Tottenham Hotspur prodigy Dele Alli has been named as the eighth best footballer under the age of 20 by Italian newspaper Gazzetta. But shouldn’t he be higher?
The 19-year-old midfielder has been an absolute sensation for Spurs since breaking into the first team this season, following his £5m arrival from MK Dons.
He has scored six Premier League goals to help inspire Tottenham’s title challenge, including stunning volleys against Everton and, most notably, Crystal Palace.
Alli has also made an immediate splash at international level, marking his full England debut with a stunning strike against France at Wembley in November.
So exactly which seven starlets does Gazzetta think are destined for greater stardom than Alli? Here is their interpretation of the top 20 teenagers in world football…
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20. Marko Grujic (Red Star Belgrade – on loan from Liverpool)
19. Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid)
18. Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras)
17. Andrija Zivkovic (Partizan Belgrade)
16. Reece Oxford (West Ham United)
15. Almamy Toure (AS Monaco)
14. Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb)
13. Danilo (Valencia)
12. Gabriel Barbosa (Santos)
11. Mahmoud Dahoud (Borussia Monchengladbach)
10. Kenedy (Chelsea)
9. Gerson (Roma)
8. Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Now this is where things get interesting. So do these seven players deserve to be above Alli? We reckon that the Spurs star should come in no lower than three.
7. Ruben Neves (Porto)
The 18-year-old already has two Portugal caps to his name and Champions League experience, but he is not as influential for Porto as Alli is for Spurs. Verdict: No
6. Alen Halilovic (Barcelona)
The Croatian hasn’t kicked a ball yet for Barca’s first team since joining in 2014 and isn’t exactly pulling up trees on loan at Sporting Gijon. Verdict: No
5. Breel Embolo (Basel)
Embolo has 26 goals and 17 assists in 73 games for Basel – an exceptional return for an 18-year-old. He is on the radar of most of Europe’s top clubs. Verdict: Yes
4. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
This 16-year-old is barely out of school and already has 13 first-team games at AC Milan under his belt. Surely the next great Italian goalkeeper. Verdict: Yes
3. Youri Tielemans (Anderlecht)
Remarkably, Tielemans has already clocked up 114 senior appearances for Anderlecht. But it is easier to make an impact in Belgium than the Premier League. Verdict: No
2. Leroy Sane (Schalke 04)
The flying winger, who has actually turned 20 recently, has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City. We may learn more about him soon. Verdict: No
1. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich – on loan from Juventus)
Coman tops the list after a promising start to his career at Bayern, but he does not consistently have the end product, which we know Alli has, to deserve this honour. Verdict: No
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