The most valuable XI of teenagers on Earth: Here’s who makes the team
Ever wondered what a team of the most valuable teenagers on Earth may look like?
It includes Chelsea’s new Brazilian signing Angelo plus goalkeeper Gabriel Slionna, as well as in-demand Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia and Manchester United and Manchester City duo Alejandro Garnarcho and Rico Lewis respectively.
Popular data and statistics website, Transfermarkt, has named its most valuable teenage XI based on the current market. Here’s a full rundown of the 11 players who have made the cut…
GK: Gabriel Slonina, €9m
Chelsea paid a flat fee of $10m to bring USA goalkeeper Slonina from Chicago Fire in MLS last summer, before loaning him back to the club for the remainder of the 2022 season.
An imposing figure between the posts despite being just 19 years old, Slonina shone for the USA at the Under 20 World Cup this year, keeping four clean sheets as the USA progressed to the quarter-finals.
He earned a senior cap in January, becoming the youngest goalkeeper ever to play for the USA and since returning to Chelsea has played several U21 games with an eye to being Kepa’s main competitor for the number one spot under Mauricio Pochettino this season.
RB: Rico Lewis, €20m
It’s been a rapid rise for Manchester City’s Rico Lewis over the past 12 months. Not making his senior City debut until the second weekend of the Premier League campaign last season, Lewis went on to make 25 appearances for the treble winners in all competitions across their successful season.
Lewis only turned 18 in November, just three weeks after he scored his first senior goal in the Champions League against Sevilla, becoming the youngest player to score on his first start in the competition.
An attacking right-back who has offered stern competition for Kyle Walker, Lewis has also risen through the ranks with England and made his under 21s debut in March.
CB: Antonio Silva, €45m
Similar to Lewis, Antonio Silva has enjoyed a similarly rapid rise over the past 12 months, even more so given he was selected and played for Portugal at senior level at the World Cup in Qatar at the end of last year.
Having shone on the way to Benfica winning the UEFA Youth League in 2022, Silva was promoted to the first team and quickly became a key part of a side which won the league once again come the end of the campaign.
His performances and ability to show his tough-tackling style, but comfortable with both feet, led him to being named in Portugal’s squad for the World Cup, making his debut in the build-up to the tournament and playing against South Korea in the team’s final group game.
CB: Giorgio Scalvini, €40m
Imposing centre-back Scalvini is fast becoming the next big thing in the Italian defence, literally. Coming in at 6 ft 4, Scalvini at 19 years old is already a match for the tallest defenders out there and he’s wasted no time in making an impact with Atalanta.
Scalvini made his senior during the 2021-22 campaign and went on to make 18 Serie A appearances, going on to make 32 appearances last season, meaning he’s reached a half-century before even moving out of his teenage years.
The centre-back has also worked his way into the senior Italy team’s reckoning, making four senior appearances so far as Roberto Mancini looks to rebuild after the disappointment of missing out on the 2022 World Cup.
LB: Alejandro Balde, €50m
Pacey full-back Balde is the second most expensive player on this list and with good reason given the level the Barcelona and Spain star is already performing at.
Balde has been with the Catalan giants since he was eight years old and has grown in prominence over the past 12 months, surpassing Jordi Alba as the club’s starting left-back, making 33 appearances in the team’s La Liga title-winning campaign last season.
He also received a shock late call-up to the Spanish World Cup squad after injury ruled out Jose Gaya, making his senior international debut at the tournament itself in a dominant 7-0 win against Costa Rica.
DM: Romeo Lavia, €32m
Southampton’s bright young midfielder Lavia is well in demand right now, with Liverpool thought to be close to his signing after having an initial £37m bid rejected by the Saints.
Lavia joined Southampton last summer in order to pursue first team opportunities after leaving Manchester City, but despite an impressive personal season couldn’t stop the team from relegation to the Championship.
Lavia made his senior Belgium debut earlier this year, emphasising a solid campaign for the midfielder, and it appears bigger things are on the horizon for Lavia ahead of the new season.
CM: Gavi, €90m
The most expensive player in the XI by some distance, and that’s no real shock when you consider what the brilliant Gavi has already achieved in such a short career.
Remarkably still 18 for another couple of weeks, the latest in a long line of impressive names to win the Golden Boy award last year, Gavi has already made an incredible 96 senior appearances for Barcelona over the past two seasons.
Calm on the ball and able to dominate possession, Gavi shone for Spain at the World Cup last year and helped his country to the UEFA Nations League title at the end of the season, as well as the La Liga title for Barcelona.
AM: Rayan Cherki, €30m
Not the first and certainly not the last exciting young creative player to come through the ranks at Lyon, 19-year-old Cherki is already shining at the end of what is incredibly his fourth season as a senior player in Ligue 1.
Previously playing for the club’s B team in the lower leagues, Cherki made his senior debut in the 2019/20 season and has grown in stature ever since, his attractive style of play and quick feet making him an easy player on the eye to watch.
Able to play centrally or on the wing, Cherki has also recently starred for France’s under-21s side, but is also able to represent either Italy or Algeria when he reaches senior level. In 2020, he became the youngest player ever to feature in a Champions League semi-final when he came on against Bayern Munich.
RW: Angelo, €13m
18-year-old superstar Angelo Gabriel arrived at Chelsea this summer from Brazilian side Santos, where he made 129 senior appearances across all competitions despite his young age.
An exciting left-footed winger, Angelo can also play from the right and signed a long-term six-year deal under Mauricio Pochettino this summer. Angelo became the youngest player to play in the Brazilian Serie A at just 15 years old, beating Pele’s own marker but second in the club’s history behind Philippe Coutinho.
Angelo has progressed through the Brazilian youth teams and is currently playing for the under 20s, and is sure to add something exciting to a Chelsea attack which failed to fire all too often last season.
LW: Alejandro Garnacho, €25m
Bringing Garnarcho to the club from Atletico Madrid in 2019 might be one of the shrewdest pieces of business Manchester United has done in the past few years.
The end of the 2021/22 campaign set Garnarcho up for the past 12 months, winning the FA Youth Cup and making his senior debut, clearly making an impression on new manager Erik Ten Hag early on.
The ability to beat a man as well as both score and create, Garnarcho made 34 appearances across all competitions last season and scored five goals, including a vital late winner against Fulham.
Able to represent his homeland Spain, Garnarcho instead chose to play for world champions Argentina where he made his senior international debut earlier this year.
ST: Vitor Roque, €32m
Striker Vitor Roque may yet be a bit of unknown to the European continent, but like countryman Angelo, he won’t be for too long.
After a season which has seen the teenager score seven goals in 13 games for Athletico Paranaense in Brazil’s Serie A, as well as make his senior international debut, Roque has signed a long-term deal at Barcelona after a big-money move but will remain in Brazil until next summer to continue his development.
When Paranaense purchased him last summer from Cruzeiro, it was their biggest output on a transfer in the club’s history, but after 12 months of goals and a big profit after his sale to Barcelona, it’s been well worth it.
With a real eye for goal, Roque will be one to watch in Europe for many years to come.