Discovering players with ability is easy, but turning that potential into world-beating talent is another. So often we hear about the ‘next Messi', ‘next Rooney, or ‘next Ronaldo', but the truth is, players of that calibre are few and far between. So many youngsters possess the ability to become a superstar, but not enough of them receive the right coaching and guidance to truly develop and keep their feet on the ground.
What is a ‘wonderkid'? Taken from the German word ‘wunderkind', a wonderkid is someone whose proficiency in a particular area exceeds their age. In other words, someone that is talented beyond their years and could potentially be the best in their business in the future.
We're bringing you a list of the next generation of wonderkids from across the world, some of which have already signed for top European clubs and others that will be far more obscure. We have decided to concentrate on the European prospects for this article and will bring you snippets of information about one player from each country. All of the players mentioned were named in The Guardian's best young talents in world football article using reports from various scouts.
Europe's Best and Brightest Hopes for the Future
- Yusuf Demir: This young Austrian attacking midfielder has been likened to Lionel Messi. The Rapid Wien playmaker has already featured in the Austrian Bundesliga and has the likes of Man City and Man Utd watching him.
- Luca Oyen: Oyen has already made his debut for Genk and is considered one of the next big things in Belgian football. The pacey, hard-working midfielder likes to attack and possess an eye for a pass.
- Dimo Krastev: Fiorentina think highly of this defensive midfielder from Bulgaria. Krastev captains the Bulgaria U17s and can also play in defence. The young Bulgarian helped Fiorentina win the Coppa Italia Primavera last year.
- Tomislav Duvnjak: Duvnjak likes to play as a number six, breaking up the play and starting attacks for Dinamo Zagreb's reserves. The little Croatian is born in the style of the technically gifted midfielders, such as Modric, and is predicted to have a big future ahead of him.
- Adam Karabec: Easily the brightest prospect in Czech football, Karabec in an advanced playmaker that made his debut for Sparta Prague aged just 16. Karabec was called-up to the Czech national team for the game against Scotland but didn't feature.
- Maurits Kjaergaard: This former Lyngby midfielder now plies his trade at Austrian club RB Salzburg. The young Dane likes to get up and down the central areas of the pitch, supporting the attack and the defence.
- Jamal Musiala: Another young English talent playing in Germany, Musiala left Chelsea for Bayern Munich. Musiala has already featured in the Bundesliga, becoming the club's youngest scorer during the 8-0 win over Schalke. This young talent has played for England and Germany at youth level.
- Rayan Cherki: Lyon have produced some excellent forwards over the years and Rayan Cherki could yet be another name to add to that list. Cherki has already featured and scored for the Lyon first-team and is eligible to play for Italy, Algeria or France.
- Luca Netz: The first defender on the list, Netz plays down the left-hand side for Hertha Berlin's U23s and has already played for the first-team. An excellent crosser of the ball, Netz has pace to burn and is expected to represent Germany in the near future.
- Isak Bergmann Johannesson: Little of Iceland look set to produce another star midfielder. Johannesson plays for Norrkoping in Sweden and is already a first-team regular. Juventus are apparently very interested in the Icelandic midfielder with a wind of a left-foot.
- Cesare Casadei: Inter Milan have an aggressive, ball-winning midfielder with an eye for goal on their hands in Casadei. The Italian stands over 6ft tall and has scored some important goals for the U19s.
- Xavi Simons: Named after the Barcelona star, Xavi Simons came through the Barcelona academy and now plays for French giants PSG. The Dutchman is a leader on the pitch and could have a very bright future ahead of him.
- Odin Thiago Holm: This young Norwegian appears to have a strong head on his shoulders, deciding to stay at Valerenga for first-team football rather than join Liverpool or Juventus's youth squads. Holm is a regular in the Eliteserien and has based his style of play on Thiago Alcantara, hence the middle name.
- Aleksander Buksa: Any future Poland striker is bound to be compared to Bayern Munich forward Lewandowski. Buksa became Wisla Krakow's youngest scorer in 2019 and Barcelona are believed to be tracking the young man's development.
- Ronaldo Camara: This Benfica midfielder started at Sporting and likes to play in the No.10 role. Camara is a great passer of the ball and plays most of his game in the final third, looking for the pass that can set strikers through on goal.
- Stefan Bodisteanu: It has been a long time since Romanian football had much to shout about, but Bodisteanu has been likened to that man Hagi. The attacking midfielder is a regular for Viltorul and has the weight of a nation on his shoulders.
- Arsen Zakharyan: Zakharyan is a two-footed midfielder that is very intelligent with the ball. The young Russian has impressed at all levels for Dynamo Moscow and has begun to score goals on a regular basis.
- Liam Morrison: Formally of Celtic, this young Scottish defender now plies his trade at Bayern Munich. Currently playing for the club's U19s, Morrison has had praise heaped upon him from the development coaches with the German giants.
- Luka Cveticanin: This young, pacey winger has been likened to Gareth Bale and has already attracted the attention of Juventus. Cveticanin is either footed and likes to create goals from wide positions.
- Benjamin Sesko: RB Salzburg won the battle for Sesko's signature ahead of the likes of Man City and Dortmund. The tall striker isn't your typical target man. Sesko has great technical ability and looks worth all of the €2.5m the Austrian club paid for him from Domzale.
- Bruno Iglesias: Another young Spanish No.10 that boasts all the vision of Xavi. Iglesias is more of a provider of goals than a scorer but does take set-pieces, including penalties, and is backed for success at Real Madrid.
- Emil Roback: This young striker plays for AC Milan and it is believed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped bring him to the club. With the Swedish legend by his side, this young striker surely has a bright future ahead of him.
- Ravil Tagir: Considered one of Turkey's most promising prospects, Tagir is a defender that plays for Istanbul Basaksehir. The young centre-back already has a full senior season under his belt and big things are expected of the teenager.