Eddie Nketiah: a lifetime of work for the briefest of moments

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"A lot of people think it took me 15 seconds to score for Arsenal, but I've been working on it my whole life." 

Many footballers make an immediate impact for their club. Few have done it as quickly as Eddie Nketiah did for Arsenal.

In October last year, Arsenal trailed Championship side Norwich City in a fourth round League Cup tie at home. As time ticked down to its final five minutes, they had little hope. But they did have a corner. 

Before it was taken, a baby-faced striker by the name of Edward Nketiah, who looks even younger than his tender 18 years, stepped onto the pitch and pointed to the sky, searching for God. The Arsenal supporters were hoping for a miracle too, but the teenager coming onto the pitch was more confident than those sat in the stands. He jogged on, bypassing senior striker Olivier Giroud, and made a beeline for the six-yard box. His first touch at the Emirates Stadium—just 15 seconds after his introduction—was a prodded finish that nestled into the back of the net. 1-1.

The whistle for full-time followed shortly after, but extra-time was needed to separate the sides and, in that, Nketiah planted a header in from another corner. 2-1. Arsenal headed into round five.

"I brought him on because we needed to score goals and he can score goals," Arsene Wenger said post-match. That is an understatement.

Following a hat-trick against Everton in a 4-0 win in a Premier League 2 match, Nketiah has now scored 57 goals at youth level since the start of the 2015-16 season. Nine of those have come this season in just 11 games, including two hat-tricks scored against David Unsworth's side and Manchester United.

He has also been lethal for his country at the relevant age groups thus far. Nketiah picked up two caps for England's under-18 group, both last year. Needless to say, he scored on his debut, against Saudi Arabia, then bagged another trio versus Qatar. Under-19 caps followed in 2017 and he has seven goals in six caps to his name at that level, too.



Born in Lewisham to Ghanaian parents, Nketiah honed his skills in 'the cage' - something he feels toughened him up as a striker.

"In the early days I played football in the streets - in the park there was a little cage in my area. It was really hard playing in a football cage, there’s a lot of pride there and everyone wants to show how good they are and what they can do and there’s no security around, so you’ve got to fend for yourself.

“If you get tackled you’ve just got to get back up, there’s no fouling. There’s a lot of trash talk going on in the cage and you’ve just got to have a thick skin and get through it, and just show how good you are."

Nketiah needed to have thick skin when he was released by another London giant, Chelsea, at under-14 level. It was tough, but his disappointment quickly subsided to excitement: Arsenal picked him up almost immediately, a week after.

"Being let go was a really hard situation for me and my family to take, but luckily I had good people around me that could help me and supported me and I never doubted my ability."

After scoring 50 goals in his first two seasons for the Gunners, he was handed his first-team debut. Previous to the Norwich game, he got his chance on the European stage, albeit as an 89th-minute sub in Arsenal's 4-2 win at BATE Borisov in the Europa League.

A minute was not enough time for the 18-year-old to make an impact in Belarus, but just under a month and one game later, he had managed to get his goal. It took him just 15 seconds.

Anyone would be pleased with that, they would have been even more pleased with two goals. Nketiah was, but not satisfied. "I wouldn’t change a thing from that night, maybe to get a hat-trick, but there’s plenty of time for that," Nketiah reflected.

There is plenty of time for Eddie to truly make his mark, both for Arsenal and his country. If those 15 seconds are anything to go by, Nketiah won't need many chances to do so.

If Chelsea is the question, the academy should be the answer

By Jake Entwistle

‪If Antonio Conte is to be believed, Chelsea's domestic dominance—financially & on the pitch—is waning and such a concern suggests it is now more than ever that a change in approach is needed.

If that is indeed the case, the club need look no further than its own academy.

 FA Youth Cup winners 2014; Chelsea have won every one since.

FA Youth Cup winners 2014; Chelsea have won every one since.

Chelsea have been the juggernauts of youth football since 2011/12 (some may even argue as early as 2009/10), winning five FA Youth Cups, including a current streak of four consecutive titles, as well as back-to-back UEFA Youth League triumphs in 2015 and 2016, equating to two out of the four editions of the competition.

Just as the most prosperous period in the club's history was built on wealth, their dominance at youth level has arguably been a microcosm of that success. Able to offer more money—to both the selling club and the player himself—under Roman Abramovich, Chelsea created a series of super teams led by a more or less uninterrupted line of managers well versed in winning trophies; even Avram Grant had dominated domestically in Israel.

 Didier Drogba and Chelsea's success go hand-in-hand.

Didier Drogba and Chelsea's success go hand-in-hand.

The club's approach towards their academy and youth recruitment certainly has its critics: offering too much too soon has been a hot topic of late, whilst obvious flaws in the transition from academy to first team has cast a shadow over the process. Nevertheless, just as Chelsea established themselves as a Premier League titan through the consistent winning of titles, their youth team has done everything to mirror that success.

It's slightly ironic that Chelsea's aforementioned ability to outspend their rivals is perhaps the reason why so many bright talents that have been unearthed through the countless FA Youth Cup triumphs have failed to make the leap, but with Antonio Conte's constant complaining about the club's inability to provide him with the quality of player he needs to compete, perhaps now is the best time to finally give these players the chance.

 Chelsea have won two of the four UEFA Youth League tournaments.

Chelsea have won two of the four UEFA Youth League tournaments.

After all, if Chelsea's first team have shown signs of regression, slipping further away from the buccaneering Manchester clubs that seem to be setting the bar in all areas, then their youth sides have shown no chance of slowing down, continuing to widen the gap between themselves and their rivals rather than loosening their grip.

The period of dominance heralded by the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke has been extended by each new generation. Callum Hudson-Odoi (17) should be considered one of the most exciting prospects in English football right now, if not Europe, whilst Trevoh Chalobah (18), brother of Nathaniel, and current Vitesse loanee Mason Mount (19) are all evidence of a strong line of succession that shows no sign of slowing down.

 Mason Mount was named Chelsea's Academy Player of the Year in 2017.

Mason Mount was named Chelsea's Academy Player of the Year in 2017.

In fact, Hudson-Odoi and Chalobah are currently embarrassing senior professionals in the Checkatrade trophy, and whilst the gulf in quality with the Premier League is gigantic, the idea is not to simply play Chelsea's U23s in the Premier League, but start integrating the clear talent within those ranks to strengthen the first-team rather than fill the apparent voids with huge cash injections.

In an alternate universe, Chelsea's under-strength side that succumbed to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup could have included Loftus-Cheek, Chalobah, Solanke and Abraham; all of whom cost dramatically less than Drinkwater, Barkley, Bakayoko and Batshuayi. Who is to say they would have done any worse?

 Callum Hudson-Odoi is the latest in a long line of exciting Chelsea academy products.

Callum Hudson-Odoi is the latest in a long line of exciting Chelsea academy products.

If they sincerely believe they lack the financial power to strengthen properly in the current market, it is time to trust the serial winners in their youth sides. Selling Nathaniel Chalobah, letting Dominic Solanke leave and loaning Ruben-Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham whilst pumping money into Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoué Bakayoko, Michy Batshuayi and potentially a near-32-year-old Edin Džeko should be Chelsea’s final warning.

The gap between the players they can afford and those shining at youth level closing rapidly. Their academy side is the final pillar of the near-unstoppable domestic force Chelsea created. Now it is time to finally take advantage of it.

Fran Beltrán - The Boy and the Barrio

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“Not Barcelona or Real Madrid, I just want to be at Rayo Vallecano,” is how Fran Beltrán put it, when asked about the possibility of signing for one of the traditionally bigger clubs in Spain. You have to believe him too. Beltrán stands for everything the area is about. Hard-working, blue collar, and loyal. His former trainer at Rayo B, Juan Vicente Peinado, says, “I thank God for having the great fortune to train a player like Fran Beltrán.”

Barcelona were linked too, before Beltrán landed a full-time contract wth Rayo in April, 2017. With his contract set to expire just two months later, at the end of June, there were reports that several teams were looking at Beltrán, a regular Spanish under-17 international. He has also made his debut with Spain's under-19s recently, against Portugal, as his star continues to rise. During Paco Jémez’ spell in charge of the club, when Beltrán was coming through, he said, “Fran is a player everyone at the club loves, he is more mature than his DNI [National Identity Card] says.”

With a release clause of €8 million, the willingness of the kid from Madrid to wait, work and play football, in the pueblo that is Vallecas, were the keys to him getting the deal. “For me, Rayo is the team that gave me the opportunity, and every time I pull on the shirt, I just think about working hard and making the people happy,” he says, as the natural symbiosis between player, fans and the area becomes evident.

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Juanvi Peinado explains to Marca that at one point, he was deployed on the wing, cutting inside to create problems for opponents. He has since turned into a midfielder in the mould of Roque Mesa of Las Palmas fame and Swansea ignominy. “He can play the role of an [number] ‘8’. In fact, I tried to install this mentality in him to give him more freedom,” said Peinado.

Beltrán is a hybrid. If you mixed Enzo Pérez - formerly of Valencia and currently at River Plate - with Roque Mesa, you might get an idea of what Beltrán brings to the team. In American football, he might be referred to as a scat-back: small enough, elusive enough and quick enough to cover lots of ground. But Beltrán has a dogged determination also, and the kind of power that makes him a perfectly functioning defensive midfielder too.

So good is Beltrán that he has made Roberto Trashorras obsolete. The former heartbeat of the team, and the most important cog in the framework of the midfield, Fran has replaced Trashorras as the deepest midfielder and the 18-year-old adds quality build-up play from the back, without the need for a more defensive player beside him. Essentially, he plays the role of two men. His modesty and willingness to learn has also turned him into a capable leader, a pair of eyes on the field for manager Míchel, whose faith in the teenager is typically only reserved for seasoned pros.

Rayo went through a number of managers during the 2016/2017 campaign and when they finally settled on Míchel, it would take three games before Fran was counted on. In the remaining 13 games of the season, however, he started every one. They lost just three of those games and made a late, and unlikely, push for the playoffs, before ultimately missing out. During the summer, Beltrán’s incorporation into the starting team was decided upon; his role expanded.

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This season he has started all 19 games in the league, as Rayo sit fifth and four points off the Segunda división leaders, SD Huesca.

His role, responsibility and all-encompassing ability frees Unai López, a 22-year-old gem in Rayo’s midfield on loan from Athletic Club, to play further forward and Raúl de Tomás, Adrián Embarba and Óscar Trejo to thrive up front. Santi Comesaña, another up-and-coming talent in the Rayo side, operates as a fluid number 10 with Beltrán minding the house. Removing Trashorras from the side means Míchel can play a 4-1-4-1 knowing that there is a balance to the side, and resources are spread out in midfield and attack to keep opponents working hard all over the field.

At 18—turning 19 in February—and with Rayo pushing for promotion, Míchel’s faith in him is quite the endorsement. “The work rate he [Fran] has is exceptional,” Míchel repeats. As the rest of his game develops, his mentality and physical attributes make him one to look out for in the future.

Ajax: The Dutch Conveyor Belt

BY WILL JONES

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AFC Ajax are widely renowned for being one of the most successful clubs in European history. They have had a tight grip on the Eredivisie, winning an incredible 33 league titles and 18 Dutch Cups and in the process, have beaten their fierce rivals Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven to the crown of most successful club in Dutch history. As well as this domestic domination, Ajax have in past years transferred this famous brand of football to the European stage. 4 European Cups (3 in as many years in the early 1970s) and 1 UEFA Cup clearly shows the fruits of Ajax's success as it boasts a European record which can only be matched by a few. However, it is the roots of this European conquest which is the source of envy for many wealthy teams around the world.

The Ajax academy is steeped in history and is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest youth set ups of all time. The SportPark De Toekomst (literally translates as "The Future") is a conveyor belt for young talent who have had the Total Football philosophy drummed into them from ages as young as seven. This philosophy promotes a fluid system where each outfield player is trained to play in any position on the pitch. Obviously, players will eventually settle down in their preferred position, but the idea is to increase adaptability and versatility in the young footballers as it allows them to see the game from a different perspective to that which they normally would. These famed training methods instil a playing style into Ajax's youth teams which is mirrored right the way up to the first team and even to other clubs when the players who are trained at the club decide to take on a more competitive challenge.

Ajax are often seen as a selling club due to some of their most famous and successful ever players being brought through the academy and then being sold to some of the biggest clubs around the world. Although the club has dominated the Eredivise, the quality of football in the Dutch league is not as competitive (or lucrative) as the football in other countries and this causes Ajax to become a large exporter of young talent to the hungry European market. Some of Ajax's (and the world's) greatest players developed their trade at the SportPark De Toekomst before implementing this style of football at clubs such as AC Milan and Barcelona, with Marco Van Basten and Johan Cruyff both being famous examples of this.

In more recent times the Ajax conveyor belt has continued to churn out talent at a startling rate with a new prospect seemingly being unearthed every season. Although these footballers do not necessarily all come from the Ajax academy, they train in the same way and style as the youngsters and the effect this has on their playing style is evident.

Davinson Sanchez turned down Barcelona to sign for De Godenzonen for a cut price £4.5m back in 2016 from his homeland team of Atletico Nacional. Sanchez is a physical centre half who possessed these raw attributes before signing for Ajax however it was at the Dutch club where he learned the more technical side of the game and complimented his powerful stature with a more delicate playing style, enabling him to become a more well-rounded player. This development as a footballer did not go unnoticed and Sanchez was courted by some of the largest clubs in Europe before eventually signing for Tottenham for £38m, nearly a ten-fold increase on the price Ajax paid only a year earlier. Although Sanchez was not brought through the academy, he is a prime example of how the Ajax style of football is pressed into young players and how highly it is valued by larger clubs. It could be suggested that an issue for Ajax is that they struggle to retain their talent. As a counter argument to this criticism, Sanchez was brought into the squad and added steel to the defence, allowing Ajax to make it to the Europa League final and to challenge for the title. He then earned the club a large sum of money in transfer fees, allowing them to reinvest. This could be seen as a form of success and shows the emphasis Ajax puts on its youth academy & training techniques to win short term glory and to make money.

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Another promising star in the Ajax side is the Danish forward Kasper Dolberg. He was signed from Silkeborg IF by the same scout who brought Ibrahimovic and Christian Eriksen to the club and has proved to be a success in Holland. At 19 he has already won Danish, Ajax and young Dutch talent of the year awards. He possesses a great intelligence at such a young age and, in his time at Ajax, he developed his finishing ability and movement off the ball which have been huge contributors to the 23 goals he scored for the first team last season. Again, he is not a player who will spend his peak years at the club, but he has developed his trade there, bringing success to Ajax and enhancing their reputation as a place to develop for young footballers.

These are the players who have recently made their name (and their big money move). Next are some of the footballers who are on the brink of the first team and are looking for a lucky break to display their obvious talent:                                 

Justin Kluivert - a fast and tricky right winger who has followed in his father's very famous footsteps by staying at Ajax from a young age. He is still only 18 and has made a handful of appearances for the Ajax first team.

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Vaclav Cerny - another right winger, Cerny is from the Czech Republic and makes up for his small stature with pace and a good technical ability allowing him to beat his man. Been at Ajax since 2013 and is still just 19 and on the brink of a breakthrough into the first team.

Carel Eiting - an intelligent 19-year-old Dutch midfielder who is equally adept at covering the back four or carrying the ball further forwards. Still yet to make his Ajax debut but he will be hoping to grasp any chance given this season.

There is little doubt that the future of Ajax football club is bright, with many young talents progressing through the academy or being bought in for next to nothing. The emphasis on how this talent is used may have changed from the old days when players like Johan Cruyff conquered Europe with Ajax but the same core principals are still in place. The Amsterdam based club will continue to act as a magnet to young, promising footballers and in the age of teenager superstars it will surely not be long until Ajax unearth another one.

An interview with Chris Durkin: from richmond to india

Earlier this year, following the United States' run to the Under-17 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals in India, Scouted Football's Justin Sousa spoke to 17-year-old, Chris Durkin. Here is our extensive interview with Chris, in which we discussed his Indian experiences, the US youth football development system, and his plans for 2018. 

DC United - Chris Durkin

Scouted Football's Justin Sousa: What was it like for you to represent the USA at this year’s Under-17 World Cup?

Chris Durkin: It’s always been a childhood dream of mine to represent my country at a World Cup. I think almost 46,000 people attended our first match, and the atmosphere in India made the moment even more special. It was crazy to see how many people came out to watch the games, but the people there worked really hard to market the event - so props to them for the great turn out.

Scouted: How did you cope with the pressure and atmosphere of each match?

Chris: I found myself reflecting on the hard work I put in this year with Richmond [Kickers] and D.C. United, back in the U.S. before each match. It gives me the peace of mind knowing that when I step onto that field, everything I have done over these past few years has gotten me to this point. I can look across the pitch and know that I have worked harder than anyone else out there.

Scouted: Richmond Kickers played a big part in your development over this past year as you went on to make 11 appearances for the USL side. What were you able to take from your USL experience into your games at the World Cup?

Chris: I think Richmond put out a great platform for me to develop this year. As you said, 11 games worth of professional minutes is huge for any young player when they are developing. It was great for my confidence as well, knowing that I could handle bigger and more experienced players than myself. At the World Cup, I think my speed of play was faster than most, and my defensive strength was the highlight of my performances throughout the tournament.

Scouted: Experience is a key component to every young player’s development. What are some key elements you feel the team, and yourself, need to build upon going into 2018?

Chris: Obviously the first thing is to recognise that there is always room for improvement for myself, individually, and for the squad as a whole. We just have to keep challenging ourselves in competitive environments to grow, to succeed, and to develop. The loss to Colombia showed us that complacency does not bode well in any competition, regardless of how well you have been performing. That match definitely gave us a wake up call heading into the knockout round—and it showed with a win. The England match was much harder to take at first, mostly because for the past two years, we had all been working extremely hard to get here and for our final minutes as a team to end in that fashion, that was really heart breaking. However, it opened our eyes to the paths each of us is on, [with the aim] to reaching our goals as professionals.

Scouted: Josh Sargent wore the captain’s armband throughout the tournament, but you two have shared the responsibility in the lead-up to this tournament. How would you say you differ in terms of leadership styles, on and off the field?

Chris: Josh is definitely more of a ‘lead-by-example’ type of player. He works his butt off in practice, and on the field. He never gives up on a challenge. Personally, playing in a position further back [on the pitch], I’m able to see the field more and orchestrate the team in the direction of Josh’s movement. If the other guys see Josh closing down a defender, they know to press with him in order for us to win the ball. I’m there to motivate the guys to keep consistent pressure and work as hard as Josh is up top. Between the two of us, I’m definitely more of a vocal captain.

Scouted: Shifting gears a bit, I just wanted to take a moment to talk about your opinion on the USL as a league for developing young players. How do you feel about the league’s willingness to provide academy players, such as yourself, with professional minutes?

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Chris: I think USL has done a fantastic job bringing young players into competitive environments and transitioning them into the MLS. The hope is that this continues as the game grows in the United States, and teams don’t start to use the league as a warehouse for their academy players.

The thing that made Richmond such a great learning experience was that I was surrounded by seasoned professionals. It keeps the competitiveness high within the club and the league as whole. I probably wouldn’t have gained as much knowledge if the team was full of players my age.

FC Dallas is a great example of a team that loves to bring young players into the thick of things with the first team, and they are a club others in the United States should look to follow in terms of youth development. If the clubs can continue to keep a good mixture of academy players and veterans of the game, I think USL will be a great platform for young players, for years to come.

Scouted: There has been a lot of hype recently over USL being one of the best second-tier leagues in world football when it comes to quality, competitiveness, and, obviously, youth development. Would you agree that it is at that type of level already, or are they the objectives that the league should aspire to achieve in the future?

Chris: I think the league is definitely up there in terms of second divisions. Most of these teams are located outside of MLS cities, and teams like FC Cincinnati and Richmond Kickers constantly break attendance records every year. The quality of the league is definitely underestimated, but with the way MLS is growing and more cities are starting to join USL, I think it will gain its recognition in no time. Overall, the league has done a great job to grow the love and passion for soccer here in the United States, and I think it will continue to grow in years to come.

Scouted: Going into 2018, do you see yourself returning to Richmond or fighting for a first team spot with D.C. United?

Chris: The immediate goal is to return to training with D.C. [United] and secure a spot in the team for next season. I think the new stadium has definitely built a lot of hype around the franchise and I am excited to work with all the energy coming out of D.C. this year. The opportunity to play consistently at Audi Field, for my boyhood club, is definitely a huge motivator going into the new year. This upcoming pre-season will be a huge factor as to where I end up in 2018, but I plan to go in[to it] with the intention of being on United’s team sheet throughout the season.

Scouted: Which aspects of your game would you say need the most improvement in order for you to reach that next level in your playing ability?

Chris: Every player’s overall game can always be improved, regardless of whether you are just breaking into the first team or an experienced professional. In my position, I can always look to get better on the ball and improve my tactical awareness. Positioning has been an area I have tried to improve on a lot this year. As a six, it’s not always beneficial to run around the field and chase the ball down. Most of the time, it’s asking myself where I should be if the ball is here or there. I also hope to improve my leadership skills, utilising the experiences to come in 2018, and soaking up the knowledge from the mentors I’ll have at D.C. United.

Scouted: Who would you say is the player you try to replicate most in your style of play?

Chris: As an avid Manchester United fan, I’ve always idolised the way David Beckham played. We clearly have different positions, but the way he was able to pinpoint his passes and crosses made me want to perform with the same accuracy and perfection as him. I’m also a huge fan of the way Nemanja Matić controls the midfield with his size and reading of the game’s momentum. I think I see myself as that Nemanja Matić-esque break-up player, where I protect my back line first before instigating an attack.

Scouted: How important have the fans been to your development as a player? What differences do you see in the way homegrown players are treated in the U.S. compared to Europe?

Chris: Personally, I’ve received a ton of support from friends and family, as well as the home fans in D.C. and in Richmond. Everyone loves to check in on how I’m doing, not only as a player, but also as a young adult. I would agree that homegrown players in MLS receive a tremendous amount of support and love from their fans. Knowing that I have a whole fan base behind me every time I step onto the field is huge for my confidence.

I think young players here have an advantage when it comes to the support they have from home fans. Developing young players is an extensive process, and the patience our fans have with young players is encouraging for us. I’ve learned over the past few years that you can’t just throw yourself or be thrown into situations without having already gone through the previous levels. You need to do well at one level in order to progress to the next level, and you have to be comfortable with one skill in order to pull off another. There’s no skipping steps when it comes to player development.

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Scouted: With the senior U.S. national team failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup next year, does that place more pressure on the U-20 and U-17 groups, in terms of hastening player development?

Chris: Both of those teams reached the quarter-finals of their respective World Cups, which is a massive achievement for the U.S. setup. I think England is the only other country to do that this year at the U-20 and U-17 World Cup. We’ve seen what the players in both age groups are capable of and I think both sides have proven they have immense talent within them. Obviously the senior national team not qualifying for next year’s World Cup is a huge bummer, but this can serve as an important lesson for the coaching staff, and everyone involved with the USMNT. I don’t feel any more pressure than I have before.

This could be a great turnaround for the national team, and the USMNT side that fights for a World Cup spot will have a much larger pool of talent to pick from when qualifiers come around. Every youth camp starts with a meeting where the coaches tell us that their priority is to get us into the first-team. I think the coaches we have in place are really good and the system we’re working within is getting better. We can only go up from here.

Scouted: Aside from soccer, where do you see yourself academically after your senior year of high school?

Chris: Right now, I’m just focusing on finishing up my high school education. I’ll be honest, any player that plans to pursue soccer as a career needs to make sure they have time to finish their school work. It’s been difficult for me to finish my high school credits, along with competing professionally and travelling with the national team to India [for the Under-17 World Cup], but time management is a huge factor as to how I stay on top of my schoolwork.

Attaining a college degree is definitely a life goal of mine, but I think I’m going to take some time to settle down after high school is over. I haven’t really decided on a particular major to focus on, but I’m interested in giving marketing or business a look when the time comes.

Scouted: Before we go, who would you say Scouted Football, and our fans, should be on the lookout for next season at D.C. United and with the U.S. Youth National Team?

Chris: I have heard a lot of good news about Moses Nyeman. He was born in 2003, but I think he’s played a few matches for the U-19 side already. Ian Harkes is another player I would say you should have to keep an eye on. Ian and I are always pushing each other to get better because we share a similar position, and he’s one of my best friends at D.C. United.

Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, and Bryan Reynolds are all players in the youth system that will definitely be pushing for first team minutes next year with Atlanta and Dallas.

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On the behalf of everyone involved with Scouted Football, we would like thank Chris for participating in such an extensive and interesting interview.

We cannot wait to see if Chris will breakthrough at D.C. United in 2018, or continue his exciting development at Richmond Kickers. Follow Scouted Football on Twitter to keep tabs on him.

Good luck, Chris!

Robbed of recognition? Don't forget Jadon Sancho

By Jake Entwistle

England youth teams have enjoyed an unprecedented six months of success. Winning two World Cups and a European Championship at U17, U20, and U19 level respectively, the excitement surrounding the nation’s future is palpable.

Players, managers, philosophies and even St George’s Park have all received their fair share of praise, with some individuals having the spotlight thrust upon them more than others. Phil Foden—the Stockport Iniesta—is the latest to be cast as the hero.

A Golden Ball-winning display in the final against Spain saw the delightful Manchester City midfielder transform into the poster boy of a new generation, the harbinger of success at senior level. His technical ability combined with his size, or rather his lack of it, signals the change in emphasis and the ushering in of a wave of talent that will win World Cups for years to come.

The narrative is hyperbolic, but such exaggeration is understandable. After all, he was magnificent. And yet in all the euphoria surrounding the triumphant U17 squad, one special player has been forgotten.

It took sixteen days in May 2017 for Jadon Sancho to announce himself as one of the brightest talents at U17 level—using the European U17 Championship to showcase his frightening potential. In the first tournament of what will now be remembered as a famous year for the Young Lions, England’s No.11 dominated. With plenty of hair on his head and even more talent in his boots, Sancho left Croatia with 5 goals and 5 assists in just 456 minutes of football.

Rightly named Best Player for his extraordinary output, the fact that England succumbed to an all-too-familiar penalty shootout defeat is probably why his individual feats were not celebrated in a similar fashion to Foden's. Phil Foden represented a triumphant England team whilst Sancho’s efforts were in vain. The European U17 Championship final was the start of England’s dominance, not the crowning moment.

What followed was a period of uncertainty, gossip and surprise. Such brilliant displays merited attention, yet Jadon Sancho began to receive it for all the wrong reasons. In August, reports emerged that he was refusing to train with Manchester City after being left out of the club’s pre-season tour.

 England superstar in the making.

England superstar in the making.

An unwillingness to sign a professional contract was touted as the primary reason for such tension and despite the ambiguity that surrounded how these events actually unfolded, there was one certain result. This particular 17-year-old was earning a reputation as a rebel, not as a future world beater.

Links with Premier League rivals surfaced—Arsenal and Spurs were both rumoured to be interested—but it was Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund that swept in. A reported offer of £8m was enough to secure Jadon Sancho’s future and he was immediately handed the No.7 shirt, made more significant due to its previous owner.

 Borussia Dortmund's No.7

Borussia Dortmund's No.7

Ousmane Dembélé had completed his €105m deal to Barcelona just days earlier after another breakout season in top-flight football. Just as Dortmund had demonstrated their faith in Dembélé with this number the year before, they were now entrusting it to another bright prospect, a player three-years his junior.

Such trust appeared non-existent at first, however. Sancho had not played a single minute for the Dortmund first team before being called up for the U17 World Cup in India. The fact he had been used exclusively in the UEFA Youth League made the next development even more surprising. The Bundesliga side would only let their new prospect take part in the Group Stages of the competition, whether England qualified or not.

Steve Cooper’s side sliced their first three opponents into ribbons, sailing through to the knockout stages in impressive fashion. Unsurprisingly, as he had done in Croatia, Jadon Sancho starred. Forming a devastating partnership with Phil Foden and Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi especially, he finished with three goals and two assists which punctuated a trio of excellent displays.

His subsequent return to Germany was met with disappointment for the most part, but also frustration and anger. Steve Cooper was left baffled by Borussia Dortmund’s decision, especially given Sancho’s lack of game time before the tournament combined with his visible importance to his country.

Jadon loves playing for England and this team in particular so it’s sad to see him go.

I can only imagine Dortmund want him back to play in their first team at the weekend and I assume he will be starting for them, because I can’t think of a reason why you would take a player away from a World Cup.

In typical fashion, the winger would eventually make an appearance for his new side, becoming the first ever English player to represent them in the Bundesliga and the sixth youngest in their history in the process. England meanwhile dismantled the USA 5-1 in the first knockout game, beginning what would be a march to the final in dominant fashion. Without Sancho.

A penalty shootout win vs. Japan and a clinical victory against a heavily-favoured Brazil saw England set up a rematch with the Spain side who triumphed against them in May’s European U17 Championship final. The match that followed was spectacular, the revenge for England sweet.

Coming back from two goals down, Phil Foden scored twice, putting on a clinic in the art of dribbling and incisive passing. His wonderful display was the perfect metaphor for England’s summer: incredible talent finally able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat rather than surrender it in the usual fashion. Tweets flooded the timeline congratulating England and eulogising Foden: he was the Golden Boy of a World Cup-winning team, Jadon Sancho the Golden Boy of the runners-up.

Phil Foden

The last few months for the now Borussia Dortmund winger have been equal parts spectacular and controversial. He has not added to his history-making 16 minutes whilst Phil Foden has played 202; etching his own name in the record books on more than one occasion and collecting BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year as a result.

Players of similar talent and potential have had polar opposite starts to their first taste of senior football.

The truth about Jadon Sancho's exit about Manchester City will remain unclear, and whether he would have experienced the jubilation of winning a World Cup should he have stayed in England is simply speculation.

But, few should be left doubting that Jadon Sancho is one of football's most exciting talents. You'd be foolish to forget that.

Robbed is perhaps too strong a word when describing his absence from England’s World Cup triumph. After all, it was his due to his performances in May that earned him a high-profile move and it would be bizarre to lament them because of what would later happen. But when considering he was very much the protagonist in kick-starting an entire summer of success, it seems cruel for him to be excluded from the culmination and celebration of it.

Whether a victim of his own talent, his own ambition, or even his attitude; the one redeeming truth is that for a player of Jadon Sancho’s talent, the U17 World Cup will certainly not be his only chance to lift a trophy. Not will it be his only chance to dazzle and delight on national television.

But as the praise pours in for Foden, Brewster and St George’s Park, it’s worth remembering how fantastic the forgotten member of this famous generation really is.

By Jake Entwistle

2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup: Team of the Tournament

BY @JAKEENTWISTLE AND @STEPHENSCOUTED

England were crowned U17 World Cup champions for the first time in the nation's history after fighting back from two goals down against Spain.

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Revenge for their European U17 Championship defeat earlier in the year was sweet, the 5-2 victory the perfect end to a tournament overflowing with exciting contests and the individual talent to match.

Phil Foden, Rhian Brewster and Marcos Antônio picked up the Scouted Football individual awards, earning the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ball respectively. FIFA awarded Sergio Gómez their Silver award but also included the England duo in their honours list.

It should not come as a surprise therefore to find all four names in our best of the best from a stunning tournament in India, but without further introduction, Scouted Football presents our  2017 FIFA Under-17 Team of the Tournament in all it's glory.


GOALKEEPER

Gabriel Brazão

AGE: 17 (05/10/2000)
COUNTRY: Brazil
CLUB: Cruzeiro

Gabriel Brazao

29 saves in 630 minutes of football with just three goals conceded, one coming from the penalty spot. There were plenty of reasons why Gabriel Brazão is Scouted Football’s No.1.
 
Rightfully awarded the Golden Glove for proving so difficult to beat, the individual award was very much his own. Brazil defended through their dominance of their possession rather than their ability to repel the opposition, meaning that when they came under threat it was Gabriel they turned to as their principal means of preventing goals, rather than a last resort.
 
A goalkeeper with brilliant reactions, the Brazilian shot stopper produced a number of saves that had anyone watching release a quick gasp. Denying opposition players from point-blank range almost became a speciality, and it was the strength of his hands behind each save that stood out the most.
 
An imposing figure already, his place in our Team of the Tournament is undoubted. The further Brazil progressed in the competition, the more he was tested. He passed every one with flying colours and flying saves to match. He has spoken of his admiration of Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson, and whilst it is certainly too soon for him to be looking over his shoulder, Gabriel did nothing but enhance his reputation this month.

By @JakeEntwistle

RIGHT BACK

Fode Konaté

AGE: 16 (02/12/2000)
COUNTRY: Mali
CLUB: AS Bamako

Fode Konaté

If someone were to make a prototype for the ‘modern-day’ full-back, Fode Konaté would be produced on a mass scale for teams around the world.

Mali came into the tournament as U-17 AFCON Champions so to say they were a surprise package would be a disservice. Yet, Fode Konaté’s mastery of the right-back role was certainly one of the standout themes of their tournament.

The fact he scored two goals and recorded one assist is a product of his relentless galloping into the final third. By flying up and down the right-hand touchline, he allowed his teammates inside him to thrive and create on the ball whilst he wreaked havoc off of it.

Adept at providing width with a tried-and-tested overlap, Mali’s fluidity in attack was also evident due to Konaté receiving the ball inside his winger on occasion, helping knit together moves in the centre of the pitch which more often than not resulted in a chance to score. When Drame was on the right, Konate’s role seemed more orthodox; but when Djemoussa was operating from his side, Mali’s No.4 drifted infield more often and the underlap became common practice. Being able to develop two unique partnerships with both wingers is impressive in itself.

The quarter-final match against Ghana caused him the most problems, mainly due to the unplayable nature of the pitch, but it would be wrong not to acknowledge what he can improve. He excels running off the ball and into open spaces, but when found isolated in a 1v1 or 1v2 situation, he can struggle.

Overall though, Konate’s World Cup was superb. He played all but six minutes of Mali’s tournament and was a key figure in every part of the pitch.

By @JakeEntwistle

CENTRE-BACK

JOEL LATIBEAUDIERE

AGE: 17 (06/01/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Manchester City

Joel Latibeaudiere

A World Cup winning captain is always likely to feature in the post-tournament list of best players, but with or without the armband, Joel Latibeaudiere’s place in this side was one of the easiest to cast.

Playing every minute of every single game, Latibeaudiere was a commanding presence throughout the tournament and integral to England’s success. It was perhaps the semi-final match against Brazil in which he shone the brightest. Covering for Steven Sessegnon he was either caught too high up the pitch or beaten 1v1, the England centre-back assumed janitor duty and swept up any threat Brazil looked to pose on his side of the pitch. If not for Rhian Brewster’s second hat-trick of the tournament, the Man of the Match award would have been his.

Despite not being the tallest defender—at 17 he still has a chance to grow—Latibeaudiere is already a complete defensive weapon. Able to match any striker on the floor, keeping up with the quicker players at the tournament and matching every stride in a foot race, he is comfortable when opposition players challenge his pace. Equally, and most impressively so, was his dominance in the aerial battles. Out-jumping almost every forward he came up against, the Manchester City centre-back stood out as a towering presence at the heart of England’s defence. Combining such a dominance in the air with sure-footedness on the floor is what makes him such a valuable player to have.

Even when England had the ball he was just as comfortable and confident in his ability. Bringing the ball out from the back and realising when to simply give to the likes of McEachran is testament to his decision making.

With so many goals scored by England, we can be forgiven for overlooking the impact of the most defensive-minded players on the team. But in Joel Latibeaudiere’s case, his influence on England’s maiden World Cup trophy cannot be overstated.

By @JakeEntwistle

CENTRE-BACK

Victor Chust

AGE: 17 (05/03/2000)
COUNTRY: Spain
CLUB: Real Madrid

Victor Chust

Spain may have conceded five against England in the final but up until the second-half blitz, their defence remained solid whilst providing a perfect platform to build every attack. At the centre of it all, in every sense, was Real Madrid’s Victor Chust.
 
Perhaps the most assured defender on the ball in the entire tournament. With plenty of mistakes being made throughout the U17 World Cup, Chust instilled confidence in his teammates with his composure on the ball and his use of it.
 
Able to launch an attack single-footedly with raking passes from the heart of defence, Spain’s No.5 was equally as reliable in finding the right midfield teammate in the most space to bring Spain forward and create chances. At times, he even bypassed his midfield altogether and looked for the surging full-backs alongside him to begin with. The influence of Spain’s full-backs at U-17 level has been a feature of their success this year and in Victor Chust that have a reliable source to find them even when the midfield becomes congested.
 
Whilst he and the rest of his side may have struggled against England’s pace and movement in the final, his performances in the preceding games against France and Mali go a long way in showcasing the full extent of his ability. Defending against one of the most prolific strikers at this level, Amine Gouiri, the Spain centre-back was commanding and played a major role in keeping him quiet.
 
The most consistent performer in a defensive sense for Spain with an extremely bright future ahead of him. Real Madrid seems a perfect fit.

By @JakeEntwistle

LEFT-BACK

JUAN MIRANDA

AGE: 17 (19/01/2000)
COUNTRY: Spain
CLUB: FC Barcelona

 Juan Miranda (left) celebrates with full-back partner in crime Mateu Morey.

Juan Miranda (left) celebrates with full-back partner in crime Mateu Morey.

Juan Miranda certainly did not do a disservice to his burgeoning La Masia reputation with his performances at the U-17 World Cup.

Arriving in India with stronger and bulkier frame by comparison to most full-backs and opposition wingers, Miranda stood out at left-back with his ability to physically beat out opponents defensively. He played quite deep as Spain progressed through the tournament and started playing more difficult opponents, yet their left-back was a willing contributor to attacks on the counter.

His excellence in the attacking third was exemplified in the final with a stupendous cross that led to Spain’s opening goal in the final. Making an incisive, inverted run through the unguarded left half-space, Miranda latched onto an overhit Abel Ruiz pass before miraculously directing a cross at a seemingly impossible angle back towards Ruiz in the box. It was inch-perfect.

Miranda proved to be a consistent threat all tournament for a team that largely relied on its width for penetration. Spain were best on the counter, and it meant largely bypassing their midfield, so the role of the full-back in turning defence into attack was critical. In all facets of this role, Miranda excelled because of his positional awareness, durability and technical ability - both in control and distribution.

The shaggy-haired, long-legged Spaniard will certainly return to Barcelona hoping achieve what compatriot Alex Grimaldo was unable to in the past, and break into his boyhood side’s starting XI.

By @StephenScouted

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

MARCOS ANTÔNIO

AGE: 17 (13/06/2000)
COUNTRY: Brazil
CLUB: Atletico Paranaense

Marcos Antonio

Marcos Antonio was the ever-present cog in a Brazil team that always seemed reluctant to play at their maximum level. The bustling Brazilian proved to be arguably the most delightful passer of the football to watch at the tournament alongside Salam Jiddou and Yacine Adli; his ability to hit the target under pressure was immense.

His willingness to spray difficult passes out wide to the attacking threats of Brenner and, in particular, Paulinho, always threatened to unlock opposition defences. Furthermore, his assist for Paulinho’s winner in Brazil’s opening group game against Spain was one of the best of the tournament; an unbelievable chipped reverse pass that pierced the defence in one motion.

Antonio has a nose for the ball. His free role in the midfield saw him utilised in a playmaking role from deep, yet he was still burdened with many of the responsibilities of a traditional box-to-box midfielder on the defensive end.

The Brazilian always had a nose for an opportunity at the top of the box though. When the likes of Alan, Lincoln, Brenner and Paulinho vacated that space, Antonio dutifully filled it. He proved to be fond of a long-range effort on goal too, while also remaining aware of the options around him.

There is so much to like about the Scouted Football Bronze Ball winner. He is one of those players that simply does everything at a great level, meaning he can fill gaps all through the midfield. Now hopefully a return to Brazil will include first-team football for this short, but superbly skilled starlet.

By @StephenScouted

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

Yacine Adli

AGE: 17 (29/07/2000)
COUNTRY: France
CLUB: Paris Saint-Germain

 *Not* Adrien Rabiot.

*Not* Adrien Rabiot.

The only player to feature in our starting XI who did not make it to the semi-final, exceptions had to be made for the supreme talent that Yacine Adli is.
 
With France dominant in the Group Stages and failing to progress further in the knockout stages once again, it is no fault of their silky-smooth No.7. Slicing defences to ribbons with incisive passing and a graceful carrying of the ball, Yacine Adli confirmed himself as a Scouted Football favourite throughout the tournament.
 
Registering five assists in 253 minutes of football is outstanding output, especially from a central midfield position. Many teams focussed their efforts out wide and created chances through low crosses from the by-line. Such is Adli’s talent on the ball that he was able to circumvent a single defence with just one swing of his foot.
 
His delicate touches in the middle of the pitch made him difficult to tackle and his intelligence on the ball saw him pick the right pass at the right moment on almost every occasion. In perpetual motion on the pitch, Adli drifts into the spaces of midfield to pick up the ball and cause damage with it, all whilst looking supremely composed and unfazed by any amount of opposition pressure.
 
France have been blessed with a generation of incredible talent with explosive pace and devastating skill on the ball. Adli is a throwback to a gentler time, his graceful style is not as eye-catching at first glance but the possibility of being hypnotised by the way he plays football is very real.
 
Consider Scouted Football well and truly under his spell.

By @JakeEntwistle

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

SALAM JIDDOU

AGE: 17 (01/02//2000)
COUNTRY: Mali
CLUB: Jean-Marc Gillou Academy

Salam Jiddou

The silky Salam Jiddou announced himself at this tournament with a range of influential performances dictating terms for Mali’s sumptuous attacking quartet.

Despite not being a massive possessor of the football, Jiddou is impactful through his penetrative distribution. When deep, the Malian looked to spread the play wide to the quick and damaging duo of Djemoussa Traore and Hadji Drame. However, at his best, Jiddou is able to dribble his way through tangles of legs and unlock the game centrally. Mali striker Lassana N’Diaye has his attacking midfielder to thank for attracting a lot of attention from central defenders as he marauded through the midfield.

Talking to footballmadeinghana.com, Ghanain FA sporting director remarked on the quality of Jiddou before Ghana’s quarter-final clash with the Malians.
“The Malians has a very good midfield especially the boy in the number 10 who is a very dangerous and fantastic player. He can decide a game with any chance he gets,” Francis Oti said.

Jiddou also enjoyed an attempt on goal from distance in what seemed like a concerted effort from his team to shoot on sight. He grabbed what was arguably the goal of the tournament with a searing first-time strike from 35-yards against New Zealand to open the scoring.

The Malian’s technical quality shines at this level, but it will be interesting to see how it transitions into the rigours of senior football in the future.

By @StephenScouted

RIGHT-WING

PHIL FODEN

AGE: 17 (28/05/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Manchester City

Phil Foden

Phil Foden arrived at this tournament with the love of Pep Guardiola and a select array of fans, that had seen him play a preseason game in Houston against Manchester United, in tow. He finished the tournament the undoubted best player, with a myriad of exceptional performances underpinned by the footballing intelligence of someone much more experienced.

Operating out on the right, Foden’s tendency to drift into the right half-space as an inside forward became most effective once Steven Sessegnon had forced his way into the starting XI. Together, they formed a superb partnership with Foden routinely pre-assisting his right-back.

The Manchester City starlet is listed at around the 5’7” mark, but his physical attributes are a made to seem irrelevant due to his absurd technical quality. While we at Scouted Football are no fans of the ‘ball sticks to his foot like glue’ cliche, Foden’s tight control makes him almost impossible to dispossess. Defenders struggle to get close enough to him to allow be physical with him, and even then, he has an uncanny ability to roll of challenges and keep his footing.

Should he continue to develop his left-footed strike, Foden will be even more dangerous when cutting in from the left. Regularly at this World Cup, he was unable to test the goalkeeper with consistency as he routinely seemed to scuff shots. His match-winning performance in the final showed that he can be a tidy finisher from within the confines of the penalty area though.

Back in England, the Foden name will now carry much more wait. For Pep Guardiola, it means pressure to create a space in his devastating City attack to give some minutes for the 17-year-old. For City fans, it means a possible decade ahead of greatness.

By @StephenScouted

LEFT-WING

SERGIO GOMEZ

AGE: 17 (04/09/2000)
COUNTRY: Spain
CLUB: FC Barcelona

Sergio Gomez

One of the biggest revelations from the U-17 World Cup has been that Sergio Gomez has a €3 million buyout clause. Barcelona will be clamouring to rectify that after the dazzling performances of their 17-year-old winger at this tournament.

An ever-present early in the tournament without the end product to match his performances, Gomez saved his best football for last. His two goals in the final, the second a peach of a volley that left England goalkeeper Curtis Anderson rooted to the spot, were simply superb. He always seemed very at home in the penalty area, whether it be finishing chances or dribbling in order to create for others.

The Spaniard’s direct style varies from the typical La Masia stereotype, but he makes it no less effective. Often stretching the play to allow for inverted runs for Juan Miranda at left-back, Gomez’s clever movement opened up a Spain attack that relied greatly on the width he and Ferran Torres provided.

His speed and willingness to play high up the pitch meant that he was often able to isolate opposition full-backs and create overloads with Miranda. As a creator, he is also rather fond of those sliding, curling passes out wide to the onrushing full-back. He is also a brilliant set-piece taker.

Now just starting to break through with Barcelona’s U-19 team in the UEFA Youth League, Sergio Gomez has some more invaluable experience to take back home to Spain.

By @StephenScouted

CENTRE-FORWARD

Rhian Brewster

AGE: 17 (01/04/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Liverpool

Rhian Brewster

Golden Boot winner. Scouted Football Silver Ball, FIFA Bronze Ball. Rhian Brewster had a World Cup to remember.

In a similar way to how Cristiano Ronaldo is recognised for his performances in the biggest games, the Liverpool forward’s contribution in the knockout stages was almost unrivalled.
 
Rhian Brewster became only the second player in FIFA U16/U17 World Cup history to score back-to-back hat-tricks in the knockout stages of the competition. Most importantly of all, he scored England’s first goal in every single knockout game. The opener against USA, the early goal against Brazil and the first of England’s fantastic fightback in the final.

Finishing the tournament with eight goals and one assist, Brewster worked in perfect tandem with the attacking midfielders behind him. Interchanging passes and working off of England’s ball-carrying trio behind the main striker, his movement inside the box was phenomenal.

It is no accident that the vast majority of his Golden Boot-winning tally were scored inside the box from low crosses. England’s system and the players within in it was built to create overloads out wide and subsequently find the striker ghosting in between defenders inside the box; which their No.9 did excellently.
 
The Liverpool striker had plenty of chances in the group stages to increase his overall tally, and whilst his finishing may have let him down early on, his eagerness to carve out opportunities for himself and the cleverness of his movement was apparent throughout the tournament.
 
A brilliant tournament punctuated by a history-making contribution when it mattered most. And just as Dominic Solanke picked up the Golden Boot in South Korea with the U20 side, Liverpool have another England starlet returning with the highest goal scoring honour in tow.

By @JakeEntwistle

SUBSTITUTES

GOALKEEPER

IBRAHIM DANLAD

AGE: 14 (12/02/2002)
COUNTRY: Ghana
CLUB: Asante Kotoko F.C

Ibrahim Danlad

Yes, we acknowledge that Ibrahim Danlad made one of the howlers of the tournament in the quarter-final all-African encounter with Mali. But, Danlad is 14. As the youngest player at the tournament, Dunlad was the commander of one of the World Cup’s tightest defences.

In qualifying for the tournament, the Ghanaian stood out for his strength in keeping opponents out from the penalty spot. In the CAF qualifying final against Mali, he saved two first half penalties and ultimately won that tournament’s golden glove.

In India, he routinely looked safe both with the ball in his hands and the ball on the deck. With his mistake, he was unlocked by both poor decision making and by the horrifically poor conditions that had seen torrential rain flood the pitch before kick-off. But, apart from that his reflex shot-stopping was routinely excellent.

He can look suspect at times challenging for the ball in the air, but we must put into perspective that he is 14. If Ghana qualify again in 2019, expect to see him challenging for aerials with more conviction and confidence.

Clubs in Europe already have Danlad on their radar. One mistake is unlikely to change glowing opinions of his ability.

By @StephenScouted

RIGHT-BACK

STEVEN SESSEGNON

AGE: 17 (18/05/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Fulham

 Steven Sessegnon (bottom left) was England's assist king from full-back.

Steven Sessegnon (bottom left) was England's assist king from full-back.

Steven Sessegnon was gifted a place in the starting XI in England’s third group game against Iraq after a suspension to Timothy Eyoma, and never looked back.

After the departure of Jadon Sancho from the World Cup, much of England’s best attacking play shifted over to the right-hand side of the pitch. There, Sessegnon provided an excellent attacking foil to the superb Phil Foden. He was destructive as he hit the by-line, always looking to be played in by Foden, who drifted inside and drew the opposition left-back with him.

The quality of Sessegnon’s own end product had nothing to do with Foden though. He was routinely excellent in his delivery of the ball to the clinical Rhian Brewster, with his method of chest-high whipped crossing proving to be a hit with his compatriot.

At times a little suspect defensively, especially against Brazil in a match where he was routinely skinned by the tricky Brenner, Sessegnon’s attacking threat was well worth the defensive worries. This rang especially true when one considered who he was being covered by; the immense Joel Latibeaudiere.

Having already made his senior debut for Fulham, Sessegnon will now return to Craven Cottage where he may find himself lined up alongside his twin brother Ryan, who was not released for the World Cup. Together, they could form a very formidable duo at left and right-back for Fulham in the years to come.

By @StephenScouted

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

YOUNES DELFI

AGE: 17 (02/10/2000)
COUNTRY: Iran
CLUB: Esteghlal

Younes Delfi

Younes Delfi put in arguably the single best performance of the entire U-17 World Cup in Iran’s 4-0 group stage demolition of Germany. In that game, Delfi scored twice and laid on one assist while pressing the life out of the German defence.

His advanced midfield role tied Iran’s attack together. He made it flow. Constantly, the 17-year-old moved to the left flank and to the right flank, mainly the right, needling away at opposition defences with his quick feet and impressive strength. His love of the right flank is directly tied into his lovely left foot. Cutting inside, he is always looking to strike across the goalkeeper with his venomous left foot.

While that game against Germany was the only match in which Delfi had direct impacts on goal, the Iranian playmaker was always integral to his team. His defensive effort was just as important as his attacking influence too, as Iran’s team defence in the group stages led to some of the best football of any team coming out of the group.

Reinforcing the importance of his role, Iran failed to ignite in their massive quarter-final clash with Spain after Delfi had picked up a suspension due to receiving two yellow cards.

The undoubted star of this team though, the talented playmaker seems to have a burgeoning career pathed out for him in Iran. He already has 13 senior appearances and a senior goal to his name, now it is time to establish himself globally.

By @StephenScouted

LEFT-WINGER

DJEMOUSSA TRAORE

Djemoussa Traore

AGE: 17 (20/01/2000)
COUNTRY: Mali
CLUB: ALOB

Djemoussa Traore was unknown to the crew at Scouted Football HQ before the tournament, but after his first three group stage games in which he bagged two goals and two assists, we were all on red alert.

The Malian’s effect waned over the knockout stages, meaning he could only be afforded a place on the substitutes bench in this squad, but he was nonetheless one of the most exciting players at the World Cup.

Mostly playing out on the left, Traore stretched the play with his direct running, willingness to sag wide and excellent dribbling prowess. A right-footed player though, he loves to also play off the last man and use his pace to get in-behind the defence and drift in from the left to score.

As part of an attacking quartet featuring Salam Jiddou, Lassana N’Diaye and Hadji Drame, Traore was often able to isolate his man out wide as his excellent team-mates drew their own attention. It was in these positions that Traore wowed fans with his technical quality.

He will now return to Mali, hoping to continue refining these skills. Alongside his compatriots, he needs to also be coached out of taking an awfully high number of long shot attempts.

By @StephenScouted

RIGHT-WING

Paulinho

AGE: 17 (15/07/2000)
COUNTRY: Brazil
CLUB: Vasco da Gama

Paulinho

Paulinho managed to stand out in a team that was a delight to watch the entire tournament. Despite coming unstuck against England, the South American champions had some of the best individual talent on show and their right-winger was undoubtedly one of them.
 
Scoring or assisting in each of Brazil’s games in India until the semi-final clash with the eventual champions, Paulinho was an absolute menace in the final-third. He was even heavily involved in Wesley’s equaliser against England, a slick interchange on the edge of the box resulted in a fierce drive which Wesley reacted to quickest. This quick interchange and rasping drive was characteristic of Paulinho’s tournament and his style of play. Only really involved on the ball when Brazil move into the most dangerous part of the pitch, he comes alive in and around the box.
 
Whether with exceptional off the ball movement, slick passing sequences or flashed of individual brilliance, Paulinho is a constant threat to any team. What makes him even more dangerous and exciting to watch is his ability to always find space. Blessed with gifted teammates that can find him, the value of Paulinho’s movement should not be overlooked. Marcos Antonio indeed registered one of the assists of the tournament by picking out Paulinho against Spain—threading the ball between centre-back and full-back after a trademark sequence of events with saw the No.7 drift into the space before darting forward to receive the pass.
 
Paulinho’s long-range winner against Germany in the quarter-final was the perfect metaphor for his entire tournament: explosive, decisive and above all else, spectacular.

By @JakeEntwistle

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

César Gelabert

AGE: 16 (31/10/2000)
COUNTRY: Spain
CLUB: Real Madrid

Cesar Gelabert

Another gem in Real Madrid’s wealth of riches at youth level, Spain entrusted César with the most advanced midfield position for their U17 World Cup campaign and he did not disappoint.
 
Racking up four assists as well as scoring two himself, César’s introduction to the team kickstarted Spain’s tournament. A timid display against Brazil in the opening game led to a 2-1 defeat and the introduction of the Real Madrid man. Immediately in the games to follow his brilliant footwork and incredible vision was evident. His ability on the ball transformed Spain into a team befitting of their tournament-favourite tag at the start. Given complete freedom to operate behind captain and chief goal-scorer Abel Ruiz, César offered everything you could want from an attacking midfielder.
 
Rather than simply a creative force with his passing, it was his penetrative dribbling that caught the eye and caused the most problems. Without possessing a box of tricks per se, his intricate touches of the ball and deft movement of it made him a threat in any situation. A fairly tall player, especially relative to his Spanish teammates, he was just as comfortable extending his stride to drive into space, brushing off defenders, as he was wriggling out of tight spaces and bamboozling them with his manipulation of the ball; his assist for Sergio Gomez’s second in the final the perfect example of it.
 
Despite missing one game, the impact he had on his side when he was included in the starting XI beggars belief as to why he was ever considered surplus in the first place. Nevertheless, when given his opportunity to shine, he did just that. Los Blancos have a very talented player on their hands.

By @JakeEntwistle

CENTRE-FORWARD

Jann-Fiete Arp

AGE: 17 (06/01/2000)
COUNTRY: Germany
CLUB: Hamburg

Jann-Fiete Arp

Europe is blessed with some seriously talented centre-forwards at this level: Rhian Brewster, Abel Ruiz and Amine Gouiri all scored 5+ goals at the World Cup in India and 3+ at the European U17 Championship earlier this year. Jann-Fiete Arp is no exception.
 
The German striker is perhaps the most complete striker of them all. He followed up his seven goals at the U17 Euros with five more in India, as well as notching three assists. Germany as a team were once again a disappointment relative to their customary success at every level of football, but their captain and No.9 can certainly once again hold his head up.
 
Like all strikers in this tournament, the Hamburg forward was guilty of missing a few opportunities, but overall his finishing was exceptional and most impressively well-rounded. Arp seems to possess the perfect finish for each unique situation. Whether passing it into the corner, dinking it over the goalkeeper or slamming it home with power, he is a Swiss-army knife forward in that he can do score from anywhere with any part of his body. His final goal against Colombia the best of them all.
 
Tall, quick, strong, he has all the attributes to become a complete striker in a period where Germany have perhaps lacked an elite centre-forward. Timo Werner has burst onto the scene to lay claim to that position, but if Jann-Fiete Arp continues scoring at the rate he is at youth level then there is no reason why he could not partner Werner in the future, or even force him wider to take the central role for himself.

By @JakeEntwistle

Team of the Tournament Full

Honourable Mentions

Ricardo Montenegro, Dheeraj; Jesús Rolón, Mateu Morey, Weverson; George McEachran, Alan, Ferrán Torres, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Alan, Andrew Carleton; Lassana N’Diaye.

Golden Winners

Plenty of players attracted attention for all the right reasons but this is the squad that impressed us the most. Look out for more content related to the FIFA U17 World Cup and the U23 international stage.

Follow @ScoutedFtbl and you'll never miss a thing.

A Chance at Redemption: England's Road to the U-17 World Cup Final

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As Nacho Diaz’s last-gasp header flew into the net to equalise against England in the U-17 European Championship final, Jonathan Panzo fell to the grass and put his hands on his head. From there, England were beaten.

The ensuing penalty misses from Rhian Brewster and Joel Latibeaudiere felt like a formality from that moment. England, who had been the best team at the tournament, were beaten. Previously, the Young Lions had won five games on the bounce, with 13 goals scored and just two goals conceded.

Then a Manchester City player, Jadon Sancho was crucial to England’s dominance with five goals and five assists in just 456 minutes of tournament play.


Not to be denied their chance for redemption, the team qualified for the U-17 World Cup due to their runners-up finish at the European Championship. Instantly, road blocks began to emerge for the gifted squad.

The immensely talented Ryan Sessegnon, fresh off a special U-19 European Championship campaign, was denied a release for the tournament by Fulham. While England manager Steve Cooper was aware that this would likely happen, it did not ease the pressure to find a solution for the left-back position that is arguably the weakest point of the squad.

Not only that, the incoming news that his finest performer at the Euros, Jadon Sancho, would only be released by Borussia Dortmund for the group stage matches created new tactical dilemmas.

From the moment England arrived in India though, Cooper’s adjustments have worked to bring the best out of his squad. His tinkering has allowed him to now settle on his preferred starting XI before the final; even if it means big names such as Manchester United’s Angel Gomes have been left on the bench.

Creating a solution for the left-back position meant shifting preferred centre-back Jonathan Panzo out to the left and moving Chelsea’s Marc Guehi into the centre of defence. Tottenham’s Timothy Eyoma was drafted into right-back but quickly found himself usurped by the younger brother of Ryan, Fulham’s Stephen Sessegnon. Sessegnon instantly became a key component of the team working down the right flank in tandem with Manchester City’s Phil Foden.

Further forward, England’s attack was shredding teams to pieces in the group stage. They scored 11 goals in three games against Chile, Mexico and Iraq, with Sancho chief amongst the attackers with three goals and two assists. Phil Foden and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi also looked spectacular, with this attacking midfield trio providing some scintillating viewing to those tuned in for the group games.

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Leading the line, Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster struggled early in the tournament with some finishing woes. However, it seemed like only a matter of time before those chances would start to be buried. Not only that though, he was a strong defensive presence in the attack; he is never content seeing the opposition easily pass out of defence.

With the crucial loss of Sancho though, England were forced into an attacking shuffle that threatened to derail their tournament. Angel Gomes was installed into the central attacking role in England’s 4-2-3-1 for the round of sixteen encounter with Japan and instantly struggled to build chemistry with the attacking players around him.

Increasingly becoming isolated due to England’s insistence on spreading the play wide to their two biggest attacking threats in Hudson-Odoi and Foden, Gomes was withdrawn and replaced by Arsenal’s Emile Smith-Rowe. This substitution sparked England’s revival. Having a less ball dominant figure in that central role helped to bring the two brilliant wingers into the game to more devastating effect. While it was left to Manchester City’s Curtis Anderson to be the hero in the ensuing penalty shoot-out, with a goal and save, Cooper had found a system that he would carry through the rest of the tournament.

Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White was drafted into the attacking midfield position for the quarter-final against the United States and England immediately began to dominate. They crushed the Americans in the first-half, isolating the full-backs and putting two superb chances into the path of Brewster. In that game, unlike the previous four, the Liverpool striker had decided to wear his finishing boots. He converted a last-minute penalty he won to secure his hat-trick, while a second-half strike from Gibbs-White closed out the dominant 4-1 victory.

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By this stage, a European Championship final rematch was already on the cards, with a brutal match-up against a fancied Brazil side standing in the way of a likely encounter against Spain. With a settled, unchanged line-up though, England looked up for the fight from kick-off. Chelsea’s George McEachran set a lovely tempo throughout the entire match that Brazil seemed disinterested in interrupting.

England simply overran what had previously been the tournament’s best midfield. Foden, the cerebral centrepiece of the team, and Hudson-Odoi both punished Brazil for allowing them space to create in the final third. Twice in this game Foden found himself providing the pre-assist drifting inside from the right and laying off to the overlapping full-back.

It made life easy for Brewster, who scored all three of his goals from within the confines of the six-yard box.

With the chance for redemption now locked in, England will face a Spain team that has gone through a similar trajectory at the tournament and are now playing their best football at the right time. Importantly, Spain’s brilliant striker Abel Ruiz is firing. It will largely be the responsibility of Manchester City’s centre-back Joel Latibeaudiere, who has been superb all tournament, to stop him.

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England seem ready to avenge their defeat. They are a squad that is not only technically excellent and tactically well drilled, but they are mentally strong as well. England vs Spain v2.0 promises to not disappoint.

2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup: Team of the Group Stage

After yet another entertaining youth tournament group stage, we've put our heads together and created a squad of the best and most impressive players from this year's Under-17 World Cup.

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With the likes of Brazil, France, Spain and England dominating their opposition we have looked beyond overall team performance and tried to focus on individual contribution to the team, as well as rewarding those that have caught out eye despite their own side's potential pitfalls.

Plenty of goals were scored and almost every game was an exciting contest to watch, making the choices even more difficult.

But we have stuck our neck out and picked 18 players who made Scouted Football take notice and given you a relatively detailed look at what they bring to their side.

Here they are:

GOALKEEPER

Ricardo Montenegro

AGE: 17 (09/07/2000)
COUNTRY: Costa Rica
CLUB: Deportivo Saprissa

Montenegro.jpg

Ricardo Montenegro carved himself a place in our starting XI due to the sheer amount of saves he was forced to make. Costa Rica may have finished bottom of their group with one solitary point, but if not for their goalkeeper it could have been far worse.

An acrobatic and agile goalkeeper, Montenegro became frustrating to beat because of his ability to suffocate onrushing attackers. He made more saves (22) than any other goalkeeper in the group stages, the bulk of which came in a heroic display against Guinea.

Quick off his line and assertive in his decision making, he reduced the amount of time the floods of attackers that bore down on goal had to make a decision but was often let down by the hot-tempered and over zealous defending in front of him.

Ricardo Montenegro did everything he could to earn points for Costa Rica, unfortunately the rest of the side could not match his effort.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

RIGHT-BACK

Jesús Rolón

AGE: 17 (04/07/2000)
COUNTRY: Paraguay
CLUB: Olimpia

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Despite Paraguay having the leakiest defence amongst teams that finished the group stage with a perfect record, Jesús Rolón stood out at right-back as a creative force more than a solid defender.

Caught out by the pace of Mali in the opening game at times, Rolón matured throughout the three group games. His willingness to maraud down the right flank was a constant feature of Paraguay’s attack.

Furthermore, his inside runs to flood the midfield helped to create space wide for the roaming Alan Rodriguez. His command of the ball and short passing ability helped to make him extremely effective in this role.

Undoubtedly a player to watch in a position that has become so important to the best teams of the modern era (see Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City circa 2017), Rolón’s skillset holds him in good stead for the future if he can tighten up his positioning against pacy attacks.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

CENTRE-BACK

Joel Latibeaudiere

AGE: 17 (06/01/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Manchester City

One of the few England players to play every minute of the three group stage games, Joel Latibeaudiere was a calming and assertive presence throughout.

An extremely athletic player, the Manchester City centre-back’s standout quality is his jumping ability. Almost impossible to challenge aerially, he matched a dominant presence in the air with an equally composed touch on the ground.

With England dominating the majority of their three group stage games, his defensive skillset was not called upon too often, with his composure on the ball and positional play in the spotlight the most. Despite a period of panic against Mexico from the entire England team, Latibeaudiere dealt with all other attacks in a commanding fashion.

The knockout stages will pit England against more potent opposition and the Manchester City centre-back will play a pivotal role in dealing with it.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

CENTRE-BACK

James Sands

AGE: 17 (06/07/2000)
COUNTRY: United States of America
CLUB: NYCFC

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If not for Josh Sargent, James Sands would arguably be the USA’s captain given his leadership by example and never-say-die attitude.

As versatile as they come, Sands’ role as a defensive midfielder at NYCFC has proven vital to his success as the USA’s starting centre-back. With the intelligence of a midfielder, the centre-back effortlessly negated Ghana’s lethal counter attacks without flaw. At the same time, his expansive passing range allowed for his side to spread a stubborn Indian defence and cruise to a 3-0 victory.

Interestingly enough, Sands is one of the best defenders at this tournament despite playing for a defensively fragile side. With their fullbacks set high up the field and Chris Goslin playing unusually poor to start the tournament, much of the defensive slack is picked up by the NYCFC man. Despite being physically bested by Colombia’s forwards, Sands single-handedly shut down Juan Peñaloza's dominance over Sergino Dest.

Looking forward, Sands will have his hands full if his teammates continue to provide inconsistent defensive support. With Germany waiting in the Quarter-Finals, make sure to keep a close eye on the battle between James Sands and Jann-Fiete Arp.

Written by Justin Sousa (@Sousa7474)

LEFT-BACK

Juan Miranda

AGE: 17 (19/01/2000)
COUNTRY: Spain
CLUB: Barcelona

 (Pictured left)

(Pictured left)

If the European Under-17 Championship was Mateu Morey’s moment to shine, then the World Cup has seen a shift from one full-back to another; from right to left.

Juan Miranda was as much as an attacking force as he was a reliable defensive asset for Spain. Constant overlapping on the left flank gave the freedom and space for his creative midfielders to operate, and when given the ball in an attacking position, Miranda was able to carve out opportunities on his own—recording an assist during Spain’s demolition of Niger.

Although taller than his partner in crime on the opposite flank, Spain’s left-back is the mirror image in approach and style of play of Mateur Morey, making them a fluid and overwhelming attacking force when working in tandem.

Miranda will continue to play a key role in all parts of the pitch during the knockout stages, and it is fair to expect at least one more assist from his waves of dangerous crossing.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

Marcos Antonio

AGE: 17 (13/06/2000)
COUNTRY: Brazil
CLUB: Atletico Paranense

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It is difficult not to get excited about Marcos Antonio. Small in stature, but not lacking impact nor influence, the Brazilian midfielder was almost an ever-present in his country’s victorious U-17 South American Championship win earlier this year, and has continued his strong form at the U-17 World Cup.

Tasked with the ever-difficult box-to-box role, especially in the sapping Indian conditions that have seen many players succumb to second-half cramp, Antonio excelled in bringing control and balance to Brazil’s midfield.

Antonio stood out with his magnificent passing range that allowed Brazil to crush the likes of Niger and North Korea while operating at almost walking pace. Against North Korea, he completed 118 passes in a role that also saw him push up the right flank to influence the attack. While he was not able to affect the scoresheet, his creative influence on team was clear as he sprayed balls left and right allowing his team-mates to advance into dangerous positions to cross. His assist for Paulino against Spain was arguably the best of the entire Group Stage.

The Brazilian midfielder is also gifted with a magnificent engine that allows him to play a variety of roles across the midfield. He seems capable of being a midfield controller while also having the ability to push forward with the energy of a typical box-to-box midfielder.

He could perhaps be more responsible from a positional standpoint, but it is likely that with effort levels hovering around the 5% mark in the games against Niger and North Korea, that Antonio is just waiting to lift for the knockouts.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

Yacine Adli

AGE: 17 (29/07/2000)
COUNTRY: France
CLUB: Paris Saint-Germain

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Yacine Adli is starting to develop a reputation at Scouted Football HQ as the next Adrien Rabiot. While we are not normally ones for comparisons, from hair, to nationality, to club, to style of play, Adli and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate are undoubtedly alike.

Playing in a slightly different role in this France team with a lot of work to do on the right, Adli’s creativity was on display for the world to see.

The Frenchman was unplayable in his nation’s 7-1 destruction of New Caledonia in their opening game, in which Adli notched three assists. He eventually finished the group stage with five assists – the next best players at the tournament had two.

Adli is a silky-smooth midfielder that does everything with an astonishing fluidity; whether it be passing, dribbling, or simply moving. Like Rabiot, he is efficient and refuses to give the ball away needlessly. However, he does not play safe either.

With a huge match-up against Spain to come in the knockout rounds, Adli’s maturity and solidity in midfield will be key in both nullifying Spain’s midfield and fuelling his own country’s attack.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

CENTRE-MIDFIELD

Younes Delfi

AGE: 17 (02/10/2000)
COUNTRY: Iran
CLUB: Esteghlal

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While it seems a slight stretch to say Younes Delfi was a centre-midfielder at this tournament, for the purposes of formation we will turn his attacking midfield role into a central midfield role. In saying this, let it not detract from the brilliant three matches Delfi had in qualifying Iran at the top of a group containing Germany, Costa Rica and Guinea with a 100% record.

Of note was the Iranian’s impeccable performance against Germany, undoubtedly one of the top individual displays of the group stage. In 60 minutes of game time, Delfi pressed the life out of the German defence. He capitalised on the many mistakes it created to score twice and assist one in a game that the German central defensive partnership will have nightmares about for the rest of their careers.

On top of his willing defensive contributions, Delfi impressed with his tight dribbling control, awareness and sense of timing to arrive in the box at the right moment. He won two penalties against Costa Rica with some excellent movement when he drifted towards the right, which he did regularly throughout the three group games.

Delfi is the focal point of Iran’s attack from deep, and his telepathic partnership with the clinical Allahyar Sayyad will be crucial to Iran’s prospects of making a deep run at this tournament.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

RIGHT-WING

Paulinho

AGE: 17 (15/07/2000)
COUNTRY: Brazil
CLUB: Vasco da Gama

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Famed for being the first player born in the year 2000 to score in Brazil’s Serie A, Paulinho entered the tournament with plenty of eyes on him. Under close scrutiny, he has performed.

Paulinho finished the group stages with 2 goals and 1 assist. Either scoring or assisting once in each game, including the match-winner against fellow favourites Spain, his output becomes even more impressive when considering Brazil scored two in each of their three matches. Rather than a product of a gluttony of goals, Paulinho’s contribution was decisive.

An extremely versatile player—playing at full-back or centre-forward on occasion—Paulinho found a home on the right side of Brazil’s front three during the tournament and has played his role to perfection thus far. Always drifting inside from the touchline, his off-the-ball movement is sensational, finding himself in pockets of space and goalscoring positions on nearly every occasion.

His synergy with centre-forward Lincoln is a feature of Brazil’s comfortable group stage, and even when raise the intensity and quality in the knockout rounds, Paulinho will be a fundamental part of their attack.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

LEFT-WING

Jadon Sancho

AGE: 17 (25/03/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Borussia Dortmund

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Jadon Sancho played in every game for England and stood out in all of them. The Young Lions’ No11 was billed as the star man before the tournament due to his excellent U17 European Championships and he continued his sparkling form.

Sancho’s flair and dribbling ability was a constant threat to every opposition, tormenting defenders with step-overs and body feints that were used for a purpose: creating scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates. Sancho finished the group stages with 3 goals and 2 assists to his name; the largest contribution of any England player.

Despite missing a penalty in the final game against Iraq, his link-up and decision making in the final third in open play was near-perfect. He should be forgiven for the occasional over-indulgence of trickery on the ball as he was clearly a class above his opponents in Group F.

Recalled by his parent club to take part in the UEFA Youth League, despite England’s strength in depth, there is no doubt Jadon Sancho’s absence will still be massively felt.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

CENTRE-FORWARD

Mohammed Dawood

AGE: 16 (22/11/2000)
COUNTRY: Iraq
CLUB: Al-Naft

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The undoubted star of the 2016 U-16 Asian Championship has continued to dominate at this level throughout Iraq’s group stage campaign at the U-17 World Cup.

Tasked with carrying a team that rarely poses an attacking threat and relies on organisation and defensive solidity, Dawood has been a breath of fresh air whenever he has been afforded the opportunity to latch onto the ball in the attacking third.

His three goals at the tournament characterised his versatile skillset that would suit multiple roles against multiple opponents.

The first, against Mexico, was a lovely run off the shoulder of the last man which then saw Dawood round the goalkeeper and finish into an empty net. It highlighted his speed, composure and dribbling ability. The second, against Chile, displayed the Iraqi striker’s persistence after he scuffed a shot, won the ball back off a defender and slammed home at the near post. The third, also against Chile, was a demonstration of technique as the 16-year-old curled home an expertly struck free-kick into the far corner.

Iraq are an unspectacular team, but there is nothing unspectacular about their centre-forward. Mohammed Dawood is their only hope of progression at this tournament.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

SUBSTITUTES

GOALKEEPER

Dheeraj Moirangthem

AGE: 17 (04/07/2000)
COUNTRY: India
CLUB: AIFF Elite Academy

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After having the pleasure of watching this exceptionally talented goalkeeper in action, it comes as no surprise to know that football followers in India have dubbed Dheeraj as the “Indian Neuer.”

From the superb runs off his line to the swagger with which he plays with, everything about Dheeraj’s game screams German goalkeeper. Dheeraj possesses an uncanny sense of awareness to how his opposition are attacking, allowing him to make well-timed runs off his goal line or produce a show-stopping save from point blank range.

Against the USA, Dheeraj denied Andrew Carleton one-on-one on two separate occasions, producing a two highlight reel-worthy diving saves to deny the American. At just 17-years old, Dheeraj has already shown he possesses nerves of steel in situations of intense pressure.

India’s goalkeeping wonder received praise ranging from tweets from ex-England goalkeeper David James to a standing ovation from a crowd of over 46,000 people in New Dehli. Arguably find of the tournament, do not be surprised if European scouts return back to their clubs with Dheeraj at the top of their priority lists. If anyone from this Indian side deserves a shot at playing abroad after this tournament, Dheeraj Moirangthem is the man best fit for the honour. 

Written by Justin Sousa (@Sousa7474)

LEFT-BACK

Weverson

AGE: 17 (05/07/2000)
NATION: Brazil
CLUB: São Paulo

 (Pictured right)

(Pictured right)

Weverson is a machine rampaging down Brazil’s left side. Unfortunate to miss out on a starting spot in our XI, the Brazilian earns his place on the bench after a string of defensively excellent displays that saw Brazil concede just once throughout the three group games.

Given license to burst forward, Weverson is thoughtful in making the decision to exercise this license and positions himself accordingly. His positional awareness is one of his best attributes that is underpinned by his speed moving up and down the left side.

At 1.85m tall, he is a physically imposing left-back too – especially at this level. It means he is willing to go body to body with opposition wingers, knowing he often has an advantage in these situations, and he has the speed and creative qualities to then punish them the other way. He is brilliant in the way he is able to formulate overloads out wide.

Weverson's consistent displays bode well for Brazil as they head into the knockout rounds.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

CENTRE-MIDFIELD/CENTRE-BACK

CHRIS DURKIN

AGE: 17 (08/02/2000)
COUNTRY: United States of America
CLUB: Richmond Kickers

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While many expected Josh Sargent or Andrew Carleton to star for the USA, it is an unlikely hero in Chris Durkin who has risen to the occasion for his nation.

Not many have shown the same work ethic as the Virginia-native at this tournament, and it is because of this quality that he has earned a spot on the bench. He had a standout performance against Ghana, setting up the match’s only goal by robbing his opponent of the ball and quickly initiating the counter attack that lead to Ayo Akinola’s goal.

Durkin has been a revelation for his side when transitioning from defenCe to offence, playing with his head on swivel to find the next pass.

The USA will hope Durkin’s form continues into the knockout stages as they face faster, stronger, and more skilful opposition. A player with his skillset could prove to be the difference maker in a match where they just need to grind out a win.

Written by Justin Sousa (@Sousa7474)

RIGHT WINGER

JUAN PEÑALOZA

AGE: 17 (03/05/2000)
COUNTRY: Colombia
CLUB: Estudiantes de La Plata

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Colombia sputtered with an initial loss to Ghana in their opening match, but Juan Penaloza’s introduction to the front line provided a whole new dimension of attack. His jaw-dropping pace and agility combined with a natural South American flair made an initially mediocre Colombian side much more enjoyable to watch for 90 minutes.

Penaloza was the catalyst to Colombia’s push for an automatic qualification spot into the Round of 16, providing three goals and one assist in their last two group stage matches. The Colombian winger tore apart the seemingly sound USA defense in their last match, terrorizing Sergino Dest in the opening minutes with stepovers and flawless stop-starts down the wing.

Along with his clinical touch, Penaloza also provided Colombia’s forward line with accurate service from the wings and stretched opposition back lines to open space for his teammates to make runs into.

While there is an odd lack of quality players given Colombia’s performance at the U17 World Cup, Penaloza might be the name to stick in a few scouts’ heads. Big clubs may want to snatch up the Colombian’s services before he can rack up a Vinicius Jr. sized price tag.

Written by Justin Sousa (@Sousa7474)

RIGHT-WING/CENTRE-MIDFIELD

Phil Foden

AGE: 17 (28/05/2000)
COUNTRY: England
CLUB: Manchester City

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Brilliant U17 European Championship, check. Brilliant pre-season with Manchester City’s first team, check. Brilliant start to the U17 World Cup, check. Phil Foden is a wonderful talent.

With just one goal to his name, it’s easy to overlook Phil Foden’s contribution to England’s dominant group stage. However, after watching him play it becomes difficult not to overhype it. Operation from a wide-right position on paper, Foden was found mostly in the half-space, constantly turning defenders and gliding away from them with graceful ease.

His place on the bench is reflective of the genuine quality on show at this tournament and maybe the fact he could possibly have done even more. Despite some poor finishing, the one effort that did find the net is a candidate for goal of the tournament; ghosting in from his flank to divert Jadon Sancho’s pass into the corner.

Foden will continue to be a menace with his delicate touches and trademark flicks in and around the box. With Jadon Sancho departing, he may need to find a goalscoring touch to consolidate his near-perfect displays.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

RIGHT-WING

Djemoussa Traoré

AGE: 17 (20/01/2000)
COUNTRY: Mali
CLUB: ALOB

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Djemoussa Traoré descended from nowhere to play a vital role in Mali’s brilliant group stage campaign.
 
His two goals and two assists highlighted his direct approach to wide play, be it on the right or left. He is able to operate on the left or right, fine tuning his approach to adapt to each side. When on the left, he stretches the play, aiming to latch onto through balls before making a decisive pass or shot in the area. Should he swap to the right, he tucks in and works in tandem with Mali’s impressive right-back Fode Konaté, allowing him to burst pass and exchange one-twos to bypass the opposition.
 
He is also deceptively strong technically too, with some wonderful moves drifting inside from the left leading to one of his goals, and general dangerous play for Mali.
 
Traoré’s link-up with Hadji Drame will be key to Mali’s hopes of another African success at the U-17 World Cup.

Written by Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

CENTRE-FORWARD

Amine Gouiri

AGE: 17 (16/02/2000)
COUNTRY: France
CLUB: Lyon

Gouiri.jpg

Prolific at the European U17 Championships in the summer, Amine Gouiri is making a claim to be one of the deadliest strikers at this level.

With the excellent movement and ruthless finishing to strike fear into any defence, perennial goalscoring rivals Abel Ruiz and Jann-Fiete Arp will be sick of the sight of Amine Gouiri at this level. The reason France’s No9 does not find himself in our starting XI is because despite his goalscoring exploits, it is what was expected.

France sailed through to the knockout rounds scoring more goals (14) than any other side and Amine Gouiri’s title as the individual top group stage scorer—five goals— is more of a reflection on New Caledonia and Honduras. After all, he scored seven in this summer’s U17 Euros group stage, so if anything, he underperformed...

Joking aside, his pure finishing ability and output means he once again is in the race for the Golden Boot and if he can continue to score at the same rate against more challenging opposition then he will be a (Golden) shoe in for the Team of the Tournament.

Written by Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

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HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Fandje Toure, Takefusa Kubo, Víctor Chust, Issaiaga Camara, Alan Rodriguez, Diego Lainez, George McEachran, Antonio Blanco, Alanzinho, Maxime Caqueret, Fode Konate, Cesar Gelabert, Lincoln

With the knockout stages already underway, there is no let up in the outstanding performances and thrilling matches served up by one of the best tournaments in football.

Make a note of these players, keep an eye out for others. Just don't miss any more of it.

Follow @ScoutedFtbl for everything U17 World Cup related and youth football.

La Mini-Vinotinto: Venezuela's Youth Football Revolution

By Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

Venezuela hold the unwanted record of being the only CONMEBOL side never to qualify for a World Cup. But, with the success of their U20 side in South Korea this summer, the next generation of burgundy-wearing talent look set to write another chapter in the country's history.

 La Mini-Vinotinto return home to a hero's welcome after their U20 World Cup final.

La Mini-Vinotinto return home to a hero's welcome after their U20 World Cup final.

The international break is often an unwelcome guest. The football season reaches a climax only for an intermission to halt all excitement for two weeks. An advert for upcoming tournaments, these games cannot be fast-forwarded.

However, with youth football gaining more and more prevalence in the discussion, excitement is built around the appearance of individual players rather than the performance of the collective. Kylian Mbappé turns heads for France, Marcus Rashford wakes England fans from their qualifying-induced slumber, and Joshua Kimmich continues as a permanent fixture for Germany.

Their is one national team, however, that has combined both.

 Teenage Mutant Ninja Scorer: 18-year-old Kylian Mbappé is one of France's biggest attractions.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Scorer: 18-year-old Kylian Mbappé is one of France's biggest attractions.

Venezuela are not famous for their footballing pedigree but under Rafael Dudamel they are quickly becoming a Scouted Football favourite.

48% of his most recent 31-man squad are Scouted eligible. Of these 15 U23 players, nine of them featured in the history-making run to the U20 World Cup final in 2017. Putting faith in a before unseen golden generation of talent is a risky strategy, but definitely one we can get behind.

With that in mind, here is a look at the nine heroes of Venezuela's U20 World Cup campaign who have made the jump to the senior side.

 Venezuela's U20 squad celebrate after their historic run to the World Cup final.

Venezuela's U20 squad celebrate after their historic run to the World Cup final.

 

Wuilker Faríñez

D.O.B: 15/02/1998
Position: Goalkeeper
Club: Caracas FC

 One of Scouted Football's favourite players.

One of Scouted Football's favourite players.

A natural. Every time we write about Wuilker Faríñez it is important to emphasise his tremendous rise. He only started goalkeeping at the age of 14 and learnt the position by watching Iker Casillas on YouTube.

Venezuela's undisputed No1 oozes confidence and composure between the posts. His goalkeeping education, or rather his lack of a traditional one, is evident in his approach at times. Unorthodox is certainly a word to describe him but it does not in any way tarnish his burgeoning reputation.

A penalty shootout hero against Uruguay when these two sides met in the U20 World Cup, Vinotino will be hoping for more heroics on Thursday.

José Hernández

D.O.B: 26/06/1997
Position: Left back
Club: Caracas FC

 José Hernández never shies away from a slide tackle.

José Hernández never shies away from a slide tackle.

A tenacious and robust full-back. The Venezuelan defence was almost impenetrable in South Korea and it was the approach of their back four that helped make it so. Fouls were committed frequently and spoke of the 'stop at all costs' policy that was clearly implement by Dudamel. It was effective.

Jose Hernandez was no exception and despite his small 5ft7 frame, he packs a punch. Explosive in bursts and in the tackle, Hernandez looks to be the perfect full-back for a team which prides itself on its energy and organisation, one of the main reasons why his journey to the senior national side has been accelerated.

Don’t be surprised to see him used in a midfield role — out wide or even centrally — should Venezuela want to adopt a more defensive approach.

Ronald Hernández

D.O.B: 04/10/1997
Position: Right back
Club: Stabæk

 Rampaging Ronald Hernandez.

Rampaging Ronald Hernandez.

The carbon copy of his namesake José, Ronald Hernandez is the perfect mirror.

Also standing at 5ft7, Ronald is perhaps less versatile in terms of moving centrally but can be utilised on either flank in the full-back role or again slightly further forward should defensive solidity be the priority.

The best thing about this particular Hernandez is that he now plays in Norway. Making the move to mid-table side Stabæk in August earlier this year, he has already recorded one assist despite his new club's recent struggles.

A bizarre move in the fact that even his more well-known compatriots still ply their trade in South America, but Ronald Hernandez is surely the first of many to make the move to Europe.

Yangel Herrera

D.O.B: 07/01/1998
Position: Centre midfield
Club: New York City FC (on loan from Manchester City)

 Captain. Leader. Future legend.

Captain. Leader. Future legend.

U20 captain and exceptional performer in South Korea in the summer, Yangel Herrera is one of the brightest talents in Venezuelan football. Dominant in the centre of midfield, the New York City FC dynamo possess a wide range of passing as well as a physicality that allows him to challenge any midfield foe in technical or physical duels.

In the U20 final against England, Herrera demonstrated his ability to dominate possession and create chances for his side as well as prove to be a vital screen in front of his defence. Awarded the Bronze Ball for his all-action midfield displays, his tackling is slowly becoming another of his trademark attributes.

Being a Manchester City loanee, a future at the base of Pep Guardiola’s current three-man midfield looks the most likely. Yangel Herrera looks to be a natural successor to Fernandinho with all the tools to become an even more complete addition to the side.

Ronaldo Lucena

D.O.B: 27/02/1997
Position: Centre midfield
Club: Atlético Nacional

 The best things really do come in small packages.

The best things really do come in small packages.

A personal favourite of La Mini Vinotinto’s squad. Ronaldo Lucena is the swiss-army knife of centre-midfield, managing to pack an arsenal of attributes into the smallest of packages.

An excellent striker of the ball translates into deadly set-piece delivery whilst his superb technique and low centre of gravity allows him to wriggle out of the trickiest situations whilst also proving difficult to dribble away from himself.

Comparing players to current stars is always difficult and can lead to lazy conclusions at times, but Ronaldo Lucena is eerily similar to Santi Cazorla—the deep-lying midfield iteration. His stature means the comparison is easier to make, but the playing style also matches up. If he can reach anywhere near the level of Arsenal’s injury-riddled magician then Venezuela have some player on their hands.

Together with Yangel Herrera, Ronaldo Lucena forms a formidable partnership and one that will hopefully establish itself as a permanent fixture on Rafael Dudamel's senior set up.

Yeferson Soteldo

D.O.B: 30/06/1997
Position: Attacking midfield
Club: Huachipato

 A delight to watch every time he plays.

A delight to watch every time he plays.

One of the most exciting players to watch purely because of his size. Players are no longer turned away because of their height as if they were queuing for a rollercoaster, instead their heightened agility and dribbling prowess because of it are now sought after characteristics.

Soteldo is a sublime technician and his cameos in the U20 World Cup were defined by delicate touches, mazy runs and intelligent decisions in the final third. Blighted by knee injuries, his role in the summer’s success was limited and should he have been fully fit then Venezuela would have scored even more goals.

A menace across the whole frontline, Soteldo is best used with as much freedom as possible and like many right footed players seems most comfortable operating from the left.

Samuel Sosa

D.O.B: 17/12/1999
Position: Winger
Club: Deportivo Táchira

 The heroes of the U20 World Cup semi-final: Samuel Sosa hugs his teammate and goalkeeper Wuilker Faríñez.

The heroes of the U20 World Cup semi-final: Samuel Sosa hugs his teammate and goalkeeper Wuilker Faríñez.

Samuel Sosa the super sub. His magnificent strike in the final minutes of the U20 World Cup semi-final against Uruguay rescued Venezuela from the jaws of defeat and led to Faríñez’s eventual heroics in the shootout.

One of the youngest members of their squad in South Korea, being called up to the senior side is yet another incredible step for the Deportivo Táchira winger. Blessed with a luscious left foot, as all players of that nature seem to be, Sosa is capable of playing as a direct, straight-line runner from his favourite side; or in the more intricate, inverted style that is most common in the modern game.

Any playing minutes as a result of his recent senior call-up will be a big surprise, but to even be included in the squad at such a young age is testament to his ability, potential and a clear signal of Dudamel’s faith in his talent.

Sergio Córdova

D.O.B: 09/08/1997
Position: Right winger/Centre forward
Club: FC Augsburg

 Sergio Cordova is a powerhouse.

Sergio Cordova is a powerhouse.

Vinotinto's top scorer in South Korea with four goals, Sergio Córdova is a physical forward. Whether through intelligent movement or pure brute force, his insatiable appetite for goals means he will always have at least once chance.

Deployed on the right-hand side of Dudamel's 4-2-2-2 formation, his pace and power proved to be too difficult to deal with in the group stages. Far better off the ball than on it, resources were funnelled into Adalberto Peñaranda on the left whilst Cordova ghosted into the box to put away the chances created by his partner in crime, rather than fashioning them for himself.

A summer move to Augsburg was an exciting development and despite not starting a game in the Bundesliga just yet, he already has his first goal for the club, being used in a more central forward role which best suits his style of play.

Ronaldo Chacón

D.O.B: 18/02/1998
Position: Centre forward
Club: Caracas FC

 A striker called Ronaldo... no pressure.

A striker called Ronaldo... no pressure.

Another member of the Caracas crew, Chacón is a forward whose contribution to the team is focussed on amplifying the output of his teammates rather than increasing his own.

Used most frequently in a support striker role, he aims to create space for his teammates through his movement, dragging opposition players out of position rather than splitting them apart with his on-the-ball actions.

His inclusion in the senior squad set against his lack of goals seems strange but his tenacity and willingness to sacrifice himself for his teammates made him a valuable member of the U20 World Cup campaign. Chacón's attitude and mentality — valued extremely highly by Dudamel — rather than his raw ability is the most likely reason for his inclusion.


 The most passionate man about Venezuelan football.

The most passionate man about Venezuelan football.

Rafael Dudamel is a Scouted Football favourite: a former goalkeeper for La Vinotinto, it seems the Venezuelan national side is in the safest of hands.

The fact he has packed nearly half of his squad with U23 players is a reward for their incredible performances in South Korea and a sign that the Venezuela's footballing fortunes may be about to change.

After all, their U20 squad have already made history at youth level, who's to say the same crop of players can't repeat the feat at senior level?

 'Mundialistas' at youth level, Venezuela's senior side are still looking for their first ever World Cup appearance.

'Mundialistas' at youth level, Venezuela's senior side are still looking for their first ever World Cup appearance.

Like a fine wine, quite literally, all they need is time.

By Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

Fantasy Scouted Football | Gameweek 3

By JakeEntwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

Due to busy schedules and a flood of World Cup qualifiers, the Fantasy Scouted Football review comes much later than usual. We can only apologise.

ScoutedFtblGW3.png

However, as the evil transfer window has finally shut, this week's article is as much a preview of the upcoming fixtures as it is a nostalgic look back at what actually happened in Gameweek 3.

We will follow the same format as usual, but rather than ending with a look at how poorly the self-proclaimed all-knowing U23 overlords (us) are doing, there will be a list of all the new players available for selection ahead of Gameweek 4 — how exciting.

So, without any more rambling, here we go.

CURRENT LEADER

Mac 23

Manager: Callum McCann
Gameweek points: 60
Total Points: 155

 A strong forward display fired Mac 23 to the top of the standings.

A strong forward display fired Mac 23 to the top of the standings.

No messing about from Callum. His team name gives you all the information you need to know, and who has time to actually design a kit anyway?

Mac 23 instead spent his valuable hours constructing the ultimate attacking force for Gameweek 3 with Gabriel Jesus, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham all grabbing their first goals of the season.

An ideal world would have seen the armband wrapped around the Man City forward's bicep, but his local rival was hardly a poor choice. Well played, Callum, you are the King of the Castle.

BEST PERFORMANCE

Youth Team

Manager: Sally Collins
Gameweek points: 64
Overall rank: 7th

 Points in every position.

Points in every position.

Despite a team-name which leaves little to the imagination, it's easy to see why Sally's clearly-labelled side was Gameweek 3's top point scorer. The defence, midfield and attack all contributed to an impressive total of 64.

Tammy Abraham and Gabriel Jesus make another appearance, as does Dele Alli. But what separates Sally from overall leader Mac 23 is the choice of captain.

Dele may have been flipping the finger to his teammates during the international break, but Sally was doing that to us a week before. A goalscoring midfielder is the Holy Grail of Fantasy Football, and in Dele Alli, Youth Team's skipper is one of the best around.

TOP PERFORMERS

GOALKEEPER

Loris Karius (Liverpool)

Points: 6
Price: £4.9m
Price change: -£0.1m
Next fixture: Manchester City (A)

It seems years ago that the Liverpool goalkeeper situation was so hotly debated. Simon Mignolet had apparently secured his spot as Jürgen Klopp's No.1 before the German decided to drop him from the squad completely.

In came Scouted Handbook alumnus Loris Karius. A clean sheet in his first game of the season — against Arsenal — looks incredible on the face of it. But given the away side's performance in front of goal and Liverpool's dominance at Anfield, even Simon Mignolet would have walked off with six points in the bag.

DEFENDER

Joe Gomez (Liverpool)

Points: 10
Price: £4.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Manchester City (A)

See above for a brief comment about how easy the game against Arsenal was for Liverpool. As a result, just like Loris Karius, Joe Gomez finished the game with a cleanest of sheets.

What secured Gomez's title as the top performing defender of Gameweek 3, however, was his assist. A perfectly weighted cross for Roberto Firmino to divert past Petr Cech for the first goal of the game.

A steady defensive display in general earned Gomez an extra two bonus points and should Jürgen Klopp place more trust in the 20-year-old this season, he might be worth keeping an eye on.

MIDFIELDER

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

Points: 9
Price: £9.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Everton (A)

Already featured in this article, Dele Alli was up to his usual tricks against Burnley. Whether you actually think he is a forward rather than a midfielder means absolutely nothing in terms of Fantasy Football. He is a midfielder. He scores goals.

Dele could prove to be a frequent fixture in this section throughout the season, and despite Spurs struggling to see off Burnley at Wembley, the result means nothing to us. The goal and two bonus points for the England midfielder is all we will ever care about.

FORWARD

Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)

Points: 9
Price: £10.4m
Price change: £0.1m
Next fixture: Everton (A)

Tears fill Scouted Football's eyes every time Gabriel Jesus is preferred to one of the best strikers to grace the Premier League. Sergio Agüero is clearly Pep's second choice to the Brazilian youngster and his faith was finally rewarded against Bournemouth.

His first goal of the season has come later than many were expecting, but the slickness of the move and the quality of the finish suggests that it certainly won't be his last.

Two bonus points for an all-round solid forward display — which he rarely gets credit for — saw Gabriel pip another Scouted favourite, Tammy Abraham, to the top spot for strikers this week.

SCOUTED UPDATE

GAMEWEEK POINTS: 51
TOTAL POINTS: 116
POSITION: 67TH
POSITION CHANGE: -2

 A big improvement... yet down in the rankings.

A big improvement... yet down in the rankings.

Oh, Raheem. If only those pesky fans didn't run on the pitch to celebrate with you. Our captain's choice would have been a masterstroke and we may have even broke into the top 50.

Alas, that didn't happen and despite a much better week in terms of points, we find ourselves slipping down the Scouted standings. If Callum is King of the Castle, we are certainly the Dirty Rascal.

Don't laugh at us just yet, though. The wildcard has been played and the team selection for Gameweek 4 could see point-records tumble... we hope.


NEW ADDITIONS

As promised, the penultimate part of this week's article is a list of all the players added to the game since the first list was published. Some youth players have merely been added to the game whilst new signings — mainly Renato Sanches and Davinson Sánchez — have also been included. The full list of players is available here.

GOALKEEPERS

Freddie Woodman, £4.0m (Newcastle United)

DEFENDERS

Davinson Sánchez, £6.0m (Tottenham Hotspur)
Wesley Hoedt, £5.0m (Southampton)
Juan Foyth, £4.5 (Tottenham Hotspur)
Florent Hadergjonaj, £4.5m (Huddersfield)
Declan Rice, £4.5m (West Ham)
Jon Gorenc Stanković, £4.0m (Huddersfield Town)
Kane Wilson, £4.0m (West Bromwich Albion)

MIDFIELDERS

Richarlison, £6.0m (Watford)
Nikola Vlašić, £5.5m (Everton)
Oliver Burke, £5.5m (West Bromwich Albion)
Abdelhamid Sabiri, £5.0m (Huddersfield Town)
Mario Lemina, £5.0m (Southampton)
Renato Sanches, £5.0m (Swansea)
Sead Hakšabanović, £5.0m (West Ham)
Kyle Scott, £4.5m (Chelsea)
Sullay Kaikai, £4.5m (Crystal Palace)
Tashan Oakley-Boothe, £4.5m (Tottenham Hotspur)

FORWARDS

Keshi Anderson, £4.5m (Crystal Palace)

Some genuinely exciting Scouted signings were rubber-stamped during the final weeks of the transfer window.

Davinson Sánchez was a monster for Ajax last season and we expect him to carry on in a Spurs shirt.

Oh, you can also buy the 2016 European Golden Boy for just £5.0m. How many of you will pick him for that fact alone?

We have.


GAMEWEEK 4 FIXTURES

The deadline for the fourth round of games is 9th September, 11:30 GMT:

Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Arsenal vs. Bournemouth

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. West Bromwich Albion

Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Leicester City vs. Chelsea

Southampton vs. Watford

Stoke City vs. Manchester United

Burnley vs. Crystal Palace

Swansea vs. Newcastle

West Ham vs. Huddersfield

Follow @ScoutedFtbl for all things U23, including updates on everything Fantasy Football.

Dennis Crowley, on Kingston Stockade, the Community, and Promotion and Relegation in the US

BY STEPHEN GANAVAS (@STEPHENSCOUTED)

 Photo: NPSL

Photo: NPSL

Dennis Crowley has described his Kingston Stockade project as “open source soccer”. As someone behind start-up tech companies such as FourSquare and Dodgeball, he is not a stranger to the world of entrepreneurialism. Yet, he stops short of using that term.

“I like to call myself a builder because I like to build things I want to use,” Crowley explains.

“I think of businessmen and entrepreneurs as people who start things for the sake of it.”

Crowley seems to perk up as soon as he starts discussing his club, Kingston Stockade, which he founded from scratch in Kingston, New York, two years ago.

“For us, it was just like, ‘hey, let’s get a bunch of people that want this to happen and get them to pitch in to make it happen’,” Crowley recalls.

“Really, that’s how it came together. Kingston’s a small town, it has about 20,000 people in the city, maybe 200,000 in the county; and the county’s big. It would take you an hour to drive from one side of it to the other.”

Crowley seems reluctant to take a lot of credit for the success of the club. He acknowledges that he is financing the club in his quest to make it sustainable and “break-even”, but the conversation seems to drift to how the club has immersed itself within the fabric of the community and how the club is almost entirely community driven. He speaks about his proudest moment of running the club glowingly, and it seems fitting that it is not their conference title last season, nor is it any victory or milestone.

 Photo: NPSL

Photo: NPSL

“The most rewarding moment for me personally was after the first game,” Crowley pauses momentarily, but not hesitantly.

“A whole bunch of kids ran down from the stands and they ran to the fence to get autographs from the players. That was totally unexpected. There was probably about 100 kids there. And the players, a lot of these guys are amateurs and they’re like, ‘what do we do? What do we sign?’. We had one pen, and I said, ‘I guess we just stay here and sign everything we can find for all these kids and nobody goes inside until everything gets signed’.”

He pauses again.

“That’s a tradition we do every game now. But to see that happen the first time, and say, ‘holy cow, this isn’t just a fun project for me or the volunteers, but these kids, if we keep this club going for ten years, some of these kids will grow up and play for the team’. This is what I’m very excited and motivated about. And then it turns from a fun project, to something that is an important thing to do in the community, and this is an important thing for us to teach other communities to do because it is meaningful.”

While Crowley is invested in the community aspect very heavily now, the project started as a model or a blueprint for other people who wanted to form their own teams. He writes long and detailed posts online explaining how the club is run and what the revenues and expenditures are like for a club of Kingston Stockade’s size, which have been met with positive feedback in the United States football community. These posts “show how the sausage is made”, in Dennis’ words.

In 2017, however, his role within American soccer has changed. Bound by the closed system of the United States Soccer Federation which does not permit a merit-based promotion and relegation system, Dennis’ team, like many others in the United States, is in football purgatory. Confined to the fourth division, the Stockade are also confined to fourth division revenue streams that pale in comparison to the higher divisions. He aims to change this system and has acted swiftly through a joint Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) filing in conjunction with Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva. But Crowley remains uneasy with the idea of being the face of the promotion/relegation movement in the United States.

“I definitely don’t want to be the face of the promotion/relegation movement,” he insists.

“I’m just one guy with a division four team that is passionate about making this happen. There are plenty of fans that want to see this. There are plenty of clubs that want to see this. And ultimately we think it’s good for the sport, it’s good for everyone involved and it will be good financially for the clubs that are able to perform and want to invest and take it seriously. It’s hard for me to imagine that it’s not a good thing for the sport in the US.”

Despite speaking to him over the phone, it is easy to imagine the emboldened body language and facial expression that would match the confidence with which he speaks on the topic of promotion and relegation. He is evidently well versed on the complications and ramifications of change, but believes in his plan for the game. He speaks with quiet confidence, but also pride.

 “I do believe that opening the pyramid here in the US would encourage loads more investment at lower level teams like ourselves,” Crowley points out.

“One of the biggest things that I run into from all the people I talk is, ‘so you’re doing this club, and if you win what’s next?’ And I say, ‘well there’s nothing next, you can’t move up’. But what if the system changes? What if we can help change the system? Then there’s a reason to invest.”

Crowley is unyielding in his determination to see the global system of promotion and relegation implemented in the United States, despite the clear obstacles.

“I fully understand all the financial reasons why many of the existing MLS owners would be resistant to change,” he admits.

“But that’s not a reason to never to do it. There’s no time like the present. There’s no need to wait and we might as well get started on it now.”

Fantasy Scouted Football | Gameweek 2

By Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

The second week of Premier League fixtures provided more excitement and a few shocks as Man Utd, West Brom and Huddersfield remain the only teams with a 100% record.

Scouted Fantasy Football GW2 Feature

Scouted Football stars made decisive contributions in many matches, carving themselves a place in the spotlight, whilst the Scouted Fantasy League itself is starting to take shape with those who didn't understand the rules removed.

We have now closed the league to new entries as those who were joining late we also unaware of the U23 only rule. If you're in, you're in. The fight for the Scouted Football bragging rights (and the shirt of your choice) is well and truly underway.

CURRENT LEADER

Sy

MANAGER: Syazi Syamil
GAMEWEEK POINTS: 42
TOTAL POINTS: 101

 Syazi's defenders doing work.

Syazi's defenders doing work.

Not the strongest individual performance of the week but a solid defence propels Sy into the lead after two weeks of Premier League football.

Gameweek 1 hero Steve Mounié did not have quite the same impact in terms of points, even though Huddersfield won yet again. Eric Bailly and Kurt Zouma were both impressive at the weekend and they have the numbers to show for it.

Welcome to the 100 club, Sy... you're the only member.

BEST PERFORMANCE

Boss of Scouted

Manager: Stephen Ganavas
Gamweek Points: 57
Overall Rank: 20th

 Boss by name...

Boss by name...

True to his title as Scouted Football Overlord, Stephen smashed it this week with a little help from his vice captain, Jack Butland.

A no-show from Kelechi Iheanacho meant that the Stoke stopper took the armband and bagged 22 points for Scouted's Boss Man after his incredible display against Arsenal.

With the best-scoring week, Stephen now finds himself in the top 20... pure luck.

TOP PERFORMERS

GOALKEEPER

Jack Butland (Stoke City)

POINTS: 11
PRICE: £5.0M
PRICE CHANGE: N/A
NEXT FIXTURE: WEST BROM (A)

Jack Butland GW2

Arguably the most impressive Scouted display of the weekend full stop. Jack Butland was a titan in Stoke's goal and frustrated Arsenal with his enormous wing span and quickness off his line.

Anyone clever enough to take advantage of the goalkeeper Scouted-age being bumped up to 24 for the purpose of Fantasy Football will have let out loved his clean sheet on Saturday. Anyone who left him on the bench... the less said the better.

DEFENDER

Eric Bailly (Manchester United)

POINTS: 15
PRICE: £6.1m
PRICE CHANGE: +0.1m
NEXT FIXTURE: LEICESTER (H)

Eric Bailly GW2

Another game, another clean sheet for Jose Mourinho's side. Back-to-back 4-0 wins see Manchester United sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League, whilst Eric Bailly mirrors that position in the Fantasy standings.

The combination of a goal and clean sheet is deadly in Fantasy Football; Eric Bailly poking in his first ever for the club saw him become the highest Scouted Scorer of the round.

MIDFIELDER

Richarlison (Watford)

POINTS: 11
PRICE: £6.0m
PRICE CHANGE: Brighton & Hove Albion
NEXT FIXTURE: Chelsea (A)

Richarlison GW2

An absolute steal at £6.0m — and a midfielder! — Marco Silva's import from Brazil is proving to be a classy pick up for our U23 league.

Awarded an assist in Watford's draw with Liverpool for his involvement in Britos' equaliser, the Brazilian started this week and rewarded his manager's faith with a goal (and the maximum three bonus points for those who picked him for Fantasy Football). A sleeper pick purely because of his relative low-key arrival before the star of last week, expect to see him much more frequently in this league.

FORWARD

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

POINTS: 5
PRICE: £5.0m
PRICE CHANGE: N/A
NEXT FIXTURE: Chelsea (A)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin GW2

Anyone that was following our coverage of Everton's 1-1 draw with Man City on Monday will already know how highly we rated Calvert-Lewin's display.

For anyone who missed it, he was exceptional. Moving from right-wing back in Gameweek 1 to the last man up top this round he was a key part of Everton's game plan. Running the channels and proving to be the only form of respite from the home side's unrelenting pressure, his assist for Wayne Rooney's 200th Premier League goal was richly deserved.


SCOUTED UPDATE

GAMEWEEK POINTS: 33
TOTAL POINTS: 69
POSITION: 65th

Scouted Football GW2

As always, the final part of this week's preview and review is a little glimpse at how the Scouted Football team is getting on. It wasn't great.

With Jack Butland on the bench, we knew it would never be our week. Eric Bailly's colossal performance racked up nearly half our total points and teammate Marcus Rashford was the only attacking player to earn more than his customary 2 points for turning up.

Changes are definitely needed. An early Wildcard could be the only way to rescue our pride.


GAMEWEEK 3 FIXTURES

The deadline for the third round of fixtures is 26th August, 11:30 GMT:

Bournemouth vs. Manchester City

Crystal Palace vs. Swansea City

Huddersfield Town vs. Southampton

Newcastle United vs. West Ham

Watford vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Manchester United vs. Leicester City

Chelsea vs. Everton

West Brom vs. Stoke City

Liverpool vs. Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley

Follow @ScoutedFtbl for all things U23, including updates on everything Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Scouted Football | Gameweek 1

By Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

The Premier League opening weekend was one of the most exciting in recent memory and there was no shortage of standout U23 performers to ensure the Fantasy Scouted Football league got off to a flying start...

Scouted Fantasy Featured Image GW1

Unfortunately, given that this is the first season we have tried to put our own spin on a game that is so massively popular, the results were mixed.

Anyone that was anxiously waiting for the league table to update will have noticed straight away that those sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard quite clearly hadn't got the message. This is a U23 only fantasy football league. It always will be.

The good news is that every single person who fielded an ineligible player in the opening Gameweek has been kicked out. The bad news is that by removing so many people in one night of furious suspending, the league has completely bugged.

 Steve Mounié was a beast on debut.

Steve Mounié was a beast on debut.

Nevertheless, it will continue to exist and hopefully fix itself after the second round of fixtures is complete. All we can do now is wait.

To help pass the time until then, here is a breakdown of who tops the U23 league (luckily we still have that information) and Scouted Top Performers in each position.


CURRENT LEADER

SCR

Manager: Moritz Pamminger
Gameweek points: 60
Total points: 60

 Moritz x Mounié the dream combination.

Moritz x Mounié the dream combination.

The best possible captain's pick and a deadly duo in midfield means that Moritz claims top spot after one round of fixtures. He'll need to build a better supporting cast if wants to stay there though.

SCOUTED TOP PERFORMERS

GOALKEEPERS

Ederson (Manchester City)

Ederson GW1

Points: 6
Price: £5.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Everton (H)

Manchester City's £34.5m signing got off to a solid start in between the sticks for his new side. He only had to make two saves in a game that Pep Guardiola's side dominated from start to finish, a pattern of play we are expecting to be repeated. Ederson won't concede if the opposition never have the ball.

Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Points: 6
Price: £5.0m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Manchester City (A)

Jordan Pickford GW1

Everton also spent £30m on a goalkeeper this summer and he too got off to the perfect start. A clean sheet and six points for Jordan Pickford was expected against a Stoke side who only managed one shot on target the entire game, and that came in the 90th minute. The two most popular Fantasy Scouted picks will go head-to-head next week, expect both to be tested much more.

DEFENDERS

John Stones (Manchester City)

John Stones GW1

Points: 6
Price: £5.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Everton (H)

Not much else to add here that wasn't said about Ederson. A comfortable day for John Stones who was able to do what he loves best: pass the ball. 97% pass accuracy won't get you many points for Fantasy Football but the fact he only misplaced two passes the entire game means confidence will be high.

Jack Stephens (Southampton)

Jack Stephens GW1

Points: 6
Price: £5.0m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: West Ham (H)

The Saints may be one of the most profligate sides in the Premier League but they are almost always solid. Stephens has been given the nod to partner Maya Yoshida in Virgil van Dijk's absence (annoyingly so for anyone that tipped new 21-year-old signing Jan Bednarek to be thrown in at the deep end) and did not have much to do as they peppered Swansea without ever having much defending to do.

Alfie Mawson (Swansea)

Points: 6
Price: £5.0m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Manchester United (H)

Alfie Mawson GW1

If Jack Stephens had nothing to do against Swansea then Alfie Mawson had everything on his plate. A Scouted favourite during the summer, the England U21 international was as solid as ever and helped Paul Clement's side escape St Mary's with their sheets intact. Mawson and co. will most likely be peppered again in Gameweek 2, but don't put it past him to come out on top yet again.

Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur)

Points: 6
Price: £4.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Chelsea (H)

Who needs Kyle Walker when you have a younger, better, double-barrelled World Cup-winning alternative? In all seriousness, despite slotting in comfortably on his debut for Spurs, it was hardly a baptism of fire. Walker-Peters did everything that was asked of him and carried on his excellent form from the summer and was rewarded (as were any of you who picked him) with a clean sheet and Man of the Match award. With Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli on the pitch, that might have gone too far, but who are we to complain about young players getting hyped up?

MIDFIELDERS

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

Anthony Martial GW1

Points: 10
Price: £8.0m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Swansea (A)

10 minutes, 10 points. Anthony Martial was unleashed upon West Ham in the closing moments of the game to devastating effect. A goal and an assist capped off a superb team display and left everyone asking yet again why on earth he can't get a start. Due to Jose Mourinho's insistence on not playing him, picking him last week was a gamble... but due to his incredible pace, close control and ice-cool composure, the risk paid off.

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

Points: 8
Price: £9.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Chelsea (H)

Dele Alli GW1

He may be the most expensive midfield option for Fantasy Scouted Football but he did not disappoint. Dele was at his brilliant best, ghosting in behind Harry Kane and baiting the opposition players into reckless tackles. Able to control his temper, he was a thorn in Newcastle's side in every way imaginable and rewarded those who put faith in him to deliver with a goal.

FORWARDS

Steve Mounié (Huddersfield Town)

Points: 12
Price: £6.0m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Newcastle (H)

Steve Mounié GW1

What a debut. The hulking forward that is Steve Mounié put Crystal Palace to the sword with a quintessentially brilliant target man's performance. His bullet header was sublime, his second finish superb. He admitted in the week that is footballing idol was Didier Drogba and the former Chelsea striker has had an obvious influence on Mounié's style of play. I expect everyone has already snapped him up for next week.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Points: 5
Price: £7.5m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Swansea (A)

Marcus Rashford GW1

Another day, another superb Marcus Rashford display. Operating from the left-wing to accommodate new signing Romelu Lukaku, Rashford made Pablo Zabaleta look every bit his age. Managing to punctuate an impressive performance with the assist for the opening goal, the 19-year-old will clearly be a key part of Jose Mourinho's plans this season. If he continues to play as he did on the opening weekend, then plaudits and most importantly points will be a guarantee.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)

Points: 5
Price: £5.0m
Price change: N/A
Next fixture: Manchester City (A)

Frustratingly labelled as a forward perhaps due to his stint upfront for England in the U20 World Cup, Calvert-Lewin was used in a right-wing back position for Everton's opening weekend win against Stoke. His attacking instincts took over, however, often latching on to Wayne Rooney's through balls, exploiting his explosive pace. He has the attributes to succeed in such a role, and could thrive given Seamus Coleman's injury. The only thing that may be lacking is goals... but bagging an assist for the only goal of the game is never a bad thing.


SCOUTED UPDATE

Gameweek points: 36
Total points: 36
Position: N/A

 The faith in Manchester City was misplaced...

The faith in Manchester City was misplaced...

It's only fair to let you know how the admin are getting on. Feel free to rate or slate the choices we made and let us know how much better (or worse) you are doing. Let down by Captain Jesus and placing faith in Alex Iwobi means admin are already 24 points off the pace.

Not the best start.


The deadline for Gameweek 2 is 19th August, 11:30 (GMT) and the list of all the eligible players can be found in the Fantasy Scouted Football launch article - here.

With all the 'cheaters' being removed, next week will seem much more exciting and rewarding.

We promise.

Follow @ScoutedFtbl for all things U23, including updates on everything Fantasy Football.

The Leicester Way

BY: MATT ROBSON (@milanclubleics)

With clubs like Southampton and Ajax getting constant credit for their investment in youth football, has Leicester City’s youth development project gone under the radar?

HOW DO THEY DO IT?

When I was in the Leicester Academy in the years 2011-2013, the Foxes were an average club in the Championship who did not have lots of funding. However, no matter the situation financially they were always trying to develop their youth system. Youth academy setups are ranked by the FA from D to A, with A being the best. Despite being a mid-table Championship side, the Foxes were ready to compete with the youth facilities of the likes of Southampton and Manchester United. They educated players of all age groups on health and fitness and, on a more technical note, put in a new top of the range AstroTurf pitch and planned efficient training sessions. Even as young as 7, academy players partake in the same training sessions as the first team, just less intense. Therefore, each player knows what is expected of them and know how to play “the Leicester way” as they move up age groups. The players are so well trained from a young age and that is why the products can gel so quickly when they reach the first team

One academy graduate who integrated well when he was given an opportunity to feature in the senior team was Ben Chilwell. The 20-year-old joined the academy back in 2009 and he impressed whilst playing for the younger age groups. In the season 2014/15, the year of Leicester’s great escape from Premier League relegation, the Englishman was voted Academy Player of the Year. Despite such an impressive achievement for the youngster from Milton Keynes, there was a lot of uncertainty regarding the full back’s future. In the following pre-season, City’s gaffer Nigel Pearson was sacked after some controversial off pitch incidents. Everybody knew that Chilwell was a Pearson favourite so there were immediately some doubts about his position at the club. To make things worse, Claudio Ranieri, who rarely trusted young players, was Pearson’s replacement. However, things turned out perfectly after the Tinkerman sent the young Englishman out on loan to Huddersfield to gain some experience and the player, who had just turned 20 years old, came back rejuvenated. With no solid backup to first team left-back Christian Fuchs, Chilwell became that man and appeared twice for the Foxes in the FA Cup. The Englishman is the typical modern full back; he loves to bomb forward and help the team offensively. His best attributes are his pin point crosses and his confidence on the ball. He does, however, have to work on his defensive capabilities as he can get caught out by intelligent wingers on the odd occasion. Despite being so young, Chilwell has the qualities of a leader, he even captained the Leicester U-23’s last year and maybe he can go on to captain the first team in years to come.

The next young gem that Leicester have in their first team is another Englishman by the name of Demarai Gray. Unlike Chilwell, Gray did not come through the youth system but was signed from Birmingham City in 2016 for a fee of just £3.7m. As he joined in January of 2016, Gray did not have a lot of time to impress for the Foxes during their Premier League winning campaign. However, last season the 21-year-old really shone for Leicester with some world-class displays. Gray is one of the league’s most exciting prospects and has proven his worth with the England U-21s as well. His best attributes are his lightning quick pace, his agility and his intent to always go forward and attack. Unfortunately, with such great talent, there will always be bigger clubs ready to pounce. Despite his future being uncertain, one thing that cannot be doubted is Gray’s talent, which is priceless to Leicester.

The final young player that is in the first team is Nigerian midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi. The 20-year-old, who stands at 6 feet and 2 inches, is a highly rated starlet and one who was monitored by many of Europe’s top teams, including Manchester United. However, in January 2017, Leicester City managed to get their hands on him and he has been a fan favourite ever since. Ndidi possesses a rocket of a right foot, and he has proved regularly, including his strike against Club Brugge, which was clocked at 111km/h, during his time at Genk. His upper body strength allows him to shove off opponents with ease and he can pick out a pass out of nowhere. With midfield partner Danny Drinkwater usually lying deep in the middle of the park, this gives the 20-year-old the freedom to roam and contribute in the final third. Ndidi is irreplaceable for the Foxes and if they manage to keep hold of him, he will always be the first name on the team sheet.

The players mentioned so far are pretty well known around the world of football, but here are some players who have not quite reached the first team yet but are performing tremendously in Leicester’s youth team.

Harvey Barnes: 

- 19 years old, second striker.

- Top scorer at the 2017 Toulon Tournament with England.

- Mesmeric dribbler with an eye for goal.

Admiral Muskwe:

- 18 years old, centre forward.

-  Leicester u23s top scorer last season.

- Great off ball movement, clinical poacher.

Daniel Iversen:

- 18 years old, goalkeeper.

- Kept 7 clean sheets last season for Leicester u23s

-  Great footwork, the modern goalkeeper.

So, after winning the Premier League with a squad with an average of almost 29 years old in 2016, it looks as if the Foxes’ are looking to a brighter future with some amazing young talent. But will these young stars prove to be the answer for a club who want to taste European football again? Only time will tell. But Leicester’s commitment to developing talent must be commended.

Fantasy Scouted Football

What better excuse to follow the Premier League's brightest talents than pining for Fantasy Football points each weekend?

Scouted Football have created a league for the 2017/18 season through the official Premier League Fantasy Football website and there is only one rule you need to follow: U23 only.

FantasyFootball

Below is a list of eligible players complied for each position as well as their price and who they play for. To make sure the league stays competitive and varied enough, the goalkeeping age has been bumped up to 24. We didn't want everyone to have Ederson.

There are 106 players available to choose from and we are giving you all the information you could ever want, all you need to do is create your team and enter the league.

Fantasy Scouted Football code

2627141-615251

Scouted Football will be giving weekly shoutouts to the top performing managers, letting you know about any new U23 players that become available, as well as an update on the Scouted players who are racking up points.

We will also name and shame anyone we catch trying to sneak players in their team who *aren't* on the list below. You've been warned.

The winner at the end of the season will receive a Scouted-inspired football shirt - a priceless gift and permanent reminder of your Fantasy Football talent.

So bookmark this article and open up a new tab... you haven't got long to make a Fantasy Scouted Football team.

 24-year-old Jordan Pickford is available in goal after we bumped up the age cap for 'keepers.

24-year-old Jordan Pickford is available in goal after we bumped up the age cap for 'keepers.

The following list includes the price of the player at the start of the season or when they were first added to the game.

GOALKEEPERS (7)

£5.5m

Ederson (Manchester City)

£5.0m

Jordan Pickford (Everton); Loris Karius (Liverpool); Jack Butland (Stoke)

£4.0m

Joel Coleman (Huddersfield Town); Joel Pereira (Manchester United); Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United)

 The world's most expensive defender is still Scouted-eligible.

The world's most expensive defender is still Scouted-eligible.

DEFENDERS (41)

£6.5m

Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)

£6.0m

Hector Bellerin (Arsenal); Eric Bailly (Manchester United); Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur)

£5.5m

Andreas Christensen (Chelsea); John Stones (Manchester City); Victor Lindelöf (Manchester United); Kurt Zouma (Stoke City)

£5.0m

Rob Holding (Arsenal); Calum Chambers (Arsenal); Nathan Aké (Bournemouth); Jaïro Riedewald (Crystal Palace); Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Luke Shaw (Manchester United); Jack Stephens (Southampton); Wesley Hoedt (Southampton); Alfie Mawson (Swansea)

£4.5m

Charlie Taylor (Burnley); Mason Holgate (Everton); Jonjoe Kenny (Everton); Florent Hadergjonaj (Huddersfield Town); Ben Chilwell (Leicester City); Joe Gomez (Liverpool); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool); Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United); Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle); Javier Manquillo (Newcastle); Matt Targett (Southampton); Sam McQueen (Southampton); Jan Bednarek (Southampton); Josh Tymon (Stoke City); Stephen Kingsley (Swansea); Juan Foyth (Tottenham Hotspur); Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur); Declan Rice (West Ham); Sam Byram (West Ham)

£4.0m

Brad Smith (Bournemouth); Jon Gorenc Stanković (Huddersfield Town); Axel Tuanzebe (Manchester United); Chancel Mbemba (Newcastle); Brandon Mason (Watford)

 Dele Alli is a must-buy... surely?

Dele Alli is a must-buy... surely?

MIDFIELDERS (63)

£9.5m

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

£8.5m

Leroy Sané (Manchester City)

£8.0m

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City); Bernardo Silva (Manchester City); Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

£7.5m

Ross Barkley (Everton)

£6.5m

Nathan Redmond (Southampton)

£6.0m

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool); Sofiane Boufal (Southampton); Richarlison (Watford)

£5.5m

Alex Iwobi (Arsenal); Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth); Nikola Vlašić (Everton); Tom Davies (Everton); Ademola Lookman (Everton); Kasey Palmer (Huddersfield Town); Demarai Gray (Leicester); Jacob Murphy (Newcastle); James Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Tottenham Hotspur); Isaac Success (Watford); Oliver Burke (West Bromwich Albion)

£5.0m

Reiss Nelson (Arsenal); Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth); Solly March (Brighton & Hove Albion); Kenedy (Chelsea); Tiemoué Bakayoko (Chelsea); Charly Musonda (Chelsea); Abdelhamid Sabiri (Huddersfield Town); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City); Emre Can (Liverpool); Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool); Phil Foden (Manchester City); Brahim Diaz (Manchester City); Andrea Pereira (Manchester United); Mikel Merino (Newcastle); Mario Lemina (Southampton); Ramdan Sobhi (Stoke City); Renato Sanches (Swansea); Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur); Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur); Will Hughes (Watford); Sead Hakšabanović (West Ham)

£4.5m

Lewis Cook (Bournemouth); Kyle Scott (Chelsea); Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace); Jason Lokilo (Crystal Palace); Sullay Kaikai (Crystal Palace); Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town); Daniel Amartey (Leicester City); Marko Grujić (Liverpool); Ben Woodburn (Liverpool); Scott McTominay (Manchester United); Rolando Aarons (Newcastle); Isaac Hayden (Newcastle); Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton); Josh Sims (Southampton); Jay Fulton (Swansea); Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Tottenham Hotspur); Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford); Jonathan Leko (West Bromwich Albion); Sam Field (West Bromwich Albion); Edimilson Fernandes (West Ham)

FORWARDS (15)

 Kelechi Iheanacho has a point to prove.

Kelechi Iheanacho has a point to prove.

£10.5m

Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)

£8.5m

Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)

£7.5m

Sandro Ramirez (Everton); Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

£7.0m

Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)

£6.0m

Steve Mounie (Huddersfield Town)

£5.5m

Tammy Abraham (Swansea)

£5.0m

Lys Mousset (Bournemouth); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton); Dominic Solanke (Liverpool); Aleksandar Mitrović (Newcastle); Jerome Sinclair (Watford)

£4.5m

Oliver McBurnie (Swansea); Keshi Anderson (Crystal Palace); 


Made your team? Post your line up on Twitter and tag @ScoutedFtbl in the tweet. We'll be retweeting the teams that we think will give us a run for our money.*

*Free football shirt.

The Big Short – Betting Against the Transfer Market

By: Joe Donnohue (@JoeDonnohue)

The summer transfer window; extortionate fees, long-running sagas, the endless speculation and big clubs’ abuse of the loan system. Would it not be great if there was a solution that clubs could turn to, in order to avoid the incessant rumours and ransom-like prices?

Youth. It has been shown to work, that a crop of young players assembled at a small cost or produced through a club’s academy, can achieve success.

20 years ago, Manchester United’s ‘Class of 92’ had cemented their place in a title-winning team before being instrumental cogs in the machine that delivered the historic treble of 1999. Ajax’s rich history of promoting from within carries on to this day, with young talent being plucked from across the Netherlands and the world where they are developed into Ajacieden. These players go on to win titles and compete for major European honours, whether that be at Ajax or further afield.

AS Monaco’s Ligue 1 triumph of 2017, defying the oil-rich PSG a fifth successive title was a fairytale in itself, headed by a core of U-23 stars.

 Leonardo Jardim - AS Monaco's orchestrator

Leonardo Jardim - AS Monaco's orchestrator

Of course, there is the counter-argument that clubs can quite easily achieve domestic and continental honours through much more pragmatic means than producing a batch of youngsters who are fast-tracked to the first team. Chelsea and Manchester City for example have won multiple Premier League titles between them, spending exorbitant amounts of money in transfer fees while bringing through almost no youth of their own. It can be argued that they may not have enjoyed such success over the past decade or so, had they opted for trying out their own in the starting XI.

In this transfer window, Chelsea’s use of the loan market has been criticised yet again, as their reputation for stockpiling players has seen them loan out five U-23 players to five different Premier League clubs.

 Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham - The 19-year-old scored 23 times for Bristol City

Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham - The 19-year-old scored 23 times for Bristol City

Tammy Abraham (19), one of the standout performers of last season’s EFL Championship, has headed to Swansea City after signing a new deal extending his contract at Chelsea. Kurt Zouma (22), once billed as a shoe-in at centre-back following the gradual departure of John Terry, has departed to Stoke City on a season-long loan deal. Zouma is another player that Chelsea have tied down to a long-term extension on his current deal at Stamford Bridge.

Izzy Brown (20), a livewire in Huddersfield Town’s improbable but successful promotion bid, has temporarily left for Brighton, meanwhile Kasey Palmer (20) returns to Huddersfield for a second loan spell. Finally, one of the brightest prospects to emerge at Chelsea’s Cobham training facilities in recent years; Ruben Loftus-Cheek (21) joined Crystal Palace on loan in a bid for first team football, which he has been starved of at the Bridge.

Naturally, integrating each of these five players straight into Chelsea’s star-studded starting XI would not pay dividends in the form of Premier League and Champions League titles, but it is widely perceived that these players will never be given the chance to prove themselves in a Blues shirt.

Chelsea view their army of loanees as assets and will protect their sale value by tying them down to long contracts. Former Chelsea outcast Nemanja Matić was farmed out to long-term affiliate club Vitesse Arnhem over the course of the 2010-11 season, before being sold to Benfica, used as a pawn in a swap deal for David Luiz. Two-and-a-half years later, Chelsea coughed up a fee in the range of £21m to retrieve his services from Benfica.

 Ex-Chelsea enforcer Nemanja Matić (R) earning his stripes at SL Benfica

Ex-Chelsea enforcer Nemanja Matić (R) earning his stripes at SL Benfica

Should Matić have been afforded the opportunity to prove himself following his loan spell at Vitesse? There is a case for both sides of the argument but what harm could have befallen Chelsea by simply testing the waters and giving the Serbian a shot in the first team, at a time when the club finished 6th in the Premier League, a far-cry from their table-topping display of two years prior in 2010.

 Manchester United 'reject' Paul Pogba winning honours with 'The Old Lady'

Manchester United 'reject' Paul Pogba winning honours with 'The Old Lady'

The same can be said of Paul Pogba’s career to date. Discarded by Manchester United after being given a mere seven substitute appearances, Pogba left on a free transfer and joined Italian giants Juventus. Many Scudetto’s later and Pogba was on the move again, back to Old Trafford; an expensive mistake. Were the likes of Darron Gibson, Anderson and Zeki Fryers really that much better than Pogba and deserving of being retained in favour of the budding Frenchman?

 Pogba (C) during his first stint as a Manchester United player

Pogba (C) during his first stint as a Manchester United player

The loan market benefits a whole host of clubs, especially in the lower leagues, and does provide a platform for young players registered to top division clubs, to get minutes and professional experience. It is when this process is abused time and time again by clubs who view themselves as untouchable, that the concept of a loan market becomes distorted. Assuming that Chelsea’s loanees currently at Premier League clubs will be starters, when they visit Stamford Bridge or when the Blues roll into town, Chelsea will be playing weakened opposition due to their loanees’ ineligibility. That will affect five clubs (so far) in the league and several others in the Championship such as Fulham and Hull City, should they be drawn together in a cup competition.

While Pogba looks to spearhead a Manchester United surge back to the summit of English football, Matić has headed for the exit door at Stamford Bridge once again this summer. He will seemingly be replaced by the more youthful Tiemoué Bakayoko, a success story from AS Monaco where youth are given a platform to excel.

 

PSG domination of French football had been renowned prior to a gutsy bunch of youngsters, led by Leonardo Jardim who emerged as serious contenders to the Parisiens’ crown in 2016. The undoubted star of Monaco’s Class of 2016-17 was Kylian Mbappé; the dynamic, crowd-enthusing forward whose youthful optimism dazzled spectators and opposition defenders throughout the entire season.

“If you’re good enough, you’re old enough”. The old saying rings true when it comes to Mbappé, handed his first team debut in December 2015 as a 16-year old, breaking the record previously held by Thierry Henry as the club’s youngest player. His first dozen games for Monaco were not uninspiring, but they were a world away from his performances that would place him firmly in the world footballing spotlight, just a year later.

 Kylian Mbappé - Wonderkid

Kylian Mbappé - Wonderkid

Mbappé grew in confidence and began to handle the exposure to first team football following his first season with the first team, leading to his inclusion in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Team of the Tournament in 2016. Nevertheless, nobody would have expected this boy to be named in the Champions League Team of the Season just ten months on.

It was not until October 21st, 2016, that Mbappé really announced himself to French football, never mind the world. A goal and two assists in a league fixture against Montpellier gave Jardim a dilemma. Many top clubs across Europe were in hot pursuit of the young Parisien, and given his lack of playing time prior to this game at Monaco, prospective offers will have been considered. Subsequently, Mbappé missed just two league games for the rest of the season and helped fire Monaco to their first Ligue 1 title since 2000. All the while, Jardim protected and appreciated the value of Monaco’s greatest asset, much akin to that of Chelsea, however their methods of doing so could not be more scathingly different.

A hat-trick against Stade Rennais in the Coupe De La Ligue in December 2016, six days before his eighteenth birthday made people begin to sit up and take note.

In a few months’ time, he would be the hottest property in world football. Why? Because he was given the opportunity to showcase his talent on the big stage and he did not disappoint. In fact, he was exceptional. Had Jardim considered Mbappé too raw for his team and stuck with Valere Germain in attack, Monaco may not have romped to the league title in such rampant fashion, if at all.

Monaco’s team of 2016-17 was not dominated by just one player, it was an astute compilation of fervent attacking talent, speed and often naïve enthusiasm which made them a joy to watch. They went through the season bludgeoning teams to death, winning league fixtures three and four goals to nil as if it was ordinary to do so. Leonardo Jardim must deserve immense credit for this experiment of his where a triumvirate of Bernardo Silva (22) – now of Manchester City, Thomas Lemar (21) and Kylian Mbappé (18) terrorised Ligue 1 defences and put on a show of epic proportions against some of European football’s most exciting and dangerous teams such as Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund.

 Pivotal during the Monégasque title triumph, Thomas Lemar has a big future 

Pivotal during the Monégasque title triumph, Thomas Lemar has a big future 

Mbappé, brought through the youth ranks at Monaco combining with Lemar, signed for a snip at just £3.4m in 2015 from SM Caen, are prime examples of how clubs like Monaco who should be challenging for titles, can do exactly that by giving their young players a platform to perform upon, and at the same time without breaking the bank. Of course, Bernardo Silva was more expensive at around €15m but the principle remains the same, that at his former club Benfica, he was not provided with ample opportunities to showcase himself on a regular basis. At Monaco and in Portugal’s youth teams he thrived.

It remains to be seen whether Monaco’s level of unprecedented success can be repeated on another scale, at another club in a different country. The inevitable break-up of their 2016-17 squad began even before the transfer window opened and it doesn’t look like stopping any time soon with Lemar and Mbappé both unsurprisingly linked with huge money moves elsewhere.

The banality of some players being touted to clubs for eye-watering fees has become the norm in the modern age of the cult of the transfer market. Premier League spending alone is set to surpass the £1bn mark in guaranteed fees, without considering add-ons. Ordinary players with high-maintenance agents and extraordinary wage demands come in, while youth prospects are cast aside and loaned elsewhere, with little regard for their development. Their potential could be equally as exceptional as Kylian Mbappé’s, yet it will never be realised if they are not given the opportunity in the appropriate high-pressure setting.

If they are consistently incapable of handling the hardships of the modern game at the top level, the transfer market has been proved the correct way of assembling a team. It is an area where the Premier League is fundamentally behind other major European leagues, but it is not alone. The culture of spending is not isolated to the British Isles, however abroad, as proven by Monaco’s victory over the major adversity in PSG, there is a much more distinct culture of nurturing and developing rather than seeking the quick fix.

 

In days gone by, teams produced their own talent and were successful from doing so. Many academies in lesser footballing nations without Level 1 Facilities and a smaller population, produce excellent players due to the fact that their young players are exposed to the rigours of first team football from a young age, if their natural talent is befitting of what is required to play at that level.

 

Can you name one Formula One driver from an African country, apart from South Africa? And can you really imagine that there is not one guy in Africa with the talent to be a Formula One driver? Why are they not there? Because nobody has given them a chance.
— Arsène Wenger in an interview with The Telegraph in 2011.
 Arsène Wenger (R) alongside Arsenal legend Thierry Henry (L)

Arsène Wenger (R) alongside Arsenal legend Thierry Henry (L)

Mauricio Pochettino is one of the most exciting, young coaches in world football at present, with a vast collective of young, primarily English talent. His attitude towards youth bucks the trend of the English Premier League, proven by his continued faith in 24-year-old Harry Kane; his success a testament to the ethos at the Lane. Kane is not the only one to benefit from Pochettino’s faith; Dele Alli, Premier League Young Player of the Year two years running, can attribute a great deal of his early career success to Pochettino’s trust as well along with his undisputed ability.

 Mauricio Pochettino - Defying the Premier League's attitude towards young players

Mauricio Pochettino - Defying the Premier League's attitude towards young players

“He’s one of our own”; is famous on the terraces nowadays yet everybody knows it is truly the chant which embodies Spurs’ perseverance with young players in their academy. Harry Kane had to endure many unsuccessful and dissatisfying loans on his road to the top. A goalless spell at Norwich City and three months at Leicester City where he largely warmed the bench, immediately preceded his breakthrough at Tottenham. At plenty of other clubs, he may have been deemed surplus to requirements at this point having failed to make an impact in a lesser team or in a lesser division, but Spurs’ coaching staff persisted and eventually gave him the chance.

Former youth team coach Tim Sherwood introduced him to the first-team fold before he was relieved of his duties, however it was under Pochettino that Kane began to thrive. Credit must go to the Argentine for retaining the young England striker in his ranks, which has indubitably led to Kane’s exponential rise to become one of Europe’s hottest strikers and England’s key asset. It’s not as if Pochettino didn’t have better striking options on paper: Roberto Soldado who had spent three seasons at Valencia, averaging just shy of 20 league goals per season, a player who at the time could have been perceived as needing more time to settle. Emmanuel Adebayor, a striker of brilliant Premier League pedigree, scorer of many a-goal at Arsenal and Manchester City, with a point to prove. An imposing striker such as the Togolese man would surely have represented a better striking option given the current circumstances facing Tottenham in 2014-15. 

 Harry Kane (C) during his loan spell at Leicester City. £30m Manchester United 'reject' Michael Keane pictured (R)

Harry Kane (C) during his loan spell at Leicester City. £30m Manchester United 'reject' Michael Keane pictured (R)

Nevertheless, when Kane was provided with game-time he used it to his advantage and created a dilemma for Pochettino. Could the manager justify making the in-form academy graduate their lead man up front and keep his job, while taskmaster Daniel Levy continued to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds a week in wages to the aforementioned Soldado and Adebayor? The answer was simple, yes, he could – and it paid dividends.

From that point on, Spurs surpassed the previous season’s final position in the Premier League table each year, climbing from 6th, to 5th before posing title challenges in 2016 and 2017, finishing 3rd and 2nd respectively. The crux of their relative success being down to their talisman and forward-thinking manager.

Dele Alli is another who has benefitted greatly from Pochettino’s zeal for young players. Already an England stalwart for years to come at just 21-years-old, Alli’s career could have taken a very different track had he moved elsewhere following his breakout at MK Dons. A meagre £5m sum prized him away in the winter transfer window of 2015, although part of the agreement was that he would be immediately loaned back to stadium:mk for the remainder of the 2014-15 campaign for developmental reasons. 

 Dele Alli (R) has benefitted greatly from the trust Pochettino has placed in him

Dele Alli (R) has benefitted greatly from the trust Pochettino has placed in him

Dele hit the ground running during his maiden season with Spurs, cementing a place in Pochettino’s system, never looking out of place after a handful of initial substitute appearances. Had the England international joined Chelsea for example, his career trajectory may have taken him to Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie during 2015-16, along with a whole host of other Chelsea loanees. At Spurs, his ability and crucially his potential, were noted instantaneously, allowing him to be integrated into a first team role perhaps earlier than even Pochettino had anticipated.

 Alli (L) battles with Mesut Özil in a senior international match between England and Germany

Alli (L) battles with Mesut Özil in a senior international match between England and Germany

The raw, natural talent is out there, festering in academies, prevented from first-team disclosure because of the bureaucracy and red-tape that dictates how modern football clubs are run. Managers in high-pressure jobs are required to deliver results and if spending exorbitant fees on proven quality is the answer to keeping their job, they will almost always opt against experimentation and taking a risk by playing youth. This model is unsustainable because after all, the players being signed for the huge fees had to have been developed somewhere. These same players had to have been given the opportunity to impress in a first-team setting, no matter how large or small.

The Premier League harbours this culture where youth is unappreciated for what it is. The usual stereotypes of, “You can’t win anything with kids”, seep into the thinking of football fans, managers, pundits and chairmen and it becomes gospel.

In 2009-10, Portsmouth fielded a starting line-up whose average age was 32.3 years old. Similarly, for the majority of the 2012-13 season, Fulham fielded a starting XI where the average age was over 31 years old. In Portsmouth’s case, the club were relegated as the league’s basement club, meanwhile Fulham finished twelfth, but were relegated the following season with the core of the squad still the same.

 David James; a member of Portsmouth's doomed Old Guard of 2010

David James; a member of Portsmouth's doomed Old Guard of 2010

There are plenty of case studies dictating that success can be garnered from blooding youth. Monaco and Tottenham are two renowned examples of such systems being implemented successfully, meanwhile Chelsea’s abuse of the loan market is documented widely by the mainstream media whenever the transfer window rolls around. However, they are not the only club suspect of stockpiling and treating players as appreciable assets, rather than aiming to incorporate them into a first-team environment.

It is an attitude that will not be changed overnight, but a gradual movement towards trusting young players with more responsibility could very well be an experiment that pays off for clubs who adopt these methods, trailblazing the idea of shorting the transfer market and focusing more enthusiastically on youth. 

Meet Dawid Kownacki, the Pole pegged to replace Patrik Schick 

BY: MATTHEW SANTANGELO (@MATT_SANTANGELO)

Last week, amidst the concern – and now official collapse - of Patrik Schick’s €30.5 move from Sampdoria to Juventus, the Blucerchiati welcomed another gifted young forward into the fold; 20-year old Polish striker Dawid Kownacki.

Dubbed ‘the next Robert Lewandowski’, Kownacki has set out to emulate his role model currently tormenting his opponent at every turn in Germany. Prior to becoming one of the top strikers in European football at Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Lewandowski spent two successful seasons with Ekstraklasa club Lech Poznań where he bagged over 40 goals. Claiming Kownacki to be cut from the same cloth, though it may sound like a stretch, is not as completely farfetched as it seems. By observing the two stars comparable growth early in their 20s prior to leaving Poznań, there is reason to believe Kownacki could follow in his idol’s footsteps and become the next Polish star. But success in football, like life, requires patience, persistence and self-belief in order to reach historic heights.

Kownacki debuted in the Polish first division at 16 during the 2013-14 campaign, scoring his maiden goal a month before turning 17, along the way becoming Lech Poznań’s youngest ever goal-scorer. Oozing infinite potential, early success induced a sense of entitlement. Deep down, Kownacki felt as though he was on the fast-track to superstardom. CEO of the Polish Football Federation Zbigniew Boniek, however, believed this immediate success got to his head, quoted as saying, via Kamil Rogolski, that ‘Dawid had a moment of obsession that everything should happen to him, here and now, including transfers abroad.’

Persevering amidst the struggle, Kownacki’s mindset has since changed, ultimately helping him become a grounded, more technically versed footballer, as we saw last year at Poznań. At 20, he has begun to understand the meaning of hard work, determination and patience, all of which will lead him down the right path to a stellar playing career.

Initial scouting reports of Kownacki during his first two seasons at Poznań indicated that he was the type of striker that would score the bulk of his goals in the penalty area. During the 2015-16 season under manager Jan Urban, Lech Poznań endured their fair share of shortcomings up front. Starved of attacking talent, Kownacki was confined to the box, ultimately exposing his lack of co-operation, unable to connect with his midfield on a consistent basis; thereby disjointing the attack. Urban was replaced after just one season at the helm by Yugoslavian Nenad Bjelica, who immediately altered Kownacki’s mentality as a centre-forward. Instantly, his skill-set expanded, blossoming into an offensive midfielder who actively enjoyed increased space and time on the ball. You could argue Bjelica completely reworked his approach, evident in his 9 goals scored in 16-17 from just over 1300 total minutes of league action.

Now, the question one should be asking is: how will Kownacki fill in at Sampdoria, and can he follow up Schick’s rookie campaign with a masterclass of his own?

Kownacki’s fast movement and mobility enables manager Marco Giampaolo to play more direct football. Counter-attacking should be a strength for Sampdoria this upcoming season, especially with the additions of left-back Nicola Murru and winger Gianluca Caprari. Kownacki will have options to play in wide areas, and may find himself linking up with the fellow Poznań academy graduate Karol Linetty and the ‘Uruguayan Veratti’ Lucas Torreira who is the controller at the base of Giampaolo’s projected 4-3-1-2. Sampdoria, with Luis Muriel now at Sevilla, could elect to play Kownacki up front as the vice-Fabio Quagliarella. At 34, the Italian’s limited movement could bode well for Kownacki whose energy and ability to link play permits Quagliarella to focus his efforts on causing damage in the penalty area. Or, perhaps Kownacki is part of a rotation with Caprari on the right-wing, seeing as the Roman possesses the quality and understanding to play in behind Quagliarella as a seconda punta.

Sampdoria, whether Schick stays or goes, must make do without Muriel and the criminally underrated Portuguese number 10 Bruno Fernandes by finding creative ways to replace their offensive outputs. Kownacki’s arrival, in short, delivers Giampaolo a flexible attacking player, who, despite lacking physical strength, should find regular time immediately as Sampdoria aim to chase a possible UEFA Europa League birth in 2017-18.

Arkadiusz Milik sits as the main man in the Italian top-flight at Napoli, and Łukasz Teodorczyk is tearing it up in Belgium with Anderlecht, but it is Dawid Kownacki who is the most talented striker Polish football has seen since Robert Lewandowski. The pressure is on young Dawid to lift the Sampdoria faithful this season at the Marassi as the latest foreign import from Poland, and begin leaving his footprint on Italian turf.

2019 EUROPEAN U19 CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT

Another tournament, another big English success this summer.

However, the country of England were not the only big winners at the conclusion of the U-19 European Championship. A number of individuals excelled at this tournament, laying down a marker for successful and meaningful careers in the world of senior football, notably those from Georgia and the Czech Republic, many of whom were relatively unknown to us at Scouted Football before the beginning of this tournament.

Without further ado, here is the Scouted Football U-19 Euro Team of the Tournament.

GK: JUSTIN BIJLOW

While most tipped Ferdi Kadioglu, Javairo Dilrosun, and Joel Piroe to grab the headlines for the Netherlands at the start of this tournament, there is a strong argument that Justin Bijlow was the standout player of this Dutch side.

Bijlow was incredibly quick to shut down players in one-on-one situations and showed great agility and reflexes to prevent close range efforts from finding the back of the net. Bijlow denied both Aymen Barkok and Mason Mount from six yards out with a quick run off his line and a wide spread of his body to close down all shooting angles. Confidence and decisiveness are often two traits goalkeepers perfect over time, but Bijlow shows no doubt in his abilities or decisions when he steps onto the pitch. His maturity, however, can be called into question after a risky decision shoots him in the foot, but the energy and charisma he radiates makes watching this goalkeeper’s individual performances enjoyable and refreshing.

Most may argue that the failure to preserve one clean sheet should be held against Bijlow, but, in terms of individual ability, Bijlow was undoubtedly the most talented goalkeeper at the U19 Euro. The hope for Bijlow after this tournament is that Feyenoord take his performances into consideration and allow him to mature with more minutes in the Eredivisie. Next season could be Bijlow’s time to solidify a permanent role as his boyhood club’s first choice goalkeeper.

LB: LIBOR HOLIK

One Scouted admin calls Libor Holik ‘#TheTruth’. While that may be something of an exaggeration, there is no doubt that the Czech full-back was one of the most dominant players at this tournament.

Holik’s goal and two assists in four matches highlighted his approach to playing as a full-back - he loves nothing more than getting forward. Arguably asked to charge forward more often than usual due to the lack of creative options in the Czech offense, the Slavia Prague prospect displayed a strikingly pinpoint range of crosses - on both feet! Yes, after being forced onto the left-side of defence - away from the right where he started the tournament - Holik demonstrated that his delivery on his left was equally devastating to that of his right-foot.

Defensively there are still questions to be asked about Holik for the future. He struggled to maintain an effective balance between defence and attack, at times. Part of this can be linked to his role in the team, but at times he placed too much pressure on his team-mates to drop in and fill the space he left behind as he marauded forward. Despite this, his on-ball defending was routinely solid. He is a tall full-back and is not lacking in pace either.

LCB: TREVOH CHALOBAH

Imposing would be a wonderful way to describe England’s Trevoh Chalobah. Tall, strong and willing to embrace the physical aspect of defending, it was apparent from the outset that Chalobah would be a mismatch for any striker matched up against him at this tournament. Disappointingly, the Chelsea youth prospect was forced off with injury early in England’s third group game, but he showed more than enough in the first two games to warrant a selection in our TOTT.

In just one televised game against the Netherlands, the English centre-back displayed that was not only a powerful presence; dominant in the air and man-to-man. Not only that, he also showcased his deft touch, willingness to charge forward and ability to spread the play long. While he has a long way to go to reach Leonardo Bonucci levels of defence-splitting long pass accuracy, there is clearly a foundation there to develop that is quite astounding (almost unheard of) for someone of his size and build.

We did not get to see enough of Chalobah, but he may have the highest ceiling of any player at this tournament if he is able to make the leap forward into senior football.

RCB: ALEX KRAL

Alex Kral’s gangly frame and Sideshow Bob-esque hair-cut juxtaposes jarringly with his style of play. The Czech defender plays a composed game centred around his composure and positioning. In this TOTT line-up, he provides a wonderful foil to Chalobah in that sense as he is able to sit back and read the play, mopping up any danger that manages to evade the clutches of the aggressive Englishman. The Slavia Prague youngster likes to burst forward in a similar style to Chalobah though, with his deceptive turn of pace and his prowess in the box at set-piece opportunities.

While he prefers to read the game, Kral proved he was capable aerially and physically. He set an example for his team-mates and at times seemed to act as a de-facto leader on the pitch despite not being captain of his team. Furthermore, the Czech’s maintained one of the most solid defences of the tournament and were the only team that looked capable of locking eventual champions England out for long periods of time. Kral played an integral role in that, keeping England’s Ben Brereton quiet for the hour he spent on the pitch, while almost nicking a goal for himself at the other end. Kral was not at fault for the eventual England goal in the final minute of stoppage time that sent his team packing.

RB: DIOGO DALOT

Portugal’s youth squad have not been the most compact sides when it comes to defending, but Diogo Dalot reminds us all of what it was like when a fullback had a defense first mentality. While offensive contribution is obviously necessary for a modern day fullback, Dalot’s defensive work rate is a huge reason as to why they made it the final.

There is a wonderful maturity about Dalot that calms the Portuguese backline and allows them to work an attack from back to front. On the ball, Dalot uses his tidy ball control to push his team forward and evade oncoming pressure from opposition forwards. He often catches defenders by surprise with how fast he is both on and off the ball given the patience he shows when deciding the right moments to go join the attack. Defensively, this enables him to cheat and cut passing lanes rather than man mark because of he has no problem tracking back. Dalot also has no problem with making a crunching challenge on forwards, exhibiting his slide tackling expertise on more than one occasion.

Having now featured for both the under-20 and under-19 sides at two major competitions, it seems it is only a matter of time before Dalot gets a look at by the Porto first team. Given their track record of producing offensive fullbacks such as Danilo and Alex Sandro, Porto will have to grow accustomed to Dalot’s defensive nature. At youth level for Porto, however, Dalot has shown he can be a lethal provider from the wide positions and can easily refine his offensive contribution over the next two or three seasons in Portugal.

CDM: GIORGI KUTSIA

While Georgia’s offensive trio of Giorgis captivated us with their skill, technique, intelligence, and overall brilliance, Giorgi Kutsia allowed for their brilliance by recovering and recycling possession in midfield. While being a “destroyer” type of holding midfielder is not the most glamorous job in football, Kutsia continued to remind us just how important that position is to a successful team.

Kutsia is an interesting play-breaking midfielder in the sense that he combines an instinctive positional awareness and excellent passing range with his natural engine and ability to cover a lot of ground in a short time. When recovering possession, Kutsia emulates the attributes of Tiemoue Bakayoko in that, despite his lesser stature, he can bulldoze through midfielders. His positional awareness is top notch as well, preserving his energy for when he needs to haul back with his defenders when opponents begin a counter attack. Kutsia’s passing range is also quite exceptional but more to the point where it’s functional and gets the job done rather than being the final ball that sends a forward through on goal.

His overall game is strengthened by his ability to carry the ball and knowledge of when and where to release possession. Some holding midfielders tend to win the ball back for their side but then pass it to the first available teammate regardless of their positioning. Unlike those midfielders, Kutsia remains composed on the ball and has shown he is capable of dribbling on his own and winning fouls in dangerous areas. Giorgi Kutsia is a Giorgi not to forget.

LCM: FILIP HAVELKA

Czech midfielder Filip Havelka quietly went about his business at the U-19 Euro without pulling up any massive trees, but he was consistently frustrating the opposition with his defensive efforts, while hurting them with an excellent passing range in the opposite direction. At Scouted, we take notice of that. Havelka’s willingness to assist the back-line not only bolstered numbers, but also allowed Libor Holik to push forward and star at this tournament. Havelka is a facilitator in every sense and a real team player.

His eye for a cross-field ‘Hollywood’ pass was also instrumental in allowing the Czech Republic’s dangerous wide players to gain possession in space. His short passing game was slightly less adventurous, but allowed the Czechs to slow down the game and take control of the tactical battle - which they did in their semi-final defeat to England; a match they were criminally unfortunate not to win.

RCM: MASON MOUNT

England’s Mason Mount was the undisputed best player of the tournament. The Chelsea youth prospect played five consistently high-quality games and was vital in garnering results in a number of them. His involvement in five goals at the tournament, including four assists, highlighted that he is not only a creative player and fabulous link between midfield and attack, but that he is able to convert that into setting up his team-mates for gilt-edged chances, as he did regularly throughout the tournament.

Mount’s impressive tournament was headlined by his tidy close control, intricate and sharp movement between the lines and his ability to make plays from the half-spaces. His presence gave fluidity to an otherwise very structured English attack and constantly created space for his compatriots to work into. He smashed the structure of the Portuguese back-line in the tournament, especially on the counter-attack where he often produced his best work.

Credit must also be given to the English coaches and Mount’s midfield colleagues, whose tactics and defensive efforts respectively allowed him the license to create.

LW: RYAN SESSEGNON

Fulham fans know Sessegnon best for his defensive work at left back, while England’s U19 coaching staff know him more as a slick left winger. Overall, the divided opinion on where Sessegnon plays best justifies the claim that he is one of the most versatile and well-rounded young players in the world. Since England utilized Sessegnon as a left wing for this tournament, here is low the down on what he does right and what he does wrong in that position.

Sessegnon loves to take a defender one-on-one and, in most cases, will come out on top in that battle with his electric pace and controlled dribbling. His pace becomes even more difficult for defenders to contend when he makes runs in between channels to latch onto a through ball. Against Germany, he did just that when Mason Mount sent a lovely weighted chip pass for Sessegnon to run onto and finish off with a splendid half-volley. However, Sessegnon can be terribly one-footed at times and shows an odd reluctance to cross the ball for a wide player. While his crossing has historically never been as pristine as you would expect from a left wing, it is shocking to see how carelessly he gives away possession with a bad ball. His one-footedness also makes him easier for defenders to pressure, allowing them to force him onto his weaker right foot and pounce on a bad touch.

The question coming out of this tournament now is where do Fulham play Sessegnon come opening day in the Championship? Their lack of depth at left back is the reason for his introduction to the position, but he has showcased immense promise further up the field for England and when playing there for Fulham. Although Sessegnon is just 17-years old, the sooner he solidifies a definite position the smoother his growth and development will become at the professional level.

ST: VIKTOR GYOKERES

While the likes of Joel Piroe or Ben Brereton boast a hat trick or late goal scoring form at this this year’s U19 Euro, none compare to overall completeness of Viktor Gyokeres’ game. The Swedish forward has everything you could possibly ask for from a hold up striker with his massive presence and knack for being in the right place at the right time in the box. Sweden were knocked out of the competition early this time around, but Gyokeres has done no harm to his stock after three matches.

Gyokeres embodies the typical bulky center forward Sweden have become accustomed to with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and John Guidetti. His volleyed goal against Portugal optimized the meaning of a target forward, as he muscled off Joao Queiros to chest down a long ball and smash it into the roof of Diogo Costa’s net. That goal also illustrated his splendid technique when striking the ball, as well as the different ways he can punish a team when given a sniff of goal. Gyokeres has also shown that he has the poacher’s instinct, making a late run into the box to dispatch a withdrawn cross from a teammate as done against the Czech Republic. We would never go as far as to say this could be Sweden’s next Zlatan, but Gyokeres has the potential to be something special for national team.

With three goals from three games, Gyokeres finished as the tournament’s joint top goalscorer and with an impressive conversion rate from just five shots on target. Even if the scouts weren’t attracted towards a rather lackluster Swedish side this time around, Viktor Gyokeres can still build his portfolio for a big move with a decent season at Brommapojkarna in Sweden next year.

RW: GIORGI CHAKVETADZE

Giorgi Chakvetadze looks rather special. Along with Giorgi Arabidze, Chakvetadze was the most technically breathtaking player at this tournament. His ability to carry the ball in midfield and glide past opposition players allowed Georgia to break with lightning speed and meant they had a chance in every match, despite often being outgunned.

As the link between defence and attack, Chakvetadze’s impact was the sole reason why Georgia had a chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds. Without him on the field, they were strikingly disjointed. With him, everything seemed to flow. Giorgi Kokrheidze was able to rest on the shoulder of the last man, Giorgi Arabdize was able to roam and Chakvetadze willingly facilitated whenever he had the ball with precise delivery.

He seemed to gravitate to wherever the ball would drop and was hungry for any loose ball that could be turned into a positive counter-attack. However, his skillset looks like it could be easily transferable to a slower, possession-based style of play. Like Mason Mount, Chakvetadze has a knack for popping up in dangerous areas and making plays.

SUBSTITUTES:

AARON RAMSDALE

Ramsdale, though often untested by opposition forwards, was superb when called upon to make the odd save from time to time. He provided excellent leadership for an ever changing England backline and assured them with confident goalkeeping all tournament.

The English shot-stopper is definitely one of the bulkier ‘keepers at this tournament, but his reactions to get down to driven shots are surprisingly quick. Ramsdale also benefits from a wide wingspan and an incredible ability to stretch himself when needed. One-on-one situations are often difficult to win against Ramsdale as well seeing how he manages to make himself even bigger when rushing towards forwards with arms and legs spread.

Bournemouth will be pleased with the fine form their goalkeeping prodigy found for England and will hopefully include him in the remainder of their preseason. The signing of Asmir Begovic from Chelsea most likely dampens any chances he had of challenging Artur Boruc for the number one spot, but he can always fight for an opportunity in the domestic cups and as Begovic’s understudy during the Premier League season.

ANTON KRALJ

Sweden’s tiny left-back Anton Kralj made up for his small stature with some instinctive gut-running and tidy positioning throughout his country’s U-19 Euro campaign.

In the same way that his height will always be a glowing concern, Kralj’s huge engine will always be a positive. He hustles up and down that left-side for 90 minutes without slowing down and he was able to tee up some nice opportunities for the Swedish attackers, namely Viktor Gyokeres.

His assist to Gyokeres in the final group game defeat showcased everything exciting about Kralj’s game. He combined his burst of pace with his neat crossing ability, but most importantly, it was late in the game with his team down 2-0. He never gives up.

JAY DASILVA

Tournament winning captain? Check. Consistent displays at left-back? Check. Scouted Football U-19 Euro Team of the Tournament? Check.

If a player returns home with those three things ticked off, they know they can be proud of their efforts. Jay Da Silva's sensational synergy with Ryan Sessegnon was one of the highlights of the tournament. The perfect partner providing width when Sessegnon wanted to drift inside, or underlapping to isolate the opposition full-back on the touchline. Da Silva was the catalyst for Sessegnon's performances and gave him the opportunities and space to terrorise defenders; he did not disappoint. In fact, Da Silva is probably more technically polished than the Fulham youngster ahead of him, and his experience at top-level youth tournaments with Chelsea was evident.

He looked composed and assured throughout, and despite some difficulties in defence, overall Jay Da Silva was the perfect full-back package. Rarely beaten, always reliable and an asset in every part of the pitch.

He was the underrated leader that glued England’s title-winning team together.

DANI DE WIT

Similar to Kutsia’s role with Georgia, De Wit provided a strong and physical presence for the Netherlands when defending counter attacks. As Kadioglu and Kongolo continued to push further up the field to try and get on the ball, De Wit would sit ready to pounce on a loose pass or change the point of attack with a cross-field ball.

De Wit was a mainstay for the Dutch midfield and for good reason. The Ajax product never shied away from a challenge, serving as the team’s mediator when their opponents were beginning to pick up steam. While he doesn’t possess the same technical prowess as Giorgi Kutsia, De Wit does offer more strength and security in front of his defense. It is hard to remember when De Wit was beaten by a forward without him either committing a technical foul or simply winning the ball back with a tackle. When the going got tough for the Netherlands, De Wit got going.

If De Wit starred for this under-19 side this summer, it is more than likely we will see him make a few cameos for Ajax’s first team next season. With the departure of Davy Klaassen from the center of midfield, De Wit will hope to make his way up the pecking order and hopefully find himself as a first team regular come next June.

DOMINGOS QUINA

Many remember Domingos Quina as the Portuguese wonder who decided to sign with West Ham United rather than remain at Chelsea’s academy. Quina is an extremely talented midfielder, but there is a certain feeling that the hype this drama built around him made Quina out to be a luxurious midfielder that scores goals and slices defenses with his passes. While these traits may develop later on, they are not the defining features of his style of play.

Quina is an efficient, hardworking box-to-box midfielder that possesses great technical ability and wards off pressure from defenders well. The Portuguese midfielder can be a crafty dribbler at times with the way he skips by challenges and burns defenders with his change of speed. Guilty at times for holding possession longer than necessary, Quina is still an excellent workhorse defensively. Quina’s passing range showed well in the semifinals as his dictatorship of midfield nullified Ferdi Kadioglu and Rodney Kongolo’s involvement for the Dutch. His movement also ensures that there is always an outlet or pocket of space for a teammate to find, allowing Portugal to continue their build-up play.

The downside to Quina’s game is the lack of end product. Everyone is aware of his individual capabilities and he has shown on more than one occasion for West Ham’s youth sides that he can strike a ball from distance. His selflessness often sees him waste shooting opportunities, preferring to play a negative ball back to a deep midfielder or defender and restarting the attack. If Quina starts to contribute more goals and direct assists in his next season with West Ham, he absolutely has a shot at breaking into the first team before he hits 20-years old.

GIORGI ARABIDZE

Giorgi Arabidze was this tournament’s X-Factor player. While Chakvetadze and Giorgi Kokhreidze played with great intelligence, it was their counterpart on the right-wing who was often the go-between.

The Georgian combines his lightning speed and superb dribbling technique to great effect, stretching opposition defences and creating space for team-mates to zone into. Along with Kokhreidze, this creation of space played an integral role in allowing Chakvetadze to shine at this tournament.

In Georgia’s opening game defeat against Portugal, not only was the 19-year-old the best player on the field, he also displayed a willingness to lead his team with Kokhreidze and Chakvetadze off the field. His relentless running and set-piece taking ability almost carried his country to a point.

BEN BRERETON

Nottingham Forest’s breakthrough player from last season found it difficult to break into this England setup at the start of the tournament, but his goal scoring touch came just in time for his nation to progress from the group stage with ease.

Brereton was the perfect center piece to England’s front trio, holding up play and waiting for the runs of Isaac Buckley-Ricketts and Ryan Sessegnon behind the backline. From there, the poacher’s instinct turned on and Brereton continued his late runs into the box as England attacked their opponents with crosses from the wings. The lanky striker could have benefited from better service from his wingers throughout the tournament, but it was just his presence in the box that wreaked havoc for defenders as there was another man for them to mark.

Seeing as Brereton already became a regular for Nottingham last season and has had a fairly decent U19 Euros, the expectation is that manager Mark Warburton will continue to feed his rising star more minutes. His goal poaching could be the perfect solution to the any offensive struggles Nottingham endured over the course of last season.

The Standout Young Lions in a Summer of Success

By Jake Entwiste (@JakeEntwistle)

In a summer of unprecedented success, it was these Young Lions that still managed to stand above the rest. The priority now must be to ensure their talent is not lost.

U19 Winners

2017 saw England enjoy the most successful summer in their history at youth level.

Maiden U20 World Cup and U19 Euro triumphs were accompanied by the retention of their Toulon Tournament crown, U17 Euro runners-up and a place in the U21 Euro semi-finals for the first time since 2009.

No side was beaten in 90 minutes. It was only the cruel mistress that is a penalty shootout saw the defeated sides fall.

It almost seems unfair therefore to single out individuals in what was clearly a fantastic few months for all involved. Yet, I felt the need to focus on the one player from each age group that really stood out amongst their peers.

U21 Gray

The U17s were the most scintillating iteration of the Young Lions this summer and there was one player who epitomised that above all others. Similarly, the performances of one particular U20 ever-present embodied everything so impressive about the history-makers in South Korea.

As for the side that tore apart all challengers in Toulon, a specific individual seemed to be operating on his own plane of brilliance. Whilst the same can be said for the U19s, in which a unique talent took it upon himself to carry England to victory.

And finally, the European U21 Championships saw the emergence of a future leader for the national team; fitting in a summer which has seen a wave of optimism and excitement for England’s future develop.

U17 Celebration

Every England youth international this summer is deserving of praise. But for these five it is absolutely necessary.


Jadon Sancho

European U17 Championship Special Mention

Age: 17 years old

Position: Left-wing

Club: Manchester City

Sancho

Jadon Sancho was the standout star in a tournament that was blessed with exceptional talent.

His dribbling made him a constant danger, whilst he proved deadly in the final third. He scored five goals and recorded five assists, a sensational contribution that reflected his key involvement in every attack and each passage of play that made England look threatening.

Given the platform to shine by his teammates, his synergy with England's attacking players was hypnotic. A particular understanding with Callum Hudson-Odoi was especially eye-catching. Both lightening quick on the counter and constantly swapping passes at high speeds between themselves, the England wingers formed an impressive and formidable duo that proved capable of unlocking any defence.

SanchoGold

At 17, it may be too early for Sancho to force his way into a Manchester City team that becomes more talented (and more expensive) with each passing day. However, his current club would be foolish waiting too long to blood him.

Kylian Mbappé and even their very own Gabriel Jesus have shown that age can mean almost nothing. Jadon Sancho will be turning heads at the top-level soon. Whether he's sporting a sleek sky-blue kit remains to be seen.


mason mount

European U19 Championship Special Mention

Age: 18 years old

Position: Centre-attacking Midfield

Club: Chelsea

MasonMount

Not only was Chelsea's Young Player of the Year the best England player at the U19 Euros, he was the best player full-stop.

As the primary creator in an England side that relied on a more traditional formation built around width and pace, Mount was the perfect No.10 to tie everything together. Composure oozed from every inch of his body, whilst almost every touch was clinical and threatening. His excellent eye for a pass was equalled only by his ability to execute it.

MasonMount2

Burdened with such creative responsibility, Mount stood up to the challenge and excelled in a free role that saw him carve out multiple opportunities for his teammates and break open the tightest of defences. He lead the assist charts with four, but created countless chances that were unfortunately spurned.

Almost comically, his parent club is Chelsea meaning his chances of breaking into their first team seem even slimmer than Sancho's. But just like his younger compatriot, this summer has provided Mason Mount with the opportunity to showcase his talent and what he can offer, all he could was deliver. He certainly did.


Harvey barnes

Toulon Tournament Special Mention

Age: 19 years old

Position: Attacking midfield

Club: Leicester City

BarnesEngland

England's first title of the summer was their successful defence as Toulon Tournament champions and Harvey Barnes played a major role in it.

Deployed as one of the supporting players behind a central striker in a 3-4-3 formation, Barnes' goalscoring prowess and intelligent passing was on full display.

For fans of seemingly trivial parts of the game, seeing the #8 plastered on the back of his shirt was poetic. There is something beautiful about seeing a player wearing that number making a decisive impact or scoring vital goals. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard probably have something to do with it from a generational perspective.

BarnesMK

Scoring two goals in the semi-final against the old enemy and assisting David Brooks — close to being named as the Special Mentioned himself — in the final, Barnes' displays in France were punctuated by providing real moments of class at the most important of times.

Given his relatively successful loan spell at MK Dons and impressive performances for Leicester in the PL2, the Toulon Tournament was a magnificent end to a promising season. Barnes has done nothing if not help his burgeoning reputation as on of many young English talents to keep an eye on.


Jonjoe Kenny

U20 World Cup Special Mention

Age: 20 years old

Position: Right-back

Club: Everton

JonjoeKenny

Despite being the first inclusion of a non-attacking player on paper, Kenny's inclusion in this article is as much to do with his offensive qualities as a right-back as it is to do with the defensive side.

Whilst the likes of Lewis Cook, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Solanke ahead of him gained plaudits for their decisive displays, Jonjoe Kenny was arguably the best performer of them all.

Omnipresent on the pitch, his seemingly infinite stamina allowed him to be the focal point out wide in attack and a trusty force in defence. With Kieran Dowell ahead of him preferring to drift inside, Kenny's attacking responsibility was to provide width, an outlet on the touchline. But he proved to me so much more than an extra option.

KennyEverton

One of two players to play every single minute of every game in England's triumph, his marauding runs down the right also bore fruit in the shape of two assists. Kenny was not just consistent in Korea, he was consistently brilliant and a major part of the U20's success should be attributed to him.

Everton have already given opportunities to his fellow U20 champions Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny is almost certain to be the next Young Lion to be given full Premier League exposure.

Seamus Coleman is out injured for the foreseeable future after a horrendous leg break, whilst Mason Holgate sadly showed his limitations as a right-back. This U20 World Cup winner should be Ronald Koeman's right-back for the start of next season.


Alfie Mawson

European U21 Championship Special Mention

Age: 23 years old

Position: Centre-back

Club: Swansea

AlfieMawson

Despite being on the cusp of Scouted ineligibility, the drawn-out process of the Under-21 European Championships and the divisive set of rules that go with it were in fact a blessing this summer.

Alfie Mawson proved himself to be a titanic defender, but 'hulking' has become the word of choice when describing him. Dominant in the air, aggressive in the tackle and in his approach, the Swansea' centre-back shone the brightest for Aidy Boothroyd's side.

The tactics used by England U21s were perhaps favourable to their defence having the spotlight bearing down on them: at times camping deep in their own half out of possession whilst inviting pressure by keeping the ball at the back when on the ball.

In neither circumstance did Mawson look uncomfortable.

Some loose touches created a few heart-in-mouth moments, but Mawson's displays were commanding. And despite his intimidating physical presence, his ability to defend was matched by a and composure with the ball at his feet.

IconicDuo

Just as the aforementioned Jadon Sancho's talent was augmented by the players around him, so too was Alfie Mawson aided by his partner Calum Chambers.

The centre-back partnership itself was the greatest positive from the summer tournament, and although Chambers played his role, Alfie Mawson was clearly the most dominant and impressive player in the squad.

Swansea will be hoping to avoid dicing with relegation for a second successive season and Paul Clement looks to be building an exciting-enough side to achieve it. He'll also be desperate for Alfie Mawson to play a major role in it.


U20Winners

Given how outstanding these players were, finding the formula for translating success at youth level into trophies for the senior side has become more crucial than ever.

Whether exposure to first team football helps them fulfil their vast potential, or serial loan deals stunt their growth, their clubs will now play a major role in dictating the future. This makes mimicking the likes of Spain and Germany imperative.

Time and again England have failed to get the best out of each generation of Young Lions. Few are handpicked and thrusted straight into the first team whilst their teammates fall by the wayside. Spain and Germany’s success is built on the foundation of developing a national team, not simply players for it.

ToulonWinners

With so much recent success at youth level, it seems England finally have the opportunity, and the pool of talent available, to undertake such a project.

The chance to build a national team.

Even then, history has proven that the most foolish thing a fan of English football can do is hope. But, after a summer filled with genuine quality and tangible success, it is becoming incredibly hard not to.

By Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)