Top European clubs have been devoting huge chunks of their finances towards building productive youth academies since the turn of the century.
Some are better than others at nurturing the stars of tomorrow, of course, but there’s no doubt the entire continent recognises the importance of youth development.
This is the case from England to Spain and everywhere in between – and the rewards are plain to see.
There are many incredible talents across the top five European leagues at present, but if each competition were to field only teenagers, which would boast the best XI?
Well, starting off with Spain, GiveMeSport ranks the strongest under-20 line-ups from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.
- De Jong chose Barca because of Nike
- Map of every country Messi has scored in
- Xavi: Messi is best player in history
GK: DIEGO ALTUBE
Plucked from Valladolid as a 16-year-old, Diego Altube is touted as a future star thanks to his commanding presence, explosive power and lightning reflexes.
RB: PEDRO PORRO
A versatile wing-back, Pedro Porro has quickly made a name for himself having registered four assists while starting 25 of Girona’s 28 La Liga matches this season.
CB: JUAN BERROCAL
Referred to in full as Juan Berrocal Gonzalez, the Sevilla defender has made his unquestionable potential known within 41 appearances for their reserves.
CB: JORGE CUENCA
Continuing the theme in the heart of defence, Jorge Cuenca is an elegant yet commanding defender who represented the Barcelona side that won the 2017-18 UEFA Youth League.
In addition to being a UEFA Youth League champion, Miranda has also featured for Barcelona at the highest level, both in the Copa del Rey and Champions League.
RM: FERRAN TORRES
Only one teenager has played more minutes in the Spanish top-flight this term than Valencia’s Ferran Torres. What’s more, the 18-year-old winger has already chalked up his first two goals and an assist.
CM: LEE KANG-IN
With four goals in 26 appearances for Valencia’s B team since 2017, Lee Kang-In has certainly earned his status as the first Asian to play for Los Ches in league competition.
CM: VALERY FERNANDEZ
Valery Fernandez, on the other hand, is an even more established La Liga player, with 11 appearances including six starts for Girona under his belt this season.
LM: DIEGO LAINEZ
Diego Lainez is the eighth-best performing teenager in La Liga this season according to WhoScored, which is particularly noteworthy given he’s only made three starts in six appearances for Real Betis.
ST: SAMUEL CHUKWUEZE
Described as reminiscent of Arjen Robben, Samuel Chukwueze looks like the real deal with six goals and two assists for Villarreal across La Liga, Copa del Rey and Europa League.
ST: VINICIUS JUNIOR
Vinicius Junior has comfortably shouldered the burden of wearing the white of Real Madrid, contributing four goals and two assists since making his bow last September.
Check out the team in full below…