The talk around town that seemingly persists every waking moment if you are mad about football is one talking point above all; top young talent.
Whether you are a student of the game, a passionate local supporter, or somewhere in between, it is almost the nature of fans to wonder who is next into the breach. The bright youngster is set to make a name for himself.
Regardless if he comes from a more “off the beaten path part of the continent or if he hails from one of the major production centers the likes of Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, England, or Germany, there will always be something about the fairytale aspect of young players taking the world by storm.
This season should prove no different as, maybe now more than ever, players are beginning their careers at a high level as early as seventeen on a reliable basis, and are already potential world beaters by the time they hit twenty-one.
With the beginning of the 2022-23 season across Europe ready to take hold, here are five young players to watch out for across the continent this season.
Benjamin Šeško | 19; Center-Forward | Red Bull Salzburg/Slovenia
Already on the lips of quite a few Premier League supporters after his recent superb performance against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Slovenian starlet Benjamin Šeško is on the road to becoming the next big name to emerge from Austrian outfit RB Salzburg this season.
The 19-year-old Slovenian international has already drawn comparisons to Norwegian star Erling Haaland, and could be on a similar trajectory as the former RBS forward after his move to German giants Borussia Dortmund and then Manchester City this summer. With Manchester United said to be one of a cadre of European giants tracking him for a potential summer move, all eyes should be on Šeško this season to see if he can truly put Slovenia on the map in a way no previous compatriot of his has before.
Kamaldeen Sulemana | 20; Left-Wing | Stade Rennais/Ghana
A winger of immense potential yet a name that many will not have heard of unless they follow affairs in France’s Ligue 1 closely, Ghana’s Kamaldeen Sulemana was already on the cusp of having a breakout season in 2021-22 with Brittany-based outfit Stade Rennais before injury kept him out of the majority of last season.
Now fully fit, Sulemana could fully take the next step in a budding career that already saw his stock skyrocket after spending time with Danish youth masters FC Nordsjælland, and despite a shortened season last term in France, he is already on the radar screens of multiple Premier League clubs including Newcastle United. A second impressive year at Roazhon Park could see him leap into English football sooner rather than later.
Piero Hincapié | 20; Center-Back | Bayer Leverkusen/Ecuador
Going into his second season with Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen, Ecuador national starlet Piero Hincapié has been acknowledged as one of the brightest young defenders in Germany already after a superb debut season at the Bay Arena in 2021-22. Hincapié should certainly rival RB Leipzig starlet Joško Gvardiol this season as possibly the best defender in their age bracket, but there could be bigger things to come from the Esmeraldas native moving forward.
Tottenham was incredibly keen on the 20-year-old this summer but was rebuffed in their attempts to bring him in under popular boss Antonio Conte at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, though Leverkusen could be keen to cash in on the youngster after this season at a premier price should interest remain, which seems likely after Serie A outfits AC Milan, AS Roma, and SSC Napoli were all equally keen.
Gavi | 17; Central-Midfield | Barcelona/Spain
There is not a football fan around Europe and then some that has not yet heard of Barcelona’s young star Gavi, after the La Masia graduate took his chance with both feet last season while becoming a key piece of the puzzle at the Camp Nou after making 47 appearances across all competitions in 2021-22 which included 34 in La Liga which came with two goals and six assists.
But the question potentially surrounding the full Spanish international is whether or not he will persist in his role this season after Barça manager Xavi brought in Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessié, while the club persists in trying to keep hold of Frenkie de Jong. In addition, minutes must also be found for fellow Spanish starlets Pedri and Nico González. Should Gavi remain a preferred first choice option, he could set himself up nicely to reach a level not seen in the center of the park at the club since Iniesta and Xavi were in their pomp.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia | 21; Left-Wing | SSC Napoli/Georgia
Depending on which generation you hail from, you may struggle to think of any Georgian footballer making a name for himself in the top echelon of European football. For those that do not struggle, the likes of Temur Ketsbaia, Giorgi Kinkladze, Shota Arveladze, Kakha Kaladze, and Levan Kobiashvili may ring a bell. The next potential star to hail from the Caucasus nation is none other than Khvicha Kvartskhelia.
Already a two-time winner of the Georgian footballer of the year award despite being just 21, the talented winger has turned enough heads during his successful period with Rubin Kazan that SSC Napoli felt it prudent to purchase him his summer as the natural successor to club icon Lorenzo Insigne. If the words of managerial great Fabio Capello are anything to go by, Kvartskhelia could be set for a major breakout season in Serie A in 2022-23.