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Next Generation 2020: Which African wonderkids made the list?

#16 Youssoufa Moukoko | Borussia Dortmund

Nationality: Cameroon | Germany

NxGn Placement: #44

The youngest player ever to both appear and score in the UEFA Youth League, Youssoufa Moukoko only turned 15 in November, making the Cameroon-born Germany Under-16 international arguably the most exciting prospect in the game today.

The striker will not be allowed to make his Bundesliga debut until the start of the 2021-22 season due to age restriction rules but, given just how many records he is presently breaking, the 'new Samuel Eto'o' should prove worth the wait.

#15 Isaac Lihadji | Marseille

Nationality: France | Comoros

NxGn Placement: #38

Had it not been for a fractured shin suffered during a trial with Barcelona in November 2013, Isaac Lihadji would probably be at La Masia right now.

As it is, the left winger, who starred for France during last year's third-placed finish at the Under-17 World Cup, is at Marseille, though probably not for much longer.

Although Lihadji made his professional debut for Andre Villas-Boas’ side at the start of the season, the 17-year-old has been frozen out of the first team due to his refusal to extend a contract that expires this summer.

#14 Lucien Agoume | Inter

Nationality: France | Cameroon

NxGn Placement: #35

Omar Daf knew it would not be long before Lucien Agoume left Sochaux. "He's a kid who progresses from match to match," the coach said last season.

So, while it was disappointing for the French club to lose Agoume to Inter during the summer, it certainly was not a surprise, particularly after the Paul Pogba-like midfielder had led France to the semi-finals of the 2019 European Under-17 Championship last May.

Agoume then captained his country to a third-placed finish at the Under-17 World Cup later in the year before returning to Milan to make his debut for Inter in December.

#13 Benoit Badiashile | Monaco

Nationality: Democratic Republic of Congo | France

NxGn Placement: #31

Benoit Badiashile is the first to admit that he makes a lot of mistakes. But as the Monaco defender also regularly points out he has only just turned 19 and has come a long way since making his senior bow in November 2018.

The France Under-19 international, who was linked with Valencia in January, models his game on Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti and there are certainly similarities between the two, given Badiashile is an imposing, left-footed centre-back with an impressive passing range.

#12 Tomas Tavares | Benfica

Nationality: Portugal | Cape Verde

NxGn Placement: #29

A Benfica player since the age of nine, Tomas Tavares progressed rapidly through the Portuguese club's youth teams before being handed his senior debut in their Champions League clash with RB Leipzig last September.

The 19-year-old, who is just as comfortable at left-back as he is on his preferred right-hand side, went on to start five of the Eagles' six group games and it is thought to be only a matter of time before he breaks into the Portugal squad, having already represented his country at Under-21 level.

#11 Lassina Traore | Ajax

Nationality: Burkina Faso

NxGn Placement: #26

Having spent two years with Ajax Cape Town, Lassina Traore admitted he felt right at home when he joined Ajax in January of last year.

Hardly surprising, then, that the powerful forward – who made his Burkina Faso debut in May 2017 at just 16 years of age – has looked so comfortable every time he has taken to the field in Amsterdam, with Traore marking his first start for the club, against ADO Den Haag in December, with a well-taken goal.

#10 Karim Adeyemi | Red Bull Salzburg

Nationality: Nigeria | Germany | Romania

NxGn Placement: #24

Ognen Zaric worked with Karim Adeyemi in Unterhaching's Under-17s side and has never been in any doubt that the striker is destined to achieve great things. "He was born for the top," the coach told Goal last November. "With him, I see no limit."

Zaric's faith in Adeyemi is understandable, given the 18-year-old Munich native spent the first half of this season scoring freely during a loan spell at FC Liefering before being recalled by parent club Red Bull Salzburg, who beat Chelsea and Liverpool to his signature in 2018.

#9 Joshua Zirkzee | Bayern Munich

Nationality: Nigeria | Netherlands

NxGn Placement: #22

Joshua Zirkzee could not have announced himself to Bayern Munich fans as a potential superstar in quicker or more sensational fashion, with the forward netting decisive goals in a combined total of eight minutes across his first two Bundesliga appearances.

Described by Sebastien Hoeness as "a special kind of striker that can't be found in the modern game", the Under-19 Netherlands international is a tall, graceful, two-footed attacker blessed with the kind of pace and agility that makes him a nightmare for defenders in one-on-ones.

#8 Myron Boadu | AZ

Nationality: Ghana | Netherlands

NexGen Placement: #20

Myron Boadu had offers from Ajax and Arsenal when he was younger, but he instead opted to join AZ and it has proved a shrewd move, with the 19-year-old striker now banging in the goals at the AFAS Stadion.

Boadu has already broken into the senior Netherlands squad, becoming the first player born in the 21st century to both represent and score for the Oranje, not that Under-21 coach Erwin van de Looi is surprised: “He is so cool in front of goal and so dangerous from deep. He has that ability to just score. That is really a talent.”

#7 Adil Aouchiche | Paris Saint-Germain

Nationality: Algeria | France

NxGn Placement: #16

It is not easy for academy players to graduate to the star-packed Paris Saint-Germain first team but, at just 17 years of age, Adil Aouchiche has already debuted and scored for the Ligue 1 champions this season.

Of course, it is no surprise that Aouchiche is already off the mark at senior level, as this is a midfielder with a keen eye for goal, as he demonstrated by netting a remarkable nine times in just four outings at last summer's European Under-17 Championship in Ireland.

#6 Bukayo Saka | Arsenal

Nationality: Nigeria | England

NxGn Placement: #15

Managers may have come and gone during a season of uncertainty at Arsenal, but there is one thing that nobody is in any doubt about: Bukayo Saka is one of the most promising players to have emerged at the Emirates in years.

Indeed, the only doubt surrounding the 18-year-old Londoner is over his best position, with the winger, who netted his first senior goal in the Europa League win over Eintracht Frankfurt in September, having excelled after being asked to fill in at left-back following injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.

#5 Rayan Cherki | Lyon

Nationality: Algeria | France

NxGn Placement: #14

Kylian Mbappe knows more than most about prodigious talent, so it is telling that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar is a massive fan of Rayan Cherki, the latest gem unearthed by Lyon.

The 16-year-old attacker is being touted as an exciting mix of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa and is already making history at the Groupama Stadium, having become his hometown club's youngest ever scorer by netting against Bourg in the Coupe de France on January 4.

#4 William Saliba | Arsenal (on loan at Saint-Etienne)

Nationality: Cameroon | France

NxGn Placement: 12

Arsenal may have agreed to loan William Saliba back to Saint-Etienne for the current campaign, but Claude Puel was understandably furious that the club decided to sell their "best player" in the first place.

Indeed, former Gunners defender Mathieu Debuchy is among those who thinks that the France Under-20 centre-half will prove a bargain buy at £27 million ($34m), given the teenager's pace, power and technique.

#3 Mohamed Ihattaren | PSV

Nationality: Morocco | Netherlands

NxGn Placement: 8

Netherlands pulled out all the stops to persuade Mohamed Ihattaren to ignore a senior international call-up from Morocco, his parents' homeland, and pledge his future to Oranje.

The attacking midfielder, who turned 18 in February, only made his professional debut in January 2019 but has already established himself as one of PSV's most important players.

Ihattaren recently told Goal: "I must admit that I don’t really like talking about myself, but I do think I’ve got something special."

Everyone connected with Dutch football would wholeheartedly agree.

#2 Eduardo Camavinga | Rennes

Nationality: France | Angola

NxGn Placement: 5

Sylvain Wiltord, Yann M'Vila, Ousmane Dembele – Rennes have nurtured some fine young footballers down through the years, but Eduardo Camavinga could prove the best of the lot.

The Angola-born France Under-21 international only turned 17 in November but is already a first-team regular at Roazhon Park.

Last August, he bossed a Paris Saint-Germain midfield containing Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler and Marquinhos as Rennes recorded a shock – but deserved – 2-1 victory over the Ligue 1 champions.

Highlights of his dominant display quickly went viral, but the most encouraging aspect of Camavinga's spectacular emergence as one of the most exciting young players in world football is that the sudden media attention has not gone to his head.

Nor is it likely to, according to former Rennes academy director Landry Chauvin, who says the youngster is as grounded as he is gifted.

"Eduardo is a guy who respects the housekeeper of the training centre as much as the coach of the first team," he told Goal. "He has a good head on his shoulders and will not change."

#1 Ansu Fati | Barcelona

Nationality: Guinea-Bissau | Spain

NxGn Placement: 2

On November 20, Barcelona academy director Patrick Kluivert made the perfectly sensible suggestion that Ansu Fati should drop down to the Blaugrana's B team to secure more game time.

Just three weeks later, Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history by netting the winner in a 2-1 victory over Inter at San Siro aged 17 years and 40 days old.

It was further proof – as if it were needed – that the winger has "something special about him", as former Barca boss Ernesto Valverde put it, and fully merits his place in the senior squad.

Indeed, the Bissau-born teenager, who has already been capped at Under-21 level by Spain, has since become the youngest player to score twice in a Liga game, against Levante in January.

Barca are wisely doing their best to play down the hype surrounding the fledgling forward but they are well aware of just how lucky they are to have beaten Real Madrid to the signature of a prodigious talent that is making the post-Lionel Messi era look far less frightening with his incessant record-breaking.

Source: goal.com

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