Every year, a crop of youngsters are tipped to become the next big thing, but the truth is only a small handful of these future stars actually become, well, stars. When looking for our 5 new football players to watch in 2019, we wanted to find those gems who really do look destined for the very top. As the title suggests, we really are looking at players who may be unknown to many football fans. That means already established wonderkids such as PSG attacker Kylian Mbappe, Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, Real Madrid winger Vinícius Júnior, Borussia Dortmund playmaker Jadon Sancho, and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford are not listed here.
Hamed Junior Traore (Empoli, Serie A)
18-year old Hamed Junior Traore has been making a splash in Italy over the last two seasons. A hot prospect at youth level, the midfielder has transitioned seamlessly to the rigors of top-flight football this season for Empoli. An all-action presence in the heart of midfield, it was no surprise to see Fiorentina purchase Traore in the January transfer window (he was loaned back to Empoli to see out the campaign). Next season, expect the Ivorian to continue his progression and possibly even attract the attention of bigger clubs around Europe.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United, Premier League)
While Mason Greenwood has only played a single game for Man Utd (during the club’s recent historic Champions League win against PSG), he has been explosive at youth level. So much so, many inside the club and in the Premier League predict the 17-year old will be a leading talent for England in the future. Capable of playing anywhere across the forward line, Greenwood scored 17 goals in 17 games at the age of 16 and 13 goals in 12 games in the Premier League youth league this season. An exciting English prospect, we expect Greenwood to further his reputation as he transitions to the first team next season.
Moise Kean (Juventus, Serie A)
Moise Kean has already started to carve a reputation in Italian football. Currently on load with Serie B club Verona, Kean will return to Juventus next season and will be seeking first team action. The 19-year old has represented Italy throughout youth level and already made his full international debut, making him hotly tipped as a future star for Gli Azzuri.
Houssem Aouar (Lyon, Ligue 1)
A product of Lyon’s youth setup, Houssem Aouar has been with the French club since he was 11. Now 20-years old, the midfielder is attracting admiring glances from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, such as Manchester City, Barcelona, and Liverpool. Known as a luxurious midfield player, Aouar is already firmly established in Lyon’s first team, where he has gained a reputation as a versatile attacking option in the middle of the park. The French playmaker is now coveted outside of Lyon and it would not be a surprise to see him leave the club during the summer.
Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt, Bundesliga)
Jovic is something of a curveball because he is 21-years old (the oldest on this list) and has come into the spotlight recently. However, he has been an explosive goal scorer throughout his career and many people still don’t know who he is. Tipped to move to Barcelona in the summer, the Serbian striker has scored 15 goals in 22 games for Frankfurt this season. Strong and a fantastic finisher, Jovic also possesses a deft touch in the final third. It is no surprise to see him being linked with the giants in Spain and England. Like Aouar, we expect Jovic will have a new home next season and we will watch with interest to see if he can take his scoring exploits to the very top.