7 Best Soccer Players Aged Under 18 (2023)
Gone are the days when youngsters struggle to play football at the highest level. Nowadays, even teenagers are establishing themselves in starting lineups.
As a result, clubs now scout young prodigies from a very early age and enroll them in their academies.
In the last few years, teenage youngsters have lit up soccer. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Ansu Fati, Alphonso Davies, Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham, Victor Osimhen and Vinicius Junior.
In this article, we look at the best under-18 soccer players in the world. Please not that this list will include players who are 18 years of age and below.
1. Gavi (Barcelona)
Gavi is one of the best teenage footballers in the world. He, along with Pedri and Ansu Fati, are regarded as the future of both Barcelona and Spain.
He possesses good dribbling, anticipation, intelligence, vision, passing, close control, change of pace, and the ability to get out of tight spaces and initiate attacks.
He is the youngest player to ever play (and to score) for Spain at senior level.
Gavi was named in Spain’s squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in which he started in all four matches.
Furthermore, his goal against Costa Rica in Spain’s first game made him the second youngest player (only behind Pelé) to score in a World Cup match.
He won both the Kopa Trophy and the Golden Boy awards as the Best Young Player in the World in 2022.
2. Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund)
Both the youngest player and goalscorer in Bundesliga history, Youssoufa Moukoko has been touted as a potential superstar ever since making headlines in Borussia Dortmund’s academy.
Aged just 12, Moukoko averaged almost 2 goals-per-game for the Under-15s side.
He continued his sensational goalscoring record throughout his youth career — netting over 140 strikes in less than 3-and-a-half seasons.
He made his first team debut for Dortmund aged just 16 years old.
Additionally, Moukoko became the youngest-ever player in UEFA Champions League history.
He was included in Germany’s squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where he became the youngest ever German player to play at the World Cup — aged 18 years and 3 days.
Moukoko was also the youngest footballer at the 2022 World Cup.
3. Gabriel Slonina (Chelsea)
Gabriel Slonina is a young American goalkeeper that plays for Chelsea.
He is widely considered one of the best young soccer goalkeepers in the world.
On the 4th of August 2021, he made his professional debut for Chicago Fire against New York City FC, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to start a match in the league’s history at 17 years and 81 days.
Slonina made 4 saves as the match ended in a 0-0 draw — which made him the youngest goalkeeper to record a clean sheet in Major League Soccer history.
In August 2022, Slonina signed for Chelsea for a transfer fee of $10 million — potentially rising to $15 million with add-ons.
4. Endrick (Palmeiras)
Endrick started playing football at the age of 4, and his father was posting his videos on YouTube, looking for interested clubs.
Endrick joined Palmeiras youth team at the age of 11, and in 5 years, he scored 165 goals in 169 games!
He participated in the 2022 Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior — scoring 7 goals in seven games, and was voted as the player of the tournament after leading Palmeiras to the title.
Following the tournament, he caught the attention of major European clubs.
He made his professional debut in October 2022, at 16 years, two months, and 16 days; to become the youngest ever player to play for Palmeiras.
He scored his first two senior goals in October, becoming the second youngest goal scorer in the history of Brazil’s first division.
On the 15th of December 2022, Real Madrid announced that they have reached an agreement with Palmeiras that will see Endrick join them in July 2024 — when he turns 18.
5. Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United)
Alejandro Garnacho joined Manchester United’s youth academy from Atlético Madrid in October 2020.
He made his first team debut in April 2022 at the age of 17, in a Premier League game against Chelsea.
He led the club to the 2022 Youth FA Cup and was named Man Utd’s 2022 Young Player of the Year.
On the 3rd of November, he scored his first senior goal in a Europa League match against Real Sociedad.
Garnacho scored his first Premier League goal (an injury-time winner against Fulham) on the 13th of November.
6. Romeo Lavia (Southampton)
Romeo Lavia started his football career at the academy of Anderlecht before transferring to Manchester City in 2020.
With first-team opportunities hard to come by at the Etihad, he joined Southampton last summer.
Lavia scored his first professional goal in August 2022 against Chelsea, becoming the first player born in 2004 to score in the English Premier League.
The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the best young midfielders in football.
7. Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners)
Garang Kuol was born in Egypt to South Sudanese refugee parents. His parents later moved to Australia.
Kuol is one of the best Australian soccer players at the moment.
He joined the academy of Central Coast Mariners in 2021.
He made his debut for the Mariners’ senior side at 17 years of age in December 2021 and scored just 7 minutes after coming on!
In April 2022, Kuol made his A-League debut and scored a goal in the Mariners’ 5-0 win over Wellington Phoenix. He would go on to score 4 goals in his first 7 league appearances.
On the 30th of September 2022, Newcastle United signed Garang Kuol. He will join the Premier League club on the 1st of January, 2023.
He was named in Australia’s squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November 2022 at 18 years old, becoming the youngest player ever selected by Australia for the World Cup.
Kuol came on as a substitute in the second half of Australia’s loss to France in their opening game, becoming the youngest-ever player to feature for Australia at the World Cup.
Furthermore, he became the 9th-youngest player ever to play at the FIFA World Cup.
He also came on as a substitute in Australia’s round of 16 loss to Argentina, making him the youngest player to feature in a World Cup knockout match since Pelé in 1958.
Kuol had a late chance to equalise for Australia. However, his brilliant shot was amazingly saved by Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.
Other notable top football players under 18 include;
- Mathys Tel (Bayern Munich)
- Víctor Barberà (Barcelona)
- Kaide Gordon (Liverpool)
- Lamine Yamal (Barcelona)
- Shola Shoretire (Manchester United)
- Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea)
- Nico Paz (Real Madrid)
- Ilias Akhomach (Barcelona)
- Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting Lisbon)