manager could turn to is 20 year-old Polish central defender Sebastian Walukiewicz. The youngster signed for Cagliari from Pogon Szczecin in his homeland in January 2019 and played 14 times in 2019/20. The majority of these appearances came in the second half of the campaign for the Sardinians. Walukiewicz will hope to increase this figure and become a first team player for the entirety of 2020/21.

UC Sampdoria // Mikkel Damsgaard // 20 // Danish

After seven matches of the 2019/20 campaign, it looked like UC Sampdoria were a good bet to be relegated at season’s end as Blucerchiati sat bottom of the Serie A table. Samp’s board took the brave call to appoint veteran Claudio Ranieri as new manager. The Tinkerman worked wonders for Sampdoria in 2019/20. The Genoa-based outfit will now hope for a less-stressful 2020/21 and new signing Mikkel Damsgaard could play a part in pushing Samp up the standings. 20 year-old left winger Damsgaard joined Samp this summer from Danish club Nordsjaelland for a fee of EUR 6.5 million. The young Dane enjoyed a breakthrough 2019/20, noting 11 goals and 7 assists in 37 games in all competitions.

Torino FC // Vincenzo Millico // 20 // Italian

2019/20 was a season of struggle for Torino. Il Toro finished an eventual 16th in Serie A, only 5 points clear of 18th placed relegated outfit Lecce. Demanding an improvement in 2020/21, Torino have appointed a new manager in Marco Giampaolo, who is looking himself to recover his reputation after his brief and unsuccessful 7 game stint in charge at AC Milan in 2019/20. One young player who the new coach could turn to is Vincenzo Millico. After a prolific scoring record for Torino’s Primavera Under 19’s side, 20 year Millico, who is capable of playing on the left wing and up front made 16 appearances in all competitions for the first team last term, with all of them as a substitute.

Genoa CFC // Andrea Pinamonti // 21 // Italian

2019/20 represented arguably the most difficult campaign of Genoa CFC’s 13 consecutive season streak in Serie A. The Genoese outfit only avoided relegation on the very last day of a traumatic campaign which saw Aurelio Andreazzoli, Thiago Motta and Davide Nicola all occupy the managerial hot seat at some point throughout. Il Grifone’s new manager for 2020/21, Rolando Maran will likely look to 21 year-old youngster Andrea Pinamonti for inspiration. Pinamonti noted 5 goals and 2 assists in 32 Serie A matches in 2019/20 on loan from Inter Milan. Genoa this summer made Pinamonti’s loan permanent for a fee of EUR 19.5 million a fee which puts pressure on the Italy Under 21 international to deliver in 2020/21.

Benevento Calcio // Daam Foulon // 21 // Belgian

After a two season absence following relegation to Serie B in 2017/18, Benevento Calcio returned to Italy’s top flight for 2020/21 by emerging as Serie B champions in 2019/20. After a rough start to his managerial career with unsuccessful spells in charge of Milan, Venezia and Bologna, 47 year-old Flippo Inzaghi finally showed signs of major promise by guiding Benevento back to the elite. One player who could see a breakthrough into Benevento’s first team squad in 2020/21 is 21 year-old Daam Foulon. The young Belgian left back is a summer transfer from Waasland-Beveren in his homeland where he made 23 appearances in all competitions in 2019/20.

FC Crotone // Gian Marco Crespo // 19 // Italian

2017/18 proved a historic season for FC Crotone. The Calabria region outfit played their first-ever season in Serie A and managed to survive. Despite dropping back down to Serie B at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, Gli Squali managed to win promotion back to Serie A for 2020/21 after finishing second in the 2019/20 Serie B. One young player who could have an opportunity to break into Crotone’s first team is Gian Marco Crespo. The 19 year-old started his career at Udinese before leaving to join Serie C club AC Gozzano in the summer of 2019. After impressing there, Crotone bought the young goalkeeper for EUR 600,000 in January 2020 before loaning him back to Gozzano for the remainder of 2019/20. After 22 appearances for Gozzano in 2019/20, Crespo returns to Crotone to possibly challenge veteran Alex Cordaz for the number one goalkeeper position.

Spezia Calcio // Lorenzo Colombini // 19 // Italian

MISANO ADRIATICO, ITALY – NOVEMBER 13: Lorenzo Colombini of Italy U19 and Jake Ghio of Malta U19 in action during the UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round match between Italy U19 v Malta U19 on November 13, 2019 in Misano Adriatico, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

The final team to comprise the 2020/21 season of Serie A is a debutant, Spezia Calcio, who having reformed in 2008 after bankruptcy have embarked on a remarkable rise up through the leagues. Based in La Spezia, in the province of Liguria, the club is owned by 77 year-old Italian-born Nigerian citizen Gabriele Volpi, who also owns Italian top flight water polo team Pro Recco. Spezia’s objective having come up through the playoffs and subsequently having had less preparation will simply be survival. One intriguing move from the newcomers in the transfer market has been to sign 19 year old left fullback Lorenzo Colombini from Inter Milan’s Primavera Under 19’s team on a free transfer. Colombini arrives at Spezia with some pedigree being a current Italian Under 19 international.

Read all our Talent Radar articles here.


2020-21 La Liga: U20 Young Players to Watch

Richard Pike profiles 20 of the best Under-20 players to watch in the La Liga for the 2020-21 season, one from each club!

As the start to the 2020/21 La Liga season draws ever closer, the tension and excitement amongst spectators continues to build. A new season give fans a chance to see established stars go once again alongside new signings. However, it also gives fans an opportunity to see young talent. Such talent could be youngsters debuting or those who we have already seen establishing themselves as regular first team stars. Here is one such player from all 20 La Liga clubs to watch in 2020/21.

Real Madrid // Rodrygo Silva de Goes // 19 // Brazil

Despite a disappointing last sixteen Champions League exit to Manchester City, 2019/20 was overall a success for Real Madrid as Los Blancos won their record 34th La Liga title. Transfer spending is expected to be restricted at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer. However, Real have amongst their ranks a fine crop of young, emerging talent which should ease the need to dip too much into the market. One of which is 19 year-old Brazilian Rodrygo Silva de Goes. Predominantly a right winger, Rodrygo had a breakthrough 2019/20, making 29 appearances in all competitions for Real, notching 9 goals and 3 assists. The young Brazilian’s whose many strengths include his close control of the ball when in possession, first touch and dribbling ability will be hoping to establish himself as a regular starter in 2020/21.

FC Barcelona // Ansu Fati // 17 // Spain

MADRID, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 06: Ansu Fati of Spain hols the ball during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Spain and Ukraine at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on September 06, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Whilst all is glittering gold domestically for Real at present, their great rivals FC Barcelona are in turmoil both on and off the pitch. Not only was the Spanish title lost, it was followed by a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League Quarter Finals and the recent shock revelations that star man Lionel Messi is seeking to leave the Camp Nou. Should such a previously un-believeable scenario occur, someone tipped to fill Messi’s colossal-sized shoes may have to step up much sooner than anyone at the Catalan giant expected, Ansu Fati. The 17 year old prodigy debuted aged 16 years 10 months in Barca’s 5-2 home win against Real Betis on Matchday 2 of La Liga in 2019/20, the first of 33 appearances in all competitions, which yielded 8 goals and 1 assist.

Atletico de Madrid // Manu Sanchez // 20 // Spain

2019/20 was overall a challenging campaign for Atletico de Madrid, Los Colchoneros eventually finished 3rd in La Liga, the predicted pre-season title challenge never materialising. There was however the positive of the shock Champions League last sixteen victory over then-European champions Liverpool. Despite excellent business under Diego Simeone in the transfer market recently, Atleti also possesses a fine youth academy. One such academy graduate is really looking to make strides in 2020/21, 20 year-old left-back Manu Sanchez. The Spanish Under 21 international made 5 La Liga appearances last campaign whilst also playing 24 times for Atletico de Madrid B in the Spanish third tier. Regular starting left back Renan Lodi will be difficult to displace permanently, however, with Atleti having both domestic and European commitments, Sanchez’s minutes could increase in 2020/21.

Sevilla FC // Bryan Gil // 19 // Spain

Arguably the second best performing La Liga representative across all competitions in 2019/20 behind Real Madrid was Sevilla CF. A fourth placed La Liga finish combined with victory in the Europa League brought the curtain down on a successful campaign for Rojiblancos. What summer transfer moves Sevilla will make in the market will make for fascinating viewing. The Andalucian outfit have already decided to let their fringe Portuguese winger Rony Lopes go to French Ligue 1 outfit OGC Nice on a season-long loan. Lopes’ place in the first team squad could be taken by 19 year-old Sevilla academy product Bryan Gil. Capable of playing on either wing, Gil became the first player born in the 21st century to score a La Liga goal in 2018/19 and had a 12 game loan spell at Leganes during 2019/20.

Villarreal CF // Takefusa Kubo // 19 // Japan

MALLORCA, SPAIN – JULY 09: Takefusa ‘Take’ Kubo of RCD Mallorca in action during the warm up prior to the Liga match between RCD Mallorca and Levante UD at Iberostar Estadi on July 09, 2020 in Mallorca, Spain. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Isaac Buj/Getty Images)

Despite finishing 10 points behind Sevilla in 5th place last campaign, optimism is high at Villarreal CF. Unai Emery has arrived as new manager of El Submarino Amarillo and some impressive new signings such as former Valencia pair Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin have raised expectations. However, another signing could particularly catch the eye this upcoming campaign, that of 19 year-old Japanese winger Takefusa Kubo. After an impressive loan at relegated Real Mallorca in 2019/20 where he contributed 4 goals and 5 assists in 35 La Liga games, Kubo’s parent club Real Madrid have allowed him out on loan again in 2020/21. With Villarreal at a much higher level than Mallorca, a strong loan in 2020/21 could put Kubo in the frame to challenge for a first team place back at Los Blancos in 2021/22.

Real Sociedad CF // Ander Barrenetxea // 18 // Spain

Despite a slump in the return to action post-Covid pause, Real Sociedad managed to cobble together enough points to finish 6th in 2019/20 and qualify for the Europa League for 2020/21. La Real will face the new campaign without last season’s star man Martin Odegaard, who after an impressive loan at San Sebastian in 2019/20 has been recalled by parent club Real Madrid. 2020/21 could see the emergence of a new star at Anoeta in the shape of 18 year-old left winger Ander Barrenetxea. The Spain Under 19 international made 23 appearances for La Real in 2019/20 in all competitions and will be hoping to see that figure increase this upcoming campaign.

Granada CF // Antonin // 20 // Spain

La Liga’s surprise package of 2019/20 was without question Granada CF. Upon winning promotion from Segunda Division in 2018/19, expectations were just to survive in La Liga in 2019/20. However, Diego Martinez’s outfit stunned everyone by finishing 7th place and qualifying for European football for the first time in their history. One player who may be expected to feature a lot for the Andalucian outfit next campaign is 20 year-old striker Antonin. After 4 goals in 22 games for Malaga CF in Segunda last campaign, Antonin signed for Granada in early 2020 and featured 8 times for Granada in the latter part of the 2019/20 La Liga season. With new signing Jorge Molina and Roberto Soldado both 38 and 35 years old respectively, Antonin gives the striking position a much needed injection of youth.

Getafe CF // Ante Palaversa // 20 // Croatia

After struggling to adapt to the frantic nature of games every 3 or 4 days upon the resumption of play post-Covid, Getafe slumped to an 8th place finish, missing out on Europa League qualification. Nonetheless, it was still another impressive season of over-achievement for the Comunidad de Madrid based outfit coached by Jose Bordalas. One young player at Geta to watch in 2020/21 is Ante Palaversa. The 20 year-old Croatian midfielder has been signed on a season-long loan from Manchester City after playing 19 games at KV Oostende in the Belgian top flight during a loan spell from the Cityzens in 2019/20.

Valencia CF // Hugo Guillamon // 20 // Spain

It has been a summer of turmoil at Valencia CF. First team regulars Dani Parejo, Francis Coquelin, Rodrigo and Ferran Torres have all departed Mestalla in the off-season. Expectations for Los Che in 2020/21 are at their lowest for many a year. However, one positive for Valencia last campaign was the emergence of Hugo Guillamon. The 20 year-old made 6 appearances in La Liga for Valencia’s senior team after being a regular for the club’s farm side Valencia Mestalla in the Spanish third tier throughout the last two seasons. After renewing his contract in late July until 2023, Guillamon should see a vast increase in regular game-time throughout 2020/21.

CA Osasuna // Aimar Oroz // 18 // Spain

2019/20 saw a successful return to Spain’s top flight for Osasuna CF. Following their promotion to La Liga, the Pamplona outfit never looked in any serious danger of relegation throughout the campaign and eventually finished an impressive 10th place. Osasuna will look for another campaign in mid-table throughout 2020/21 and one youngster who could make a breakthrough of sorts is Aimar Oroz. The 18 year-old Pamplona-native has been a regular for Osasuna’s B team in the Spanish third tier over the last two seasons and debuted for the first team in their final league game of 2019/20. With veteran Fran Merida having departed Osasuna to sign for Espanyol, it could allow Oroz’s minutes to increase substantially in 2020/21.

Athletic Bilbao // Oihan Sancet // 20 // Spain

Sevilla’s Argentinian midfielder Ever Banega (R) challenges Athletic Bilbao’s Spanish midfielder Oihan Sancet during the Spanish League football match between Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on July 9, 2020. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP) (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

With their Basque-only signing policy, Athletic Bilbao remain one of football’s most unique clubs. It is a policy which requires Los Leones to maintain a high level of youth development to continuously bring stars through their academy and reserves into the first team. One such future star who Athletic have high hopes for in 2020/21 is Oihan Sancet. The 20 year-old attacking midfielder rotated his playing time between Athletic’s senior side and their farm team Bilbao Athletic in the Spanish third tier in 2019/20, making 17 and 14 appearances for each respectively. With veteran 34 year-old Raul Garcia approaching the end of his career, 2020/21 could be the year Sancet permanently displaces him as a first team regular at Athletic.

Levante UD // Giorgi Kochorashvili // 21 // Georgian

2019/20 was Levante’s third consecutive season in La Liga and the Valencian club’s 12th placed finish a representation of further progress from the 15th placed finishes of the previous two campaigns. Having consolidated impressively in La Liga, Paco Jemez’s troops will now be looking to further climb La Liga in 2020/21. One young player who could make his mark for Granotas in 2020/21 is midfielder Giorgi Kochorashvili. The 21 year-old Georgia Under 21 international played a total of 43 games over the last two seasons as a regular for both CF Peralada and Levante’s farm team Atletico Levante in the Spanish third tier. Kochorashvili also debuted for Levante’s senior team in Matchday 36 of the 2019/20 campaign as a late substitute after being an unused substitute 8 times earlier in the campaign.

Real Valladolid // Miguel de la Fuente // 21 // Spain

Another club who can now consider themselves established in La Liga is Real Valladolid. The Castille and Leon outfit, majoritarily-owned by legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo Nazario survived for a second straight campaign in La Liga in 2019/20 finishing in an impressive 13th place. One of the Castille and Leon side’s best youth prospects is Miguel de la Fuente. The 21 year-old academy graduate scored an impressive 14 goals in 26 games for Real Valladolid B in the Spanish third tier alongside making 7 appearances for the senior team in 2019/20.

SD Eibar // Miguel Atienza // 21 // Spain

Arguably Spanish football’s most overachieving club, SD Eibar’s 14th placed finish in 2019/20 secured a 7th straight La Liga campaign for the club based in the tiny eponymous town in the Basque Country. An incredible achievement for such a small place and a modest club. In the shadows of larger Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad, Eibar find it more difficult to attract young talent to their youth teams and reserve team CD Vitoria, who play in the Spanish fourth tier. However, with their first team’s central midfield looking a little light in numbers, youngster Miguel Atienza could see some action in 2020/21. 21 year-old Atienza spent last season with Eibar’s first team, eventually making three La Liga appearances after spending 2018/19 as a regular at CD Vitoria, serving on occasion as the farm team’s captain.

Real Betis // Diego Lainez // 20 // Mexico

Alongside eventually relegated RCD Espanyol, Real Betis were the other big under-achievers of 2019/20 in La Liga. Los Beticos eventually finished a disappointing 15th place in La Liga and manager Rubi was dismissed as manager. However, the appointment of veteran Chilean Manuel Pellegrini gives Betis hope going into 2020/21 that the club may eventually start to fulfil its undoubted potential. If Betis are a club looking to fulfil their potential, Diego Lainez is a player hoping to live up to the hype. Since signing for Betis from Club America in his homeland in January 2019, the 20 year-old Mexican has struggled to establish himself as a regular. Could Pellegrini’s appointment in 2020/21 be the catalyst for Lainez to fulfil his potential?

Deportivo Alaves // Borja Sainz // 19 // Spain

MADRID, SPAIN – JULY 10: Ferland Mendy (R) of Real Madrid challenges Borja Sainz of Alaves during the Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Deportivo Alaves at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on July 10, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Deportivo Alaves struggled throughout 2019/20 in La Liga and despite securing survival with a 16th placed finish, the club from Vitoria-Gasteiz are amongst the relegation favourites in 2020/21. One player who Babazorros could turn to in 2020/21 to turn around their fortunes is Borja Sainz. After starting out his career in Athletic Bilbao’s youth system, 19 year-old left winger Sainz left Los Leones as a 17 year-old in the summer of 2018 to sign for Alaves. After impressing in 2018/19 with Alaves’ B team, Sainz was promoted to Alaves’s senior squad for 2019/20 where he made 20 appearances in all competitions, mainly as a substitute. Sainz will now be hoping to establish himself as a regular first team player in 2020/21 at Mendizorroza.

Celta de Vigo // Miguel Baeza // 20 // Spain

Another club with a lot of improvement to do in 2020/21 is Celta de Vigo. The Galicians narrowly avoided relegation to Segunda Division by the skin of their teeth in 2019/20 eventually just staying up by a solitary point from 18th placed Leganes. To improve their fortunes in 2020/21, Celta have quickly turned to the transfer market and have snapped up Miguel Baeza from Real Madrid’s Castilla B team for a fee of EUR 2.5 million. 20 year-old Baeza is an attacking midfielder who enjoyed a productive season in the Spanish third tier for Real Madrid Castilla in 2019/20, noting 9 goals and 4 assists in 26 games.

Cadiz CF // Djordje Jovanovic // 21 // Serbian

2019/20 was a season to celebrate for Cadiz CF. The Andalucian outfit’s 2nd place finish in the Spanish second tier secured a return to La Liga for the first time since 2005/06. The Yellow Submarine will face a tough task to survive in the Spanish top flight and one young player they could look to in their quest could be young 21 year-old Serbian forward Djordje Jovanovic. The young forward made a contribution to Cartagena’s promotion to the Spanish second tier in 2019/20, making 16 appearances and scoring 3 goals.

SD Huesca // Sergio Gomez // 19 // Spain

2019/20 saw SD Huesca quickly recover from the disappointment of relegation from La Liga in 2018/19 by bouncing back up to the Spanish top flight by winning Segunda Division. The Aragonese outfit once again playing in a higher division than more famous local rivals Real Zaragoza. One promising young player who Azulgranas could turn to in a bid to avoid a second instant return to Segunda is 19 year old Sergio Gomez. The youngster spent the whole of 2019/20 on loan at Huesca in the Spanish second tier from German giants Borussia Dortmund and helped them to promotion, noting 1 goal and 3 assists in 36 games. Keen to see Gomez, who was second best player to England and Manchester City’s Phil Foden at the 2017 FIFA Under 17’s World Cup continue his development, Dortmund have opted to extend his loan at Huesca by another season.

Elche CF // Ignacio Pastor // 20 // Spain

The final team to confirm their spot in La Liga were Elche CF. A victory in the promotion play-offs against Girona confirmed their place in Spain’s top flight for 2020/21. The Valencian outfit have just over 5 weeks between their promotion play-off victory and their first top flight game, highlighting just how tough a task survival will be. With such a current small squad which currently only includes three senior central defenders, one young player who could see some first team opportunities is Ignacio Pastor. The 20 year-old central defender made 23 appearances for Elche’s farm team Elche Ilicitano in the Spanish third tier and debuted for Elche’s first team in two Copa del Rey matches in 2019/20.

Read all our Talent Radar articles here.


2020-21 Premier League: U20 Young Players to Watch

Rahul Warrier profiles 20 Young Players to watch in the 2020/21 Premier League season, one from each club!

The return of Premier League football after the shortest of end-season breaks comes as a welcome relief to most fans across the globe. The excitement has been building up to a tasty opening day which sees the winners of the Premier League, take on the winners of the Championship. With the fate of all the prizes up for grabs, players and managers alike are full of motivation to put on a great show. Here, we look at one player under the age of 20 from each club to watch.

Arsenal // Bukayo Saka // 19 // England

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 07: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on July 07, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Bukayo Saka is one of Arsenal’s most exciting players at the minute. Only 19, he properly burst into the scene under Mikel Arteta last season. While making his debut as a left-winger, he’s been used at left-back, left-midfield, attacking midfield and right-wing. Eventually, Arteta will have to find a defined role for the youngster. But versatility will not hurt him at this young stage. He will have plenty of opportunity this season to become a guaranteed starter, and you wouldn’t expect him to spurn those chances. One of England’s brightest talents.

Aston Villa // Louie Barry // 17 // England

There’s a lot of hype around Barry. Having moved from West Brom to Barcelona in 2019, he spent five months in La Masia before moving back to Birmingham with Aston Villa. Given he is 17, it is unlikely that he will make a proper breakthrough this year. While he trains regularly with the first team, he might have to make do with under-23 football and the odd cup game. But Barry remains Aston Villa’s most exciting sub-20 prospect at the minute.

Brighton // Tariq Lamptey // 19 // England

Tariq Lamptey made his debut for Chelsea last season before making a permanent move to Brighton in the winter window, and it’s proven to be an excellent decision. He was a regular in the Project Restart games and will undoubtedly be a big part of the season to come. He appears to be a natural fit to Graham Potter’s system whether it be as a right-back or a right wing-back. This season should be his breakthrough year.

Burnley // Dwight McNeil // 20 // England

Dwight McNeil was one of a select group to start all 38 games last season. It is rare to see Burnley play a youngster, never mind entrust him with creative and attacking responsibility. But McNeil is hugely promising: he had two goals and six assists, and will undoubtedly play a vital role in Burnley’s bid to stay up comfortably in the league. Another strong season could see McNeil move on to a bigger club.

Chelsea // Reece James // 20 // England

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 22: Reece James of Chelsea jumps for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on July 22, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Chelsea have spent heavily this window, which could impact the gametime of Billy Gilmour and Callum Hudson-Odoi. But there is no such concern with Reece James. The right-back made 37 appearances in all competitions last season and finished it as the starter. With Cesar Azpilicueta getting older and playing lesser as a result, James is likely to be one of the few academy graduates to get regular gametime this season. It’s expected that he will push on in his second full season at the club.

Crystal Palace // Nathan Ferguson // 19 // England

Crystal Palace, the league’s oldest team, have looked to reduce the average age this season. Having a defence over the age of 30 and failing to adequately replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer, they moved to bring in Nathan Ferguson from West Brom. The youngster was a regular in the first half of West Brom’s promotion campaign last season, with a move to Palace in January scuppered by injury. He will now look to establish himself as a starter at right-back.

Everton // Anthony Gordon // 19 // England

Everton have a fair few attacking options, but it seems likely that manager Carlo Ancelotti will keep his trust in Anthony Gordon. The academy graduate made his debut last season and played a substantial role in the Project Restart games, including a start against Liverpool. He was one of the club’s positives from last season and after the club’s investment in midfield this season, will be looking to push on himself with a breakthrough season. The winger holds plenty of promise.

Fulham // Antonee Robinson // 23 // USA

Fulham are the exception to the rule, with no obvious sub-20 player likely to make a step-up this season. In a season where they’re likely to fight for survival, it is unlikely regular minutes will be afforded to youngsters. Antonee Robinson is the closest they have: having signed from Wigan, there was plenty of interest in him. With a Milan move collapsing in January, Robinson is likely to be the first-choice left-back. It will be a step-up for him.

Leeds United // Illan Meslier // 20 // France

Having signed from Lorient last season, Meslier spent the majority of Leeds’ season as the second choice keeper. Kiko Casilla’s eight game ban pushed Meslier into the limelight, and he responded brilliantly. Playing in the crucial games at the end of the season to secure promotion, the Frenchman kept seven cleansheets in ten games and conceded just four. Given Casilla’s situation, there is no reason for Bielsa to not trust Meslier. It will be a big test of his abilities but he has proven himself so far.

Leicester City // Luke Thomas // 19 // England

With the sale of Ben Chilwell to Chelsea, there is an opening at left-back. While one would expect the purchased Timothy Castagne to play there, there is a chance for Luke Thomas to make his case. He made his debut versus Sheffield United last season and played superbly in a 2-0 win, notching an assist. While raw and inexperienced, the games will come thick and fast this season, providing Thomas the chance to grow and play regularly.

Liverpool // Billy Koumetio // 17 // France

Rhian Brewster’s short-term future is in the air, while Curtis Jones and Neco Williams could find gametime tough to come with the experienced first-teamers ahead of them. Billy Koumetio might be one to benefit this season, however. After Dejan Lovren’s departure, the fourth centre-back spot is open in the squad. Koumetio, signed in January 2019 from US Orléans, has impressed Jurgen Klopp in pre-season. Rotation and injuries could see him get a chance sooner than expected.

Manchester City // Phil Foden // 20 // England

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden warms up ahead of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on August 7, 2020. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

With David Silva leaving Manchester City after a decade, the onus will fall onto to Stockport-born Phil Foden to fill that gap. His role in the first team has increased steadily over the past few years, as he’s had to bide his time. But after a season of increased gametime in 2019-20, he will hope to further push on this season. Manchester City could do worse than have a locally-born youngster be a regular first-teamer.

Manchester United // Mason Greenwood // 18 // England

The Red Devils have a much younger look to them these days, but there is no looking past Mason Greenwood at the minute. The 18-year old made his first-team debut in 2018-19, but rose to greater prominence in the first-team last season. He established himself as a regular post-lockdown in an exciting front three, and finished with ten goals in the Premier League and 17 in all competitions. Now the owner of the No 11 shirt, his development will be exciting to watch even amidst the hype.

Newcastle United // Matty Longstaff // 20 // England

Matty Longstaff scored on debut against Manchester United last season in a 2-0 win (and also scored in the 4-1 away loss against United). The majority of his season was dominated by his expiring contract however, and he only found limited gametime. After belatedly signing a contract last month, he will be looking to push on this season.

Sheffield United // Ethan Ampadu // 19 // Wales

Signed on loan from Chelsea, it will be fascinating to see how Ethan Ampadu gets on at Sheffield United this season. The Welshman has been a regular at international level but has found gametime tougher to come by at Chelsea and RB Leipzig, where he spent the last season at. There is no defined opening for him at the Blades yet, but his versatility at CB and DM should see him accrue plenty of minutes. It will be another season of education under an established manager for the talented youngster.

Southampton // Will Smallbone // 20 // Ireland

Southampton sold Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham and let Harrison Reed leave permanently to Fulham. They might appear short on numbers but it could be a sign manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is willing to entrust Will Smallbone with greater responsibility. After making his debut last season, the Irishman will be looking to make a proper breakthrough in the coming season.

Tottenham Hotspur // Ryan Sessegnon // 20 // England

LEIPZIG, GERMANY – MARCH 10: Ryan Sessegnon of Tottenham Hotspur reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between RB Leipzig and Tottenham Hotspur at Red Bull Arena on March 10, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Ryan Sessegnon is still 20. He made his first-team debut in 2016-17, then had a breakthrough year in Fulham’s promotion in 17-18 before playing heavily in their relegation campaign. A move to Tottenham followed, but his first year was tricky amidst a change in manager. His second season will be looked at more carefully, and after settling in, he will have to push on now. He has time on his hands, of course, but he risks stagnating without regular gametime.

West Bromwich Albion // Rayhaan Tulloch // 19 // England

West Brom will be in a fight for survival this season, meaning minutes to youngsters may come at a premium. Rayhaan Tulloch, however, might be in contention for gametime if injuries play their part. A quick winger that can run in and dribble, a loan to a lower division club might be more conducive to his development. However, if he stays with the first-team, an opportunity could well present itself. Having signed a contract extension in July, his future is at West Brom in the long-term.

West Ham United // Ben Johnson // 20 // England

West Ham are in need of a long-term solution at right-back: Pablo Zabaleta and Alvaro Arbeloa were experienced heads, while Sam Byram and Ryan Fredericks have not proven good enough. The Clarets gave Jeremy Ngakia gametime in the second half of the season only to see him turn down a contract and move to Watford; they subsequently gave Ben Johnson the last three games of the season. With no new right-back signed and West Ham short of funds, this is Johnson’s opportunity to play regularly.

Wolverhampton Wanderers // Vitinha // 20 // Portugal

Wolves have three Portuguese youngsters to choose from. Pedro Neto made progress last season, while Fabio Silva has just signed for 40 million euros but will play understudy to Raul Jimenez. Vitinha has also signed from Porto on a loan with an option to buy. Nuno Esprito Santo doesn’t have as many options in midfield as he does further forward, so Vitinha could be one to receive more minutes than his compatriots. His success would be beneficial to a relatively thin squad.

Read all our Talent Radar articles here.


2020 Brasileirao’s 10 Young Players To Watch

Tom Robinson profiles 10 young players to watch out for in the Brasileirao.

Despite being one of the hardest hit countries by the Coronavirus pandemic, Brazil was one of the first on the continent to get football going again.  The Brasileirão kicked off in early August and hasn’t been without drama, with reigning champions Flamengo losing their first two games, not to mention the last minute suspension of Goias against Sao Paulo.

While the rights and wrongs of football returning to action can be debated, one thing you can’t deny is the number of exciting young talents that will be once again thrust into the spotlight.  Last year Rodrygo, Reinier, Bruno Guimarães and Antony all impressed before big money moves to Europe and there’ll be plenty more who join them in the near future.

Here we look at a handful of some of the best up-and-coming prospects who look set to light up the Brasileirão this year

Talles Magno // 18 // Vasco da Gama

An elegant, unique and skilful forward, Talles Magno was part of the Brazil side that won U17 World Cup last year and is reportedly attracting admiring glances from none other than Liverpool. The 18-year-old grew up round the corner from the Estadio Sao Januario and is now dazzling the Vasco faithful with his invention and audacity.

Typically a left-sided wide forward but able to play anywhere across the front line, Talles Magno is equal parts scorer and creator as he effortless glides past defenders with his sublime footwork and slips in delicate through-balls. But there is a steel and determination to his game too, making it hard to muscle him off the ball.  Although he only has two goals in twenty odd appearances for Vasco, his blend of technical and physical qualities make him a joy to watch and his potential is limitless.  Those at Vasco agree, as demonstrated by his €50million release clause, and hope that he and fellow prospect Andrey can elevate them above mid-table mediocrity this season.

Matheus Henrique // 22 // Gremio

CALI, COLOMBIA – MARCH 03: Matheus Henrique of Gremio celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team during a Group E match between America de Cali and Gremio as part of Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2020 at Estadio Pascual Guerrero on March 03, 2020 in Cali, Colombia. (Photo by Gabriel Aponte/Getty Images)

In recent years Gremio have had a steady stream of exciting prospects coming through the ranks. The likes of Luan, Arthur and Everton have starred for the Imortal Tricolor and the production line isn’t showing signs of slowing up. Jean Pyerre (22) and Pepe (23) are regulars, while Darlan Mendes (22) and Patrick (21) are seeing more game time too.  But it is 22-year-old defensive midfielder Matheus Henrique who looks like the pick of the crop.

Having impressed at Sao Caetano, Henrique had to bide his time and fight for his place but the departure of Arthur presented a chance and last year he made 20 league appearances, plus another nine in the Libertadores.  A regular for the Brazil U23s alongside Bruno Guimarães, the hard-working, energetic shuttler demonstrated his range of passing, ball retention (92.5% pass completion on average) and ability to evade the press, which even earned him a call up to the full national team.  He will no doubt be at the heart of things as Gremio look to challenge both domestically and continentally.

Matias Viña // 22 // Palmeiras

The 22-year-old Uruguayan left back was arguably the best player in the Uruguayan Primera in 2019, helping Nacional to the title and in the process making a claim to be a starter for the national team. A member of the U20 Sudamericano winning side including Valverde and Bentancur, Viña has developed into a well-rounded full back who is both strong defensively and aerially, as well as being a powerful runner who offers a potent attacking threat.

Viña has made an instant impact for Palmeiras and has already started to repay the €5.5mil they paid for his services with an assist in the Paulista final against Corinthians. Vanderlei Luxemburgo will be hoping Viña can strengthen Palmeiras at both ends of the pitch as they look to improve on last year’s third place finish, while it’s also worth keeping an eye on the likes of midfield duo Gabriel Menino (19) and Patrick de Paula (20), electric Colombian winger Ivan Angulo (21) and wonderkid forward Gabriel Veron (17).

Kaio Jorge // 18 // Santos

The 18-year-old striker is the latest strike sensation out of Vila Belmiro hoping to follow in the footsteps of former graduates Robinho, Neymar and Rodrygo. Another key member of the Brazil U17 World Cup winning squad, Kaio Jorge scored five times in seven games and picked up the Bronze Boot award.

An all-round forward with great movement, sharp finishing and excellent technique, he was the sixth youngest debutant in the club’s history and also netted the winner on his Copa Libertadores debut against Defensa y Justicia earlier this year.  With a number of Europe’s top clubs monitoring his every move, it should be the year he consolidates himself as Santos’ main man up front and along with the creativity of Yefferson Soteldo – plus Renyer and Sandry breaking through – there is a noticeable youthful impetus to the squad.

Ederson // 21 // Corinthians

Dubbed the next Paulinho, box-to-box midfielder Ederson could be one of the revelations of the Brasileirão this year.  Corinthians moved quickly to sign the 21-year-old on a free after he left relegated Cruzeiro, having sued them for unpaid wages, and he hit the ground running with three goals in seven games during the Campeonato Paulista.  A powerful and muscular presence in the centre of the park, Ederson has also shown his penchant for driving forward and unleashing low driven shots from range, on top of the noteworthy defensive side to his game too.

He will have his work cut out to displace either the impressive Colombian Victor Cantillo or the experienced Gabriel but he will nevertheless add some youthful cut-and-thrust to Corinthians’ deep-lying midfield options. Honourable mentions to Meteus Vital, who will look to step out of Pedrinho’s shadow, and young defenders Lucas Piton and Bruno Mendez.

Guga // 21 // At Mineiro

One of the surprise early pacesetters so far, Atletico Mineiro could be a dark horse in the Brasileirão under the charismatic guidance of Jorge Sampaoli.  Galo’s squad is brimming with interesting young prospects such as Ecuadorian midfielder Alan Franco, Venezuelan playmaker Jefferson Savarino, new signing Marrony, and Guilherme Arana on loan from Sevilla.  However, 21-year-old right back Guga is arguably the most intriguing of the bunch.

Brazil’s defender Guga trains with teammates at Santander University of Technology in Bucaramanga, Colombia, on February 5, 2020, during the Under-23 South American Pre-Olympic Tournament. (Photo by Juan BARRETO / AFP) (Photo by JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images)

Having impressed for Avai in the second division in 2018, Mineiro signed him last year and his solid performances have seen him represent Brazil at U22 and U23 level.  A lovely crosser and comfortable on the ball, Guga loves to get forward in true Brazilian fashion and has the secret weapon of a deceptively long throw-in up his sleeve. Linked to the likes of Spartak, Galatasaray and reigning champions Flamengo, the up-and-coming full back is in demand and will be key to Mineiro’s chances of upsetting the odds this year.

Bruno Praxedes // 18 // Internacional

Despite the departure of promising 21-year-old centre back Bruno Fuchs to CSKA Moscow, there is another youngster named Bruno ready to take up his mantle as Internacional’s next best prospect. A breakout star of the famous annual Sao Paulo-based Copinha youth tournament, Praxedes was fast-tracked to the first team and has already got minutes in the Campeonato Gaucho, Libertadores and now Brasileirão.  The 18-year-old is a tall, elegant central midfielder who orchestrates his team’s play with his excellent range of passing and eye for a defence-splitting through ball.

While Praxedes is still far from being a regular starter, this could be the year he announces himself and he heads up an exciting cohort of exciting Internacional youngsters. Midfielder Nonato (22), right back Heitor (19) and U17 World Cup winner Joao Peglow (18) should all get regular game time, while Cesinha (19) and highly-rated Vinicius Tobias (16) are also waiting in the wings.

Luis Henrique // 18 // Botafogo

Most of Botafogo’s pre-season centred around the signings of big foreign imports Solomon Kalou and Keisuke Honda, not to mention the failed pursuit of Yaya Toure, but perhaps the most exciting player on their books is 18-year-old forward Luis Henrique.  Despite having just a handful of games under his belt, the jet-heeled left winger is already rumoured to have attracted the attention of Juventus among others.

Henrique has the lighting pace of a 100m sprinter, dazzling footwork and, crucially, the bravado that torments opposition defenders and makes him a joy to watch when he has space to run into.  While not the finished article, the potential is clear to see and as such Henrique has a €30mil release clause.  Given the way Brazilian football can make names in an instant and then see them disappear to Europe in the next, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Luis Henrique making a move before he’s even an established regular in Brazil.

Igor Gomes // 21 // Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – MARCH 11: Igor Gomes of Sao Paulo celebrates after scoring the third goal of his team during the match against LDU for the Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2020 at Morumbi Stadium on March 11, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

You can always rely on Sao Paulo and their famed academy to give youth a chance and their current squad does not disappoint. One player who looks as if he’ll have an increasingly important role this season is versatile attacking midfielder Igor Gomes. The 21-year-old possesses great vision, exquisite passing and a smooth running style, which has seen him compared to Kaka – even by the man himself.

Often the man who gets the pre-assist, Gomes played 27 times last year season but will look to stamp his authority on the side and become a guaranteed starter this season.  Honourable mentions worth keeping tabs on too are defensive midfield pairing Liziero and Luan Santos, while further forward Jonas Toro will hope to kick on and young starlet Rodrigo Nestor could be a breakthrough talent.

Marcos Paulo // 19 // Fluminense

Raw but exciting, the 19-year-old forward broke into the Fluminense first team last year and began 2020 in impressive form. Two goals in three Copa do Brasil games and another three in eleven in the Campeonato Carioca has seen the Brazilian-born Portuguese youth international start to gain more attention for the Rio-based side.

Supporting either veteran goalgetter Fred or fellow prospect Evanilson from the flank, Marcos Paulo is a pacey and confident attacker with quick feet and an opportunistic eye for goal. While he is far from the finished article and still not a guaranteed starter – fighting it out with interesting Peruvian prospect Fernando Pacheco on the left – this season could be a great opportunity to justify the hype around him.

Read all our Talent Radar articles here.