Twenty 20-year-olds to watch out for in 2020
As the second decade of the 21st century comes to a close, we look ahead and single out twenty talented 20-year-olds that we feel will make their mark on the game in the 2020s.
Despite Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo still delivering solid displays with their respective club and international sides, age is not on the side of the Argentine and Portuguese strikers as they advance to their mid-thirties. PSG striking duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have presented their candidacy as natural heirs to the throne but who will follow in their footsteps?
In a four part series, we take a look at twenty exciting prospects from around the world, with each player being 20 years-old or celebrating their twentieth birthday during 2020. All, we feel are solid candidates to stake a future place in the global footballing elite.
Part 1 (Players 20 through to 16)
20) Florentino Luís (20 years-old) Portugal/Benfica
The Lisbon born Luís established himself in the prestigious Benfica youth academy and has progressed at junior levels before making his first team debut in February as the ‘Eagles’ inflicted a 10-0 defeat to Madeira based Nacional. The 20-year-old defensive midfielder has also impressed at international level earning over 50 caps from U-15 levels through to 18 U-20 caps.
The appointment of Bruno Lage as Benfica head coach in early 2019 has been instrumental in Luís’ development using the player in a natural deep lying midfield role with a full international call up from Jorge Santos only a question of time for the Benfica star.
19) Pedro Porro (20) Spain/Real Valladolid (loan)
Apparently rejecting overtures from the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico and Bayern Munich, Porro opted to move to Catalan outfit Girona in 2017. Manchester City snapped up the defender in 2019 for a feel of 11 million euro and immediately sent the Don Benito born player out on loan to Real Valladolid where he has impressed in his 629 minutes of LaLiga action during the current campaign.
Already capped four times at U-21 level, Porro was forced to miss out in the 2019 European Championships due to injury in a competition his Spain ended up winning. Time will tell whether the defender’s future lies in LaLiga or if City elects to offer the player a role under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage at the English side.
18) Julián Álvarez (19) Argentina/River Plate
After trials with Boca Juniors and Real Madrid, Álvarez ended up joining the Nuñez based side River Plate before breaking into the first team in October 2018. The striker’s debut in the Copa Libertadores came at the Santiago Bernabéu where CONMEBOL decreed the second leg of the 2018 final would be staged after disruption ahead of the original second leg at El Monumental. The forward has also represented Argentina at U-20 level in the Sud Americana where Argentina ended runners-up and at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland where Alvarez featured in four games as the ‘Albiceleste’ fell in the Round of 16 to Mali on penalty kicks. The River No. 9 was recently on target for River as they secured the Argentine Cup beating Central Cordoba with Álvarez bagging the third.
17) Donyell Malen (20) Netherlands/PSV Eindhoven
Much to the surprise of many Arsenal fans, in 2017 the Dutch striker moved back to the Netherlands despite impressing in his two years with the English side. The forward immediately made an impact at PSV’s ‘B team’ ending the 2017/18 as club top scorer before eventually making his senior team debut in February 2018 donning the PSV shirt 42 times in all competitions bagging 11 goals in all competitions.
The current season has seen no let up for the 20-year-old with the No.9 already on target a staggering 16 times in 18 appearances for PSV which has seen his transfer value soar to 28 million euro.
2019 also saw Malen make his international debut for the Dutch side and is certainly to be a key threat for Ronald Koeman’s side at Euro 2020.
16) Reiss Nelson (20) England/Arsenal
Along with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Oliver Burke, London born Reiss Nelson is another of the Premier League talents who moved to the German Bundesliga to secure valuable experience and first team top flight playing time.
The striker was with Hoffenheim for the 2018/19 season and bagged seven goals in his 23 appearances for ‘Achtzhen 99’ and upon his return to parent club Arsenal was handed a first team squad number by former Gunners manager Unai Emery. It remains to be seen if new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will use the 20-year-old, but a start in the Boxing Day Premier League match against Bournemouth is a positive omen for the forward who faces stiff competition with Nicolas Pepe for a starting place on the right hand side.
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