As the end of the season beckons across Europe, in some form, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the accomplishments of tomorrow’s stars with the U-22 Team of the Season across each individual top leagues, a feature we’ve run since 2014 . This feature looks at the best of Ligue 1.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2019 – 21 years old and below for outfield players; 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
As the Bundesliga campaign came to a close this past weekend, with an all too familiar result, another season displayed the ability of Germany’s top division to produce and provide opportunities to the younger emerging stars of the football world. The league has lead the way in that regards, as it did by being the first top division in Europe to restart the campaign in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
Schalke’s Alexander Nubel (23), who raised some controversy in January with his confirmed move to Bayern Munich takes his place in between the posts. Though dropped just before the suspension of the league, and post it, for a few games, Nubel certainly showed why the German champions made the move for him despite his side’s poor finish to the season.
Ashraf Hakimi (21) of Dortmund, who is close to a move to Inter Milan, was the obvious choice at right-back. The man on loan from Real Madrid virtually played as a winger, having been involved in 19 goals & assists in all competitions this season. Kolns’s Sebastian Bornauw (21), part of the defensive back-line, is another who had an impressive goal return of 7 across all competitions; the Belgian helped his side in the relegation battle despite a poor end to the campaign. He’s partnered by Dayot Upamecano (21) who was key in RB Leipzig’s title push, which eventually crumbled. The Frenchman started all but one game which he was available for. At left-back is Bayern’s Alphonso Davies (19) who was initially eased into the squad by Niko Kovac but eventually under Hansi Flick found himself as a regular in the starting XI. Though thought to be of as a winger, Davies has established himself as a quality modern day attacking full-back.
Schalke’s second representative, Weston McKennie (21) takes his place in midfield. Despite his side’s poor Bundesliga campaign, McKennie will look back fondly on a season he established himself in the league on the back of the previous season’s success. The American is partnered by Germany’s golden boy, Kai Havertz (21). The Leverkusen man was arguably the best young player this past campaign and though Leverkusen missed out on Champions League football, his 16 goals and 9 assists across all competitions is likely to find him a new home in Europe’s premier competition.
Another Bundesliga youngster likely to play a leading role in the drama of the summer transfer window, Jadon Sancho (20) is on the right flank. The Englishman was involved in a goal in 23 of the 29 games before a couple of blanks in June, ending the season with an outrageous 20 goals and 20 assists across the campaign. Though not quite as impressive, Moussa Diaby (20) also commands a place in the side, taking a role on the left flank. The France U-21 international was a fringe player leading into the winter break but really kicked on post resumption. He arguably could have been more impressive if the league wasn’t suspended when it did.
One man unfazed by any suspensions is the obvious choice upfront, Erling Haaland (19). Though only brought into the Bundesliga in January, the Norwegian finishes the season as joint sixth highest goal-scorer with a return of 16 goals in 18 matches across three competitions. Almost criminal to think the ex-Salzburg man is still only a teenager. He’s partnered by Frenchman Marcus Thuram (22) who’s 6 goals pre-lockdown and 4 post helped his side into the Champions League places, holding off the threat from Leverkusen.
Read all our Young Players features here.