Erling Haaland and Phil Foden

As the dust settles on the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League season, Chelsea’s win over Manchester City in the final has been digested by all that the Blues are Champions of Europe.

The Londoners were resilient and hungry, as their sensational mix of youth, experience, and Thomas Tuchel’s tactical savviness – most importantly – saw them become Europe’s best for the second time.

The fast-paced nature of the football world means attention has quickly shifted to the upcoming International tournaments over the summer, particularly the European Championship and Copa America. With that in mind, Football Castle has gone through the best youngsters who lit up the knockout stages of the Champions League season.

Kai Havertz

Who better to begin with than Chelsea’s match-winner in the final? The 21-year-old’s tentative performances in his first season as the club’s second-most expensive player ever were perfectly compounded in his final club game of the season.

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Havertz was the crown jewel of Chelsea’s extensive summer spending spree, signed for £71million for the next five years. His early performances in blue viciously alternated between sublime and ineffective but he showed enough talent to kick on after a difficult maiden campaign of learning and overcoming illness in a contorted pandemic year.

The German was handed a surprise start in the showpiece game and was immense upfront in working the spaces behind the Man City defence and holding up play to link up with his attacking colleagues. Three minutes before halftime, Havertz galloped into a huge gap created by Timo Werner’s run and was found by an impeccable through pass to calmly round Ederson and score the lone goal. 

After appearing in 12 games and registering three assists, Havertz gets an honorary mention on this list due to the impact of his first-ever goal in the competition and the sheer promise of what is to come.

Erling Haaland 

The highly sought-after Norwegian is this season’s top marksman and it is even more incredible given his team went out in the quarterfinal and he last scored in the Round of 16.

Erling Haaland

Haaland scored an eye-bulging 10 goals and two assists in only eight games and achieved the record of the fastest and youngest player to 20 Champions League goals in only 14 games. The 20-year-old’s stock continues to rise and he will provoke a scramble of Europe’s biggest clubs for his signature when he decides to leave Borussia Dortmund this summer or next.

The 2020 Golden Boy award winner is already one of the best strikers in the world and his goalscoring exploits in the Champions League are set to dominate the story of upcoming campaigns.

Phil Foden 

Having made history throughout his fledgling career, the 21-year-old had three goals and three assists in his team’s run to the Champions League Final, as he emerged into a first-team regular.

His incredible skill and dynamism with the ball at his feet was hugely influential for Pep Guardiola’s domestic kings who only missed out on a treble in Porto.

Foden scored in both legs of City’s Champions League quarter-final tie against Borussia Dortmund and laid on an assist for Riyad Mahrez against PSG as they qualified for their first-ever UCL final. 

Phil Foden
Phil Foden lit up the quarterfinal tie against Borussia Dortmund. (Reuters)

Despite the bitter taste of defeat coming a day after his birthday, Foden is already a serial winner at City and would be back at the European showpiece with his boyhood club.

He could yet end the summer on a high if he inspires England to a successful outing at the Euros.

Mason Mount

He was one of the inspirational tales from Chelsea’s European triumph and not many were as influential to this successful campaign as Mount.

The story of the 2020/21 triumph is incomplete and impossible without Frank Lampard bringing through the cream of Chelsea’s academy during a transfer ban, and securing qualification for Europe’s premier competition in his first season in charge. Mount remained one of the shining lights as he became the club’s Player of The Year during Lampard’s tumultuous start to the second season and Thomas Tuchel’s mid-season revolution.

The 22-year-old rose to prominence under the German boss as their creative lynchpin and top scorer under the new management. Fittingly, the England International’s magnificent through ball was decisive in the showpiece as Havertz was ice-cool in scoring the all-important goal.

Mason Mount
Mason Mount ended an incredible season with Chelsea’s Player of the Year award and club football’s biggest prize. (Getty Images)

Every one of Mount’s four goal contributions were significant as his other assist was a technically brilliant cross-field ball for Callum Hudson-Odoi in an important group stage win over Rennes; before opening the quarterfinal win against Porto then sealing progress to the final with a tap-in against Real Madrid.

Alongside Havertz and Reece James, one doubts this would be Mount’s last Champions League winner’s medal.

Jude Bellingham

The third Englishman on this list, the teenager has taken Europe’s premier club competition by storm in his debut campaign. Bellingham will only turn 18 later this month but he has already turned heads in his homeland, Germany and on Europe’s biggest stage.

Choosing Dortmund amidst overwhelming interest, Bellingham signed for £25 million – making him the most expensive 17-year-old in history. He soon became the youngest Englishman to start a Champions League match, breaking the record previously set by Foden.

An ever-present in Dortmund’s European adventure, Bellingham was most impressive in the last-eight tie against the finalists. The teenager was involved in Dortmund’s away goal then denied a legitimate goal of his, before making sure in the home leg with a fabulous control and curled finish into the top corner.

The teenager’s distinctive efficacy conceals his tender years and he could be a Champions League sensation in the near future. Perhaps, this summer’s Euros could be Jude Bellingham’s platform to showcase his immense talent on the international stage.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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