10 young stars who could be on the move during the summer window

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The summer transfer window is nearly open and clubs right across Europe are poised to strengthen or trim back their squads.

Those with long-term visions will seek to draft in some of the talented youngsters emerging around the continent.

We look at 10 players aged 21 or under who could be on the move over the summer.

Matthijs de Ligt

19, Ajax, central defender

Almost certainly the hottest property in European football right now, De Ligt has shown maturity well beyond his years in captaining Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals.

The 19-year-old won the prestigious Golden Boy award back in December and has not only inspired Ajax but formed a formidable central defensive pairing alongside Virgil van Dijk in the Holland side.

Barcelona are poised to become the next beneficiaries of De Ligt’s class with his salary reportedly agreed, though the three-month suspension handed to his agent Mino Raiola could delay matters.

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt celebrates following their victory over Utrecht last weekend

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt celebrates following their victory over Utrecht last weekend

Houssem Aouar

20, Lyon, midfielder

If a certain Pep Guardiola describes you as ‘incredible’, waxing lyrical on your ‘excellent technical quality’, then you must be doing something right.

That was versatile France under-21 midfielder Aouar after he impressed for Lyon against Manchester City in the Champions League group stage.

Indeed, he must have caught City’s eye as he has been linked with a summer move there, with Liverpool also keen.

Lyon's Houssem Aouar caught the eye of Pep Guardiola and could be on his way to Man City

Lyon’s Houssem Aouar caught the eye of Pep Guardiola and could be on his way to Man City

Joao Felix

19, Benfica, attacking midfielder

There’s so much buzz around Portuguese whizzkid Felix – considered in some quarters as Cristiano Ronaldo’s heir apparent – that it’s almost deafening.

Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester City are but four of the European heavyweights with a paddle at the Felix auction, with the bidding starting at £105m.

What’s amusing is that the teenager came to Benfica from rivals Porto aged 15 after they decided he was too small and too skinny. A costly mistake.

Benfica's wonderkid Joao Felix is valued at £105m and is wanted by most of Europe's elite

Benfica’s wonderkid Joao Felix is valued at £105m and is wanted by most of Europe’s elite

Alexis Claude-Maurice

20, Lorient, attacking midfielder

Having unearthed a gem from French Ligue 2 club Lorient in the form of Matteo Guendouzi last summer, Arsenal may well return for exciting playmaker Claude-Maurice.

He has scored 14 goals in France’s second division this season and could easily prove a snip with Lorient demanding around €10m for him.

But Arsenal could face competition from Borussia Monchengladbach, Monaco and Eintracht Frankfurt, who could well offer 20-year-old Claude-Maurice more game time.

Lorient's Alexis Claude-Maurice on the ball during a French League Cup tie this season

Lorient’s Alexis Claude-Maurice on the ball during a French League Cup tie this season

Luka Jovic

21, Eintracht Frankfurt, striker

With 17 goals in the Bundesliga and 10 in the Europa League, breakthrough seasons don’t come much more prolific than the one enjoyed by Jovic.

The Serbia striker represents exceptional business by Eintracht Frankfurt, who activated a €7m release clause in Jovic’s loan deal from Benfica to sign him permanently last month.

They are now likely to sell him on for at least 10 times that amount with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Manchester City forming a not-so-orderly queue.

Striker Luka Jovic has enjoyed an exceptional breakthrough year with Eintracht Frankfurt

Striker Luka Jovic has enjoyed an exceptional breakthrough year with Eintracht Frankfurt 

Nikola Milenkovic

21, Fiorentina, centre-back

Just 21, Serbian international Milenkovic has been a first-team regular at Fiorentina for two seasons already and can operate at centre-back and full-back.

Given that, it’s little surprise Manchester United have been linked with him as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plans a complete overhaul of just about everything this summer.

But competition for the 6ft 5in giant could come in the form of Atletico Madrid, who have identified Milenkovic as Diego Godin’s successor.

Nikola Milenkovic celebrates scoring for Fiorentina against Juventus in a recent game in Turin

Nikola Milenkovic celebrates scoring for Fiorentina against Juventus in a recent game in Turin

Ismaila Sarr

21, Rennes, winger

It’s been a stellar campaign for the Senegal winger this season with 12 goals and 11 assists for Rennes, who shocked heavily-fancied Paris Saint-Germain to win the French Cup last month.

Sarr caught the eye of Arsenal manager Unai Emery during their hard-fought Europa League last-16 tie and the Gunners have reportedly been in touch.

But they are set to face competitions from Leicester City, Roma and AC Milan for a player valued at around £25m.

Senegalese star Ismaila Sarr has been linked with a Premier League or Serie A move

Senegalese star Ismaila Sarr has been linked with a Premier League or Serie A move

Xavier Mbuyamba

17, MVV Maastricht, defender

Being labelled ‘the next Virgil van Dijk’ does have a tendency to heap unnecessary pressure on such a young player.

But there’s no question that Mbuyamba, who plays for Dutch club MVV Maastricht, has caught the attention of a number of leading European clubs.

The teenager is currently on loan at Chelsea, but is attracting interest from Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Porto.

Xavier Mbuyamba (left), of Dutch side MVV, has been labelled 'the next Virgil van Dijk'

Xavier Mbuyamba (left), of Dutch side MVV, has been labelled ‘the next Virgil van Dijk’

Gedson Fernandes

20, Benfica, central midfielder

There’s something remarkable about Benfica’s production line and another who has risen to prominence there is midfielder Fernandes.

Promoted from the B team to the senior side last summer, the 20-year-old has sampled regular league football and also the Champions League for the first time.

Tottenham have reportedly just joined a queue of suitors for the £35m-rated man that also contains Manchester United and Liverpool.

Gedson Fernandes is yet another talented player emerging from Benfica's impressive academy

Gedson Fernandes is yet another talented player emerging from Benfica’s impressive academy

Samuel Chukwueze

19, Villarreal, winger

It’s been a bittersweet season for Barcelona, with domestic success counter-balanced by failure in the Champions League semi-finals.

One of these undoubted flops has been Philippe Coutinho and he could well be on the move, with Villarreal’s 19-year-old starlet Chukwueze touted as a possible replacement.

The Nigerian has a €60m release clause in his contract and not only has a season of La Liga experience under his belt but has been capped at senior level for his country.

Samuel Chukwueze has been touted as a potential replacement for Philippe Coutinho at Barca

Samuel Chukwueze has been touted as a potential replacement for Philippe Coutinho at Barca

 



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