The Wonderkid Power Rankings: Four players out of top ten, but who will be number one?

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We rank the ten best young players in world football - can anyone beat Jude Bellingham to the top?

Welcome once again to the Wonderkid Power Rankings, our weekly rundown of the top ten young talents in the global game based on their recent form at senior level – and we’ve got quite a bit of churn this week, with no fewer than five players dropping out thanks either to injury or to simply being outperformed by some of the players who were pushing for their places.

So we say a likely temporary farewell to Jérémy Doku, for instance, after he was ruled out of Manchester City’s match against Luton Town but also to Joško Gvardiol, who simply didn’t play all that well. João Neves of Benfica also makes way, while striker Vitor Roque didn’t play in the final round of games in the Brazilian Série A.

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In their stead, we get no fewer than four brilliant young players re-entering the top ten, while we also see whether any of the chasing pack can finally unseat Jude Bellingham, who has rightly been number one every week he’s been fit so far this season. Can he extend his perfect record even further..?

10. Lamine Yamal – Barcelona (re-entry)

It’s not often players improve their standings in the Power Rankings off the back of a 25-minute cameo, and it’s even rarer for that to happen when the result of the game was a crushing 4-2 defeat by a surprise title rival – in this case, high-flying Girona, who have reached the top of La Liga off the back of a shock win over their Catalan neighbours.

But Yamal was superb when he came on in the second half, with perfect records for dribbles, ground duels and crosses as he swashed and buckled his way through the Girona defence and offered up a string of extremely presentable chances for his team-mates to spurn. He wound up with 0.83 expected assists, more than the overwhelming majority of players manage in a full 90. Shame his work went to waste, really…

9. Nico Williams – Athletic Club (⬇️ from 7)

Williams couldn’t get himself on the scoresheet for the second weekend in a row but was dangerous and industrious in the 1-1 draw away to Granada, even if he was also rather wasteful on this occasion, throwing a lot of inaccurate crosses into the box and taking on too many low-percentage shots when he was in the box.

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He was still a persistent thorn in the side of his opponents and was probably Athletic’s most constant attacking outlet, but this was one of those days when he wasn’t quite on the same wavelength as his team-mates. That kind of inconsistency has been a problem for lavishly-talented 21-year-old so far, but he’s still absolutely superb when he is on top of his game.

8. Sávio – Girona (re-entry)

The 19-year-old Brazilian has once again responded to rumours of a move to a bigger club by insisting he wants to play for Manchester City in the future, and he offered up a pretty good advertisement for his services during the win over Barcelona, picking up an assist and running the right side of Barça’s defence ragged.

It was his floated cross, sent over to the far post, than allowed Cristian Stuani to wrap the points up deep into injury time and was just reward for a game in which he totalled 1.13 expected goals and assists and registered four key passes for his team-mates. Whenever Girona got the ball to him, he threatened – Pep Guardiola will probably like what he saw.

7. Simon Adingra – Brighton & Hove Albion (re-entry)

Adingra’s form has bubbled back up to the boil in the last couple of games and while he couldn’t get himself on the scoresheet against Brentford last week, he made amends with the equalising goal in the 1-1 draw against Burnley on Saturday.

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A relatively straightforward header across the goalkeeper wasn’t all that the Ivorian contributed to Brighton’s cause, of course, and while it wasn’t the most involved he’s been in a game for the Seagulls he used the ball nicely when he did get hold of it, creating a few decent chances and getting two more good shots away from the right-hand side of the box. Adingra has been impressively consistent recently – and consistently impressive, too.

6. Endrick – Palmeiras (re-entry)

We welcome Endrick back into the top ten after a couple of lean matches, only in preparation for his immediate exit next week thanks to the end of the Brazilian season. He’ll have earned his summer break, however, helping Palmeiras to retain their league title with 11 league goals, which isn’t necessarily a huge number but certainly is for a teenager who was under immense personal pressure earlier in the campaign.

He also closed out the season with the opening goal against Cruzeiro, slotting home from close range after bundling his way through the opposing goalkeeper – and while he probably should have had a hat-trick given the presentable chances he passed up on, that’s at least as much of a testament to his ability to get into dangerous areas as it is a condemnation of his finishing. A fabulous talent who ends a rollercoaster season on a huge high.

5. Johan Bakayoko – PSV (⬆️ from 6)

Having spent last week praising Bakayoko for his almost endless run of games in which he scored or assisted at least one, he promptly drew a blank in the 2-0 win over Heerenveen – but that didn’t stop him from being one of the best players on the pitch.

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He was a nightmare for the opposing defence, getting four shots away from the right side of the area, winning eight ground duels and dribbling past opponents six times as racked up a total of 0.75 expected goals and assists. This was Bakayoko at his dazzling best, even if his name ended up being absent from the scoresheet – and the you can probably add a few extra numbers onto the end of his transfer fee, too, with a number of Premier League clubs circling. A big summer move seems increasingly likely for the Belgian winger.

4. Xavi Simons – RB Leipzig (⬇️ from 3)

Last week suggested that Simons was spending too much time making plays from midfield and not enough getting into dangerous areas around the box – so of course he did the precise opposite this week in Leipzig’s 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund, and struggled to get too involved anywhere other than the opposing area.

Not that he wasn’t pretty dangerous, although he wasn’t able to score or assist from his combined xG and xA of 0.77, but he got quite a few good shots and dangerous passes away in the final third. He wasn’t as influential in the rest of play, though, winning just three of his nine one-on-ones and putting up a mildly disappointing 81% passing accuracy rate. Disappointing by his high standards, anyway.

3. Pedri – Barcelona (⬆️ from 5)

It probably isn’t a complete coincidence that Barcelona collapsed the moment that Pedri left the field in the second half – he had offered control in possession and threat in the final third, only for Girona to take a 3-1 lead within seconds of his departure.

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Of course, his minutes are being very sensibly managed as he makes his way back from injury, but he was immaculate when he was involved and taking him off must have felt foolish even if it was necessary. He put up no fewer than five key passes as he sliced and diced the Girona defence with his crosses and through balls, and like his team-mate Yamal put up a pretty hefty expected assists total without reward – 0.89xA, in Pedri’s case. Had Robert Lewandowski not had another very bad day in front of goal, Barcelona could easily have won. Thanks to Pedri, they certainly had the chances.

2. Florian Wirtz – Bayer Leverkusen (non-mover)

Wirtz was the only one of our wonderkids to be involved in two games this week, with a solid and essentially immaculate 45 minutes in a routine DFB Pokal win over Paderborn followed by a brilliant second-half showing in a hugely entertaining 1-1 draw away to VfB Stuttgart.

It was Wirtz who scored the equaliser when Xabi Alonso’s side turned a disappointing first-half performance around, ghosting in at the back post to sidefoot his fourth league goal of the season home – but this was a genuine all-round performance. Wirtz was everywhere, touching the ball over a hundred times as his passing and off-ball movement put him at the heart of everything Leverkusen did – and he was excellent in transitions, too, turning the ball over for his team four times. An excellent showing from a fabulously dynamic player.

1. Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid (non-mover)

No matter how well Wirtz plays, Bellingham always seems to be able to keep himself one step ahead – if not more. The best young player in the world was on the scoresheet again at the weekend, bagging the opener in a 1-1 draw against Real Betis which made it a frankly ridiculous 16 goals in 18 games for the 20-year-old.

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It was a sumptuous goal, too, racing past the defence to receive a lofted one-two onto his chest before slotting home with his right foot with the kind of easy grace and cool composure that the greatest strikers in the world would be jealous of. Like Wirtz, he was about an awful lot more than his goal, too, and he too racked up over a century of touches while beating defenders and winning possession back all over the pitch. Just a ridiculous player whose ability to read the game matches his work ethic, both of which line up with his magnificent technical skill.

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