Football | The top English teenage talents

David Smith

The England u17s have reached the World Cup final after overcoming Brazil 3-1 in India today.

Steve Cooper’s side will be hoping to emulate the England u20s, who won the World Cup this summer, and the future certainly looks bright for the country at international level.

We profile ten of the most promising English teenagers plying their trade in England and abroad…


Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

The most obvious inclusion on this list, and the most exciting English teenager currently plying his trade.

Rashford has been electric for club and country since bursting on to the scene at Manchester United.

The pacey striker – who has been deployed on the left by Jose Mourinho – has dazzled fans at Old Trafford with his incisive dribbles and fearless displays, and has scored 26 times for the Red Devils to date. The 19 year old has 13 senior international caps (and two goals) already for England, and the youngest ever player to represent the country at the European Championships last summer.

He is a player who excites fans, and terrifies defenders. His finishing needs to be improved, but Marcus Rashford has all the ingredients to become the Red Devils’ main striker for the next decade or more.


Tom Davies (Everton)

19 year old Everton midfielder Tom Davies enjoyed a superb debut campaign at Goodison Park last season under Ronald Koeman.

The box-to-box midfielders has impressed fans and pundits with his work ethic, athleticism and eye for goal, as exhibited in his man of the match performance in Everton’s 4-0 win over Man City last season. Davies is combative, assured in possession, and mature for his tender age.

“For 18, and it showed in his interview as well, you can see the maturity in his game and the way he plays,” Jamie Carragher observed after Davies’ display against City.

Davies – also an England u21 international – scored two goals in 25 appearances for the Toffees last term, and will be hoping to kick on for the Merseyside club this season.  Everton have endured a torrid start to the season, causing Koeman to lose his job, and Davies will be looking to establish himself as a key midfielder under the Dutchman’s successor.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola has claimed that “it has been a long time” since he has seen a player like Man City teenager Phil Foden, who joined the club at the age of nine.

The silky left-footed winger, who is currently starring for England (who have reached the final) at the u17 World Cup in India, and enjoyed an excellent pre-season for the Manchester club this summer.  The diminutive playmaker starred in City’s pre-season defeat to their Manchester rivals, prompting Pep Guardiola to say:

“I don’t have words – I would like to have the right words to describe what I saw. You are the lucky guys who saw the first game, for the first team for Manchester City, of this guy. It’s a long time since I saw something like this. His performance was another level. He’s 17 years old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift.”

Foden faces a daunting task in terms of breaking into Guardiola’s first team, with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, and Bernardo Silva available to the Spanish manager as playmakers, to name a few. City have struggled to integrate academy players into the first team in recent years, but Foden could be the one to break that mold.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Trent Alexander-Arnold has had an excellent start to his Liverpool career, and has been described by Jurgen Klopp as “an incredible young player”.

The 18 year old academy graduate has impressed with his athleticism and attacking forays since breaking into the Reds’ first-team picture last season at right back, and has been a key player for England at underage level. Like many teenage defenders, Alexander-Arnold’s inexperience is occasionally evident, but on the whole the full back is composed defensively.

The West Derby native has been on target twice for Liverpool in Europe already this season – including a stunning free kick against Hoffenheim – and has a bright future at Anfield, with many expecting the talented teenager to eventually usurp Nathaniel Clyne in Jurgen Klopp’s first eleven.

You can read more about the Liverpool defender here.


Reiss Nelson (Arsenal)

Arsenal fans have been excited about 17 year old academy prospect Reiss Nelson for some time.

The English attacking midfielder has risen through the ranks at Arsenal, and has made six senior appearances for the Gunners this season to date after an impressive pre-season.

Arsene Wenger has a fine record of promoting youth at the Emirates, and Nelson’s attacking versatility means the English midfielder can compete for a variety of positions at the North London club.

“He has a good engine,” Wenger stated last month. “He is a good dribbler as well, he can pass people, unbalance defenders, open defences.”

Nelson has starred for the Arsenal u23s this season, and is likely to be handed several more opportunities to showcase his talent this season in the Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup.

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

There was an outburst of anger when Man City allowed academy prospect Jadon Sancho to join Borussia Dortmund in the summer transfer window.

Sancho was named as the player of the tournament at the 2017 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, and scored a brace in England’s opening win at the 2017 World Cup in India, before being withdrawn by Dortmund.

Big things were predicted for the 17 year old at the Etihad, but the English underage international was allowed to depart for Germany for around £8 million, where he inherited the recently departed Ousmane Dembélé’s number seven jersey.

Last weekend, he made his debut, becoming the first English player to play for the German club.

Dortmund is a club with a great reputation for developing young players, and they have a real talent on their hands.

Sessegnon GETTY English teenagers

Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

17 year old Ryan Sessegnon has been a revelation for Fulham in the Championship.

The attacking left back has been linked with a host of top clubs across Europe, and it’s not hard to see why.

On August 20th, 2016, the English starlet became the youngest player ever to have scored in a Championship match, and also first professional footballer in the English leagues to have been born in the noughties to score a goal in a first-team game.

He scored seven goals from defence in 30 appearances for the Lilywhites, was included in the PFA Championship Team of the Year, and won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with England this summer.

Fulham have managed to keep the marauding left full at Craven Cottage for now – he has scored twice in 13 league appearances this season – but it won’t be long before top clubs come knocking for the youngster.

Rhian Brewster (Liverpool)

The England u17 side have reached the World Cup final in India, and Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster has played a starring role.

Top scorer in the tournament with seven goals, the former Chelsea academy prospect has scored successive hat-tricks in both the quarter-final and semi-final – against the USA and Brazil respectively. Brewster has also been in fine form for the Liverpool u23 side, and with a lack of clinical finishers in Jurgen Klopp’s first team, may find himself promoted in the coming months.

“Physically stronger, wonderfully skilled boy, real striker, good finisher, fantastic work ethic and all that stuff,” the Reds manager said of Brewster today. “That’s a wonderful step for him (his hat-trick against Brazil) and is the next stage in his development.”

Brewster’s immediate aim will be to pick up a gold medal in India, before turning his sights on breaking into the Liverpool first team squad.

Marcus Edwards (Tottenham Hotspur)

18 year old Marcus Edwards is another player who won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with England earlier this year, and also made the team of the tournament at u17 level in 2015

The Spurs teenager made his first team debut against Gillingham in the cup last year, but has a big reputation at White Hart Lane, even earning the nickname ‘Mini Messi’.

“His qualities … it’s only looks – his body and the way that he plays – remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi,” Mauricio Pochettino said of Edwards’ dribbling ability and close control.

Edwards – an attacking midfielder – possesses good vision and a cultured left-foot, and will be hoping to gain some minutes in the cup competitions for Pochettino’s side this season.

Reece Oxford (West Ham)

Reece Oxford became West Ham’s youngest ever player (at the age of 16 years and 198 days) in 2015 when he made his Hammers debut against Lusitanos in a UEFA Europa League first qualifying round.

He produced a wonderful performance on his Premier League debut in a 2-0 away win over Arsenal a few weeks later, but his first team action has been largely limited since.

The 18 year old defender was nominated for the prestigious European Golden Boy award earlier this year, despite not playing once in the Premier League (he has been loaned out to several clubs since his debut) in 2017.

Oxford is currently on loan at German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach, but has yet to make an appearance for the Bundesliga side.

Despite a stall in momentum, Oxford is an extremely talented defender, and could develop into a very important player for the Hammers, who awarded him a long-term deal last summer.