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The Roar



The world's best under-21 XI

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Roar Rookie
3rd June, 2020

So many young players have graced the pitch this season and last season.

And they still have a lot of years left in them.

Here’s my best under-21 XI. This includes players aged currently 21 or under and players who only play domestically in Europe.

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Donnarumma is a talented goalkeeper at only 21. Ever since he came onto the scene in 2015-16, he’s kept clean sheet after clean sheet, missing only 12 league games and keeping 72 clean sheets, including 58 in Serie A. He’s also the youngest player to ever be capped for Italy, so the only way is up for the young Italian.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Some say this man is currently the best right back in the whole world now, and yet Alexander-Arnold is still 21 years old. With great speed and an unreal technical and crossing ability, he has 24 assists in the last two EPL seasons – the most assists by a defender last season and most likely this season with 12. He also made his England debut at 19 and is an exciting talent at right back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

(Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)

CB: Matthijs de Ligt
He was the Golden Ball winner of 2019. De Ligt still has a bright future despite a slightly disappointing first season in Turin. He is someone with great strength, technique and is a true tactician at the back. Last season, while playing for Ajax, he led them to the Eredivisie title along with the Champions League semis, keeping 21 clean sheets, missing only two games, and was captain at the tender age of 19. He made his Netherlands debut as well at 17, and has an extremely bright future.

CB: Dayot Upamecano
It was a tough one between him and countryman Boubacar Kamara, but Upamecano just wins this one. He is gifted with great speed and unbelievable strength. He’s also not a bad passer, but he is a great defender. He has kept ten clean sheets this season and has only missed the one game due to suspension after missing the first four games due to a knee injury. He hasn’t made has senior France debut, but he will be knocking on that door very soon.

LB: Alphonso Davies
Davies, who started out the season as a winger, has evolved into another attacking-minded fullback. He has got great speed. He is another player with great technical and crossing ability. Since he’s signed for Bayern, he’s scored four goals and has assisted nine goals. He made his Canada debut at 16 years old. Will we see a big year from him is the next big question.


CDM: Sandro Tonali
Considered to be the next Andrea Pirlo, Tonali has become a star in his teen years. Known for being a replica of Pirlo with his playmaking ability, position, technical ability and even his appearance, he’s only missed three league games this season in Brescia, along with having five assists. He has only missed 30 minutes every time he’s played. Linked with many big clubs, he made his debut at age 19 and is yet another talent for the future.

Sandro Tonali

(Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

RCM: Federico Valverde
Just winning a tough choice for this position, the Uruguayan Valverde has broken through at Real this season in what is an already world-class midfield. He has great energy, passing and a lot of aggression, and despite only starting in 18 games this season, he’s still made an impact, scoring two and assisting four this season when he’s started. He made his Uruguay debut at age 17, with this and next season potentially being massive breakthrough seasons for the 21-year-old.

LCM: Mason Mount
Beating out fellow Englishman Phil Foden for the attacking-minded midfielder position, Mount has been brilliant in attack this season for Chelsea. He is able to play in almost any positions in attack and has great technique as well as a great passing ability. He’s scored six goals and has assisted five this season, and has started 31 out of a possible 40 games this season. Debuting at age 20 for England last September, he will be a massive part of both Chelsea and England’s future.

RW: Jadon Sancho
Someone who keeps getting better and better each season, Sancho is someone who has Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar-like potential. In fact, he’s probably on or at least near their level right now with his astonishing scoring ability, technical ability, as well as his speed and vision. He has produced superb seasons both this and last season. He has a combined 33 goals and 39 assists for both 2019-20 and 2018-19. He debuted at just 18 years old as well for England and his been in their squad since. He could win the Ballon d’Or in a few years.

Jadon Sancho. Talent

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

LW: Kylian Mbappe
Someone who’s already a superstar at the age of 21, Mbappe has won so many awards, trophies and has contributed so many goals. Similar to Thierry Henry and having raw pace, dribbling and technique, as well as a great scoring ability, he’s already scored 117 goals and assisted 66 domestically in only 181 games at the top level. He also has scored four World Cup goals. Along with being the second youngest French debutant, he will be the future for the whole world.

ST: Erling Braut Haaland
The talented Norwegian forward Braut Haaland has had one of the greatest seasons by a teenager. Blessed with great strength, technique as well as a knack for being in the right place at the right time, he’s scored 41 goals in all competitions this season, including ten Champions League goals. He made his international Norwegian debut this year, despite being eligible for England, and has a bright future ahead in Germany and across the world.