Who is the best player at every age in world football?
B/R took on this peculiar but entertaining task to bring you the answers, starting at age 16 and moving all the way through to 40.
The selection process is as simple as it should be: The player picked is the outright, current, best player at that age right now, taking into account a healthy balance of form and overall class.
We’ve added honourable mentions for some ages in the form of “other candidates” for picks that brought about dilemmas, but not for all—some picks were just automatic.
Rayan Cherki, Lyon
16 years old
Cherki is a true star of the future. At 16, he’s already made his senior bow in Ligue 1 and both French cups, plus he was even given 15 minutes off the bench in the UEFA Champions League when 2-0 down against Zenit St. Petersburg.
A nifty, tricky wide player, his ball manipulation and close control is already incredible. Cherki has a perfect first touch, exceptional weight of pass and game-breaking vision.
Eduardo Camavinga, Rennes
17 years old
Not all of these selections are as straightforward as Cherki, and we’ve reached our first dilemma with just the second pick.
Measuring Camavinga, a ball-hoovering defensive midfielder, against Ansu Fati, a sparkling young goalscoring wide man, is very difficult. But we’ll give the edge to the former after what was a better 2019-20 campaign.
Camavinga’s already the sort of stabilising, consistent presence many top clubs want and need. He’ll start weekly for a Champions League side in Rennes next season, and if things go as suspected, he’ll probably start weekly for a different Champions League side the season after!
Other candidates: Ansu Fati, Jude Bellingham
Mason Greenwood, Manchester United
18 years old
This was a straight shootout between fellow Premier League breakthrough stars Mason Greenwood and Bukayo Saka.
Saka’s excelled in four different positions this season and shown new strings to his bow by the month, but Greenwood’s special ability in three things that are extremely important—finishing, unpredictability and speed—mark him out as the more dangerous and impactful player right now.
Spare a thought for those defenders trying to figure out which way to show Greenwood, knowing both his left and right foot are cannons. He’s going to be unstoppable for a long time.
Other candidates: Bukayo Saka
Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich
19 years old
The progress Davies has made this season has been close to unfathomable.
In September 2019, he was a young, hopeful winger trying to figure out how to crack an XI that contained Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman in his spot. In July 2020, he’s an undisputed starter at left-back—and a game-changing one at that—already elevated to elite status within his position group.
He attacks with venom and defends astutely; his entire game is underpinned by the sort of ferocious speed few—if any—can match. A gem. Continue reading