Marcus Rashford, Joao Felix, Kylian Mbappe: Who is the best footballer aged 23 or under?

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Football fans were treated to some stunning individual performances from several high-profile players in the Champions League this week.

Joao Felix was magnificent for Atletico Madrid against Salzburg on Tuesday night, Trent Alexander-Arnold produced a Man of the Match display for Liverpool against Midtjylland, Marcus Thuram stole the show for Borussia Monchengladbach against Real Madrid, while Marcus Rashford came off the bench to score a hat-trick in Manchester United’s 5-0 win over RB Leipzig.

Notice that all of the aforementioned stars are aged 23 or under. This got us thinking.

Using Transfermarkt.com’s data, we’ve ranked the world’s 20 most valuable players aged 23 or under based on their ability and potential.

The likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Mason Greenwood, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo miss out on the top 20 due to their respective market values.

20. Gabriel Jesus | Age: 23. Club: Manchester City

Value: £54 million

Now in his fifth season at Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus is yet to fulfil his massive potential.

The Brazilian possesses the talent to become one of the stars of European football, but inconsistency has been an issue for the 23-year-old so far in his career.

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19. Richarlison | Age: 23. Club: Everton

Value: £54 million

Another Brazilian forward, Everton’s Richarlison is one heck of a player on his day.

But like Jesus, he doesn’t produce the goods as often as he should.

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18. Mikel Oyarzabal | Age: 23. Club: Real Sociedad

Value: £54 million

Real Sociedad are currently flying high at the top of La Liga and left-back Mikel Oyarzabal has been one of the Spanish club’s star performers in recent seasons.

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17. Gianluigi Donnarumma | Age: 21. Club: AC Milan

Value: £54 million

It’s surprising that Gianluigi Donnarumma is still only 21 years old. It feels like the AC Milan and Italy goalkeeper has been around forever.

Considering ‘keepers don’t often peak until their late-20s, we have to assume that the best is still to come from the Italian shot-stopper.

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16. Dayot Upamecano | Age: 22. Club: RB Leipzig

Value: £54 million

Dayot Upamecano had a bit of a nightmare at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, but the 22-year-old is still one of Europe’s best young centre-backs.

His experience against Man Utd - the club he could potentially sign for in 2021 - could help him to become a better player in the long run.

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15. Lautaro Martinez | Age: 23. Club: Inter Milan

Value: £63 million

Is this the season that Lautaro Martinez cements his reputation as one of the world’s best forwards?

The Inter Milan and Argentina star scored 21 goals for Inter during the 2019-20 campaign.

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14. Christian Pulisic | Age: 22. Club: Chelsea

Value: £54 million

Christian Pulisic was arguably the Premier League’s standout performer during the latter weeks of the 2019-20 season.

Chelsea’s American winger plays without fear and is often a joy to watch.

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13. Frenkie de Jong | Age: 23. Club: Barcelona

Value: £63 million

Let’s be honest: we all expected more from Frenkie de Jong during his first season at Barcelona after leaving Ajax.

The Dutch ace has the potential to become one of Europe’s very best central midfielders. He needs to feel like one of the key players at Camp Nou to truly flourish.

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12. Matthijs de Ligt | Age: 21. Club: Juventus

Value: £63 million

Another player who caught the eye at Ajax, defender Matthijs de Ligt won the Serie A title in his first season with Juventus.

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11. Federico Valverde | Age: 22. Club: Real Madrid

Value: £63 million

Federico Valverde has developed into an increasingly important player for Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu.

Uruguay is only small but Valverde is the latest in a long line of hugely talented footballers to emerge from the South American country.

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10. Marcus Rashford | Age: 22. Club: Manchester United

Value: £72 million

Recently awarded an MBE as he combats the issue of child hunger in England, everything Marcus Rashford touches turns to gold right now.

The 22-year-old Manchester United star is an example both on and off the pitch.

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9. Kai Havertz | Age: 21. Club: Chelsea

Value: £72.9 million

Chelsea fans were over the moon when a £71 million deal was struck with Bayer Leverkusen for the transfer of Kai Havertz in the summer.

The German playmaker has started a little slowly at Stamford Bridge but there’s no doubt he’ll blossom into a top player for the Premier League outfit.

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8. Phil Foden | Age: 20. Club: Manchester City

Value: £54 million

The most talented midfielder that English football has produced in years, Phil Foden is a special, special player.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola even described Foden as “the most talented player” he has ever seen in 2019. Praise doesn’t come any higher.

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7. Ansu Fati | Age: 17. Club: Barcelona

Value: £72 million

What a remarkable 12 months it’s been for Ansu Fati, Barcelona’s 17-year-old sensation.

With five goals in seven games this term, the Spain international is rapidly proving that he truly is the real deal.

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6. Jadon Sancho | Age: 20. Club: Borussia Dortmund

Value: £105.3 million

It feels harsh putting Jadon Sancho outside the top five given what the 20-year-old has achieved with Borussia Dortmund in recent seasons.

Perhaps if he’d also bossed it in an English shirt (he’s scored two goals in 15 games for his country at the time of writing) we’d have him slightly higher on the list.

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5. Alphonso Davies | Age: 19. Club: Bayern Munich

Value: £72 million

Alphonso Davies was ridiculously good for Bayern Munich during the 2019-20 campaign as the German club won a treble.

Is there a better left-back in world football right now?

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4. Trent Alexander-Arnold | Age: 22. Club: Liverpool

Value: £99 million

The best attacking right-back since Dani Alves?

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s range of passing is remarkable for a full-back. He’s also deadly from set-pieces, too.

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3. Joao Felix | Age: 20. Club: Atletico Madrid

Value: £72 million

There was a lot of pressure on Joao Felix’s shoulders after Atletico Madrid splashed out £113 million on the Antoine Griezmann replacement.

The Portuguese forward had a difficult debut campaign at the Wanda Metropolitano but has looked sensational so far this season. Felix is potentially a future Ballon d’Or winner. He’s that good.

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2. Erling Haaland | Age: 20. Club: Borussia Dortmund

Value: £72 million

Whoever Erling Haaland plays, he usually scores. The 20-year-old is absolutely deadly in front of goal.

Blessed with pace and power, the 6ft 4in Borussia Dortmund star has the potential to become the best centre-forward of his generation.

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1. Kylian Mbappe | Age: 21. Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Value: £162 million

But at the very top of the pile it’s Kylian Mbappe, the 21-year-old who has scored 96 goals in 130 games with PSG and already won the World Cup with France.

A generational talent, Mbappe could eventually go down as one of the best forwards of all time.

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