The Wonderkid Power Rankings - Arsenal’s Martinelli loses top spot as Pedri returns at last

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Ranking the brightest and best young players in the world, as Jude Bellingham rides high.

Welcome back to the Wonderkids Power Rankings, where we at 3 Added Minutes gather together in heated editorial debate to rank the ten most gifted, brilliant and prodigiously in-form young players in world football. I’m lying about the heated editorial debate, it’s just me arbitrarily making up the rules as I go along. Deal with it.

This week saw the long-awaited return of one of Europe’s top talents, Pedri, and saw most of our super-talents do… well, not much, to be honest. It was a pretty quiet week for the world’s brightest and best under-21s, and that means relatively little change in the top 10, although we do have a change at the top as Jude Bellingham gets his just reward for consistency, if nothing else. A couple of players drop out, for now at least – Xavi Simons didn’t have a match to play in the past week, so he gets dumped for having zero opportunity to be ‘in form’ (cruel world, isn’t it?) while Brighton’s Moisés Caicedo takes a break from the rankings after a quiet couple of games. Meanwhile, a decent showing against Real Betis keeps Gavi clinging on to the top ten by his very fingertips. Another slow weekend, and he’ll join Jamal Musiala on the Power Rankings bench.

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1. Jude Bellingham – Borussia Dortmund (⬆️ from 2)

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In a week where few of the biggest prodigies in world football truly shone – and in a week where Borussia Dortmund managed to bottle their place at the top of the Bundesliga again – Bellingham gets rewarded for consistency, more than anything else. Even when Dortmund are bad, which is basically whenever they find themselves in a strong position to finally win something, Bellingham remains remarkably solid, keeping the ball moving, working opposing defences and reducing the volume of excuses his team-mates have for sub-par performances. Dortmund fans can be justifiably frustrated at plenty of their players, but Bellingham isn’t one of them. He’s set an astonishingly high bar for himself, and hurdles it week in, week out.

2. Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal (⬇️ from 1)

Martinelli either scored or set one up in every single game since early March, so he picked a hell of a time to go all quiet. The Brazilian’s brilliant form finally fizzled out against Manchester City last Wednesday, and he frankly went a bit AWOL in what may well prove to be one of the decisive games of the season. Still, at the time of writing, he hasn’t had a chance to face Chelsea yet, so he’ll probably bag an absolute shedload of goals given the way that lot are playing these days. For now, though, Martinelli takes a temporary break from top spot.

3. Eduardo Camavinga – Real Madrid (⬆️ from 4)

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A solid if unspectacular week for the Frenchman who was on the bench for most of the rather humiliating 4-2 defeat to Girona – a result which rather neatly demonstrated why Real are better off with him on the field than off it. He was back in left-back action against Almería on Saturday at least, and played decently enough as Real found themselves inflicting a 4-2 defeat this time around. He may be out of position for now, but he still makes such steady and smart use of possession that he improves the team wherever he pops up on the field, even when he isn’t in quite such supreme form as he was last week against Celta Vigo.

4. Bukayo Saka – Arsenal (⬇️ from 4)

Much like his team-mate Martinelli, Saka drops a place largely for picking the worst possible time to go missing. That Saka was unable to get involved in the game in the way he usually does is, of course, at least as much of a testament to Manchester City as it is to any defects in his own game, but for a player who so often rises to the big occasion, he will be pretty disappointed with his failure to inflict and damage on the City defence. He’s still brilliant, of course, and will be key if Arsenal are to get themselves back into the title race. And he’ll probably run rings around Ben Chilwell within hours of this article’s publication, of course.

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5. Yeremy Pino – Villarreal (re-entry)

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I wouldn’t usually hurl a player who was out of the top ten right the way back into the top five, but Yeremy Pino was the standout performer among Europe’s elite youngsters this past week – giving Espanyol the run-around on Thursday evening, rattling off six shots and managing 90% passing accuracy, before teeing up his teammates twice in the 3-1 win over Celta on Sunday. Blessed with every trait you could ask for from a winger, the Spanish international seems to have rediscovered the scintillating form he displayed in March and rightly barges his way back into these rankings. Some player, and he’s playing a huge role in keeping Villarreal’s hope for a Champions League spot alive.

6. Arda Güler – Fenerbahçe (⬇️ from 5)

Please don’t ask me why Fenerbahçe manager Jorge Jesus insists on repeatedly rotating their best player, but Arda was hauled off in first-half stoppage time of his side’s comfortable 3-1 win over Sivasspor despite being one of the most impactful players on the pitch. A red card for central midfielder İrfan Kahveci was the tactical justification, but he would still be bottom of most fans’ list of ‘players who should come off to shore things up a bit’, and with good reason. No goal contributions for the Turkish tyro this week, then, but a curtailed performance which still showed everyone why he’s one of the biggest talents in Europe.

7. Karim Adeyemi – Borussia Dortmund (⬆️ from 9)

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Adeyemi has been a bit up and down this season – unplayable one week, invisible the next. Unlike Bellingham, he needs his team-mates to bring him into the game or he rather drifts out of the equation – but while his performance in the disappointing 1-1 draw to VfL Bochum may not have set the world on fire, he was still on hand to get the equaliser and showed more drive and determination to get a winner than several other players in black and yellow. Goals being rather important in this game, Adeyemi gets a bump up the rankings and is indeed the only player in the top ten to have actually got a goal this past week. Pick it up, lads, eh?

8. Pedri – Barcelona (re-entry)

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It’s been strange having a list of the top ten youth prospects in the world without Pedri, but a couple of months off with injury means we’ve been left bereft as the superb young Spaniard took a much-needed breather. He’s back now, however, and doesn’t look to have missed too many beats, putting an impressive display in during the 4-0 rout of Betis and looking exceptionally sharp for a young man who hadn’t had a game in nine weeks. He’s still not been allowed a full ninety since making his return as Barcelona manage his game time – for once – but knowing Pedri he’ll be impossible to get off the field of play before very long.

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9. Florian Wirtz – Bayer Leverkusen (re-entry)

Another player whose minutes are still being cautiously monitored, Wirtz is something of a headache for compilers of lists like this – I know, play the world’s smallest violin for me, please. Thanks to his long lay-off he still hasn’t played the full 90 minutes two games in a row this season, which makes assessing his form something of a waking nightmare. At least he got the whole game on the field this weekend, against Union Berlin in a tense 0-0 draw, and once again he looked the part – excellent as ever in possession, with one of the best passing games you’ll see anywhere in the world and some of the silkiest control going. He couldn’t break down the hipsters’ favourites this time – but then neither could anyone else in Xabi Alonso’s side, and Union don’t exactly give too many goals away. Now, watch him warm the bench next week, just to make my life more difficult.

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10. Gavi – Barcelona (⬇️ from 8)

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We’re not afraid to bury players as well as praise them in these rankings – just ask poor Musiala – and Gavi’s iffy form in the last few weeks meant that I was just about to pull the trigger on kicking him right the way out of the top ten until he bucks his ideas up. But then he did buck them up a bit, looking much more like his usual self against Betis and picking up his best passing stats since he impressed in the win over Real Madrid back in March. He’s plainly a fabulous player, just lacking that little bit of his usual sparkle of late – he hasn’t scored since the beginning of February and has just one assist in that time, against lowly Elche. But he gets one more week in the rankings anyway, not least because nobody else really earned their place over him. Let’s say he’s been put on notice.

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