50 for the future: UEFA.com's ones to watch for 2019
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Our correspondents pick out 50 young players who could be big news in 2019.
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We asked UEFA.com's team of reporters across the continent to pick out some of Europe's rising stars. How many of our 50 will be household names by this time in 2020?
Ilzat Akhmetov (RUS, 21 - CSKA Moskva)
Made Rubin debut aged 16 in 2016; now midfield regular for CSKA, and Russia's young player of the year.
Ethan Ampadu (WAL, 18 – Chelsea)
The dreadlocked central defender won his first three Wales caps in 2018 and played two UEFA Europa League group stage games for the Blues this season.
Emil Audero (ITA, 21 - Sampdoria)
Part Indonesian, the 1.92m tall goalkeeper is thriving on loan from Juventus; a regular in Serie A and for Italy U21s.
Nicolò Barella (ITA, 21 – Cagliari)
Quality, personality, grit; Cagliari's captain has the aggression to match his skill. Inter midfielder Radja Nainggolan sees Barella as his heir.
Sander Berge (NOR, 20 – Genk)
Both the midfielder's parents were basketball players, and it shows. He stands at 1.90m tall, is a Norway regular and scored twice in the UEFA Europa League in the autumn.
Josip Brekalo (CRO, 20 – Wolfsburg)
A senior international with Croatia, the Wolfsburg forward is playing and scoring increasingly regularly in the Bundesliga.
Rafa Camacho (POR, 18 - Liverpool)
Full of "football joy" according to coach Jürgen Klopp, the Portuguese winger shone in pre-season and made his first-team debut in the FA Cup this month.
Giorgi Chakvetadze (GEO, 19 – Gent)
An attacking midfielder with pace and great feet, he has been dubbed the 'Georgian Kaká' in some quarters.
Fedor Chalov (RUS, 20 – CSKA Moskva)
Got two UEFA Champions League group stage goals this autumn and was Russian league top scorer with nine goals going into the winter break.
Samu Chukwueze (NIG, 19 – Villarreal)
With Arjen Robben-like tenacity, the Nigerian winger has been shaking up the Liga and UEFA Europa League in the autumn. Key words: skilful, aggressive.
Alphonso Davies (CAN, 18 – Bayern)
The Ghanaian born Canada international joined Bayern in January 2019; a winger who scored fine goals for Vancouver Whitecaps.
Merih Demiral (TUR, 20 – Alanyaspor)
The big central defender made his senior Turkey debut in November; widely compared with former national-team regular Alpay Özalan.
Moussa Diaby (FRA, 19 – Paris)
On loan in Italy in the spring, Diaby has sparkled as a wing-back at his hometown club, scoring in Ligue 1 and making his UEFA Champions League debut.
João Félix (POR, 19 – Benfica)
The attacking midfielder is flying with the Eagles; linked with Chelsea and Man. United.
Gedson Fernandes (POR, 19 – Benfica)
Born in Sao Tome, Gedson has been on Benfica's radar since he was ten; a skilful central midfielder with a decent shot from distance.
Arnaut Groeneveld (NED, 21 – Club Brugge)
In the autumn, the left-winger scored a beauty against Atlético in the UEFA Champions League and struck in his second Oranje game, a friendly against Belgium.
Robert Gumny (POL, 20 – Lech Poznań)
Another Lech-raised talent, right-back Gumny is already a regular starter and could draw attention at the U21 EURO.
Ianis Hagi (ROU, 20 – Viitorul)
Captain of titleholders Viitorul – the club owned and coached by his father, Gheorghe Hagi – he has some of his father's attacking verve.
Amadou Haidara (MLI, 20 – Leipzig)
The midfielder suffered a nasty knee injury in November, but should demonstrate his vision and style once more in the spring with new employers Leipzig.
Achraf Hakimi (MAR, 20 – Dortmund)
On loan from Real Madrid, who he represented in the UEFA Champions League last season, the Moroccan right-back has looked a class act in the Bundesliga.
Kai Havertz (GER, 19 – Leverkusen)
Lauded for his UEFA Europa League group stage performances, Havertz became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 appearances.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (ENG, 18 – Chelsea)
Brought into the senior squad by Maurizio Sarri, the fleet-footed England U19 attacking midfielder scored in the UEFA Europa League in the autumn.
Luka Ivanušec (CRO, 20 – Lokomotiva Zagreb)
The youngest-ever scorer for Croatia at 18, the midfielder is highly rated back at home, and has been on song with his nation's U21 side.
Luka Jović (SRB, 21 – Eintracht)
On loan from Benfica, the Serbian reached double figures for the season in the Bundesliga by December, and scored five in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
Ozan Kabak (TUR, 18 – Galatasaray)
Fast-tracked into the first team due to injuries, the central defender learned fast in the league and UEFA Champions League; expect a Turkey debut soon.
Alban Lafont (FRA, 19 – Fiorentina)
After three seasons in Toulouse's first team, the big Burkina Faso-born goalkeeper is showing Serie A what he is capable of.
Andriy Lunin (UKR, 19 – Leganés)
On loan from Real Madrid, the goalkeeper has great reflexes and footwork; kept three consecutive clean sheets for club and country in the autumn.
Weston McKennie (USA, 20 – Schalke)
Deployed mostly in a deep role, the Texan is a ball-winner, but loves to drive forward too; scored his first UEFA Champions League goal in October.
Brais Méndez (ESP, 21 - Celta Vigo)
A regular in midfield for Celta, Méndez scored on his debut for Spain against Bosnia and Herzegovina in November.
Nikola Milenković (SRB, 21 - Fiorentina)
At right-back or in central defence, the Serbian delivers; on many big clubs' watch list, he has been scoring goals in Serie A too.
Éder Militão (BRA, 20 – Porto)
Impressed at centre-back in the UEFA Champions League and already a senior international for Brazil. Physical and powerful in the air.
Juan Miranda (ESP, 18 – Barcelona)
The left-back was the assist king as Barcelona won the 2018 UEFA Youth League; made his UEFA Champions League debut in December.
Nikola Moro (CRO, 20 – Dinamo Zagreb)
Big European clubs had the midfielder under observation before he sustained a serious injury; expect the attention to continue now he is back.
Arijanet Murić (KOS, 20 - Man City)
The highly-rated backup for Ederson, Murić was recalled from a loan spell in the Netherlands when Claudio Bravo got injured and made his debut in the FA Cup in January.
Vitaliy Mykolenko (UKR, 19 – Dynamo Kyiv)
The left-back has been keeping Croatia international Josip Pivarić out of the Dynamo squad. Made his Ukraine debut in November.
Florian Müller (GER, 21 – Mainz)
Shone in an extended first-team run in the autumn; "he's a hugely talented goalkeeper," said Mainz coach Sandro Schwarz.
Reiss Nelson (ENG, 18 – Hoffenheim)
Thriving on loan from Arsenal, Nelson had a fine goalscoring run in the autumn, and saw action in the UEFA Champions League.
Stanley N'Soki (FRA, 19 – Paris)
A defender or midfielder, N'Soki signed his first professional contract in September and is getting first-team games despite fierce competition.
Dani Olmo (ESP, 20 – Dinamo Zagreb)
Rated as Player of the Year by the Croatian league's team captains, the former Barcelona trainee is impressing domestically and in the UEFA Europa League.
Ricard Puig (ESP, 19 – Barcelona)
The star of Barça's victorious UEFA Youth League campaign, his style and stature have drawn comparisons with Lionel Messi.
Ionuț Radu (ROU, 21 – Genoa)
Romania's U21 captain is eager to prove his worth on his second loan spell from Inter; blossoming with regular Serie A games.
Javier Sánchez (ESP, 21 – Real Madrid)
Two-footed and positionally astute, the central defender made his first senior appearances for Madrid in the autumn.
Jadon Sancho (ENG, 18 – Dortmund)
Scorer of six Bundesliga goals by Christmas, the agile winger looks set to build on his England debut in October.
Ismaïla Sarr (SEN, 20 – Stade Rennais)
Came to international attention with a terrific UEFA Europa League finish against Jablonec; is he the new Ousmane Dembélé?
Mykola Shaparenko (UKR, 20 – Dynamo Kyiv)
The playmaker scored a beautiful UEFA Europa League goal against Rennes and helped Dynamo to win their group; capped four times in 2018.
Unai Simón (ESP, 21 - Athletic)
Spain's first-choice goalkeeper at U21 level, Simón has filled the void at Athletic left by Kepa Arrizabalaga's summer departure.
Oliver Skipp (ENG, 18 – Tottenham Hotspur)
Given his first Spurs start in December, Mauricio Pochettino saying: "He's going to show he deserves to be involved in the first team." He did.
Emile Smith Rowe (ENG, 18 – Arsenal)
The pacy Smith Rowe signalled his potential with two UEFA Europa League goals in the autumn.
Martin Terrier (FRA, 21 – Lyon)
The forward made his UEFA Champions League debut in the autumn, having shown his class with seven goals in U21 EURO qualifying for France.
Dayot Upamecano (FRA, 20 – Leipzig)
Elegant but powerful, the Frenchman is rated in some quarters as the best young central defender in the world.
Vinícius Júnior (BRA, 18 – Real Madrid)
Fast, sparky and exciting, the Brazilian winger scored his first senior Madrid goals in November; expect a few more in 2019.
Nicolò Zaniolo (ITA, 19 – Roma)
A modern midfielder, he made his professional debut at Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, and got his first Italy call-up before making his U21 debut.