Under the Radar Wonderkids: Unveiling Young Football Talent Beyond Europe’s Top Leagues
By Spencer Morgan
Updated: 19:16 EDT, 30 August 2023
Imagine a fresh wave of football talent waiting to burst onto the scene. A new study has spotlighted a remarkable selection of promising young players who aren’t yet in Europe’s top five leagues but possess the potential to reshape the game. The CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post has meticulously compiled a list of 100 rising stars born in 2002 or later. These unsung heroes are primed for the next phase of their careers.
Leading the pack is 19-year-old Benfica center-back Antonio Silva, touted as the next Ruben Dias. With a transfer value estimated at £88m, Silva is poised to emulate Dias by making his mark in a prominent league. Silva, a towering 6ft 2in presence, draws inspiration from Manchester City’s standout Ruben Dias, even donning the same No.66 jersey once worn by Dias during his formative years at Estadio da Luz.
Silva’s commanding defensive prowess is evident on the pitch, while his ball-handling skills add an extra layer of finesse. His record includes 49 appearances across various competitions last season, with five goals to his credit.
A step behind Silva are two other talents born in 2002: Sao Paulo midfielder Pablo Maia (21) and Shakhtar Donetsk’s playmaker Georgiy Sudakov (20). Valued at £15m, Maia has already accumulated 100 appearances for his club and has garnered interest from Fulham, West Ham, and Nottingham Forest. Sudakov, boasting seven international caps for Ukraine, boasts an impressive 10 goals and 12 assists in 60 games for Shakhtar. Valued at £30m, his former U21 coach contends that he’s primed for a future with Manchester City or Barcelona.
The fourth spot belongs to Vitor Roque, a standout signing for Barcelona. Notably, Roque was born in 2005, making his ranking even more remarkable. Only Arthur Vermeeren shares the distinction of being born in 2005 and making the top 100 list, both available for less than £20m.
CIES Football Observatory’s unique ‘100-based experience capital metric’ holds tremendous value for scouts. It enables them to evaluate players based on playing time and the level of competition. This innovative approach facilitates the identification of talents most likely to succeed.
As the football world evolves, keep an eye out for these under-the-radar wonderkids who are poised to reshape the beautiful game.
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