There has been an incredible amount of young talent around Europe in recent times, with young ballers appearing more frequently throughout the elite teams. However, it’s very rare to find young, talented midfielders that can dominate a game, especially with the physicality of players in the modern era. Today, we will take a look at the top 5 young midfielders in the world of football. The only stipulation: they must’ve been under 20 years of age at the time the current campaign began. Essentially, they must be teenagers. Let’s go!
FC Barcelona midfielder Gavi is the youngest player on the list, having just turned 18 in August. He broke into the Barca first team last season, racking up an impressive 6 assists and 2 goals in 55 appearances.
In October 2021, Gavi became the youngest Spanish player to be capped by the national team, beating a record standing since 1936, as the Blaugrana midfielder took to the field at just 17 years and 62 days old.
He is a neat and tidy player, with great agility that allows him to wiggle through challenges with relative ease. The Spaniard is also difficult to dispossess, with his quick feet proving to be a nightmare for the opposition. Gavi is set to form one of the most exciting midfield duos with fellow superstar Pedri.
4. Eduardo Camavinga
It genuinely feels like Eduardo Camavinga has been around for ages, but many forget he is just 19-years-old. The French midfielder rose through the ranks of Ligue 1 side Stade Rennes where he made his first team debut at just 16 years of age back in 2019.
Initially, Camavinga looked set to be the world’s best future midfield destroyer, racking up close to 5 tackles plus interceptions per game during his first two seasons of regular first team football back in France.
However, the three-timed capped Frenchman’s game is developing year on year, with his passing statistics improving vastly. Camavinga is no longer just affecting the game defensively but is driving his team forward as well.
This was evident in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League triumph last year. Los Blancos trailed in every single game, but Carlo Ancelotti put faith in Camavinga to turn the tide in his side’s favour.
The Italian’s faith was repaid over and over again, as Camavinga was instrumental in every single comeback from Real Madrid on route to the final in Paris.
Camavinga looks set to hold down Los Blancos’ midfield for the next decade, alongside compatriot and new Madrid hero Aurelien Tchouameni.
3. Jude Bellingham
Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham has been making waves in the football world since his time at Birmingham City, where they even retired his jersey number upon his departure.
Bellingham, who only turned 19 in June, has already clocked 100 appearances for the Black and Yellow, racking up 13 goals and 18 assists. He is set to follow the likes of Ousmane Dembélé, Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland out the door of the Signal Iduna Park for a big fee. Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid are among the clubs interested in the England International after Dortmund recently set their price for the midfielder.
Bellingham has been particularly influential in the UEFA Champions League, racking up 8 goal involvements in 18 appearances, including against Man City both in the current campaign and last year.
The box-to-box midfielder has a bright future ahead of him, and is almost certainly bound to be one of the top three centre midfielders in world football.
Gareth Southgate shouldn’t be thinking twice about starting the kid for England in Qatar, he’s THAT good.
2. Jamal Musiala
Jamal Musiala is the most advanced of the midfielders in this list, which also makes him the most lethal in front of goal.
The former Chelsea academy player was snapped up by Bayern Munich in 2019 and is the latest addition to a woefully long list of top-class talents Chelsea have let get away.
The 19-year-old broke into the Bayern first team after the initial lockdown period in 2020. Since then, the German International’s game time has increased gradually each year with Musiala making 88 appearances for the Bavarians, contributing to 21 goals and 10 assists during that time.
However, Musiala’s game has gone to another level this season, starting the campaign on absolute fire, scoring 6 and assisting 3 in just 10 appearances thus far, from midfield. Musiala starred for Bayern in the UEFA Champions League this month, picking up the Man of the Match award in Die Roten’s victory over FC Barcelona.
Musiala is without doubt one of the biggest gems in world football. Given his English heritage, I think it’s safe to say he would’ve received a lot more media attention if he opted to represent England instead.
The standout teenage midfielder in world football, and often likened to Barcelona and Spain legend Andrés Iniesta, Pedri is destined for greatness.
Pedri joined Barcelona from Las Palmas in 2019 before being loaned back to them for the remainder of that season. However, it was his first season at Barcelona in 2020/2021 that really made the world sit up and take note of Pedri.
Like his teammate Gavi, Pedri is also extremely comfortable on the ball, whether that be in terms of evading the opposition’s press or by playing beautiful, perfectly-weighted passes into the stride of his teammates.
Pedri has made 82 appearances for the Blaugrana, scoring 10 goals and providing 7 assists. The 19-year-old has also already been capped 13 times by the Spanish National team.
Pedri’s undeniable quality may be the cause of his own downfall, however, as Barcelona and Spain have become so reliable on the midfielder that they run the risk of burning him out at a very young age.
During the 2020/2021 campaign, Pedri made an astonishing 73 appearances, more than any other player in Europe. This was off the back of being an ever present for Barcelona and being selected for both Euro 2020 (2021) and the Olympic games, where he started every one of Spain’s games across both tournaments.
This took its toll on Pedri as the Barcelona midfielder could only muster up 23 appearances last season due to persistent injury issues.
Barcelona and the Spanish national team ought to be more precautionary over Pedri because if he carries on playing as frequently, the football world may be robbed of witnessing a truly generational talent.