What the Data Tells Us about Europe’s Top Young Football Talent | MicroStrategy
Data Visualization

What the Data Tells Us about Europe’s Top Young Football Talent

We continue our regular analysis of Opta data, exploring Europe’s top five football leagues with a look at Europe’s top young talent. Who under the age of 22 is making a name for themselves?

In a recent post, I looked at Europe's football veterans to see top performers over the age of 30. Today, we're going to look at emerging young talent today across the top divisions in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.

Comparative Veterans

Marcus Rashford broke into the Manchester United first team in February 2016—and has only just turned 22! So far this season, Rashford has scored seven goals and set up four others for his teammates.

Many of the under-22s featured in this post are among the Premier League's top goal scorers.

Meanwhile, at Paris Saint Germain (PSG), 20-year-old Kylian Mbappé has had a relatively quiet season, with just five goals from 444 minutes of play. It's enough to prompt a slew of transfer rumours for the World Cup winner.

Atlético Madrid’s Portuguese winger João Felix (20) is getting plenty of playing time, with two goals from 19 shots this season, and has more goals-per-minute in La Liga than senior striker, Diego Costa. João Felix has, however, missed four big chances.

In Italy, 20-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma has made 37 saves for AC Milan, including two penalty saves. Sandro Tonali (19), who broke into the Brescia team, aged 17, is playing his first season in Serie A. Brescia are struggling at the foot of the table, but Tonali has played 1,069 minutes, scored one goal, and set up two others.

In Germany, Jadon Sancho (19)—with four goals and six assists—and Achraf Hakimi (21)—with two goals and three assists—continue to produce the goods at Borussia Dortmund, despite the club’s below-par start to the campaign.

Emerging Talent

It's been a key breakthrough season for many young players, most notably in the Premier League.

At Chelsea alone, striker Tammy Abraham (22) has got off to a flyer, with ten goals already (one every 97 minutes) and just two behind Jamie Vardy in the top-scorer list. In midfield, 20-year-old Mason Mount has played 1,056 minutes, scored four goals, set up another, and made 409 passes at 83% accuracy. American midfield partner Christian Pulisic (21) has gone one better—five goals in just 656 minutes, and two assists. At the back, Fiyako Tomori has made 786 passes at 88% accuracy.

Bournemouth's Harry Wilson has also chipped in with four goals from midfield already this term.

Impressive young midfielders performing brilliantly. Even Leicester City's James Maddison is only 23.

Manchester United are fielding plenty of young talent this season, including Aaron Wan-Bissaka (21), Daniel James (21), 19-year-old defender Brandon Williams, and 18-year-old Mason Greenwood.

Williams, Greenwood, and Rashford all netted for Manchester United, away at Sheffield United recently.

In Spain, 17-year-old sensation Ansu Fati made history this season as FC Barcelona's youngest-ever goal scorer. He was 16 at the time! 

In France's Ligue 1, the standout young performer is 19-year-old Lille striker Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian has bagged seven goals and sits just two goals behind the league’s top scorer, Wissam Ben Yedder of AS Monaco. Osimhen also has two assists.

Look out for the sons of former players in Italy. Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert’s son, Justin (20) has scored twice for AS Roma from the wing, and former Italy international Enrico Chiesa’s son Federico (22) has also scored twice for Fiorentina, although he has had 51 attempts for his two goals.

We’ll continue to bring you regular updates on the data story of Europe’s five top leagues as the season progresses, so stay tuned. You can check our online dossier at any time to explore the stats for yourself.

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