While the Champions League usually dominates headlines, the UEFA Youth League can often produce some of the most exciting football around.
Some of Europe’s best young talents are given the chance to shine on an international stage, and there were plenty of budding wonderkids who played starring roles in gameweek one of the competition.
Here are six of the top performers from the first match of the Youth League.
Tino Anjorin (Chelsea)
Chelsea have enjoyed plenty of success in the UEFA Youth League, and they will hope that Tino Anjorin will be able to lead them to further glory this year.
Playing just behind the central striker, the 17-year-old looked electric in their 3-3 draw with Valencia. He created plenty of opportunities for his side, and even showed his composure to net two penalties to keep the Blues in the game.
He has also racked up three assists in five Under-23 appearances this season, and looks to be the latest in a long line of exciting academy products at Stamford Bridge.
Koba Koindredi (Valencia)
Chelsea really struggled to deal with Valencia’s dynamic attack, and a large part of that was down to Frenchman Koba Koindredi.
Playing deep in midfield, the 17-year-old controlled proceedings and was involved in almost everything good from the Spanish side. He netted two stunning goals, including a strike from distance and a powerful free-kick, but his overall performance was outstanding.
Valencia picked him up from Lens in January, and it looks like a fantastic piece of business for them.
Jayden Braaf (Manchester City)
The winger dominated on the right, with his dribbling and agility creating countless problem for the Ukrainian side. However, what was most impressive was his crossing. Braaf began with a poor cross, but bounced back almost immediately with perfect ball after perfect ball.
He bagged two assists and also created an own goal, whilst continuously proving to be a level ahead of his opponents.
Youri Regeer (Ajax)
✍️ | Youri Regeer has signed his first contract!
“It’s great that the club has given me this opportunity and that I’ve earned this. It’s a reward from the club for me, but of course I’m not there yet. Since I was a kid I’ve dreamed about playing for Ajax.” 朗#AjaxYouth pic.twitter.com/PJ36SH6Rjt
— Ajax Youth Academy (@AjaxYA) June 28, 2019
It’s no secret that Ajax have one of the best academies around. There were a number of impressive performers in their 4-0 win over Lille, but one of the finest came from 16-year-old midfielder Youri Regeer.
Regeer was vital to Ajax’s win. His versatility – he has played as both a right-back and a left winger this year – allowed him to completely control proceedings, and he managed to come up with a goal and an assist.
The amount of competition for a starting spot in Ajax’s senior side is immense, but performances like this will certainly help Regeer move up the pecking order.
Pablo Moreno (Juventus)
Juventus worked tirelessly to lure winger Pablo Moreno away from Barcelona in 2018. The Spaniard had racked up over 200 goals for La Blaugrana, and his time in Italy has the potential to be just as special.
Having began the 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid on the bench, Moreno needed just five minutes to get himself on the score sheet, and he added a second soon after to cap off a fantastic individual showing for the 17-year-old.
Juventus are obviously aware of his potential, having named the teenager on the bench for the senior side’s 2-0 loss to Genoa in March. Unfortunately, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo takes up his position in the starting lineup these days.
Rayan Cherki (Lyon)
Lyon were incredibly active in the transfer market during the summer, but their best piece of business was convincing 16-year-old Rayan Cherki to sign a new contract. The Frenchman is widely viewed as one of the most exciting prospects around, and he was incredibly important in Lyon’s 4-2 win over Zenit St. Petersburg.
His goal may have needed a huge deflection to go in, but Cherki always looked like scoring. The midfielder made countless dangerous runs, but he was equally as impressive on the ball. He dribbled past defenders with frightening ease, despite being far younger than most of his opponents.
Cherki has plenty of suitors already, and performances like this will only attract more interest. While a first-team role is likely a few years away, the teenager may be able to earn himself an opportunity if he keeps impressing.