The Wonderkid Power Rankings - Arsenal starlet named among best young players in world football

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Ranking the best young players in the global game as the season draws to a close - who will finish as number one?

Welcome back to The Wonderkid Power Rankings, 3 Added Minutes’ attempt to rank and rate the ten most talented and – crucially – in-form young starlets in the global game for people to argue over and enjoy.

We start with some sad news – with the European season winding down, and most of our regulars getting their passports out before hitting the beach, this will be the last Power Rankings of the 2022/23 season – we will, of course, be back in August, hopefully with some new names bustling their way into the top ten.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That does mean that we will be saying a permanent goodbye to some players who have dabbled in the top ten over recent months but will age out of contention – the injured Gabriel Martinelli will be 22 by the time we return, for instance, so a previous number one will unfortunately end the campaign outside the top ten entirely. It’s a cruel game. Another former number one, Jude Bellingham, didn’t make it off the bench for Dortmund following a knock, so he too gets an early holiday season.

1. Eduardo Camavinga – Real Madrid (non-mover)

Ending the season as a solid and hard-to-argue number one, the Frenchman has finally been allowed to have a run of games back in midfield and is looking every inch like the world-class holding midfielder we all know him to be. As solid as he was as a makeshift left-back, his positional awareness and first class passing game really come to the fore in the centre of the park, and he put in two high-energy, high-quality performances in the last week as Real Madrid beat Sevilla and local rivals Rayo Vallecano. Camavinga has rarely been the single best young player in any given week, but has undeniably been the most consistent wonderkid of the lot. A worthy number one as the season draws to a close.

2. Jamal Musiala – Bayern Munich (⬆️ from 5)

When Thomas Tuchel first took over in Munich, he benched Musiala and the team suffered. Then he returned to the starting line-up, played superbly, and all seemed well with the world again. So what did Tuchel do for the crucial final game of the season against 1. FC Köln? He benched Musiala again. So it came to pass that Bayern were drawing 1-1 and all set to miss out on a 12th consecutive Bundesliga title with five minutes left in the game, Musiala came on, picked the ball up outside the area, made space in the way that he so often does, and rifled the ball into the bottom corner, sparking wild scenes of jubilation as Bayern won the league and Borussia Dortmund blew it, again. Will Tuchel learn his lesson next season? Just play the man. He’s brilliant, and he wins you trophies.

3. Xavi Simons – PSV Eidnhoven (⬆️ from 7)

Another game, and another appearance on the scoresheet for the silkily-skilled attacking midfielder, who rattled two past AZ Alkmaar to seal PSV’s place in the qualifying rounds of next year’s Champions League and to earn his spot as the Eredivisie’s top scorer, finishing the season with 16 league goals and eight assists. Both goals were brilliant as well – the first taken after beating the last man out wide, managing to fire home from just outside the box despite being knocked to the ground, and the second saw Simons take the ball up in midfield, blast past three defenders with a blistering turn of pace, jink around the keeper and coolly slide it past a covering defender on the line – in the dying seconds of the game, as well. A stunning season from a huge talent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

4. Bukayo Saka – Arsenal (⬆️ from 9)

After a few lean weeks for player and club alike, it was good to see Saka back to something close to his best as Arsenal ended the season with a handy 5-0 thrashing of Wolves, who probably had bigger things to worry about. It was Saka’s dancing feet that set things in motion for Granit Xhaka’s second, but the highlight was his brilliant first touch and glorious curling close-range finish that sent the unfortunate Max Kilman off to the cleaners and saw Saka score his side’s third. After a tough few weeks for the north Londoners, it was genuinely nice to see a superlatively talented and immensely likeable young man get his smile and swagger back. A fitting way to cap a brilliant season.

5. Nicolas Jackson – Villarreal (new entry)

A confession from the curator of the Power Rankings – a few weeks back, when we were refreshing our longlist of young talents and keeping tabs on form, a website which shall remain nameless informed us that the Senegalese striker was 22. As such, he never made the top ten despite scoring a bagful of goals in the second half of the season. As it turns out, he’s 21 – for a few more weeks, anyway – and so he gets a very belated call-up and our sincerest apologies for the omission. After a slow start to the season and a hip injury that sidelined him for a couple of months, Jackson has blown up down the home straight, hitting eight goals (with a couple of assist as well) in the last seven games of the season, showing increasing composure and crisp finishing to go alongside some serious speed. This will be his first and last appearance in the Power Rankings, but he’s very much earned it.

6. Karim Adeyemi – Borussia Dortmund (⬇️ from 2)

If you’re looking for someone to take the fall for Dortmund’s last-gasp bottling of the Bundesliga title race, it would be harsh to point any fingers at Adeyemi. The young German international has been on stunning form when fit, but it’s undeniably true that he failed to make an impact in the final-day draw with Mainz, playing just 40 minutes and failing to trouble the goalkeeper as he so often does. He still ends an injury-interrupted season with 12 goal contributions to his name and was frequently one of his side’s best players – but it was a sad ending to a fine season for the fleet-footed winger. He’ll bounce back.

7. Arda Güler – Fenerbahçe (⬇️ from 3)

No goals or assists for Arda in the 3-0 Turkish Cup semi-final thumping of Sivasspor, but another commanding and precise performance in midfield for the Turkish tyro that served as a reminder of his quality – even if it was the veterans like Joshua King and Michy Batshuayi who grabbed the headlines and the goals this time around. 18 years old and playing like a first-rate creative midfielder already, don’t be surprised if his name crops up in connection with some of the biggest teams in Europe during the off-season. A huge future ahead for a supremely gifted young player.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

8. Gavi – Barcelona (re-entry)

An up-and-down season for Gavi, and something of a difficult second album after breaking through so brilliantly last year. He never stops running and working for the team, but creative force that he’s displayed in the past didn’t always come easily this time around – but he still underscored why he won the Kopa Trophy and the Golden Boy award with a goal and an assist in a brilliant performance against Mallorca. He bagged the Blaugranas’ third of the game with a left-footed strike that left the ‘keeper completely helpless, and if he can add a little more of that to his game in the coming years then he really will become the all-round threat that he’s so often looked like. Now set for a much-needed break after a long campaign.

9. Malick Thiaw – AC Milan (new entry)

The 21-year-old German centre-half has quietly compiled an extremely proficient campaign over in Serie A, stringing together consistently strong performances as he establishes himself in the heart of Milan’s defence. He’s strong with the ball at his feet, an excellent tackler, far stronger in the air than his six-foot frame would suggest and has a tremendous knack of knowing where to be to snuff out dangerous attacks from the opposition. Another excellent outing in the crucial 1-0 win over Juventus – which sealed Champions League football for his side next season – underlined what a fine young player Milan have got their hands on.

10. Benjamin Šeško – RB Salzburg (re-entry)

A strange old season for the 19-year-old Slovenian starlet, who was benched for a while during the spring but came roaring back into form with a second-half hat-trick against Rapid Vienna and has since picked up plenty of steam, netting seven goals in the next 11 matches as Salzburg won another Austrian Bundesliga title. A goal and an assist in the most recent match against Klagenfurt keeps him in with a chance of being the division’s top scorer, even if he would probably need another treble to make that particular title his own. But on his form, you’d be hard-pressed to bet heavily against the powerful striker. More than just a Football Manager star, by all evidence.

We want your feedback on 3 Added Minutes - details here

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.