Champions League: Who are the youngest players to feature for English clubs in the competition?

  • Rob Swan

The 2019-20 Champions League campaign finally resumes on Friday evening.

Manchester City go head-to-head against Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium, while Juventus and Lyon play their Round of 16 second-leg tie in Turin.

Then, on Saturday, Chelsea travel to Bayern Munich, and Barcelona host Napoli at Camp Nou.

As the Champions League is back, we thought what better time to scan through the record books and take a closer look at the youngest players to appear in Europe’s premier club cup competition.

Specifically, who are the youngest players to feature in the Champions League for English clubs?

Nine English players make the top 50…

9. Josh McEachran (17 years, 6 months, 17 days)

Match: MSK Zilina 1-4 Chelsea (September 15, 2010)

Chelsea had extremely high hopes for Josh McEachran, a product of the club’s youth academy, back in 2010.

He made his Champions League debut aged 17 and played a further 16 times for the Blues during the 2010-11 season. But the former England Under-21 international has sadly failed to live up the hype.

McEachran left Chelsea for Brentford in 2015 before joining Birmingham City on a free transfer in September 2019.


8. Theo Walcott (17 years, 6 days, 10 months)

Match: Arsenal 2-0 FC Porto (September 26, 2006)

Theo Walcott was English football’s most exciting young talent in 2006. He famously went to the World Cup finals in Germany that year without having made a single first-team appearance for Arsenal.

However, the lightning-quick winger went on to make 397 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 108 goals, between 2006-2018.

Has he lived up to the huge hype that surrounded him as a teenager? No.

But has he enjoyed a decent career at the highest level? Absolutely.

Walcott, now 31, has spent the past two-and-a-half years with Everton and has scored 11 goals in 83 games at the time of writing.


7. Phil Foden (17 years, 5 months, 24 days)

Match: Manchester City 1-0 Feyenoord (November 21, 2017)

Phil Foden is a special, special talent.

Pep Guardiola even described the England Under-21 international as “the most talented player” he has ever seen back in July 2019.

Surely it won’t be too much longer before the 20-year-old is one of the first names on both Manchester City and England’s teamsheets.


6. Cesc Fabregas (17 years, 5 months, 16 days)

Match: Panathinaikos 2-2 Arsenal (October 20, 2004)

Arsenal signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy in 2003.

It wasn’t long before the Spanish midfielder became a first-team regular with the Gunners.

He made his Champions League bow away at Panathinaikos in October 2004 and remained with Arsenal until 2011, when he returned to Camp Nou.

After a three-year spell with Barça, the World Cup winner moved to Chelsea, where he spent five happy seasons, before joining AS Monaco in 2019.


5. Mason Greenwood (17 years, 5 months, 3 days)

Match: PSG 1-3 Manchester United (March 6, 2019)

One of the biggest talents to emerge from Manchester United’s youth academy for years, Mason Greenwood possesses all the tools required to become a world-class forward.

Fast, strong and genuinely two-footed, Greenwood has scored 17 goals for the Red Devils this season and doesn’t turn 19 until October.

It’s scary to think how good he’ll be in a few years’ time.


4. Serge Gnabry (17 years, 3 months, 10 days)

Match: Arsenal 0-2 Schalke (October 24, 2012)

Every time Arsenal fans watch Serge Gnabry, they must shake their heads and wonder how he was allowed to slip through the net.

The Germany international has scored 13 goals in 13 international appearances and become a star at club level with Bayern Munich.

Gnabry joined Werder Bremen in 2016 before joining Bayern a year later. The 25-year-old hasn’t looked back since.


3. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (17 years, 3 months, 10 days)

Match: Galatasaray 1-4 Arsenal (December 9, 2014)

Anyone else surprised that Ainsley Maitland-Niles made his Champions League debut almost six years ago?

The former England Under-21 international has now made 100 appearances for Arsenal, scoring three goals.

However, reports this week claim that Arsenal are now looking to cash-in on the 22-year-old.


2. Dominic Solanke (17 years, 1 month, 7 days)

Match: Chelsea 6-0 Maribor (October 21, 2014)

Another player who has failed to justify the hype, Dominic Solanke only made one first-team appearance for Chelsea before joining Liverpool in the summer of 2017.

The striker was a bitter disappointment at Anfield, scoring one goal in 27 games, and subsequently found himself at Bournemouth in January 2019.

Solanke has scored four goals in 46 appearances for the Cherries and it will be fascinating to see if he will be more prolific in the Championship next season.


1. Jack Wilshere (16 years, 10 months, 24 days)

Match: Arsenal 1-0 Dynamo Kiev (November 25, 2008)

But the youngest player to feature in the Champions League for an English club is Jack Wilshere.

Again, another footballer on this list who hasn’t quite managed to live up to expectations over the course of his career.

Wilshere looked top-class at times early on in his spell with Arsenal, but injuries have seriously hindered his career.

The England midfielder is 28 now and has only managed to play 18 games for West Ham over the past couple of seasons.

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