2022 has kicked off and leagues around Europe and the World are set to resume very soon. Below is a list of talented youngsters that we predict will have a breakthrough season at their clubs. This list includes players that are yet to burst on the main scene, however could do so in the next 12 months.
Five Talented Youngsters to Keep an Eye on in 2022
Antony (Ajax – Brazil – 21-year-old)
Already an Olympic gold medalist, Antony endured a successful rookie season at Ajax. The Brazilian right-winger is known for his rapid dribbling as well as his eye for goal. Antony joined the Dutch club in February 2020 from Sao Paolo for a reported fee of £13 million.
Antony would take part in the newest Ajax revolution, years after their run to the Champions League semi-final. He has impressed in the 2021/22 season already, guiding the club to the knockout stage of the Champions League as well as having an impressive Eredivisie record.
Antony currently has eight goals and five assists for Ajax, including two goals and four assists in Europe. He was one of the main threats to Borussia Dortmund in the two games played earlier in the competition.
The Brazilian has already been linked to top clubs in Europe such as Bayern Munich. The winger has a bright future ahead of him and will look to consistently make the Brazil national squad, especially for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The 21-year-old made his first appearance for Brazil in October 2021 and capped it off with a debut goal against Venezuela.
Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge – Belgium – 20-year-old)
Who said that Belgium’s golden generation is over? Charles De Ketelaere is one of the brightest prospects in European football. Predominantly an attacking midfielder, he has played most of this season as a striker/centre-forward. The Belgian has been at Club Brugge since he was seven years old and has been in the first team for two-and-a-half years. In that time, he has made over 60 appearances for the club.
De Ketelaere was a former law student at university but quickly dropped out when his football career took off. He has faced a good season so far and will look to improve in 2022. The youngster has 12 goals and eight assists, proving himself to be a reliable player when it comes to scoring and creating goals.
The striker has further impressed in the Champions League against RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain. He played a remarkable role in his team’s 1-1 draw to a star-studded PSG team. He also scored a goal in a 2-1 success away to Leipzig. The club unfortunately finished rock-bottom of their group, meaning they are out of European competition. Now though, De Ketelaere can concentrate on proving himself domestically.
The Belgian is already linked to multiple clubs around Europe, including Leicester City. The youngster could leave Brugge in the January transfer window, however if not, he will definitely be linked to the biggest clubs next summer. 2022 should be a year where De Ketelaere can kick on and continue scoring and assisting in the Belgian league. His club are currently second and are looking to retain the league title.
Thiago Almada (Vélez Sarsfield (Atlanta United in February 2022) – Argentina – 20-year-old)
Third on the list is a name that may be recognised by Football Manager players. Thiago Almada is one of the most hyped-up players in South America and is set to make a move abroad in 2022. The midfielder will join MLS outfit Atlanta United for the 2022 season. The MLS could be a perfect ‘transition’ for the youngster before he moves to Europe. Almada has been linked to top clubs such as Marseille and Manchester United.
Thiago Almada has been labelled as the ‘new Messi’ in the past due to his expertise in dribbling, as well as his active attacking output. The midfielder has four goals and four assists in Argentina’s top flight and will look to improve his numbers upon joining the MLS.
His move to MLS is logical as more eyes are being focused on America’s top ‘soccer’ division. The quality of the league has drastically improved in previous years and is set to give Almada maximum exposure to European clubs. The Argentinian can also play on either wing, providing versatility to his coach.
Almada could stay in MLS for a season or two before making a move to Europe. This will all depend on his injury record, Atlanta United’s form and how he adapts to his new home.
Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion- USA – 21-year-old)
Daryl Dike completed his highly anticipated move to West Brom on New Years Day. The former Orlando City player impressed during his MLS stint as he scored over 18 goals in 35 games for the Florida-based team. The striker further played four months in England’s championship for Barnsley, where he scored nine goals in 19 games. The on-loan striker was a revolution for the Tykes as he steered them to a playoff spot.
His remarkable loan spell came to an end after Barnsley decided not to activate the option-to-buy clause. During his time at Oakwell, he won two Player of the Month awards for his club and was a fan favourite.
Daryl Dike will now finish the 2021/22 season with West Brom, who are looking to promote themselves back to the Premier League. The striker now has six months to show his qualities for the first team upon a potential Premier League place next season. If they were to stay in the Championship, Dike would get a full season next year to prove his place in English football and can settle without the pressures and attention of the Premier League.
Dike has already shown his qualities at the highest level, having scored three goals in eight games for the USMNT.
Kamaldeen Sulemana (Stade Rennais – Ghana – 19-year-old)
The final player on this list comes from the northwest of France. Kamaldeen Sulemana has attracted the eyes of multiple European clubs during his impressive season at FC Nordsjaelland. The Danish club eventually sold the winger to Stade Rennais for a fee of €15 million. Clubs such as Ajax were linked to the winger, who possesses great skill and rapid acceleration.
His rookie season with Rennes has produced five goals and two assists in 25 games. He helped the club finish top of their group in the Europa Conference League, ahead of Vitesse, Tottenham and Mura. Sulemana is predominantly a left-winger however he has also played as a right-winger and centre-forward.
2022 will allow Sulemana to showcase his talents as he and his team fight for a Champions League spot. Furthermore, his team are already in the Conference League round of 16. Should Sulemana end the season with strong performances, the Ghanian may already find himself leaving the club in the summer of 2022. It is however likely that Sulemana completes the current season and stays for a further year.
Not only will his stay at Rennes provide him game time, but he will develop quickly and be trained by the same coaches that developed Eduardo Camavinga.