The Top Five Biggest Prospects across Europe's Top Five Leagues

Published on 4 November 2023 at 16:00

Real Madrid sensation Jude Bellingham was crowned young player of the year with the Kopa Award at the inaugural Ballon D'Or ceremony on Monday evening. The England star boy has scored 13 goals in 13 appearances for Los Blancos, since his £100m transfer from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. Here we look at the five biggest future prospects in each of Europe's top five leagues who could follow in the 20 year old footsteps and be in contention to win the Kopa Trophy in 2024. 


Image from Football Pictures

Premier League - Oscar Bobb (Manchester City)

The Norwegian youngster has risen to stardom at the start of this season, starting his first game for Manchester City in the Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle United. Born in Oslo, the 20 year old endured a turbulent beginning to football joining FC Porto from Lyn only for FIFA to condemn the transfer and declare after investigation that he must return to his homeland - Norway. Manchester City poached the dynamic midfielder from Norwegian side Valerenga, but the 2003 born player had to be patience to get opportunities at the Premier League champions.

Last season, he earnt the EDS Player of the Year award after 17 assists in 26 appearances in the Premier League 2. After, the departures of Riyad Mahrez and Cole Palmer during the summer Pep Guardiola has turned to the versatile attacker as a future star who could be the next Phil Foden success story. His close control, fast-paced dribbling and astute football intelligence have already seen him tagged as the next Lionel Messi, and during the recent international break he made his senior Norway debut against Cyprus in a Euro 2024 qualifier. 

His Premier League debut was a cameo appearance against Fulham on the 2 September and since he has played 47 minutes in the league from three substitute appearances. It's clear Pep Guardiola highly rates Bobb, so be sure to see his game time increase over the course of the season especially considering the lack of depth in the Champions League winners squad.


La Liga - Lamine Yamal (Barcelona)

Yamal is Barcelona's latest young prodigy of this new era after Gavi and Pedri, with Xavi gifting the Spaniard his La Liga debut aged just 15 years 9 months and 16 days to become the youngest ever Barcelona player to feature in La Liga. A product of the illustrious La Masia's academy, the Catalonian impressed Xavi and has quickly became a first team sensation and serial record breaker. On 20 August 2023 he made his first start for the reigning La Liga champions to become the youngest ever starter for Barcelona in La Liga.

He made his Champions League debut in the 5-0 victory over Royal Antwerp and later become the youngest ever player to start a game in the competitions history! He's not just a number though, the attacker is a genuine prospect possessing fast-paced dribbling and superb balance where he is so nimble and delicate on the ball. 

He has already made 11 appearances in La Liga this season and scored his first goal against Granada to become the youngest ever goal scorer for Barcelona aged 16 years and 87 days. Konrad De La Fuente gave the winger his Spain debut on the 8 September in the 7-1 victory over Georgia with Yamal scoring to become the youngest ever Spain goal scorer aged 16 years 57 days.

He signed a new Barcelona contract until 2026 during the summer, which had a £1 billion release clause showing the belief Barcelona have in him becoming the future of the club. If his trajectory continues at this rate we could see Yamal lifting the Ballon D'Or in the future.


Bundesliga - Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Wirtz seems to be an outsider on this list of baby-faced newcomers given this season is his fifth in the Bundesliga, since his debut on the 18 May 2020. The 20 year old was regarded as the heir to Kai Havertz at Bayer Leverkusen, but the playmaker appears to have exceeded his predecessor at the Bay Arena. 

He surpassed Havertz as the youngest ever Bundesliga player at the age of 17 years 15 days and later became the first player to score five Bundesliga goals before the age of 18. The German is such a technically gifted player with the ability to bring teammates into the game or go alone with his intelligent finishing and quick movement. 

The U21 European Championships winner became the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances and extended his contract until 2026 on his 18th birthday. In 2021-22 he made 17 goal contributions in the Bundesliga, which saw him make his international debut for Germany.

Last season, he suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury which looked to de-rail the midfielders rapid development however, under Xabi Alonso this season his performances have been levitated. He has six goal contributions in nine games this season in the league and recently got a hat-trick of assists in a Europa League game against Qarabag.

It feels like Wirtz has been overlooked due to the meteoric rise of Jamal Musiala, and because for such a young player he is so mature and professional. He is certainly a player who we could see in the Premier League in the next few years so keep your eyes peeled.


Serie A - Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta)

Of course the most promising young player in Italy is a defender. Giorgio Scalvini is a combative, quick and physical centre-back who is regarded as one of the successors to Leonardo Bonucci or Giorgio Chiellini in the Italy squad. He cemented his place in Atalanta's first team last season making 32 appearances and helped guide his team back into Europe where they finished fifth in Serie A.

Since Leonardo Spalletti has been appointed manager of Italy the 19 year old has received consistent call-ups for Italy's Euro 2024 qualifiers and he has impressed with his calmness on the ball and ability to play out from the back. Scalvini represents the modern centre-back who is very elegant and pacey, but he is a warrior and is prepared to put himself on the line for his club and country.

Atalanta have the joint highest number of clean sheets in Serie A this season, with the defender starting all ten of their opening fixtures. He plays in a 3-4-1-2 formation where he is deployed as a full-back in possession and centre-back out of possession.


Image by - Football Pictures

Ligue 1 - Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint Germain)

Europe's hottest prospect this season; Emery has started nine of PSG's 11 opening Ligue 1 games and he has starred in all three of the French Champions Champions League group games. He was called up to the senior team by Mauricio Pochettino, but did not receive his debut until the 6 August 2022 under Christoph Galtier. The Frenchman became PSG's youngest ever appearance maker in Ligue 1 history aged 16 years and 151 days.

He made eight Ligue 1 starts last season and became the club's youngest ever starter in the Champions League when he featured against Bayern Munich. The wonderkid is a gamechanger and the high profile departures of Marco Veratti, Georginio Wjnaldum, Leandro Paredes and Renato Sanches have prompted Luis Enrique to re-build his midfield around Emery. This trust has injected confidence and freedom into the U17 European Championships winner, where he has been PSG's star performer. He has seven goal contributions in 13 games this season and is entertaining to watch with his direct runs and attacking vision.

He has the potential to become a future Ballon D'Or winner if he leaves PSG for a more competitive league. At the moment though he oozes stardom and is making Ligue 1 his own.

Written by - Lewis Eadie

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