Welcome to ESPN FC’s Hot List, which each month highlights some of the hottest talent aged 23 and under across Europe.
In general, young but established stars like Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham or Barcelona’s Javi are not included – otherwise they would be on the list every month – but we will highlight some who deserve. Praise for their performance and they are likely to be the next big name of European football.
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Olise had an impressive season in the Premier League, providing three assists in Leeds United’s 5-1 defeat at Elland Road on 9 April, which showed his potential.
A superb set piece, he is a master of team play with team mates in the final third and, despite being used as a central attacking midfielder for the France U21 side, has proven pivotal in a wide tipped role with Palace.
Olise’s dribbling and progression on the ball makes him particularly valuable in the transition, while his superb crossing technique and passing vision – as evidenced by his pinpoint assist on setting up Palace’s second goal against West Ham – help make him an intelligent and effective midfielder. He has been instrumental in reviving South London’s brilliant Roy Hodgson and is fourth on the Premier League’s assists list this season.
With Levi Colwill and Evan Ferguson appearing in previous editions of ESPN’s hot list, Enciso is a Brighton third-team prospect already, which is not only a testament to the club’s good scouting work but also a reflection of manager Roberto De Zerbi’s willingness to let him. Teen stars express themselves.
After arriving last summer for a whopping €11.6m fee from Paraguay’s Libertad – making his professional debut at the age of 15 – Enciso is now starting to show the kind of talent that indicates he has a strong future in the game. . With a massive shot (see his amazing goal against Chelsea for an apt example) and an instinctive understanding of space that makes him float across the frontline, he can easily find clever spots to wreak havoc.
He has adapted quickly to the Premier League and his assist in the 6-0 win over Wolves on April 29 showed just how important his creativity can be.
In the summer of 2021, Rennes acted decisively to secure the services of one of the best young players in European football for a club record €28m from Anderlecht. But while Dooku performed respectably in his first season in Ligue 1 – notching two goals and three assists from 30 games – the past two years have been a series of struggles, with frequent injuries, frustrating periods of stalled starting development and adverse form.
But in April, there were signs that the speedy forward was back to his exhilarating best. His four Ligue 1 goals for Rennes during the month sum up what he is all about as a player: direct movement, dribbling, pace and shooting. After scoring twice against Reims, he added two more against Angers two weeks later – courtesy of a fine volley at the back post and then a fine individual run from the right – to suggest he can regain some of that early promise.
Salzburg has no less than six high-performing U23 stars to choose from, but this month it would be hard to pass up the €7m in January from Maccabi Tel Aviv. Gloch was one of the breakthrough players at the European Under-21 Championships last summer, immediately attracting interest from a slew of top clubs, but he sensibly chose the Austrian champions as the next step in his development.
The Israel international, ranked 10th in the world, got on the score sheet twice with his new club in April. A superb dribbler, his appreciation of space and ball control in tight areas makes him look like a graduate of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, while he’s recorded 1.6 shots and 2.2 key assists per 90 minutes for the club so far.
Güler was already being hailed as the new Turkish football prodigy at youth level, but he is now beginning to show his immense talent in Fenerbahçe’s first team. After a promising debut campaign – he was first exposed to competitive football at the age of 16 – he happily accepted Mesut Ozil’s number 10 jersey at the start of the season, which speaks volumes about the expectations placed on him as well. As his belief in himself.
A technically brilliant left-footed playmaker who can find space in the final third, especially when cutting in from the right, his vision is outstanding for an 18-year-old. The Turkish international constantly tricks his marks with quick physical feints and deft touches, while his low center of gravity and subtle spatial awareness can see him escape from trouble with quick footwork or extravagant turns.
A player with a high development ceiling, Güler showed his finishing skills in April by scoring twice in a 3-3 draw against Istanbulspor and was linked with a move to Arsenal.
A €4m deal from Cruz Azul in Liga MX last summer, the recent Mexican international saw Premier League scouts flock to Feyenoord’s fixtures. Since the turn of the year, Jiménez has found the net 14 times in all competitions for the Eredivisie leaders, including a run of seven consecutive away goals, scoring four goals in four matches through April.
The 22-year-old operates mostly close to the penalty area (7 touches in the penalty area per 90 minutes) and excels through direct focus, pace and positional awareness, with most of his goals coming from quick one-touch finishes from close range.
With impressive physical characteristics and a keen instinct for where the ball will land, Gimenez also plays with tenacity demonstrated by his purposeful movement off the ball and relentless willingness to get on the end of crosses.