We wanted to take a look at the seven best footballers born since 2000. To give you an idea of how young that is, Kylian Mbappe was born in 1998, Marcus Rashford was born in 1997, and even recent Arsenal starter Reiss Nelson was born in 1999.
The players are ranked solely on current ability, not future potential.
Here are our 7 best footballers born since 2000:
7. Jann-Fiete Arp – Hamburg
We start this article with the oldest player to make this seven. Born on January 6th 2000, Jann-Fiete Arp is only just eligible. The 18-year-old stands at 6 feet and 2 inches, and he has earned an excellent reputation through his intelligence beyond his years and smart finishing. Arp scored 18 goals from 19 caps for Germany’s under-17’s, and became the first player born in the 2000’s to play in the Bundesliga last year. He has scored twice in 18 appearances so far this season, with most of his appearances having come off the bench.
6. Paulinho – Vasco da Gama
Not to be confused with the much-maligned former Tottenham midfielder who is now earning rave reviews at Barcelona, the Paulinho we’re referring to here currently plays for Vasco de Gama. Happiest through the middle but equally capable on either flank, Paulinho is quick, tricky and very good on the ball. He is the youngest player in Vasco history, and the youngest goal scorer in the history of Brazil’s top flight. Born in July of 2000, he has been called up to Brazil’s under-20 squad at the age of 17, having scored 7 goals from 21 caps for the under-17’s, and three goals for the Vasco first team.
5. Kik Pierie – Heerenveen
It is rare for a 17-year-old to break into the starting XI of a top flight club. It’s even rarer for a 17-year-old centre-back, but that’s exactly what Kik Pierie has done at Heerenveen. Born in Boston in the United States, Pierie has been capped by the Netherlands at four different youth levels, most recently in the under-19’s. Adept at playing as either a centre-back or left-back, Pierie has made 25 appearances for sixth placed Heerenveen this season, and has been linked with moves to both Manchester United and Manchester City.
4. Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund
From a player being linked with Manchester City, to one who has already left the recently-crowned Premier League champions. Jadon Sancho has been earmarked as a potential star of the future for some time now, and he’s currently looking to make good on those predictions in the Bundesliga. A quick and technical wide man who loves to cut in off the left and try and get a shot on goal, Sancho scored 14 goals from 18 caps for England’s under-17’s. Now part of Keith Downing’s under-19’s setup, he joined Borussia Dortmund for £8 million in the summer, and has made nine appearances for the German giants so far this season.
3. Moise Kean – Hellas Verona
Currently playing for Hellas Verona on-loan from Juventus, Moise Kean is one of Europe’s top prospects. Brought to Juve from near neighbours Torino at the age of 10, Kean is now 18, and he made four appearances in the Juve first team last season. Combining pace with intelligent movement, Kean has the tools to become a prolific goal scorer, but at the moment we think he looks most effective as a second striker. A regular scorer for Italy at multiple youth levels, he has bagged 4 goals in 19 Serie A outings for Hellas Verona so far this season.
2. Vinicius Junior – Flamengo
He may still be contracted to Flamengo, but Vinicius Junior’s next club is already well-known. The 17-year-old forward agreed to join Real Madrid when he turns 18 last summer, in a £38 million move which will make him the world’s most expensive teenager. Real Madrid obviously had faith in his potential, offering that kind of money before he’d even made his first team debut in Brazil. He has now racked up more than half a century of appearances for Flamengo, and scored 10 goals, as well as bagging 17 in 19 for Brazil’s under-17’s. Most commonly deployed on the left flank, Junior is very quick and frighteningly good on the ball. He plays with an aura and confidence which bodes well for the future, and he’ll have some decent players to learn from at the Bernabeu.
1. Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham
It seems unusual that the best footballer in the world born since 2000 should be playing in England’s second tier, but we believe that’s the case – although he may not be for long, as the 17-year-old currently leads the Cottages push for a return to the Premier League. Sessegnon is quite clearly a remarkable talent, and he made his Fulham debut not long after his 16th birthday. Capable of playing anywhere down the left flank, the more advanced the better in our book. Quick, tricky, happy to commit defenders and highly effective in the final third, Sessegnon isn’t even 18 yet, but he’s already made more than 70 appearances for Fulham. That exposure to first team football has seen him mature more rapidly than others his age, and he has scored 14 goals from the left wing this season. Sessegnon has already been capped by England under-21’s, and recently beat players twice his age to be named Championship Player of the Season.