Sessegnon, Sarr & Torres – The teenage stars to watch in Europe’s big five leagues
We break down the top-tier young talents you need to be watching in the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 this season.
Kylian Mbappe’s incredible, unhindered rise from Monaco prodigy to World Cup hero in just two seasons has set a new aspirational target for the world’s talented teenagers.
At 19, the France ace already looks to be a serious challenger to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the battle for the Ballon d’Or, his excellence in Russia entirely overshadowing even the game’s most expensive player – club team-mate Neymar.
Now, with the Premier League set to usher in a new season of top-tier European football on Friday, scouts across the continent will be snapping into action in search of the next young superstar.
Here, we pick out an emerging star from each of the big five leagues who could be about to burst into the spotlight.
Premier League – Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Described by manager Slavisa Jokanovic as “a mix between Marcelo and Gareth Bale”, the retention of Sessegnon looks to be Fulham’s most important bit of business in a transfer window that has seen Andre Schurrle and Jean Michael Seri arrive. The 18-year-old was converted from overlapping full-back to thrilling winger last season and adapted in stunning style. His 16 goals in 49 appearances were essential to the Cottagers ending a four-season spell in the Championship, with calls even made for Gareth Southgate to hand him an England call-up. That could soon arrive if his easy adjustment to senior football continues in the Premier League.
Bundesliga – Sergio Gomez (Borussia Dortmund)
It takes a brave teenager to leave Barcelona, but Gomez’s immediate breakthrough at Borussia Dortmund suggests he may be justified in his decision. Still just 17, the Spaniard earned two appearances off the bench at the end of last season and there could be more to come under Lucien Favre, a coach with a penchant for developing young players. Gomez has displayed superb touch and skill from central and wide areas, making him a dangerous game-breaker and ideal understudy to Dortmund’s talented stable of wingers, which includes Marco Reus, Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho.
Ligue 1 – Malang Sarr (Nice)
An international at multiple youth levels, it seems only a matter of time until centre-back Sarr graduates to France’s senior side, even accounting for the World Cup winners’ enviable depth. The left-footer has already racked up 48 appearances in Ligue 1 and could play an even bigger role this season following Maxime Le Marchand’s departure to Fulham. Liverpool and Barcelona are among the clubs believed to have shown interest in the strong and technically accomplished Sarr, who now has Patrick Vieira for a well-connected mentor. If an offer materialises, the 19-year-old might well be convinced to leave his hometown club.
LaLiga – Ferran Torres (Valencia)
Valencia earlier this year inserted a €100million buyout clause into a new three-year contract for the homegrown Torres. The price tag is designed to ward off admiring glances from Barcelona and Real Madrid and looks a shrewd move considering the promise the 18-year-old winger displayed in his first season at LaLiga level. Torres parlayed an excellent Under-17 World Cup into a Copa del Rey debut in December and by February he was featuring regularly for Los Che. Quick, technical and capable with both feet, a long career at his boyhood club beckons, so long as the big boys do not come knocking.