The best breakthrough XI under the age of 23 this season

England Media Access

We are roughly halfway through the 2019/20 campaign, so now is a good time to reflect on some of the best youngsters in Europe’s top leagues that have made their breakthrough this term, according to the Guardian.

GOALKEEPER - GAUTIER LARSONNEUR (BREST)

Larsonneur has been Brest’s man between the sticks for two and a half seasons now, but after their promotion to France’s top tier he has proved he can do it at a higher level.

The 22-year-old has taken to Ligue 1 like a duck to water, with Brest conceding just 20 goals in 18 games so far this season, the same as Marseille who sit second in the league.

Larsonneur, who has been capped twice by France’s U21s, has six clean sheets to his name and sits top of the Ligue 1 charts for most saves.

Standout moment: The Frenchman produced an outstanding pointblank save against FC Nantes to keep his side in the game. Brest went on to equalise.

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RIGHT-BACK - FABIEN CENTONZE (METZ)

Another player from Ligue 1. Centonze is enjoying a solid start to life in France’s top tier after spending much of the start of his career in Ligue 2.

Metz currently occupy the relegation playoff place but the 23-year-old has certainly been doing his best to move them up the league, sitting third in the division for interceptions and sixth for tackles.

Standout moment: Centonze registered his first assist of the season against Marseille last week with a pinpoint cross to the near post.

CENTRE-BACK - FIKAYO TOMORI (CHELSEA)

With Chelsea in the midst of a transfer ban, youngsters such as Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have been crucial for the Blues.

The 21-year-old shone last term at Derby, but his ability to step up and perform in the Premier League has led to the young defender receiving plaudits.

Tomori’s talents have caught the eye of Gareth Southgate, who awarded him with his first cap for his country as a late substitute in England’s 4-0 win over Kosovo.

Standout moment: Tomori netted his first senior goal for the Blues against Wolves earlier in the season, curling the ball from around 30 yards into the top corner.

CENTRE-BACK - CAGLAR SOYUNCU (LEICESTER)

After Harry Maguire left the Foxes, many thought their defence would be weakened. However, Soyuncu has made sure that Maguire is a faint memory at the King Power with a string of superb performances.

At just 23 years old, the Turkish international plays with composure beyond his age and his no-nonsense style has led to Leicester conceding just 11 goals in 17 Premier League games this term.

Dominant in the air and assured with the ball at his feet, Soyuncu has been vital to a Leicester side that occupy second place in the league.

Standout moment: Soyuncu scored his first goal for the Foxes to cap a monstrous display against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

LEFT-BACK - ALPHONSO DAVIES (BAYERN MUNICH)

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Davies became the second youngest player ever to play in the MLS in 2016 when he represented the Vancouver Whitecaps at just 15 years and five months old.

In January 2019 the Canadian joined German champions Bayern Munich, but he cannot have expected to have been as involved quite as much as he has.

Although thought of as a winger, a defensive injury crisis at Bayern has led to Davies featuring as a marauding left-back.

The 19-year-old has registered five assists and a goal in this campaign, but don’t be thinking he shirks his defensive responsibilities, appearing third in the rankings for most tackles made.

Standout moment: Davies picked the ball up outside his own box against Freiburg last week, before running the length of the field to produce a wicked cross that Robert Lewandowski finished.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD - EDUARDO CAMAVINGA (RENNES)

Camavinga only just turned 17 and he is already ripping up Ligue 1.

His fairly modest return of one goal and one assist in 17 Ligue 1 outings should not detract from the fact that he has been crucial to a Rennes side that sit in fourth.

He tops the league for most tackles, showing his tenacity, while his dribbling and eye for a pass are also key attributes to his game.

Standout moment: While still 16, Camavinga bossed PSG, regularly receiving the ball in tight areas and wriggling free. He also registered his only assist to date in the game, which Rennes won 2-1.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD - GAETANO CASTROVILLI (FIORENTINA)

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Having signed for Fiorentina in 2017, it has taken two season out on loan at Bari for Castrovilli to finally pull on the Fiorentina shirt in anger, but their fans will be happy he now has.

The Italian has been a revelation this term, scoring three goals and collecting two assists in Serie A from midfield, while also boasting impressive dribbling stats.

He sits second in Italy’s top flight for number of dribbles per 90 minutes, at a success rate of 75%.

Castrovilli’s performances have been enough for him to be recognised by his country, picking up his first cap for Italy in their 3-0 win against Bosnia Herzegovina in November.

Standout moment: The 22-year-old dragged his side back into the game against Sassuolo in October with a thumping header, before providing the assist for the winner.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD - SCOTT MCTOMINAY (MANCHESTER UNITED)

McTominay has become Manchester United’s most important central midfielder and when you consider their squad boasts World Cup winner Paul Pogba and £52 million Fred, you definitely wouldn’t have predicted that two years ago.

With Pogba hardly ever available and Fred struggling to impose himself on the league, the 23-year-old’s improvement has been much welcomed by United fans.

McTominay has found the net three times in the Premier League this season, better than his last two season combined, while he ranks second in tackles and third in touches at Manchester United.

Standout moment: McTominay put his stamp on the game against Arsenal at Old Trafford at the end of September, rifling a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area, with the slight aid of a deflection.

RIGHT WING - DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (PARMA)

While Kulusevski may be unknown to some European football fans, supporters of Serie A are certainly aware of his qualities.

The winger has registered six goals and four assists in 16 appearances this term, earning a call-up to the Sweden squad along the way.

Impressively, the 19-year-old is second in chances created from open play across the whole of Europe’s top five divisions, behind Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Standout moment: Kulusevski raced onto a rare Kalidou Koulibaly mistake to put Parma a goal to the good against Napoli last week, before setting up the winner for Gervinho in stoppage time.

LEFT WING - MOUNIR CHOUIAR (DIJON)

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Chouiar initially found it difficult to break into the Dijon side, having to wait until late September to be given a chance from the start. However, since then he has not looked back.

His two goals in Ligue 1 thus far have come against PSG and Rennes, proving himself to be a man for the big occasion.

Although the 20-year-old is yet to register an assist, he averages four successful dribbles per 90 minutes.

Standout moment: Chouiar sealed a comeback win for Dijon against Rennes, with a low strike into the bottom corner with six minutes to go.

STRIKER - VICTOR OSIMHEN (LILLE)

The fifth and final player on this list from Ligue 1 is Osimhen.

The 20-year-old Nigerian has tucked away nine goals in 17 appearances so far this season, an impressive feat from a man so inexperienced at the top level.

Lille sit in third position and have Osimhen to thank for contributing a significant amount of the goals that have put them there, 39% of them to be precise. They have also all come at home.

While he has only scored two in his last eight, the rumours are that his performances have caught the eye of some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Standout moment: In Lille’s opening game Osimhen struck twice in a 2-1 win to announce himself on the Ligue 1 stage.

There you have it, Europe’s biggest breakthrough acts so far this season. Be sure to keep an eye out for these names in the January window.

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