- Investing early in young football prospects can lead to profitable gains as they develop their skills and potential. Several players in the article have caught the attention of top clubs.
- The value of these players is based on current valuations and the price they may be sold for in the future is expected to be much higher when they reach their peak.
- These young players come from various countries and have different skill sets, but they all have the potential to become the next big stars in football.
In all four corners of the world, the biggest clubs are always seeking to one-up their opponents by signing the brightest prospects or even better – farming them themselves.
Wonderkids are more expensive than ever before and seeing as Jude Bellingham is now tearing it up for Real Madrid at 20 years old (hence why he is omitted from this list), investing your stocks early can often yield profitable gain. Many names are mooted with the tag of becoming football’s next biggest star thanks to those keen Football Manager players who commit hours of their time scouring their database for players destined for greatness.
Aligned with their respective Transfermarkt values, we’ve had a look at the 15 most valuable players in the footballing world that are 18 years of age or younger.
But it’s important to remember that these are just valuations and the figure that we’ll see them shipped off for in years to come – as they begin to enter the peak of their powers – will no doubt be much more eye-watering.
15 Angelo Gabriel - €13m
Earning Pele and Neymar comparisons is no easy feat and while reaching the heights of those two is certainly wishful thinking, you just never know in this day and age. The former Santos starlet certainly has the potential – now, it’s just a case of fulfilling that. Gabriel crossed the Atlantic to begin his career in Europe this summer by joining Chelsea, but a loan move to their satellite club Strasbourg beckoned for the 2023/24 season.
14 Stefan Bajcetic - €13m
The Spaniard was one of Liverpool’s better performers in their engine room last season while others supposedly were their weak link. Despite this, the influx of new midfield faces at Anfield over the course of the summer may dent his opportunities and minutes this season.
But looking beyond his potential struggles that might come under Jurgen Klopp, there’ll be a queue of suitors willing to take a punt on Bajcetic– thanks to his evident skill set – should he end up on the club’s chopping board.
13 Arda Guler - €15m
Guler’s Madrid arrival has been quickly overlooked thanks to a certain Jude Bellingham strutting his stuff at the highest level. But don’t forget they’ve enriched their ranks by adding the young Turkish international, too. He sealed a €20m (£17.1m) switch to the European giants over the summer and will be looking to become an established member of the Madrid first team almost immediately. An injury has caused a halt in his progression, however.
12 Desire Doue - €15m
Currently earning his corn in France for Stade Rennais, Doue has featured in all of their four opening games this season after breaking out into senior action last time around. Youngsters are notoriously given a chance to shine in Ligue 1 and so standing out as one of the best is a tough ask, but Doue has managed it. He became the first 2005-born ace to score in the French top tier last season, and it embodied everything he is about: strong ball-carrying and cultured finishing.
11 Ivan Fresneda - €15m
Sporting slapped a €80m release clause on the Spaniard’s head as they secured his signature this summer, having spent a fraction of that clause on him in the first place. But it all makes sense given Fresneda is one of the most coveted talents across the continent. Before his move that seemingly flew well under the radar, Arsenal were gunning for his services as they viewed the 18-year-old as a potentially useful asset as they chase for Premier League glory.
10 Arthur Vermeeren - €17m
The Belgian central midfielder played an impressive 3,130 minutes for Royal Antwerp last term and was linked to be Sergio Busquet’s long-term successor in Barcelona. Manchester United and Newcastle United were also in the offing and to have so many of the game’s top dogs sniffing around paints a very bright picture. Vermeeren's reading of the game and ability to halt attacks married up with unforeseen injuries to starting midfielders has resulted in enhanced opportunity at his current employers, and it seems his story is still in its formative stages.
9 Eliesse Ben Seghir - €18m
A young Frenchman making a name for himself at Monaco? The last high-profile name to do so was Kylian Mbappé and while mimicking his compatriot’s career is evidently a tall order, why not try?
And while Ben Saghir is currently out of action with a thigh injury, his five goal contributions last season echo what the French outfit’s production line may have in their grasp. Monaco chief Adi Hutter will be keen to not part ways with the €18m-valued youngster, however, given Mbappé’s recent trajectory.
8 Rico Lewis - €20m
His versatility at such a young age is what makes Lewis such a valuable asset to Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City higher-ups, seeing as the Englishman can be deployed in defence while he can also do a fine job in the midfield. At just 18 years of age, he played 27 games in their treble-winning season and never looked out of place – he’s that good. Despite City’s star-ladened squad, Lewis will be looking to assert a starting spot in years to come, an objective he’s destined to achieve.
7 Mathys Tel - €20m
What’s one way to improve? By learning off one of the world’s best in Harry Kane. Tel now has the Englishman to work alongside as he looks to propel his career to the next level. The 18-year-old forward has scored twice in three games for his club this term, despite playing for a mere 34 minutes. Eyebrows may have been raised when the Bavarians gambled £20m on the relatively inexperienced Tel, but his potential is becoming obvious, and he’s only likely to improve further thanks to Kane’s expertise.
6 Warren Zaire-Emery - €20m
Paris Saint-Germain hold a longstanding prominence in the world of football of spending big in the transfer market, though Zaire-Emery is the latest of their academy graduates to be a potential club superstar. He made waves by becoming the youngest player to partake in a Champions League knockout match and also claimed the honour of being PSG’s youngest scorer in their history. Born in 2006, he has emerged as an accomplished regular in their squad by plundering 31 appearances in his introductory season at Parc des Princes.
5 Lamine Yamal - €25m
Tipped to be Barcelona’s next big thing, the 2007-born ace is valued at €25m, though it will take much more than that to lure him away from Xavi’s grasp. Yamal, 16, has risen through the La Masia ranks with ease and eventually picked up his senior cap at the club at just 15 years, 9 months and 16 days old which, in turn, became a Barcelona record. So far this season, Yamal has racked up two assists – but this is just a snippet of what the young Brazilian is able to achieve given his fine goalscoring record in the fabled Barcelona youth set-up.
4 Endrick - €25m
The highly rated youngster got his high-profile move to Real Madrid this summer, though will surely be teasing all the fans until he joins in the summer of 2024. The left-footed forward, who can play across the front line, is next in line to make the move from Brazil to Madrid, having been likened to the nation's greats like Neymar and Pele. Vinícius Jr will be the perfect role model seeing as he has become one of football’s brightest stars of the modern era. Already a first-team player at Palmeiras, Endrick will bring bags of senior experience despite it not being at the highest level.
3 Youssoufa Moukoko - €30m
Next to follow in the footsteps of Bellingham in being one of Borussia Dortmund’s best-worked gambles is Moukoko. The youngster has featured relatively heavily in recent history given his age, racking up 42 domestic appearances in the last two campaigns and so, the German side will be looking to receive a pretty penny for when he ups and leaves. Moukoko, 18, has been monitored by Chelsea and RB Leipzig also reportedly made contact with the ace this summer which shows his talent has been spotted.
2 Evan Ferguson - €30m
The former Bohemians prodigy had trials at both Liverpool and Manchester United when he was younger but opted for a move to Brighton & Hove Albion as they detailed a viable pathway to senior football. In hindsight, the Premier League duo will hang their heads in disappointment as they could have had a world-beater at their disposal for pennies. It was in Ferguson's latest outing against Newcastle United that he showed his quality to the highest standard as he netted a hat-trick to take his club tally to 14 across 33 games.
1 Vitor Roque - €32m
Valued at €32m by Transfermarkt, the Brazilian was one of the main talking points of the summer with a host of top European behemoths battling it out for his reliable services, though it was Barcelona – unsurprisingly – who came out victors. When Barcelona come calling, you pack your bags and go.
With such promise comes huge expectations but at just 18 years of age, he has time to develop. Especially as Barcelona’s move means that he will join ahead of the 2024/25 season, he still has one year left at his current club to improve.