Sharing 11 Ballon d’Ors between them, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have had the world at their feet over the last decade. However, sitting on the wrong side of 30, both superstars are rapidly nearing the end of their glittering careers.
Cameo appearances, longer layoffs, and lack of inhumane stamina — these things are soon going to be the new normal for us, and we must put on a brave face and prepare for the inevitable.
It would obviously be weird not to see the genius of the two best athletes of the modern game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get to see greatness unfolding on the pitch.
Thanks to world-class training facilities and coaches, we have been enjoying the privilege of seeing some world-beaters — true wonderkids — developing in front of our eyes.
Yes, all of them still aren’t ready to take on the world, but they certainly have the potential to bag the greatest accolades the sport has on offer.
Here are the most valuable Under-21 wonderkids in world football at present:
#10 Christian Pulisic – €54 million
He, however, only got the chance to play for the Blues six months later, after completing the 2018-19 campaign on loan at his parent club, Dortmund.
Naturally a winger, the American international has an insatiable desire for the spectacular and is one of the brightest wonderkids in the world at the moment. Pulisic is enjoying a relatively good debut season at Stamford Bridge.
#9 Federico Valverde – €54 million
Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez’s decision to tweak the club’s transfer policy is paying dividends, with many academy graduates proving themselves worthy of playing for the senior side.
Federico Valverde, who joined Real Madrid’s B team, Castilla in June 2016, has been one of the club’s greatest findings in recent years.
The central midfielder has emerged as a regular under Zinedine Zidane in the 2019-20 campaign and is believed to be the reason why Los Blancos are reluctant to bring in Manchester United star, Paul Pogba.
#8 Achraf Hakimi – €54 million
Another result of Real Madrid’s ingenious scouting, Achraf Hakimi has been in stupendous form in the current campaign.
The right-back, who is currently on loan at Dortmund from Real Madrid, has racked up nine goals and 10 assists in 42 games across all competitions, emerging as one of the finest in his position.
#7 Matthijs de Ligt – €67.5 million
Dutch side Ajax have a rap sheet for churning out potential world-beaters.
And the academy certainly didn’t harm its reputation with Matthijs de Ligt. Despite being only 20, he’s rated amongst the best centre-back of the game, and deservedly so.
One of the protagonists of Ajax’s remarkable 2018-19 campaign, De Ligt joined Serie A giants Juventus in the summer of 2019 and has been a staple for Maurizio Sarri’s side.
#6 Erling Haaland – €72.5 million
Norwegian sensation, Erling Haaland is arguably the most in-form striker in the world right now, and for good reason.
Since joining Borussia Dortmund from FC Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020, the wonderkid has netted 10 times in 11 Bundesliga fixtures, in addition to assisting thrice. The 19-year-old is already drawing attention from some of the top teams in the world but is likely to stay put for at least one season at Dortmund.
#5 Kai Havertz – €81 million
20-year-old Kai Havertz has been a steamroller for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, effortlessly unlocking almost all defences in the German top-flight.
With 15 goals and eight assists in 38 matches across all competitions, Havertz is a unique blend of explosiveness and creativity, which makes him one of the most highly-rated wonderkids in the world.
#4 Joao Felix – €81 million
When Atletico Madrid splashed upwards of €110 million to sign a 19-year-old forward from Benfica, many called the move bizarre and disrespectful. Diego Simeone, however, had no doubt that Joao Felix was the right man for the job.
The Portugal international is yet to flourish in La Liga, but the flashes of the wonderkid’s brilliance are there for everyone to see.
#3 Trent Alexander-Arnold – €99 million
The highest-rated right-back in the world, Trent Alexander-Arnold has everything one would look for in an attack-minded fullback. He’s fast, smart and solid at the back, and can make the ball dance to his tune.
Alexander-Arnold was one of the architects behind Liverpool’s Champions League-winning campaign in 2018-19, and he’s been just as instrumental in the Premier League this season.
#2 Jadon Sancho – €117 million
The final Borussia Dortmund youngster on the list, Jadon Sancho, is one of the most exciting wonderkids in the world at present. Not only does he have the technique to beat defenders, but he also packs the quality to find his team-mates in a sea of opposition legs.
Sancho, as per reports, is being hunted by some of the top clubs in Europe, including Manchester United. It remains to be seen if he stays put at Dortmund or plies his trade elsewhere next season.
#10 Kylian Mbappe – €180 million
It feels weird to place Kylian Mbappe on the list of most-valued wonderkids. Four Ligue 1 titles, one French League Cup, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup — the 21-year-old has already achieved pretty much one could ever fathom, and he is yet to hit his peak.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, who has already eclipsed Neymar at the Parc des Princes, has been a Real Madrid target for a long time now and is touted to move to the Spanish capital in a couple of seasons.
Transfer value courtesy – transfermarkt.co.uk