NxGn is back! And the competition is stiffer than ever before.
Every year, Goal unveils its list of the 50 best Under-19s in world football, with the players rated and ranked in terms of first-team experience, potential and overall ability by experts from 42 editions across the world.
Justin Kluivert took home the title 12 months ago and the Ajax academy product subsequently sealed an €18.75 million (£16.2m/$21.3m) move to Roma.
The Netherlands international is still only 19 years of age but he is ineligible for this year’s accolade as he was not born on or after January 1, 2000.
So, who is in contention?
Well, Real Madrid sensation Vinicius Junior is certainly among the frontrunners after making a stunning start to his Blancos career, following last summer’s €45m (£38.8m/$51.2m) move from Flamengo. The 18-year-old has been so good, in fact, that he has just been called into the Brazil senior squad.
Jadon Sancho, though, has already been capped at international level by England on the back of his stunning performances for Borussia Dortmund. In January, the Manchester City product even became the youngest player ever to net eight goals in the Bundesliga.
Speaking of City, Phil Foden continues to bewitch former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola with his midfield magic, with the Catalan of the belief that the Etihad outfit have unearthed a true “diamond” in the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.
This is certainly an exciting time for English football, which is still riding the crest of a wave after last year’s surprise fourth-placed finish at the Russia World Cup, and Callum Hudson-Odoi has quickly become a fan favourite at Chelsea.
The only trouble is, though, the winger’s performances have made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice, and Bayern Munich tried to sign him for £35m ($46.2m) during the January transfer window.
Still, the Bavarians can take comfort in the fact that they already have Alphonso Davies on board, with Canada’s youngest ever international and goalscorer having arrived at the Allianz Arena from Vancouver Whitecaps during the winter break.
Madrid also moved swiftly to wrap up a deal for Vinicius Junior’s fellow Brazilian prodigy Rodrygo, who will move to the Spanish capital from Santos this summer for €40m (£34.5m/$45.5m).
Meanwhile, Diego Lainez has already had his first taste of La Liga, after joining Betis in January, and has also made his mark in the Europa League, becoming the second-youngest Mexican ever to score in UEFA competition.
Sandro Tonali has not even appeared in Serie A yet – let alone Europe – but the classy midfielder has already received his first Italy call-up.
But will the ‘new Andrea Pirlo’ finish No.1 in our countdown of the world’s best Under-19s?
The final tallies are now being calculated and the complete list – along with the victor – and lots of great content, interviews, features and video will be revealed on Wednesday at 1:00pm CET (12pm GMT/8am ET).
The 2019 NxGn is just hours away – don’t miss it!