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Off the Crossbar: ESPN ranks top players under 21, two Bayern Munich players listed

Do you agree with this?

FC Bayern München v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

ESPN put together its list of the top 39 players in the world who are 21-years-old or younger.

There were a couple of Bayern Munich representatives on the list and even more players who have been linked to the Bavarians. Below, we have isolated the top five ranked players and then some other notable athletes on the list:

1) Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

2) Pedri, FC Barcelona

3) Phil Foden, Manchester City

4) Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund

5) Vinicius, Real Madrid

Other notable placements included:

7) Jamal Musiala, Bayern Munich

8) Florian Wirtz, Bayer Leverkusen

9) Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich

10) Gavi, FC Barcelona (loosely linked to Bayern Munich)

11) Eduardo Camavinga, Real Madrid (previously linked to Bayern Munich)

12) Jurrien Timber, Ajax (linked to Bayern Munich)

13) Ryan Gravenberch, Ajax (linked to Bayern Munich)

20) Dominik Szoboszlai, RB Leipzig

21) Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

22) Josko Gvardiol, RB Leipzig

29) Karim Adeyemi, Red Bull Salzburg (linked to Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich)

34) Brenden Aaronson, Red Bull Salzburg

37) Sergino Dest, FC Barcelona (previously linked to Bayern Munich)

39) Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea FC (previously linked to Bayern Munich)

So...how did ESPN come to a list with 39 (odd number, eh?) players? Here you go:

Why 39?

From an initial long list of 75 players, those remaining are the ones who best satisfied my main criteria: appearances at the highest level, consistent performance over a sustained period and the potential to develop into a future top-level footballer.

What types of research were undertaken?

I used a sounding board consisting of professional scouts and sporting directors from several top European clubs before deciding on the final ranking, as well as some online scouting platforms. Personal preference also played a role.


BFW Analysis

Let’s hit this bullet style:

  • Erling Haaland at No. 1 was a no-brainer.
  • I am scratching my head at Jamal Musiala being ranked ahead of Alphonso Davies. Musiala is terrific, but Davies has proven himself at the top level longer. While some have been critical of Davies’ play this season, is this an indication that his stock has dropped a bit or just that Musiala stock has risen that high? This isn’t a huge gripe or anything, just maybe a little surprising.
  • How crazy is it that Bayern Munich has been linked to so many of these players?
  • I’m still waiting for RB Leipzig to fully unleash Szoboszlai.
  • Pedri is good, but man, I think it’s a little over the top at this point.
  • While I don’t agree with the placements in the top 10, I think ESPN got it mostly correct.