In 2021, football fans have been spoilt with the exciting young squads that have made their mark in Europe.
We’ve taken a look at some of the youngest squads currently competing at the highest levels in Europe (all average age values courtesy of Transfermarkt).
Average age: 25.3
Barca have one of the best young sides on the planet. The low average age of their squad has been partially forced upon them due to their financial constraints.
The Spanish side’s overall financial salary cap stands at €97m, which is alarmingly €650m less than their fierce rivals Real Madrid. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t continue to develop the players who are already at the club – and that’s precisely what they have been doing.
The Blaugrana’s own Ansu Fati is undoubtedly one of the most promising players in football. The 18-year-old winger is a product of La Masia and has excited fans this season with his dynamic performances.
His display of skill has even caught the eye of Luis Enrique, who has given him four caps for the Spanish national team. In addition, 2021 Golden Boy winner Pedri is also a first-choice starter for both club and country, while defensive pair Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza have also impressed.
Average age: 24.1
Arsenal have one of the best young squads in all of Europe. Despite their poor start to the campaign, Mikel Arteta‘s team have grown into the season, and we’ve seen some exceptional performances from their talented prospects.
One player in particular who has made a massive impact is England international Emile Smith Rowe. The Croydon man has posed an enormous threat in front of goal this campaign. The prolific finisher has found the back of the net on eight occasions in all competitions.
In addition, his ability to use his impressive vision and understanding of the game to glide past his opposition with ease has made him one of the best prospects in football.
If he remains at the Emirates, there’s no doubt that he, along with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Tierney, could help one of the best young squads in Europe return to their former glory.
Average age: 25.5
The Westfalenstadion is home to one of the most outstanding prospects in football. Erling Haaland’s presence at Borussia Dortmund is one of the main reasons the German side has one of the best young squads in Europe.
Having scored 53 goals in the same amount of appearances since joining the Bundesliga team last year, it’s fair to say that he’s one of the most highly valued players in the sport.
The superstar’s agent has claimed that the forward could play anywhere next season. But if BVB can keep hold of the future great, along with the likes of Jude Bellingham and Gio Reyna, they will be a fearsome side for the 2022/23 campaign.
The Italian giants are not the Champions League force of yesteryear. But if their plan to invest in youth pulls off, they could become one of football’s elite teams once again.
The San Siro side secured deals for two exciting young players in the summer transfer window. 17-year-old centre-back Clinton Nsiala hugely impressed the Serie A side’s scouts, who sourced him directly from the academy of Ligue 1 side FC Nantes. The multi-talented player can be a defensive rock and chain passes together in midfield.
Furthermore, they also bagged the signature of 16-year-old Chaka Traore. The rapid winger signed for Milan following his magnificent performances at Parma. The youngster had already made several appearances in Italy’s number one division with the Gialloblus.
These two prospects are up there with the best teenage players in the world. Therefore, if the seven-time Champions League winners can continue to enhance their skills, then they could make a massive impact at the San Siro in the future.
Average age: 25.3
The Peacocks have enjoyed a resurgence in recent times. They are back in the Premier League, having spent 17 years away from the top flight. They are struggling this season in 16th place, but there’s no doubt that the club has some impressive young talent.
According to CIES, Leeds is currently home to the second-highest valued shot-stopper on the planet – Illan Meslier.
The Frenchman made history last season. He became the first Premier League goalkeeper under 21 to record eight clean sheets in a single season.
Marcelo Bielsa has also given numerous other youth players opportunities during his time as Leeds manager. The likes of Joe Gelhardt, Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton have all flourished under the Argentinian.
Who has got the best young squad in Europe?
It’s a difficult question to answer. Some pundits might suggest Barcelona due to their excellent youth development system. Others may claim that the talent of Smith Rowe, Saka and co means that Arsenal secure that accolade.
But with Christmas around the corner and the New Year about to begin, fans don’t have long to wait to see how all these sides develop in 2022.
Featured Image Credit: Getty